I am bustin' with pride to intro you to Lotte Worth, author of The Perfect Suicide, the first fiction book to be published on the SASSY Books imprint - wooohhhooo! Everyone says university is the best time of your life – but what happens if it turns out to be the worst? Following a family tragedy, Emma escapes to university in search of a bright new future, but things take a very dark turn… Still raw and vulnerable, she struggles to fit in with her fun-loving housemates and feels excluded. Only charismatic, caring Pete takes her under his wing and shows her true friendship. Pete introduces Emma to his childhood sweetheart, Lucy, and the bleak Northumberland coast where they grew up. Together, Pete and Lucy also introduce her to their unconventional way of life. As Emma and Lucy grow close, Emma feels torn as her feelings for Pete develop into something deeper. But Pete has a traumatic past of his own, and his concern for the two girls who love him is not all it seems...
This book is a completely un-put-down-able page-turner, yes, of course I'm totally biased, but it also helps that it's absolutely true, if you love your fiction with an edge, this is absolutely, positively the book for you. Come meet Lotte, find out about the book and marvel in her wonder...
Where did the idea for The Perfect Suicide come from? I'm not entirely sure, which is very weird now I think about it. I wanted to write something about university; about what it's like if you don't fit in. I went to a big university straight from being at a very small school, and found it all rather overwhelming. But I didn't feel like this is something people talk about much. Everyone just goes on about how great it is, how it's the best time of your life etc, but in my case, it wasn't really (although it wasn't anywhere near as bad as my protagonist Emma's experience!).
So I wanted to write about that - the experience of feeling alienated from your peers, and how people turn to tradition when they are feeling scared or worried - and in this case, religion. I'm an atheist, but I have some religious friends, and I've always been intrigued by the power of their beliefs. I wanted to explore the concept of them believing that by trying to convert me, they were helping me. Whereas in some ways, I found it quite manipulative. And I knew I wanted to write about Cresswell, which is a truly beautiful place that no-one's really heard of. So I kind of tied these themes together, and The Perfect Suicide was the result...
Have you always wanted to be an author - if so what made you decide to stop thinking about it and actually do it? I have always wanted to be an author - cliched though it is. As I child, I loved reading more than playing, and I used to waffle away at my grandparents, making up stories and finding it brilliant that they listened to me. I wrote my first book when I was about 8 - a picture book for my baby sister (in hindsight it was a shameless Spot the Dog rip-off) - and then went on to finish my first 'novel', all painstakingly typed up on my electric typewriter, when I was about 13. It was called Summer At Maryvale and was about two orphans being packed off on a retreat in the countryside during WWII. I sent it off to Penguin and was most peeved by their rejection letter, suggesting I read it out to my schoolfriends. So I've always written really - there wasn't any conscious decision to start.
How long did the book take to go from idea in your head to actual hold in your hand book? Ages! It's been a long, slow process, with lots of twists and turns along the way. Publishing is the oddest industry I've ever come across, but that's because it's fundamentally creative, and creativity and business-sense don't really like each other much.
Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process please? Do you have any rituals? Particular times of the day to write? My writing process is horribly haphazard. I tend to write in fits and starts, but when I am having a writing phase, I write quickly and I write a lot in one go. I don't have any particular rituals - lots of tea and biscuits but that's about it. Oh and I have to tie my hair up, or I fiddle with it. I prefer to write in the late afternoon, or at night. I'm terribly easily distracted during the day.
Do you get writer's block? Feelings of not being good enough? If so how do you deal? I don't get writer's block really, but I do sometimes find it difficult to solve plot issues, which I suppose is a form of writer's block. I tend to have to sit on the problem for a while in those cases, just mulling it over in my mind, until eventually the solution decides to show up. I do lots of good thinking on trains!
And I feel not good enough ALL the time - in fact, I've realised that I keep apologising to people who've said they've bought the book, which is definitely not good for promotion!!
Do you have an agent or did you go it alone when looking for a publisher? I do have an agent - Caroline Hardman from Hardman & Swainson. I signed with her in 2008. I don't think I could be without her! She's an amazing editor too and can see straight to the heart of any plot issues, which is so helpful when you're lost in confusion.
What made you choose to publish with SASSY Books? I think the way Sassy works is very forward-thinking and positive. Publishing is such a changing field at the moment, and I love the way Sassy operates - it's all online and as an author you feel so involved in the whole process, which I don't think you get so much with the bigger publishers. I even got to choose the image for the cover. It's been a really friendly, personal experience, which has been so reassuring because publishing your first novel is a really daunting and scary thing. Plus my editor Lisa is awesome!
So, this is your first book - what was that first moment when you saw your book in print like? Very weird. It was thicker than I expected, which made me feel a bit smug. Ha! It's been amazing. I still can't actually believe it's all words wot I wrote.
Quick fire round: What's your favourite... Book: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier Author: Aaah! So hard. Hmm, Maggie O' Farrell at the moment I think Book to movie: The End of the Affair - I love both the film and the book so much Place to write: At my desk Writing equipment: My iMac Writing ensemble: Pyjama bottoms and a hoodie! Oh the glamour of authorship
What's next in the world o' Lotte Worth? Are there more books in the pipeline? I have finished another novel - a dual-narrative thriller set in a disused mental asylum, and am currently battling with my third. So fingers crossed you haven't seen the last of me just yet!