1. What surprised you most while writing your latest book?
We're currently writing a book about 18‐year‐olds in their first few weeks at university, and it really surprised us how much has changed since we were at university (which was only 10 years ago!) We just missed the explosion of Facebook (as we left university in 2005), and obviously we were well before Twitter, Snapchat etc, but when we speak to university students now, so much of their lives revolve around these social media platforms. The night after you go out, you immediately get on social media to post/look at photos, and check out all the people you met ‐ that wasn't part of our university experience at all. So that is something we are having to learn about, so that we get the voices and the themes right in this book!
2. If you could live in any fantasy world, which one would it be?
TOM: This is a great question... I'm going to go for the last fantasy land from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift ‐ the Land of the Houyhnhnms. These hard‐to‐pronounce creatures are basically super‐ intelligent talking horses, who are so advanced and rational and calm that they look upon humans as crazy savages. They sound pretty great.
LUCY: Obviously The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I mean, I already feel part of it so it wouldn’t be that much of a jump. Except for the actual being‐able‐to‐do‐magic part, which would obviously be immense.
3. Do you have a mantra that gets you through the drafting phase?
Our mantra is stolen off Dory from Finding Nemo: 'Just keep writing'. Basically, for the first draft, we keep ploughing through, even if we think we messed a chapter up, or we could have written something slightly better. We just try to get to the end, so we have a complete book, and THEN we can go back and tweak/change stuff to make it better. There's a great Terry Pratchett quote ‐ "The first draft is just you telling yourself the story" ‐ and we subscribe to that completely!
4. What is your favorite hobby when you're not writing?
TOM: Unsurprisingly, I like reading... But also listening to music, watching/playing soccer, and hanging out with my friends!
LUCY: I am kind of a hobby whore. I just signed up to do a monogramming course. In my head I will then embark on a long and fruitful monogramming career which involves monogramming everything I own and also everything everybody else owns. But if it turns out I have no talent / staying power for the ol’ monogramming then I might take up something else. Like you know, owl husbandry or the like. My other hobbies are gardening and listening to BBC Radio 4 and reading. But those are standard, I reckon.
5. Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
TOM: Probably the main character! Not to give too much away, but he is going through some very tough times as the book begins, so it was difficult ‐ but very interesting/challenging ‐ to try and engage with that, and write convincingly from the point of someone who's struggling.
LUCY: I would say the main character too. Because they are always a little piece of you. And you can never really see yourself clearly can you?
6. Do you enjoy writing to music? If so, do you have a go‐to playlist?
TOM: I find it impossible to write to any music that has lyrics, as the words in the music always get in the way of the words in my head/on the page! So, I don't really write to music ‐ or if I do, it's instrumental stuff...
LUCY: NOOOOOO. Absolutely not. I need an absolutely silent room. Like, death silence. I could have been one of those monks in medieval times that sat in silence and wrote. Except not really because monks in medieval times didn’t get to watch YouTube videos of corgis having a bath or eat Percy Pigs (my fave food).
7. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
LUCY: I have a little free library in my garden. I work as a school librarian and I am really really passionate about everyone having access to books. It sits in my front garden and all day long people come and take and leave books. It brings the community together and gets people reading. I love it. The Little Free Library project is amazing. Check it out!
8. What's a book that you've read recently that you would recommend to your readers?
TOM: I just read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. It's so great ‐ really funny and sweet; moving and realistic. Very difficult to put down. On a non‐YA tip, I also recently read Laughing Gas by PG Wodehouse which I strongly, strongly recommend to comedy novel fans.
LUCY: I am reading Orange Boy by Patrice Lawrence. It is set in London right now and really captures what it is like to be young and on the outside I think. It had me hooked from the first line.
9. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising?
TOM: I definitely enjoy the revising more. When we are drafting, we write separately, emailing our chapters back and forth to each other. But when we're revising, we sit together in the same room, reading it all out loud, and trying to add little jokes, and tweak bits of dialogue. That's much more collaborative, and much more fun. We laugh a lot...
LUCY: Sometimes I get bored of revising. I’m like ‘I know the story now...I’m bored!’ That is why writing with Tom is so much fun. He is way better at the finer details than me, and having him there makes something boring into something really fun.
10. What would you say is your superpower?
TOM: Another great question... I would say that mine is punctuality. I could be Punctuality Man. I don't think I've ever been late in my life.
LUCY: Inappropriate laughter. If you need someone to appear and laugh inappropriately, I’m definitely your woman. Or maybe enthusiasm. I am pretty jolly. I won the "most jolly" award when I was at school, which is still my greatest achievement.
Meet A Totally Awkward Love Story!
For fans of The DUFF, this hilarious and true-to-teen romance is Broad City meets Judy Blume.
The summer before college, Hannah swears she’s finally going to find The One. And for five perfect minutes, Hannah does find him. He’s cute and makes her laugh like crazy. She just wishes she’d caught his name, because Toilet Boy Cinderella really lacks sex appeal.
For Sam, the summer is off to a bad start for a million reasons. But for five minutes his luck changes: in a fancy restroom painted purple like it belongs in a Bond villain hideaway, Sam falls head over heels for some strange and hilarious girl. Of course, he doesn’t know her name. With his luck, he’ll never see her again, and he’ll remain a girlfriendless, moony-eyed virgin. Forever.
But another chance meeting brings them together, only to have a chance misunderstanding drive them apart . . . and then the cycle starts all over again. Madcap mishaps, raunchy hilarity, and deep romance follow these two wherever they go. For two people so clearly destined for each other, they sure have a hell of a lot of trouble even getting together.
Meet Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison!
Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison met at the end of high school and quickly became sweethearts. Though they broke up in college, they remain best friends. Lucy runs the online teen magazine Whatever After and teaches in girls’ schools across London, specializing in building confidence and creativity. Tom is a journalist and has written for Time Out, Vice, ESPN, Glamour, and many other publications. A Totally Awkward Love Story was partially inspired by their own high school relationship, with Tom writing Sam’s chapters and Lucy writing Hannah’s. This is their first novel.
A Totally Awkward Love Story
By: Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison
Release Date: May 3, 2016
One winner will receive a copy of A Totally Awkward Love Story (US only).
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