I was excited for the opportunity to meet Laura Barnett at the Wakefield Literature festival back in September; I try and get along to as many local author events as I can. There is nobody better to inspire you than the ones who have ‘made it’ and inspiration was certainly the order of the day at this particular event.
Laura Barnett has recently published her debut novel The Versions of Us with overwhelming success. It is currently enjoying a renewed surge of publicity after being included in the Richard and Judy Spring 2016 Book Club. I was fascinated to hear Laura talk about her book; her inspirations for writing it and her journey from the last full stop to publication.
She was asked many questions about the book itself and her motivations for the plot and the characterisation. It was fascinating to learn that she wrote the book as one and not as three separate stories as one might have expected. For anyone who hasn’t read it, the book follows three versions of a life that might have been. One person asked her if she had a favourite version to which she responded good humouredly, “That’s like choosing a favourite child.”
I was particularly interested to hear about her writing life. She talked about the importance of carving out time for writing which can be something we all struggle to do. But, as she quite rightly pointed out, if it is important to you, you will make the time. Laura also talked about her writing routines and the planning techniques she had used when writing The Versions of Us. For anyone wanting to write, it is always intriguing to hear how published authors craft their ideas into words.
One anecdote that particularly stayed with me was when she talked about her experience of finding an agent. I imagined careful research; months of anguish and an array of rejection slips. But no. She picked a contemporary author she admired, in this case, Sarah Walters, and approached her agent. Luckily, the agent, Judith Murray, liked Laura’s work and her path to success began. From being accepted by the agent, her book has gone from strength to strength enjoying a spot as the Sunday Times number one bestseller. The book is also being optioned for a TV series; I will look out for that with eager anticipation.
Towards the end of the afternoon, I was lucky enough to speak to her personally and I told her about my own writing. I asked what her one piece of advice would be and she said, “Be Brave.” She went on to say that if you want to persue a writing career, you have to say yes to things and put yourself ‘out there’. I really liked the advice and have tried to carry it around with me. As well as her advice, she kindly signed my book telling me to keep writing and keep dreaming.
I am sure we will see more from Laura as she builds her career as a writer and I, for one, wish her all the best.