Hi and welcome to my Q&A with one of my fave authors (Orenda and otherwise): Louise Beech! Louise is the author of a multitude of books in a multitude of genres. She always surprises me and she always makes me cry and whatever she comes up with next, I’ll be there to read it! When I started thinking about doing interviews for Orentober, Louise was the first author to pop into my mind, I couldn’t wait to prod and probe her ? Without further ado, here is Louise, and doesn’t she look stunning!
Hi Louise! Welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove! I’m thrilled to have you here! How are you today?
I am good. About to get my hair done, then going to work. You?
I’m great, you’re here, how could I be anything but?! Now that we’ve established that this is a good day, if this were an actual meeting in real life, where would we be now? Would we be out for coffee, would we go for a bite to eat? Where would you take me, and why?
It would really depend on the day. On a writing day, you’d be in my back room having a cup of tea. On a day off, we’d be walking along the River Humber and then having lunch somewhere nice. If I was at work, we would be having a coffee in the foyer of a theatre. Why? To be accommodating in each situation!
Well in that case I think I should visit you not once but three times, so we can do it all! But before I do, tell me what to expect: can you describe yourself in 5 key words?
Wow, this is hard. Funny, independent, creative, difficult, loyal.
For the record, I do think of you as funny and creative, you don’t strike me as difficult, but maybe I should talk to your family ? What quality are you most proud of?
Creative. Not so much proud but grateful. It’s saved my life and kept me going.
I’m happy it has, and I hope that your creativity keeps flowing freely, because I need more of your books! What is your biggest vice?
Haha. Food. My whole life has been a battle with it. It started when I was little and because we didn’t have much, I would steal chocolate from a corner shop and comfort eat.
If I’m ever lucky enough to meet you in real life, I’ll bring you some Belgian chocolates! If you were to find a bottle with a genie willing to grant you three wishes, what would you wish for?
I would wish for a cure to Type 1 diabetes. It’s a chronic and cruel condition that my daughter has, and I hate it. I’d also wish for one of my books to be made into a film. And maybe a new washing machine.
I wish I could grant you all three! I’ll buy an extra copy of your books and get you a bit closer to that new washing machine ? Which of your books would you nominate for screen adaptation?
I’d love The Lion Tamer Who Lost or How to be Brave to be adapted into a movie. Both are more epic stories, spanning time and distance, and both are about love and survival.
Would you want to be involved?
Writers are apparently rarely involved, though I would be if asked.
Who would you want to play your characters? Did you have anyone (famous or not) in mind when you created your characters?
I actually find it hard to picture which actors as my characters simply look the way I imagine them to, not like a living person.
What song would you pick as the title song?
Not sure – someone could maybe write that?
Well, Casa Orenda does have a few musicians… You spoke about your daughter’s diabetes, your book How To Be Brave is inspired by her getting the diagnosis, and also by your grandfather’s life. Maria in the Moon draws on the devastating flood in Hull in 2007. Do your other books draw on your personal history as well? Would you say that writing for you is perhaps therapeutic? How much of yourself and the people around you do you put in your characters?
I have put a great deal of myself into my books. Places I’ve worked have also inspired settings, like the radio in Call Me Star Girl and a theatre in my new book I Am Dust (out next year). I think it’s natural as a writer that we appear in our fiction. Something like that is hard to supress at times. This is why I know I will write a full-on memoir, perhaps next, who knows?
Contemporary fiction with or without hints of magical realism, a psychological thriller, a memoir, it’s clear that your writing refuses to be crammed in a genre-box, you’re very genre-fluid. Any idea why that is?
It’s because I can’t write to a formula. I can’t follow rules. I just can’t because writing is my free place. It’s always about the story for me not where I might fit.
Do you think it makes your work somehow less marketable?
Yes, this makes me less marketable, and it has certainly been a long journey finding my place, but I think I’m getting there, and I hope people will read me simply for the stories.
This reader certainly will! Send me your grocery list and I’ll read that too ? You say writing is your free place and I do feel that your stories have a very natural flow, your characters a very natural arc, to me it seems that you determine where they start out, but they determine where they end up. Do you give your characters free reign or are you a planner?
They have free reign. I don’t plot or plan. I just … set off. Fly, I guess. I listen to my characters, though they have fooled me a few times when I don’t even realise they are lying to me. I very rarely know the ending to my books when I begin.
Which of your characters is closest to your heart?
Rose in How to be Brave because she was inspired by my daughter, and Conor in The Mountain in my Shoe because he was inspired by my son.
Ah yes, I love Rose, and the voice Finty Williams gave her! And Conor! I myself still have a weak spot for Ben, but there’s also Catherine Maria and Stella, and they will all have a piece of my heart forever! Do your own books make you cry, do you cry when you write the scenes that make all of us readers cry?
Haha, yes they do. I get very emotional. It’s like a way to release them.
What is your writing process like? Do you have a regime you try to adhere to, certain habits to get the words flowing, a writing cave, a favourite drink, some music? And what is your favourite aspect of the writing process?
No strict regime other than I sit and I write. It’s mostly at home in my back room, but I can write elsewhere on my laptop. I need music when writing, but silence when editing. Lots of cups of tea. My favourite aspect is that I escape. I get lost in it. It really brings me so much joy.
As an author do you have a role model? An author you look up to and think: that’s who I want to be when I grow up?
No. There are books I’ve definitely read that I wish I had, that have made me try harder.
What do you love most about being a published author? Are there downsides too?
I love meeting readers. I love signing books. I love doing the events. The travel, the adventure. I guess the only downside is that I’m tired as I also work.
I can imagine! Writing, working, your family, the Orenda Books Roadshows and other events, I wouldn’t last a week ? What does the future bring?
World book domination.
Happy to hear it! What makes you happy? What are your favourite things?
Writing. Walking somewhere wild and beautiful. Laughing. I laugh a lot, love to have a good joke around. My family.
Is there anything else you want to share? Something you think I should have asked and didn’t? Something you think people should know about you or your books?
I think you asked some amazing questions, so no. People should simply know that I put every bit of my heart into my books.
We do know, it’s there on every single page of every single book! Thanks so much for joining me today and have a lovely #Orentober!!