Tuesday Chit Chat with Lizzie Lamb

Hi Lizzie, welcome to Romaniac HQ. The kettle’s on, the biscuit tin’s restocked, so let’s get started, shall we?

Hi Jan, can I just check that the coffee is strong enough and that the biscuits are coated in milk chocolate? If you can’t get biscuits, I quite like giant chocolate buttons.

Lizzie, you’ll be pleased to know it’s a yes to both and we’ve even got chocolate buttons too 🙂

Great! I’m sitting comfortably, so let’s begin.

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Having successfully self-published your debut novel, Tall, Dark & Kilted (cracking title, by the way!) tell us a bit about what inspired the story.

I thought up the title (it was initially called BIG BAD WOLF) and the two main characters Ruairi and Fliss, and thereafter the novel wrote itself.  I originally wrote the novel for Little Black Dress (Headline) after attending my first RNA conference in Leicester. I’d attended a seminar given by then editor, Cat Cobain, who told me that LBD were looking for new writers. She gave an inspiring talk and said she wanted a book that was small enough to fit in someone’s handbag so they could read it on the tube/bus, etc, on their way to work. I had a 1:1 session with her and told her I’d written a book about a therapist who tries to set up a therapy centre in the highlands of Scotland. She said to finish it and send it to her. It took me a year to finish the novel which I sent to the RNA New Writers’ scheme where it almost received a second read. I then made some changes to it and sent it off to LBD.

In the meantime, I got on with writing another novel. I also entered a competition to write the jingle for the LBD website, winning a year’s supply of books. I then learned that the publication was no longer taking on new authors and was closing down. My novel came back to me and I sent it to The Hilary Johnson Authors’ Advisory Service where it was reviewed by a former senior editor of a publishing company. I didn’t agree with her critique, so I put the novel in the drawer and had a go at writing a Mills and Boon.  

I also won another competition to have the first three chapters read and critiqued by Carole Matthews, who sent me a mug which changed colour and advertised her latest novel when I poured tea or coffee into it. We’ve been friends ever since; she’s been very encouraging, as has Trisha Ashley and Kate Hardy, telling me to keep going as I’ll get there in the end.

Describe that moment (words and actions) when you first saw your novel available to download on Amazon, and later, in paperback.

BookCoverPreview (2)-001

I would still be writing and rewriting the novel ready to send to agents if it hadn’t been for Amanda Grange (author of Mr Darcy’s Diary, etc). Mandy had lunch at my house where she encouraged me and three other NWS members: June Kearns, Adrienne Vaughan and Mags Cullingford to put our books on Amazon. It was then that we decided to form THE NEW ROMANTICS 4 and have a paperback version of our book as well as a kindle download, so that we could hold roadshows and sell the novel to friends/general public.  We had to get our American tax code (that’s another story!), design the front cover, etc, and finally send it up to Create Space. By the end of the process we were all shattered. We were having lunch with Mandy in a nearby café when my lovely husband, Dave (aka Bongo Man) turned up with my proof copy, which had just arrived. By then I was so exhausted, I just looked at it, feeling numb. It took me a couple of days to realise what I had achieved. Only then did I really begin to feel excited.

Did you draft each chapter out beforehand or did your characters have free rein to take you wherever their stories led them?

I must admit I’m a plotter rather than a pantser. I knew where the story was going but wasn’t totally sure how to get there – I also lengthened the novel to 120k words. June Kearns is my writing buddy/beta reader and she suggested another plot thread whereby all my ideas fell into place. I had a 1:1 with an editor at another RNA conference and she said that the title of my novel wouldn’t work and suggested a change. Tongue in cheek, I suggested Tall, Dark and Kilted and she said she LOVED it but wasn’t taking on any new authors. So, I followed Mandy’s advice and self-published because life’s too short to wait for agents to get back to me.

Do you have a set writing routine or any literary rituals? 

Luckily my time is entirely my own, and after 34 years of getting up at 6am to get ready for school, I’m definitely a morning person. I try to be at the PC for about 8am and answer emails, put a post on Facebook and write something on Twitter. THEN I begin writing until about 11am or thereabouts – normally my parrot Jasper calls me to let him out and he plays in his cupboard all day. I tend to write for some of the evening, too, as there are very few programs on the TV that I enjoy. I also try to plan to see friends a couple of times a week, otherwise I’d stay in my study writing and never venture out.

In addition to being part of The New Romantics 4, you run the Leicester chapter of the RNA, as well as belonging to several online writers’ groups. How beneficial has that writerly support and camaraderie been for you and how big a part would you say social media has played?

New Romantics 4

Burton Overy we love you ! 004

I would say that the best thing I ever did was to join Facebook a few years back, before my novel was finished and ready for publication. Most of the people I’ve made friends with are writers, aspiring writers or avid readers – in this country and in the USA. I’ve been encouraged by Facebook friends (many of whom are in the RNA NWS) to finish the book and lots of them have bought the download/ novel and posted a review on Amazon. They helped make my tweet-a-thon (where I held a virtual picnic in the highlands of Scotland) a great success. Twitter actually blocked me because I sent too many tweets. I tweet about my novel three times a day in order to catch the UK, East coast of USA and then the West coast of the USA before I go to bed. My lovely twitter friends retweet for me and I return the favour.

Can you give us a teaser about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m writing a new romantic comedy about a rookie reporter (a rebel without a cause) who goes undercover in a boot camp for brides. Her partner is an infuriating photographer who has a hidden agenda and is on the trail of a drug smuggling gang. That’s all I’m saying . . . for now! I want to have it finished for the end of summer and will then decide whether to submit it to the NWS or not.  

We love reading about Bongo Man and, indeed, about the famous Bongo itself, which we know you’ve taken many a literary trip in, so if you could take three famous travelling companions along for the ride one day, who would they be and why?  

Dave (aka Bongo Man) has been fantastic and given his life over to my book launches with the other New Romantics 4 because he knows this is my dream come true. He even bought full highland dress, sack wheelers, stepladders and an old Imperial typewriter off eBay for our launches. Who would I take along with me for the ride? Well, Jan, you would definitely be one of my companions because we’d have such a laugh together, wouldn’t we? You know, I can’t think of anyone famous I’d like to come along with me – isn’t that strange? Perhaps that’s because I spend so much of my life dreaming up plots, etc.

Dave (aka Bongo Man)

Burton Overy we love you ! 005

Any other creative passions, Lizzie? 

I love taking photographs, as you might have noticed on Facebook. My ambition is to buy a new PC (hopefully a Mac) and an iPhone when my present contract runs out, and synch them together with my iPad. Then it’ll be whole lot easier taking photos, sharing them with friends and setting up a blog after Christmas.  I also want to make a video of me reading Tall, Dark and Kilted and put it on YouTube after Christmas, too. Not to mention joining an online newspaper for Indie writers.

And finally, whilst I make us another coffee and grab the mince pies, a few quick-fire questions for you:

Actor you’d most like to see in a kilt?

Owen McDonnell – he played the Garda in Single Handed on TV

Haggis or Clootie Dumpling?

Clootie Dumpling! I shudder at the thought of haggis, although I do like neeps (swede) and tatties that accompany it. It’s a funny thing, we lived in Scotland until I was eleven-years-old but we never ate haggis until we moved to Leicester. LOL.

Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig?

Daniel Craig. Pierce is gorgeous but a bit too smooth for me.

Dream holiday destination?

IF we ever find anyone willing to babysit the parrot (he’d never cope with being sent to the parrot equivalent of kennels/cattery) I’d love to go back to Greece or Italy and tour in the Bongo. We did it years ago. Failing that, I’d like to stay in a bungalow on a beach and have my every need catered for while I write.  

Singer you’d most like to serenade you?

I’d love the former lead singer in RUNRIG to sing An Ubhal as Aire (the highest apple) to me in Gaelic. I played it over and over when I was writing Tall, Dark and Kilted.

Cocktails or champagne?

Oh, champagne every time, dah-ling.

Novel you could read over and over again?

Can I be greedy and choose all the Jilly Cooper novels she wrote in the 70s: Imogen, Prudence, Emily, etc, and Georgette Heyer’s Friday’s Child?  

Fave Christmas Carol?

In the Bleak Midwinter – it always makes me cry.

Thanks so much for being our guest today, Lizzie. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you. Merry Christmas! X

Merry Crimbo to you and all the other Romaniacs. And can I say: if you have a dream, go for it…

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Follow Lizzie on Twitter: @lizzie_lamb /or @newromantics4

email: lizzielambwriter@gmail.com

Tall, Dark and Kilted – Amazon Paperback UK– http://tinyurl.com/cn8fylt

Tall, Dark and Kilted- download Kindle UK– http://tinyurl.com/cdjyec6


42 thoughts on “Tuesday Chit Chat with Lizzie Lamb

  1. Thanks Jan, you’ve done a wonderful job with the blog. (no surprises there.) Bongo Man’s dead chuffed at his honourable mention but is now heading for the plate of mince pies . . .

  2. Great intereview, Jan! : ) I shall tweet it in a sec. xx
    Lizzie, you should check out Ed Harcourt’s version of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ it’s lovely. I’m sure it must be on You Tube or Spotify : ) Good luck with your incumbant book.x

    • Thanks Yasmin. I hope that your editing issues with pagination for the paperback version of Gunshot Glitter have resolved themselves. Will check out the video and if I spend all Christmas blubbering, I’ll blame you. LOL.

  3. Great interview! I hope you and your kilted one go from strength to strength. I’d also love to meet both you and Jan one of these days x

  4. What a terrific interview Lizzie, your bubbly personality comes over so well, and beneath it is one clever author. I loved Tall, Dark and Kilted, and a boot camp for brides – what an original setting, you already have a prospective reader! x

    • His Nikki. Two Nikki’s – very confusing for me. I hope that you enjoy Tall,Dark and Kilted when you get round to reading it. Love your Books4Us Facebook Page. See you over there. 🙂

  5. Great to see you here, Lizzie, and I absolutely adore the title of your novel (and the cover!!). Shame about the Pierce Brosnan thing but hey ho…. Can I just say again that you had the BEST stall at the Festival of Romance? It was so nice meeting you and I enjoyed the interview very much, thanks, Romaniacs. XX Happy Crimbo all… 🙂

    • Happy birthday, Nicky and thanks for joining us. Wot, no cake?? So glad that you liked our stall, we’ve perfected setting it up in double quick time since then. You can have Pierce and I’ll have Daniel Crag – no unsightly fighting then. Thank you for your comments about cover and title – I searched high and low for the perfect picture. Thank you for stopping by on your BIG DAY. I hope we will meet in the near future . . .

    • Wonderful interview Lizzie. You’re a natural and Tall Dark and Kilted is certainly taking off.
      Mustn’t forget the man in the kilt. He is the supporting role!

      • Thanks, Cathy. And good luck with the release of your e-book in the early spring, too. The man in the kilt has taken to his bed with the dreaded lurgy today – shouldn;t have worked him so hard at our book launches !! Thanks for the kind remarks about TDK, its been a dream come true for me.

  6. Great interview 🙂 I really enjoyed Tall Dark and Kilted, and I have to say that the next book sounds even better! Can’t wait 🙂

  7. Thanks Judy, and for all the help you gave us re the dreaded ITIN form – and all the retweets etc. Enjoying embarking on the new novel and have been thrashing out plot lines with June Kearns today over soup and mince pies. Looking fwd to your next one, too.

  8. What a lovely interview, Jan and Lizzie! I have TD&K on my Kindle, and am looking forward to reading it soon. Your journey to publication is an interesting one, and I love that you stuck to your guns and wrote the book your way. And of course I agree with you about Facebook – so many lovely writer and reader friends on there! *waves*.
    Jasper the parrot sounds a real character! On the subject of kilts, my co-author is a (very proud) Cornishman, and donned his Cornish kilt for our Writers’ Circle Christmas Lunch yesterday!

    • Thanks Joanna, for taking the time to leave a comment. Hope you find some time over Christmas to chill out and read TDK – hope you enjpy it, too. I’m glad I’ve taken the route I have, we might not sell the volume of books but at least I have written the novel I wanted. Facebook is a great support and Jasper keeps me on my toes. Hm, would love to see a Cornish Kilt,

  9. Great interview ladies.
    Well done Lizzie, you have done a fantastic job with The New Romantics4 – wishing you even more success for 2013.

    • Thank you very much Sue. Like The Romaniacs, the NR4 is very much a team effort and we’ve been able to draw upon the support of our lovely RNA friends like yourself. Thank you very much for giving me the chance to share some of my memories with you all. Not proud of the ‘Hayley Mills’ years. Ha Ha. Can’t say I’ve changed all that much 🙂

  10. Lizzie, you are always so entertaining – and inspiring. And it’s nice to find someone else who watches Singlehanded. Lovely interview.

  11. Great interview, Lizzy. It was just like sitting and having a chat with you over a glass of champagne at Greenwich! Loved the book and good luck with the new one – it sounds like an interesting story.

    • Hi Angela, that was a lovely night in Greenwich, wasn’t it? I was so hot that I nearly melted – but the champagne certainly helped to cool us down. So glad that you enjoyed TDK, working hard on the next one and am being encouraged by June Kearns (and my interviewer, the lovely Jan).

  12. Thanks Sheryl, I am totally fuelled by chocolate. Love those giant buttons !! Just getting into my stride with the new book and having to learn to love my new hero. The laird in Tall, Dark and Kilted is quite hard to leave behind !!

  13. Today, only just catching up, Lizzie. Great interview, your enthusiasm, determination and dedication to the writer’s life shines through. You speak for so many new writers including me – the frustration of coming close, then not quite clearing the hurdels of the conventional route to publication, the belief in what you’re trying to achieve encouraged by favourable critiques, and supportive fellow writers. Ultimately, what is there to lose. ‘Girls doing it for themselves’.

    • Thanks Mags, well we’ve done it. We could have waited forever for the perfect agents with the wonderful publishing contract. But I must say I like being my own editor, publicity machine and spokesperson. Control freak, me? Just one thing missing – the advance. But I’m in this for the long game so Im prepared to take it as it comes. And at the end of the day, if it all goes pear shaped I cn say I enjoyed the journey and made lots of lovely friends along the way.

  14. You’re right, Rhoda. Couldn’t live without my chocolate. Prefer it I’ve wine ! Maybe I should book into a boot com for chocoholics – or, maybe not !

    • I agree Nicky. I should really ave a blog myself but I know it would take over my life, so I’m holding off fr a little longer. Your blog is stoopendous, too.

      • Ah, Lizzie, thanks so much! You have so much to say, I think you’d find a blog a wonderful platform. Right here to help and advise if you want to take the plunge… XX

      • Thanks Nicky.I have a new PC arriving in a few days and once I transfer over the photos etc I might give a go. I will take you up on your offer. Thank you.

    • Oh, wow! Thank you so much, Nicky. We are honoured. So glad you enjoy our blog as much as we enjoy yours 🙂 xx

  15. Great interview, Lizzie. I went to the same Cat Cobain talk in Leicester!! It was inspirational for me, too, and I wrote Evie Undercover with LBD in mind. She started something for both of us, did Cat. What a shame that Little Black Dress came to an end.

    Have a brilliant Christmas, and continued success next year.

    Liz X

  16. Liz, how amazing is that. If it’d been a year later we might have had some luck. I think Cats now with Transworld/Transita ? I thought she was fab and rather suspected she was destined for greater things. How strange that the books we both wrote for LBD came onto Amazon in 2012 within a month of each other. Xx

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