Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland, and after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into over thirty languages and sold over ten million copies worldwide. She is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author.
Lucinda’s novels include The Seven Sisters, a seven-book series telling the story of adopted sisters and based allegorically on the mythology of the famous star constellation. The first three books, The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister, and The Shadow Sister have all been No.1 bestsellers across Europe, and the rights to a multi-season TV series have already been optioned by a Hollywood production company.
When not writing, travelling or running around after her children, she loves reading books that she hasn’t written with a glass or two of Provençal rosé!
1)Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
When I’m writing the first draft of the story, I’ll get up, strap on my dictaphone and begin to talk into it. At lunchtime if it’s the summer, I have a glass of rose with ice at twelve thirty and carry on working, (my day is punctuated by an assortment of beverages at specific times; coffee, tea, water and liquorice tea. It gives me something to look forward to). After lunch, I go somewhere quiet, lie down and think about where I go next in the story. An hour later, I get up and continue writing until I drop.
2)When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
No. I have no idea where my characters come from. But they’re certainly not based on anyone, famous or infamous.
3)What is your favourite women’s fiction book of all time and why?
The book I’m reading is usually the one that’s my favourite, although I tend to read classical literature. I’ve just re-read ‘The Custom of the Country’, by Edith Wharton. I’d forgotten how wonderful it is.
4)What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
When I’m writing the first draft, I tend to use a location or specific place I’ve fallen in love with as my starting point and I then begin, with little idea of where the story is going to go. I let the characters lead me right up until the end. Once typed up, it’s a mess technically, but in there somewhere are the characters and a story. Editing is the real work. I edit my books at least 20 times - over and over until it they are as perfect as I can get them. I’m anal about punctuation and getting the historical detail.
5)What was your journey to being a published author?
After I became ill with glandular fever when I was 22, I wrote my first novel and got a three book deal with Simon and Schuster. I wrote seven more novels under the name ‘Lucinda Edmonds’ and they actually did very well. But by then I was writing a book and having a baby a year and something had to go. So I concentrated on being a Mum for six years. Then, about four years ago, when my little one had started school, I got the urge to write again and so came up with ‘Hothouse Flower’ (The Orchid House). Once the book was completely finished, I let my agent send it out, but as ‘Lucinda Riley’, so that I’d be ‘judged’ as an unknown novelist without a track record. And two books later, I am celebrating selling over 3 million copies worldwide.
6)What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That we throw something together on a wet Wednesday afternoon and spend the rest of our time drinking coffee and gossiping on the telephone. I work fourteen hour days for most of the year.
7) What are your top five writing tips?
a)Let your imagination run wild.
b)Live, breathe and inhabit the worlds you write about and your characters. c)Never, ever think that anything you write is ‘unreal’ – the truth is really stranger than fiction.
d) If you have had a bad day when nothing seems to be going right, get up the following morning and continue.
e) Above all, once you start, DO NOT STOP until you reach the end.
Lucinda Q & A