Writer Wednesday: Annie Lyons

After leaving university, Annie Lyons decided that she 'rather liked books' and got a job as a bookseller on Charing Cross Road, London. Two years later she left the retail world and continued rather liking books during an eleven-year career in publishing.

Following redundancy in 2009 she realised that she would rather like to write books and having undertaken a creative writing course, lots of reading and a bit of practice she produced Not Quite Perfect. She now realises that she loves writing as much as coffee, not as much as her children and a bit more than gardening. She has since written another two novels and is about to start work on her fourth.

She lives in a house in south-east London with her husband and two children. The garden is somewhat overgrown. One day she hopes to own a chocolate-brown Labrador named John and have tea with Mary Berry.

1. Why did you want to become a writer? 
I have spent most of my life surrounded by books – from the books read to me by my parents, to the ones I sold in my first job as a bookseller in London to the children’s books I helped produce when I worked in publishing. I took a creative writing course after the birth of my second child and when I was made redundant from my job, writing a novel seemed like the next step in my book-filled life. I also wanted to see if I could do it.

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you?
Revisions – when I receive the notes from my editor I open then, skim-read, panic, close them and walk away (occasionally having a little weep). The next day I open them again, telling myself that my editor is an oracle and I will work through them to make the book better. I like to use highlighters and post-it notes at this stage – everything seems possible once it has been highlighted in orange.

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing? 
A morning spent thundering out 2000 or more words and the feeling that you’re getting somewhere with your character/plot/story* *delete as appropriate

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why? 
That’s a tough one but I’d have to say ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls – that was the book which really made me want to be a writer.

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why? 
Christa from Not Quite Perfect – she’s Rachel’s Swiss friend with a colourful past and very direct but kind nature. She was a lot of fun to write and I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to her, even though I’m pretty sure she can handle herself!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do? 
Bertie Wooster – I would love to flit back to that era and spend the day dancing, drinking champagne and getting into amusing scrapes with P.G. Wodehouse’s brilliant characters.

7. What can we expect next from you? 
I am working on a new series, which I’m really excited about because it’s taking my writing in a different direction. It’s going to have a London setting and follow the lives of women from different generations. The first book tells the story of Natalie, a children’s book writer and mother to eight year old Woody, whose world starts to implode on the evening her husband of fifteen years announces that he doesn’t love her anymore. I can’t say anymore at the moment because it is still playing out in my head (with the occasional scribbled idea in my trusty notebook).

8. Is there any particular advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out? 
Celebrate your successes and remember to leave the house occasionally – writing can be a lonely pastime so you have to remind yourself what people look like when it gets a bit much.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you.
 I drop the children at school, come home, make a huge pot of coffee and write until lunchtime. After lunch, I dabble in a little social media, answer e-mails, sort the washing etc. before dashing out the door at three to collect the small people.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood – a beautifully structured book telling the story of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives. The writing is sublime and the story-telling is wonderfully evocative of the different periods of history. I am admiring and jealous all at the same time.


Step into someone else’s shoes for a day…

And it will change you for a lifetime.

Cat is very good at her job. She runs a PR company with best friend (and secret crush) Jesse, and is never happier than when her high-profile celebrities are glittering in the spotlight.

But after a footballer client hits the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Cat’s career takes a sudden nosedive. So when her brother Andrew unexpectedly needs her to look after his kids for a few weeks, she can hardly say no. She’s happily single, hasn’t exactly been the ‘World’s Best Auntie’ over the years, and what she knows about looking after children would fit on the back of a postage stamp. But it’s only temporary until she gets her real life back on track – isn’t it?

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