Louisa George has just dropped in to talk about her latest novel, THE WAR HERO’S LOCKED AWAY HEART and she has a signed copy for one lucky commenter. She is one of my favourite novelists in the Mills and Boon Medical Romance imprint and I had a lot of questions up my sleeve to ask her. So here we go:
Louisa- Thanks so much for inviting me over to your blog! It’s lovely to be here.
Maria- You’re very welcome, Louisa. I’ve noticed that your characters, particularly the heroines are very well drawn and tend to come alive on the page. The heroines in your first two novels, Jessie and Mim, were very likeable. Both of them struck me as women who I’d lik e to have as a friend.
I loved Jessie in ONE MONTH TO BECOME A MUM for her
no-nonsense, get on with it attitude when her marriage broke up under such tragic circumstances, especially the way she just dedicated herself to helping others. I also admired Mim in WAKING UP WITH HIS RUNAWAY BRIDE for putting her passion for rural community medicine before her engagement to a man who back then was rather shallow and selfish. What I wanted to ask you was what is more important to you when writing your novels? The characters or the plot?
Maria I’d also like to ask you where do you get the inspiration for your characters for your novels? From your imagination, or are they inspired by real life people you know? And are your plots inspired by real life or are they entirely inspired?
Louisa The heroines are all from my head, in fact, I think they’re who I’d like to be if I was braver, stronger, taller, funnier, younger! I possibly take traits from people I know and admire, but I couldn’t possibly say who! The secondary characters are sometimes little bits of people and I have fun creating them. However, I do get myself into a bit of a hole sometimes, like when Skye (secondary character in book two) became the heroine for her own story- what to do with a nose-pierced black-haired goth? Hopefully I managed to make her likable (in The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heart). As for plots- that all stems from the internal conflict- e.g. in The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heart I started with an image of a man standing on an outcrop, a loner who wanted to hide from the world, and I had the feeling something terrible had happened to him, and that he didn’t trust himself to love again. Enter Skye- lovable, bubbly Skye who is the total opposite of him, and who believes the world is her playground – so much potential for plot there.
Maria When you sit down to actually write a novel, do you have the whole thing plotted out from start to finish? Do you go with a rough outline, being open to new developments as they occur to you in the writing? Or do you just start with a blank page and work it from there?
Louisa I’m developing a process, but I’m still learning. Currently I have to force myself to think out a whole story – especially if I have to pitch it to my editor. That’s hard for a pantser! I usually thrash out the first 3 chapters and get to know the characters, then plot more from there.*
Maria It probably comes quite naturally to you to set your books in the medical world in New Zealand. Living as you do in New Zealand and having a medical background means that you know the world about which you’re writing. Do you ever have to do additional research to help with a book you’re working on?
Louisa I do research all the time, particularly about the medical things- I feel it’s so important to get every fact right! (I’m paranoid about it!).Luckily I have a husband who’s a doctor so he can help. As for settings,usually I make them up, but my current work in progress is set in London and even though I lived there for 7 years it was a long time ago, things change so much. Thank goodness for the internet!
Maria Are you good at spotting your own mistakes when you re-read your drafts? I know I’m not!
Louisa I find the best way to spot mistakes is to print the whole thing out in smaller font and single spaced (to save on ink and paper) and read in a different room to the one you wrote the book in. (weird, I know, but it works for me!)*
Maria I know you’re a novelist. Could you share with us if you’ve dabbled in other types of writing too? Articles? Short stories? Anything else?
Louisa I’ve written articles about health for magazines – mainly in New Zealand- under my real name. When I was working as a nurse I had a few articles published (as joint author) in the British Medical Journal too.
Maria Of the three books you’ve released so far, which is your absolute favourite and why?
Louisa Oh, gosh- that’s a toughie! I’ve loved all of them; they’ve all brought their own challenges and were all fun to write at various stages. Possibly, Waking Up With His Runaway Bride is my absolute favourite- not because I love the story so much as it was my second medical and after the long revision process for the first one I thought Mills and Boon had signed me up by mistake, or that me writing a publishable book was a fluke. I absolutely didn’t know if I could do another one (there is an affliction that all writers want to avoid, called ‘second book syndrome’). So, finishing it and getting only minor revisions gave me much more self belief
as an author. It was my ‘rite of passage’ book (plus it has dancing/ballet/salsa in it, which I adore).
Thanks for such interesting questions. I’d love to give away a copy of The War Hero’s Locked-Away Heart to one commenter!
Maria Thank you for coming Louisa and thank you for the giveaway.
LOUISA ON THE WEB
THE WAR HERO’S LOCKED AWAY HEART