This article contains affiliate links.
Lia Louis is the author of Somewhere Close to Happy and Dear Emmie Blue, which was released in paperback on 6th August. She took the time to answer some questions for us.
Can you tell us a bit about Dear Emmie Blue?
When Emmie Blue was a teenager, she let go of a balloon with her name, email address and a secret attached. The balloon was found miles away in France by a boy of the same age, Lucas Moreau, sparking a friendship, and now, years on, they’re about to turn 30, and Lucas has something to tell Emmie. Emmie, who has been secretly in love with Lucas for years, hopes it’ll be that he’s finally ready to tell her that he loves her too; that he feels the same. But nothing could be further from what she hopes, when he tells her he’s getting married and he wants Emmie to be his best woman. It’s a story about love, making your own family, learning to overcome your demons, and how life is often what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
I thought the ending was absolute perfection – did you know you were leading to that all along, or did it come to you when you were writing?
I did know all along! In fact, I wouldn’t allow myself to start writing until I knew exactly what was going to happen. I had the balloon idea for ages but had no idea what I actually wanted the story to be about. Then one day, the ending came to me, and suddenly the whole book came together and I could not wait to get started!
Can you tell us anything about your next book?
I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say, but I can tell you it’s a romance and starts with a meet-cute in snow but in a usually very unromantic place (one I hope I manage to make romantic!) It’s about destiny, timing, and how – or if – one choice can change the trajectory of your whole life.
Your characters are incredibly real and layered – do you do a lot of work on them before you start or does it all happen in the writing?
Thank you! I do spend a lot of time thinking about my characters. Some are very wooden when I’m writing a first draft, and they become more real and more layered as I write and edit and obsess over them as I’m cooking dinner, showering, ironing, etc. Some are very real straight away and write themselves. Rosie and Fox are examples of characters who just wrote themselves. I could write them forever! I never usually let a draft leave my desk until I feel like every character is real enough that I feel I could bump into them in Tesco, though.
The way you write around having three children is inspiring – do you have any tips?
It can be really hard, I will admit and it takes determination and ignoring the piles of washing up and dirty laundry most of the time, because there is always something to be done! First of all, setting goals helps. So, 1000 words a day, perhaps, rain or shine. And I have to let go of ALL ideals. The ideal of sitting at a clean and tidy desk in peace, in a silent, tidy house, on a perfect laptop, in an orderly document and fashion. If I need to get words down, I get them down on anything I can. On my phone, on my laptop on the loo as my kids have a bath, at night when everyone is in bed, at 6am while everyone is still asleep. I tell myself I can tidy them up, polish, edit and put them all together once I’ve finished, but I can’t do that with blank pages. I also think treating writing like a treat or reward really helps. Something just for you, in the same way you treat Eastenders and a glass of wine, or a hot bath! (Oh, and grandparents and aunts and uncles who like to babysit are a great thing, too! And Cbeebies. I’m happy to admit to that one.)
What are some books you’ve read and loved recently?
The last book I read that has truly not left my mind for a single day since is My Dark Vanessa. I want to re-read it and I rarely say that about books. It was dark, raw, and heart-breaking, and the writing was absolutely exceptional. I can’t remember the last time I read a book that floored me like that one.
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis was published by Orion on 6th August