Author Interview: Lucy Diamond

Wednesday 3 June 2015
There are some moments as a blogger that are pretty surreal, pinch yourself moments and one of them has got to be the chance to ask some of your favourite authors some questions about their work. I'm really enjoying doing these Q&As and the latest is with the lovely Lucy Diamond whose latest novel Summer at Shell Cottage is released June 4th and it is another winner from Lucy. You can read my review here, and I hope you also enjoy reading the Q&A!

Can you introduce Summer at Shell Cottage for those that don't know what it's about?

It’s about a big family holiday in south Devon. Everyone has arrived looking forward to beach fun, cocktails and lazy days… but there are all sorts of secrets simmering below the surface, threatening to turn family relationships upside down. Add sunshine, heartbreak and a few surprises, then stir…

Summer at Shell Cottage features a large cast of characters. Did you enjoy writing about any of them more than the others? Or which ones from this book stand out for you the most?

I think Gloria is my favourite character – she’s larger than life, bold as brass and was brilliant fun to write. She stands out for me because she wasn’t even supposed to be there! I didn’t plan her character at all in the synopsis, she just wandered into a scene with Olivia one day, taking me (and Olivia) completely by surprise.

You pack in a lot of story into your books, do you plan the whole thing out or start to write and see where the story goes once you've started?

A bit of both, really. I plan out a certain amount and have a rough idea what the end point(s) will be, but often the characters develop in unexpected ways and the story changes accordingly. This does mean I can take a wrong turn along the way, and many times I’ve had to cut whole chapters (or worse, whole characters!) because of this – deeply frustrating! I’m just not really a planner, in books or in life, so there is a certain amount of blind faith and crossed fingers with each novel. But when I get a lightbulb moment – Ahh! That’s how it ends, or – Hey, what if… then it is definitely worth the angst.

You always capture your settings beautifully. Are they all places you have previously visited or do you carry out a lot of research beforehand?

Thank you! Again, a bit of both. I really like drawing on places I have visited but also try to mix locations up around the country. Summer At Shell Cottage is set in beautiful south Devon, where I have holidayed many times with my own family, so I could picture everything really easily. Plus it was a good excuse to go back for a cream tea, cough, I mean for research.

Do you have a personal favourite out of the books you have published? Can I assume my favourite, The Beach Café, is one of them seeing as you have published two novellas featuring Evie and co?

I am very fond of The Beach Café, yes, and it has been a real treat for me to revisit Evie's life there in the Christmas novellas. It’s a tough question to answer, this – rather like asking which is my favourite child. I love them all in different ways! Perhaps Sweet Temptation… it was inspired by a horrible visit to a gym so I drew on those feelings for my characters and really wore my heart on my sleeve while I wrote. Receiving letters and emails from readers saying, This is how I feel too, you inspired me – it was the very best kind of praise.

What does a typical writing day look like for you? And what would you be doing if you weren't an author?

I generally write between nine and three, with a dash up to school at either end to pick up my youngest daughter, but I spend a lot of other time mulling over scenes and characters in my head, working through tricky plot problems while I’m cooking dinner or sorting laundry, for instance, and frequently stopping to scribble things down whenever an idea strikes. Before I became an author, I worked in publishing and then at the BBC, and loved both so I might well have stayed in that sort of creative industry – although these days, if the writing is going badly, I daydream about working outdoors and being a gardener instead, so who knows?

Do you have a lot of time for reading yourself? And if so, what books have you been enjoying lately?

I’ve just finished A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson who is one of my favourite authors. She is just brilliantly inventive and clever, and writes with such beauty and wit. Huge envy and awe here from me! I also really like reading Liane Moriarty and Anne Tyler – both great storytellers with vivid, believable characters.

Do you experience publication day nerves? And what do you do to celebrate the big day when it finally arrives?

Yes, always! A mixture of nerves as people start actually reading the book (terrifying), excitement that it has finally been released into the wild after all the months it existed only in my head, and pride too. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to walking into a book shop and seeing something I wrote on the shelves – it really is dream-come-true stuff every time. Summer At Shell Cottage is my tenth novel but publication day still feels very special. There is always champagne involved, and it’s definitely a good excuse to go out for dinner.

You are spoiling us this year by releasing Summer at Shell Cottage not long after the brilliant The Year of Taking Chances. Can you reveal what you are working on at the minute? And will we be returning to The Beach Café anytime soon? (I could read about that place forever.)

I’m working on a novel for 2016 now… nearly at the end, so I’m at the stage where I am slightly obsessed by it, and the rest of the world is barely getting a look in. And YES, there is one final visit to the Beach Café coming next year too. More to be revealed just as soon as I’m allowed!

About Lucy Diamond

First of all, a confession. My name isn’t really Lucy Diamond at all, it’s Sue Mongredien. I’ve used a pen name because ‘Diamond’ is a lot easier to spell and pronounce than ‘Mongredien’ and also because I’ve written lots of children’s books too and wanted to keep the genres separate. (There is actually another Lucy Diamond on Amazon who writes religious children’s books. That isn’t me, though.) I was born in 1970 and grew up in Nottingham. I read English at Leeds University then moved to London and worked for various publishers before I packed it all in to go travelling around the world for a year and a half. When I came back to the UK, I worked in publishing again, then moved to the BBC.

I now live in Bath with my husband and three young children and divide my time between writing and looking after them. You can have a look at my children’s books here.

I would love to hear from you so do say hello if you’re on Twitter. You can find me @LDiamondAuthor.

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