Friday, 19 July 2013
Interview with Lucy Lord - Author of Vanity
Please tell us a little about yourself
OK. Where to begin? I live just off London’s Portobello Road, with my husband, who’s a musician. We only moved to the area a few months ago, and both absolutely love it. There’s a proper bohemian vibe to the place – you can’t move for quirky, independent shops, bars and restaurants and nothing quite beats getting your fruit and veg from the market on your doorstep. All the locals know each other, too, which I’ve never had before in all my years living in London. The icing on the cake, though, is our flat’s little roof terrace, from which I am currently typing in my bikini! I write novels full time, although I try to keep my hand in writing the odd article for magazines and newspapers, as I used to be a journalist – for publications including the Times, Guardian, Evening Standard, Time Out, Marie Claire and Arena. Before journalism, I did everything from teaching English to temping in City banks (utterly soul-destroying – I don’t recommend it) to waitressing in dodgy ‘gentlemen’s establishments’. I can safely say that being a novelist is the best job of all!
Please tell us about Vanity
Vanity is the sequel to Revelry, my debut novel, which came out last summer. Although it can stand alone, I recommend you read Revelry first as the various plot threads do follow on in sequence. The novel opens with a boho beach wedding in Ibiza and mainly follows the lives of Poppy, who’s living the dream with a glamorous new job in New York, and her best friend Bella, stuck at home in rainy old London and starting to get just the teensiest bit resentful of her friend’s newfound success. Then there’s beautiful, vain Ben, trying to make it as an actor in LA, Natalia, a billionairess with a shady past, lonely on her yacht in St Tropez, and Sam, a student at London University moonlighting as a glamour model, whose life takes a turn for the better when she meets four handsome Northern boys in a band. The action swings from city to city, continent to continent and culminates in a road trip to remember across the States. I had so much fun writing Vanity, escaping in my head to all these fabulous locations, and I hope it’s just as much fun to read!
Do you ever use celebrities or people you know for inspiration in your books?
I don’t base entire characters on celebrities or people I know, but I do cherry-pick characteristics, and use particularly fatuous lines I’ve heard people say – in Revelry, for example, vain and dim-witted model Kimberly says ‘I guess I’m just lucky? Good genes, you know? My mom and grandma both had great skin, too. My guru says you get the face you deserve, and I always try to give something back.’ Let’s just say I heard a very famous supermodel saying something along those lines in an interview, once! But people do often think that characters are based on them – my father, for example, was horrified that Bella’s father in Revelry is an ageing hippy with an eye for the ladies, however many times I’ve told him that he wasn’t the inspiration! And other thing I’ve learned is that you have to be careful with names – I was told at the launch the other night that Amy Lascelles, the prima donna spoilt film star in Vanity, is the name of friend of a friend. Real-life Amy Lascelles, if you’re reading this, I promise I didn’t know that that was your name! And I have no idea whether you’re a spoilt princess or not!
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently doing the final edit of the third book in the trilogy, which sees our heroines Poppy and Bella older, a little bit wiser, but still having as much fun as they possibly can. One is living with a baby in rural bliss in Ibiza, the other hanging out with movie stars in LA. I have a bit of a girl-crush on my new female lead, Summer Larsson, a free-spirited hippy chick who runs the crèche at her mother’s morning yoga classes and writes about food. I’m also quite fond of horrendously spoilt former child star Tamara Gold, who is just about redeemed by her quick-witted humour and vulnerability. When the entourage of movie stars hits laid-back, bohemian Ibiza, the results are explosive! Having finished the trilogy, I have a new idea in the pipeline. I can’t say too much about it at the moment, but it will be quite a new departure for me and I’m very excited about it.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Read. Loads. It doesn’t matter which genres, but the bottom line is, the more you read, the better you’ll write. And once you get started on your masterpiece, edit, edit, edit. Your final draft will probably look completely different to what you started out with. And of course, your final draft won’t really be the final draft because your editor will then have his or her wicked way with it! No book is ever really written by one person, so you have to learn pretty quickly not to get too precious about your words!
What was your journey to publication like?
Long! Revelry probably took me a couple of years to write, but I wasn’t a full-time novelist in those days so it was mainly written in the evenings after work. And I got married during those two years, which tends to take up quite a lot of one’s time, too! I sent the manuscript off to about 20 different literary agents, 5 at a time, and waited for the inevitable rejection letters to flood in. And flood in they did. It took just over a year to eventually get an agent (by which time I’d started working on Vanity, to kill the dreaded waiting time), and then another year after that to get a publishing deal. But when I did – a three-book deal from Harper Collins – it made all the waiting worthwhile! So my advice to aspiring writers on this topic is: persevere. You will get rejections, and it can be utterly demoralising, but you will get there in the end. And when you do, it’s the best feeling in the world.
What do you like to do outside of writing?
I love reading, of course. I have a Kindle, and it’s great, especially on holiday, but browsing in second hand bookshops, and the lovely smell of real books, is a whole different matter. My husband and I are both keen cooks – he does fantastic gourmet stuff, and the most delicious curries I’ve ever tasted, while I’m far more of a ‘hmm, I think these flavours would probably go nicely together, and does that need another squeeze of lemon?’ hit-and-miss kind of amateur. I love to travel, although that probably makes me sound a bit more energetic than I actually am, because once I’ve explored the new and exotic places I enjoy nothing more than lying in a hammock with a good book! I love, love, love throwing parties (the one after my launch the other night was a corker), swimming in the sea, and nothing – nothing in the world – beats a long boozy lunch on a beach!
Vanity is out now. Look out for my review, which is coming up later today.