Laura Greaves’ Facebook page name says: “Laura Greaves Writes Books”. And actually, it’s pretty appropriate because she says that’s all that she has ever wanted to do.
Her latest book is Be My Baby and we thought we’d sit her down and ask her precisely nine questions about that with a few other things thrown in for good measure.
Hi Laura. Yes, pop that book over there, we’ll get to that soon. But first, your FB page announces in its very title that “Laura Greaves Writes Books”. So, did you always want to be a writer?
“I’ve always not only wanted to be a writer, but intended to be a writer. I never considered any other career path – I can be a bit single-minded like that! (My husband would say ‘stubborn’!)”
Wow, okay. So not even a dabbling in dressmaking, curiosity about car sales or flirtation with firefighting? That’s impressive. So what steps did you take to get to being here – a bona fide writer?
“I started writing for a community newspaper in my hometown, Adelaide, when I was still in high school, then landed a journalism cadetship with The Advertiser just days after completing year 12. I was 17 years old and covering murders one minute and interviewing CEOs of major corporations the next. It was definitely a baptism by fire, but I loved every second of it. I later moved from newspapers into magazines, editing several titles before going freelance five years ago.”
So that gave you, as you said it, a ‘baptism by fire’ and a bona fide grounding in your craft. Oh dear, just used ‘bona fide’ twice in consecutive questions. So sorry. Anyway, what about your creative writing?
“As well as writing for a living, I’ve always pursued my own creative writing interests, too. I’ve joined and started writers’ groups, studied screenwriting at film school and, of course, read anything and everything I can get my hands on. I just love everything about writing and I never want to stop learning and improving.”
Baby, you sure do love writing. Okay, we were going for a segue there. So please tell us about this book, the hot-pink-covered Be My Baby…
“Be My Baby is the story of ambitious Aussie journalist Anna Harding, who is living in London with her boyfriend and leading a rather glamorous life as a newspaper gossip columnist. But that life is turned upside down when her single best friend, Helena, falls pregnant back home in Adelaide and asks the child-phobic Anna to be her baby’s godmother. When baby Ivy is born, Helena simply can’t cope. In the grip of severe postnatal depression, she leaves Ivy with Anna and flees to a remote Scottish village and her frosty great aunt. Anna is left trying to juggle pseudo-motherhood with her job, a boyfriend who suddenly takes a job in another country, and regular run-ins with her disagreeable neighbour, Luke.”
Whoa, that’s some major baby-popping, globe-trotting right there! How did the idea for this book form? Was there a lightbulb moment or did the idea evolve over time?
“Be My Baby was inspired by real events. Like Anna, I was living in London and working as a newspaper entertainment reporter when a close friend fell pregnant and asked me to be her daughter’s godmother. Happily for my goddaughter, though, her mum never needed me to take care of her – I was once every bit as clueless about children as Anna is in the book!”
So she didn’t rush off to still-dependent Scotland then? Okay, but yes, a fair amount of inspiration all the same! Now this book was published under the Destiny Romance imprint under Penguin. Can you tell us how this came about?
“Destiny is Penguin’s digital-first romance imprint, which means all its titles are initially published as e-books, with some going on to print editions down the track. I finished Be My Baby and it had some initial agent interest, but when that didn’t go anywhere I put the manuscript in a drawer, happy simply to have completed it. A few years later, I was reading a novel by my friend Carla Caruso and realised it was stylistically similar to my own. Carla’s book was published by Destiny, so on rather a whim I sent Be My Baby to them. A couple of weeks later the commissioning editor called. I thought she might say she liked it, but it needed work; it had been in a drawer for several years, after all! But she said she loved it and wanted to publish it. I was literally speechless, and anyone who knows me will tell you I ALWAYS have something to say!”
Literally speechless huh. That would have been an awkward phone conversation. But, wow that is pretty cool – you could say you provided a kind of “drawer to door service”! …Ahem. So. Moving on. Typical day of writing? Do you have one, and if so, what does it resemble?
“At the moment my writing routine is effectively nonexistent as I have a young baby and have to cram my scribbling into her nap times! My second novel is about 90 per cent done, but that last 10 per cent is proving rather slow going! I’m useless without a deadline – I blame having spent the best part of two decades as a journalist for that!”
Deadlines, we hear ya. And if the young baby thing gets too in the way of your writing, we’ve read somewhere that leaving them with a friend and heading to remote villages in Scotland is an option. So, what’s next for Laura Greaves?
“I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say my next book is quite different to Be My Baby, though once again it has an international setting. After that, I’m going to write a novella, and I’m also developing an idea for a series of novels. I definitely don’t suffer from a lack of ideas; it’s just finding the time to pursue them all that can be problematic! I call this ‘options paralysis’: when you’re passionate about so many ideas you simply can’t pick one!”
Wow, your FB page was correct – Laura Greaves does indeed write! So, got a nugget of advice for any aspiring writers who hope to be doing the full-time thing one day?
“Make time to write every single day. I’m as guilty as anyone else of proclaiming that I don’t have time to write, but I actually wrote most of Be My Baby while commuting on the Manly ferry to and from my then job. Look at your day to see where you have ‘dead time’, then use that time to write.”
We are now wondering whether you’ve been working on your next book this whole time you’ve been speaking to us. But we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Thanks for your time Laura!Laura’s new book The Ex-Factor will be published in early 2015 – keep an eye out for it!