Ep 311 Meet Lisa Jewell, author of the ‘The Family Upstairs’.

In Episode 311 of So You Want To Be A Writer: Are you a planster? Meet the best-selling author of The Family Upstairs, Lisa Jewell. Allison shares her top 10 posts about writing for 2019. Plus, there are copies of Last Christmas by Greg Wise and Emma Thompson to be won.

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Show Notes

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My top 10 posts about writing this year

Conversations in the Community

Merinda: I doubt this is an original thought, but I have decided I am a “plantser” – a plotter blended with a pantser. I think things through, write down some notes and a few major plot points. Then I’ll read that back looking for issues in the overall structure, all the while knowing a vague end point. Finally, off I go, waltzing through the story, lead by my characters up many a random path, possibly hitting a plot point, possibly not. You might have noted that there is more of the word ‘pantser’ in my new word than there is ‘plotter’. That is very appropriate! Who is with me? Or am I just a confused chicken heading for disaster?

Join the conversation.

Writer in Residence

Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of sixteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found You, The Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. Her debut novel, Ralph’s Party, was an instant Sunday Times (London) bestseller, and more recently her books have become #1 bestsellers in Canada and the UK. In total, her novels have sold over 2 million copies across the English speaking world. Her work has also been translated into sixteen languages. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters.

Her latest novel is The Family Upstairs.

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Interview Transcript

Valerie

Thanks so much for joining us today, Lisa.

Lisa

It’s a pleasure to be here.

Valerie

Now, we’re talking to you, well, I’m in Sydney, Australia. But you are in the UK. So thank you for taking the time to have this chat with us. Congratulations on The Family Upstairs. And their secrets are deadly, it says, on my copy. For those readers who haven’t read the book yet, can you tell us what it’s about?

Lisa

Yes, I can tell you what it’s about. I could tell you in a nutshell, or I could give you a slightly longer version.

Valerie

Go for it.

Lisa

In a nutshell… Nutshell or longer version?

Valerie

Longer version.

Lisa

All right, the longer version. Okay. So it’s basically about three people. The first person we meet is Libby. She’s 25. She lives in St Albans. She’s been selling kitchens for a living. She lives in a tiny flat. She has a very quiet life. She was adopted as a baby and she knows that on her 25th birthday she’s going to get something that’s been held in trust for her by her birth parents. And she discovers on her 25th birthday that would she has inherited from her birth parents is an eight-bedroom mansion in Chelsea.

The next person we meet is Lucy. Now, Lucy is living hand to mouth with two small children in the south of France. She’s essentially homeless. And she gets a reminder on her phone one day while she’s trying to sleep under a motorway that the baby is 25. So we kind of know there’s some connections, but we’re not quite sure what it is.

The third person we meet is Henry. Henry is a ten-year-old boy living in an eight-bedroom mansion in Chelsea in the late 80s. His parents are sort of kind of vacuous socialite types with big holes in their life where meaning should be. And his mother has a bit of a crisis and attempts to fill the holes in her life by inviting some strange people to come and live in their house. And thus putting into motion a series of horrible dark events that change everything.

So the book is really about tying up these three stories and working out how they all fit together and finding out this secret behind… So when Libby is found as a baby in this house in Chelsea, there are three dead bodies in the kitchen downstairs. So that’s the starting point of the book.

Valerie

Now it is a fairly complex premise. And it’s not something that just sort of pops into your head as you’re going to the supermarket. How in the world did you…

Lisa

Well, I have to be honest that they did pop into my head while I was going to the supermarket. Not exactly going to the supermarket. But I saw this lady in the south of France sneaking her children into the private shower block of a member’s beach club. And she looked very anxious, she looked very worried. She clearly was not a member of this beach club and should not have been using their showers. And I just couldn’t stop thinking about her. I just felt she looked like somebody who had a story. She looked like somebody who had a history.

So I got back to London and I couldn’t stop thinking about this lady. And then walking to the supermarket, taking the children to school, layers and layers built up in my head of where was this lady escaping from. Maybe a terrible childhood trauma. Where would that childhood trauma have taken place? Maybe in a huge house in Chelsea.

So that sort of, rather than sitting down with a pen and a paper and thinking, right, I’m going to have some amazing ideas and write them all down and it’s all going to make immediate sense to me, it very much was dribs and drabs and just letting the whole thing build up in my head.

Valerie

Now, can you tell me some kind of timeline for that gestation period? Like when you saw the lady and then how long did you think about it before you started really writing proper things down? And then how long did it take to write your first draft?

Lisa

So I saw that lady in July 2017. I was halfway through writing another book at the time. Thought about her all the way through July, all the way through August. Then I had a meeting with my editor at the beginning of September 2017 and I was so desperate to start writing this story by then that I said, please, please, please, can I dump the book that I’m halfway through writing and start this other book instead? Because I was so excited about it.

And I thought, because I’d just had a number one bestseller in the UK at this point, so I thought I was going to be flavour of the month and she’d let me do whatever I wanted. But actually, when you’ve had a number one bestseller, your publishers really, really, really just want you to deliver another book as quickly as possible.

So she basically said, ah, no, sorry. Get this other one finished first and then you can start!

So I finished the book I was halfway through in December 2017. So I started writing this in early spring 2018. And I… When did I finish it? I didn’t finish it, in fact, until early this year. So 12 months later I had my first draft.

Valerie

Fantastic.

Lisa

So yeah, I really did have to do a bit of… Yeah, to be a bit patient with this one.

Valerie

Now, I am fascinated by your story. Because you studied fashion illustration and communication.

Lisa

How random is that?

Valerie

And started working in fashion. So when did you know that you wanted to write? And when did you start doing something about it?

Lisa

Well, when I was a child, I wanted to be a writer, as many, many bookish children do. I quickly forgot about wanting to be a writer when I became a teenager and I spent years and years being obsessed with music. I was just that was all, I was all about music for many years.

And I stopped reading as well. I didn’t pick up a book after the age of thirteen, I don’t think.

And then I married quite young, my first husband. It was a pretty bad marriage, but one good thing that came out of that marriage was I got back into reading again. Because he was very bookish. And I got very much back into reading. I was reading quite masculine books because he was giving me books off his bookshelf to read. And I just kept getting this feeling that there was a female voice missing from everything that I was reading.

And then I left the husband eventually after five years. And one of the things that I did to celebrate my freedom, and it very much was freedom in comparison to what the marriage itself had been like, was to sign up for some creative writing lessons. Not with a view of like I’m going to do this creative writing course and then I’m going to go off and become a published author. Not at all. It was very much, I’ve been trapped in this marriage, I’ve been trapped in the suburbs, I want to do something fun and silly and exciting.

So it all started percolating again, this idea that I’d had as a child, that I’d like to write something. And then I read on holiday, I was working as a secretary in the fashion industry at this point, and I read on holiday just after losing my job High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. And I had that feeling again of there is a female voice out there that I’m not hearing. And I thought it was a female equivalent of Nick Hornby as a voice that I’m not hearing.

And then I had this amazingly fortuitous conversation with a friend of my husband, second husband, good husband, on this holiday. About, you know, I’d lost my job as a secretary and I was going to go back to London and start temping. And she said, you know, oftentimes people when they’ve lost their job they use it as an opportunity to change the direction of their life. Is there anything else that you’d like to be doing?

And I said, well, I think I’d quite like to write a book. And this lady is Australian, so of course she’s amazing. And she made me take her up on a bet that I would write three chapters and then if I did that she’d take me out to dinner to my favourite restaurant.

And I did write the three chapters, she did take me out for dinner at my favourite restaurant, and that was the first three chapters of my first published book.

Valerie

Wow.

Lisa

So yeah. That’s how it all panned out. It’s quite a strange journey.

Valerie

And so with the genre that you’re writing in The Family Upstairs, are these the kind of books that you read? Or are you the kind of person who watches Law and Order or watches psychological thrillers? Is this what occupies your brain?

Lisa

You mean the reading and the watching?

Valerie

These sorts of stories.

Lisa

Yes. Yes. I’m very much a fan of the sort of books that I write. And three of my books of my last tranche of my books of the psychological thrillers are under option in Hollywood to be made into six part series. So clearly the fact that I love watching thrillers on the TV has made itself felt in the fact that my books, the producers in Hollywood are seeing them as possible TV shows, as well.

So it’s obviously all sorts of in there, the fact that I read a lot and watch a lot of this sort of thing. I’m not very wide ranging in my tastes, I have to say. I have quite narrow.

Valerie

Okay. So you see this lady trying to get into the bathroom. Now that is obviously the seed of an idea. But I’m always amazed really at people who can write these sorts of stories because there’s so many layers. Including a plot that has to make sense, a plot that has to be so incredibly satisfying because the thriller aspect or the uncovering is such an important part of this sort of story.

So how do you go about determining what happens? Do you plot it all out? Do you think about it on the way to the supermarket, many trips to the supermarket? Or what?

Lisa

Right, so most of… I occasionally have a really good idea when I’m in the shower. There’s something about being in the shower.

Valerie

I agree.

Lisa

The white noise of the water over your head and just… I occasionally have a lightbulb moment. But most of my working out and plotting and deciding what to reveal and deciding what happens next happens while I’m writing it down. So I’m a writer who has an idea for a book, gets it as complex inside my head as I possibly can without my brain exploding.

And then I can’t, I’ve tried planning it out, I’ve tried to sit there with a notepad and trying to work out what happens in advance, and I can’t do that. So I get my brain to bursting point with an idea and then I start writing chapter one.

And then I write 1000 words a day, every day, until I’ve got 80, 90, 100,000 words. I just keep writing. That’s the only way I can stand a chance of working out what my story is and how I want to tell it, is to actually just tell it.

Which that might sound quite nice. But it’s actually really isn’t very nice at all. I’d much, much rather be the sort of writer who could refer to a notebook in which I’d made some notes earlier that might help me out and tell me what I should be doing at this point.

But no, I’m not that sort of writer at all, unfortunately. It’s all pretty chaotic from my end. Which is why it’s a miracle every single time I get to the end of the book and I give it to someone and it makes sense. It’s like, wow.

Valerie

So have you ever written yourself into a hole? That you just couldn’t get out of and then you had to chuck it?

Lisa

Oh… No, actually. And that’s quite a good thing about writing a thousand words a day, is it’s just enough to move you ahead. It’s like half a chapter, half a long chapter or a full short chapter, it’s just enough to move you ahead enough to keep the momentum going, but it’s not so much that if you were going in the wrong direction, you’d lose 20,000 words.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to cut an awful lot out because I was… Which makes me think that maybe I’m getting better at it, I don’t know. But certainly my earlier books, I would write myself into terrible, terrible holes and have to cut 20, 30, 40,000 words out. But no, these days, I can feel very, very quickly if I’ve headed off down the wrong path and just go back.

Valerie

If you’re constantly thinking about these stories, as you’ve said, this baby is found with dead bodies surrounding in the same house, and you are immersed in this world of what you watch and what you read, is that a dark place to be hanging out?

Lisa

It’s odd, actually. Because generally speaking, I don’t feel affected in that way. I’m very good at compartmentalising my writing and keeping it very separate from everything else.

But with this book, we had to move out of our house for eight months to have it renovated, and we moved into this beautiful flat in Hampstead Village. And I was so excited about going to live in this beautiful flat. And there was something really wrong about the atmosphere in this place.

Valerie

Really?

Lisa

Yeah. There were some really weird people living there. It was a flat in a converted house and there were some really strange people living in this house who all had a really weird aura. I kept getting ill. In the space of eight months, I got four head colds and I really bad bout of flue, and I never, ever, ever get ill.

And so whenever I think about the writing of this – and it was in the winter, as well, and it was a pretty long cold nasty winter – so whenever I think about the writing of this book I just feel… Ooh, this shiver goes through me because everything just… And I don’t know if it was the book informing my psychology or if my surroundings were informing my psychology and it was nothing to do with the book.

But this one very much feels like I was in a dark place when I wrote it. But generally speaking I can write a scene of a teenage girl dying in a basement and then five minutes later be ordering a hot chocolate and going on to Facebook and not even thinking about it. So I’m not quite sure where I sit on that.

Valerie

So you write, you commit to a thousand words a day. So do you have any kind of writing routine? Like, maybe if you can describe if you’ve got any rituals or how your day looks so on a practical level we can see how those thousand words come out. And also, if you crack the thousand words by 10am, do you take the day off?

Lisa

Yes, it’s funny, because I look back at things I’ve written over the years about my writing day, and I look at something from three years ago or six years ago or ten years ago and I just think, wow, it just keeps changing. So I can only talk about how I’ve been writing for the last year or so.

Valerie

Sure.

Lisa

Which is that in the morning, after I’ve done schoolie stuff, I will sit with my laptop in the kitchen at the table with a big cup of tea and do all my emails, do all my bits and pieces that have been bothering me. And then I will take my laptop to the cafe over the road at lunchtime, order avocado toast, because… I was going to say, I’m a cliché, but I’m not, because I’m not millennial at all, but I have millennial lunch tastes. Avocado toast.

When I’ve eaten that, I will start writing and I will write for… I’m generally in the cafe for about two to three hours. And generally, by the time I’ve written, at the moment I’m writing about 1200 words a day, because I’m slightly behind. But no, I don’t think, oh, I’ve finished early so I can write another thousand words! I don’t think that. I think, oh, I’ve finished early, I’m going to go home.

A thousand words a day just feels, just feels right to me. Especially in terms of what I was talking about earlier. If you get too far ahead of yourself and you write too fast, you can just find yourself heading off in the wrong direction completely. So that’s it. A thousand words, maybe 1200, and then I go home. And that’s it.

Valerie

So do you finish your thousand words before school comes back?

Lisa

Yes.

Valerie

Oh.

Lisa

And that’s the ticking clock. That’s the ticking clock. And at the moment it’s great because my girls are much older now and they don’t get back from school until 4:30 or 5 o’clock. Before obviously I’d had to be ready to pick them up from school at 3:30. Now they can make their own way home. But I want to be home when they get home. That’s very important to me.

And that’s one of the most incredible things about being a writer as a job is being able to have a career yet be mum and just be present and never miss out on anything.

So the day is a bit freer for me now, but I’m still pretty disciplined with it.

Valerie

So you were working in fashion. And then your friend says, hey, write these three chapters, I’ll take you out for dinner. You must have really wanted that dinner. But did you then think I’m going to go back to fashion? Did you make a decision?

Lisa

Well, what actually happened was that I wrote this book… Well, I wrote the three chapters and I sent them off to some agents and they all rejected it. And that was absolutely fine because this was all just a bit of a joke really. It still wasn’t part of some serious intent to become a published author.

But then the last agent took her time to reply, but she finally did about six months later, completely out of the blue. I was temping at the time. I was back being a secretary. And said that she’d like to take it on if I could rewrite it. Oh no, that’s right, she wanted to see the rest. Obviously, I hadn’t written the rest.

So my life had to change. My husband was amazing. He wasn’t my husband at the time. But I was going to actually ignore this letter because I hadn’t written the book and I couldn’t see how I could possibly find time to write a book. And he said, are you mad? Nobody gets letters from literary agents saying, can I see the rest of your book!

So I didn’t have to pay rent anymore. He invited me to come and live with him and he would cover the mortgage. And so I finished the book. I delivered it back to this agent a year after she first sent me that letter.

Valerie

Wow.

Lisa

And so all this time I’d been temping. I was still a secretary for the whole duration of the year that I was writing the book. And then she got me a six figure publishing deal with Penguin! So I’d gone from temping at five pounds an hour or whatever it was I was earning, nothing, to suddenly having all this money in the bank. And it was a two-book contract, so I knew that I had money coming into the bank for at least another year.

And so it was a bit of a no-brainer, really, for me to… And because I didn’t have a permanent job, as well. I was only a temp. So I just, yeah, I said goodbye to everybody in the office and started writing fulltime.

Valerie

I realise that you were temping, but obviously at some point, because you did fashion illustration, and you wanted to get into fashion, at some point did you… Did ever think I’d like to go back to fashion one day?

Lisa

No. Because I really didn’t… So I did this course, this fashion illustration and promotion. I ended up working at Warehouse, which is a British high street retail chain. I worked in their head office in the patent cutting room, and then I worked in their PR department. And I was there for five years. And by the end of that five years, I was just over it. I just… Five years working with, I hate to say this, but women getting very, very worked up about things that I no longer cared about. I love clothes but I can’t care about them to the degree that people who work in the fashion industry need to care about clothes.

So yeah, so I was over fashion. And in fact, when I started writing my first novel, the job that I’d just lost was working for a shirt making company, a Jermyn Street shirt making company. So I wasn’t even, I’d sort of moved across from fashion into just plain old clothes by that point. So no, I have never wanted to return to the world of fashion. But I do love clothes.

Valerie

Now, you’ve got different chapters, in this book, you’ve got different chapters from different points of view, or with different points of view. And so how did you go about developing your characters so that their voices were really strong and distinct in this book? Did you keep some kind of dossier? Did you form them in your head, just keep them in your head? Or did you flesh them out some other way?

Lisa

Everything is in my head. Yeah, everything just stays in my head. I don’t have anything. I have no evidence anywhere in the world of any book I’ve ever written apart from the document on my computer, which contains the book. There’s no, there’s nothing.

I do, once I get quite a long way into the book, I do need to start keeping lists of people’s birthdays, eye colour, things like that. Because if you’re forever describing someone’s eyes, you need to remember what colour their eyes were. And if you’re going through the years you need to remember how old people are and that sort of thing.

But in terms of the characters, that’s the thing that I’m really good at. As a writer. Or when I say really good at it, that’s the thing that I don’t have to try. I don’t feel I have to… Well, I have to work really, really hard at plotting and work really, really hard at keeping the tension and the suspense going. I don’t have to work hard at all at getting my characters on to the page in a proper fully formed way.

And that’s the thing, it’s all about the people you choose to tell the story that you want to tell. And there’s myriad, there’s infinite amounts of people within any story that you could choose to be the person to tell that story. And it’s all about choosing the right people. And I just get a very strong sense of who the people are that should be telling the story. And once I’ve had that sense, then they’re with me and I know them and I can just get on with it.

Valerie

So if that part’s easy for you, you were saying that you have to try really, really hard to keep the tension going at the right pace. So what does that look like in terms of do you spew out a first draft and then have to go and fix the bits that you’re not so good at? Or do you have some kind of instinct for tension? Because these are the books that you write?

Lisa

Yeah. I mean, I do spew out a first draft. I write it in about three months. I do a very, very, very polished first draft, though, in as much as I could give it to you and if you didn’t know what was wrong with it, you would think you were reading a book. It’s not full of question marks and bits that I’ve missed out or stuff I was going to go back to and fix later. It reads like a book.

But I know that there are points in it that don’t work properly or that don’t quite make sense or add up. And that’s the stuff that… So there’s that edit to do once you’ve got to the first draft point, which is the things that they nag at you, they nag at you, and you think, I haven’t developed that character enough. That character is not convincing right now. And you think, I will go back to that and I’ll add layers to that character.

And then there’s the other edit, which is the making it pretty edit, which is the fun one. When you can just finesse your language and just make it all sort of nicer to read.

Valerie

What was the most challenging thing about the writing of this book?

Lisa

Oh. There was so much going on! There was such an awful lot going on. And I didn’t really understand what was… I didn’t have a very clear idea of how it was all going to resolve itself.

One thing in particular that I had no idea about was at the beginning of the book, we discover that the baby has been left in this house, cared for, clean, in a fresh nappy, with three corpses in the kitchen downstairs. So we know that there were some teenagers living in the house who have disappeared and never been seen again. And I had, I didn’t know where they’d gone! I didn’t know what they’d been doing, I didn’t know why they’d left the house or what the circumstances were or how they could have disappeared and never been found. I didn’t know any of these things.

So I kept writing and writing and writing and I got to the point where I was like, okay, I’ve now got to explain to the reader where these people have been, what they’ve been doing, how they managed to disappear, why nobody ever found them. So that’s quite… That’s when it became really quite stressful. And that’s when my head became really, really messed up for quite some time.

But there’s just this, it’s like a bit of magic, the way you’ll just…

Valerie

What do you do? What do you do to unravel it?

Lisa

Yeah. So for example, this isn’t a spoiler, but there’s a character at the beginning of the book called Dr Broughton who comes to visit Henry Snr after he’s had a stroke. And he’s very important to the end of the book, but I hadn’t thought about him since I’d written him into that very early scene. And it was while my head was swimming, trying to work out what the hell the story was behind these teenagers, he just popped into my head. And you might remember how he fits in to the story. And he was vital. Without him, there was no way I could have explained it all.

Valerie

But I don’t mean how did you unravel it in the actual plot. I mean, what technique do you use in your…

Lisa

No, but that’s it. It wasn’t a technique! I was just lying there and I suddenly thought, oh! What about that doctor guy! What about that doctor guy that I wrote about six months ago!

Valerie

But is that what you do each time you’re in this situation?

Lisa

Yes.

Valerie

Just think and think and think until it…

Lisa

Think and think and think until something falls out of the sky and rescues you. It’s not very pleasant. I wouldn’t recommend it as a way of writing books. It’s very stressful.

Valerie

Okay. So not only are you a number one bestseller, you’re a million copy bestselling author. Now, when your friend took you out for dinner, did you ever think that that was going to happen?

Lisa

No. No. It’s funny, I’ve got this 16 year old at the moment and her main focus in life is that she would one day like to be wealthy. And she decided that the way to go about that is probably to marry someone rich. Yeah, feminism never happened.

But I was the same. I was the same at her age. I would look into my future and I couldn’t see one possible way in which I could be successful enough to be wealthy in my own right. So I just thought, well, maybe if I’m really lucky I’ll meet a rich man and then I’ll have this lifestyle.

So yeah, it was absolutely beyond my… I mean, I still can’t quite believe that I’m the breadwinner of my family. I can’t quite believe that I am in the position I am in. Because I was never going to be that person. I didn’t have ambitions, I didn’t have drive, I didn’t have get up and go. I was quite passive, I suppose. I was just going to let life happen to me. And I still do let life happen to me to a certain extent. But it’s all about grabbing those little moments when they’re offered up to you, when your friend says, write me three chapters and I’ll take you out for dinner.

Valerie

Yeah.

Lisa

You know, I did that, and look what happened.

Valerie

Good friend. Good friend. Do you recall when you found out that you were over a million copies? Or did it just creep up, did you just find out like six months later and went, oh!

Lisa

No, they put it on the front of my last book.

Valerie

Yes.

Lisa

And I was like, a million? What do you mean by that? And everyone kept going, oh, you’ve sold a million copies! Actually what it means is I’ve sold, in fact, over, I think it’s more like 2 million copies in the English language. I’ve sold 4.5 million copies of all my books in every format across the world.

Valerie

That’s amazing.

Lisa

So it kind of… I don’t know. It wasn’t like a bell started ringing and champagne corks started popping. It was just like, oh, okay, I had no idea. Because I suppose you sell books in so many different channels, there’s not one definitive place where they can say, look, this is how many books you’ve sold. But yes, it is a lovely feeling. Lovely feeling.

Valerie

Now when you were halfway writing through this book, The Family Upstairs, did you have a moment where you spotted some character on the street that intrigued you that has now inspired you for the next book?

Lisa

Yes. Entirely correct. It was in the middle of the long, dark, endless summer in the weird flat with the weird people, with the flu and the

colds and what have you. And I just saw this guy walking down a hill in the snow and he just looked… I couldn’t… There was something about him. He just looked very problematic. He looked like there was an awful lot of bad dark stuff going down in his life and none of it was really his fault.

So yeah, I’m writing about him. I’m writing him a story now. He is falsely accused of rape. So that’s what I’m writing about. Yes. A slightly awkward, slightly uncomfortable in his own skin guy. In fact, he’s a virgin in my book.

Valerie

I would love to meet these real people in real life to get their actual story, just to put them side by side with your story.

Lisa

Yeah. I know. Yeah, it would be really boring and disappointing. Or, I wish I didn’t know that now.

Valerie

Okay. So and finally what are your top three tips, as in advice, for aspiring writers who hope to be in a position like you are one day?

Lisa

I think it’s very, very important not to expect it to be enjoyable. It really, if you’re doing it and you’re finding it really hard, and you’re not enjoying it and you think everything you’re writing is terrible, just ignore those feelings. What you need to do is find a story that you want to tell badly enough, and find people whose story you want to tell badly enough, to keep going and keep going and keep going, even when you’re having a horrible, horrible… It’s not fun. Writing a book is not fun. There’s lots of things about being a writer that are fun, but the actual writing isn’t.

The second thing is, and I’m sure you’ve had this a million times, you have to finish it. You absolutely have to finish a book even if you hate it. Start it, keep going, finish it. And then you’ve got something to work with. And even if it ends up under your bed, you have proved that you can do something that so many people can’t do, which is to write an entire book. And that’s something that is priceless. The experience of having done that is priceless.

Third piece of advice, I think is, and this is technical and slightly boring, but get off the internet.

Valerie

Oh.

Lisa

Yeah. Just turn off the internet. Don’t have access… What I do, because obviously sometimes when you’re writing you need to check something on Google or what have you. So I keep my smartphone next to my laptop, so then I’ve got access to the internet should I need it. But it’s a hassle. I have to open my phone up to switch it on, I have to go to the browser.

Whereas when you’re writing on a screen and you’ve got the browser right next to your book, yeah, it’s very, very difficult to stay focused I think when you’ve got that access to another world so close to something you’re finding really, really difficult to do and would like any excuse to stop doing.

So yeah, those would be my three pieces of advice.

Valerie

Brilliant advice. Get off the internet. So everyone should get off the internet and get a hold of The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell. Congratulations on the book and thank you so much for your time today.

Lisa

Thank you so much. Oh, thank you so much.

 


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