Debut Author Chat with Lucy Hope

Fledgling is published by Nosy Crow and set to hit shelves on the 4th of November. Reviewers have been raving about this book and it uniqueness. It is completely unlike anything I have read before and I cannot wait to see what children think of it!

Lucy is the latest debut author to take part in my Debut Author Chat and her answers are so honest and lovely! The description of her writing space is enough to make me green with envy- it sounds idyllic.

How long have you been hoping to become a published author?

I wanted to be an Egyptologist when I was a child, and spent a lot of time digging holes in my garden. My dad even built a metal detector for me, and I still remember the excitement of finding hidden treasure buried in the ground, even if it was never more than the odd rusting tin can. I didn’t really think about becoming a published author until I started reading bedtime stories to my own children, and began to see children’s books in a totally new light. It took a long time to believe I might one day be published. The idea to write specifically for children began when a friend adopted the most hilarious little white dog, and I sat down and started writing an adventure about the dog, which turned into my first novel-length story. I think that once I’d written that, I realised I loved writing more than anything I’d done before, and that’s when I took out a student loan and signed up on the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. That was probably the best decision of my life, as I wrote Fledgling on the course.

What have been the greatest challenges in getting published?

I guess the greatest challenge to getting published is that so many people want to write books, and there are only a limited number of publishers and readers! Despite this, I was lucky that Fledgling was picked up quite quickly. The most difficult thing for me was that I went out on submission just at the start of the pandemic and had several publisher visits arranged in the first week of lockdown. It was an incredibly difficult time for publishers with bookshops closing, so I’m eternally grateful to Nosy Crow for signing me when the world was in such turmoil!

What is the most surprising thing you learned about publishing?

There have been many surprises along the way, but for me the loveliest surprise has been finding how friendly everyone is in the publishing world. When I signed with my agent and was then offered a publishing deal with Nosy Crow, I found myself part of a big, supportive writing community. Writers are incredibly kind to each other, so I feel I’ve become part of a family, both with the writers who are with the same agency as me, but also with other debut children’s and adult writers too. There’s always someone to go to with questions or a shoulder to cry on when needed. And editors and agents are just the loveliest people too!

With hindsight, is there anything you wish you had known?

I wish more than anything I’d known sooner that people would want to read my writing, and that I’d had the confidence and self-belief to start writing when I was younger. I also wish I’d been aware of all the support and resources available for aspiring children’s authors, such as Write Mentor and SCBWI.

Do you have other stories waiting to be written or published?

Yes, I do! At the moment I’m writing another historical gothic story with a hint of fantasy, but this time it’s set in an ancient house in North Wales. I also have a few other projects lurking in the background, including a middle-grade vampire story.

What do you think makes a good story?

For me, setting is everything. When reading, I love being totally immersed in the place, and I’m particularly drawn to the quirky and unusual. I also think distinctive characters are hugely important to a story – even secondary characters should be interesting as they’ll help to make the reader’s experience even more immersive.

What is your most interesting writing quirk?

This isn’t very healthy, but I do like to sit down to write with a Sherbet Dip Dab – I have no idea why. I just think I’ve established a connection between starting to write and eating sherbet! I am trying to give it up! Also, for every story I write, I like to create a new Spotify playlist before I start writing. This really helps me get into ‘the zone’. When I’m writing that story I’ll listen to the same music over and over again; I think it puts me into a sort of trance-like state and allows the subconscious to bubble to the surface.

Can you describe your writing space?

I’m really lucky to have my own writing room. The walls are painted dark blue (in a similar hue to the cover of Fledgling!) and I have old black and white photographs on the walls. I have a huge glass-fronted cupboard full of children’s books, and shelves over my desk with fluffy owls, antique books, notebooks and writing reference books. I also have a log burner which I light in the winter months. I bought my antique desk from a second-hand shop years ago – it has a battered leather top which is just lovely to rest on if I’m writing by hand.

How long do you spend writing on a daily basis?

I never seem to spend enough time writing, and am always distracted by a hundred other things. I try to write for two to three hours a day, but don’t always manage that. I wish I could write for longer, but it always takes me a long time for the words to come! I can spend all day editing.

What tips would you give to other aspiring writers?

If you want to write, start now! Believe you have that book in you, even though it might not be obvious just yet. Twitter is a great place for aspiring writers, as there’s so much support and positivity out there. And just keep going despite the inevitable rejections along the way! It’s a tough business, and there’s a lot of competition out there, so expect it to take a while to hone your craft and find an agent. But most of all, write because you love it!

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