03 March, 2023

#Interview with Fiona Lucas, Author of Never Forget You - @fionalucasbooks #Contemporary #Romance

Fiona Lucas is an award-winning author of contemporary women’s fiction. The Last Goodbye is her first novel written under the pen name of Fiona Lucas, but she’s been writing heartwarming love stories and feel-good women’s fiction as Fiona Harper for more than a decade.
During that time she has published 27 books and has won numerous awards, including a Romantic Novel Award, and chalked up a no.1 Kindle bestseller.
Find Fiona on TikTok, where she talks about her books, her writing process and gives writing and publishing tips.

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Interview with Author Fiona Lucas

The burning question that many aspiring authors would like to ask you is - how did you get started on this journey?

This is a bit of a long story! Back in 2004, I got an idea for a love story and I was desperate for something creative to do while looking after my two small children. Writing was something I’d loved at school and seemed like the perfect fit – most of it happened in my head and I didn’t need any special equipment or need to leave the house and hire babysitters – so I decided to give it a go. I quickly became addicted!
This was back in the days before Facebook or Twitter, but I found an online message board with other aspiring romance writers and learned about the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the UK, which had a scheme for new writers, where you could send your manuscript in and a published author would critique it for you. By that point, I’d ditched novel attempt number 1 and was ready to get some feedback on novel attempt number 2 so I decided to join up. I submitted my manuscript, terrified of what I would hear back – I hadn’t shown my writing to anyone up until that point. I just hoped that the verdict would be that my book didn’t totally stink and I that I shouldn’t give up and try knitting instead!
To cut a long story short, the authors who read my manuscript really liked it and the New Writers’ Scheme organiser sent it straight to her editor at Harlequin Mills & Boon. I was gobsmacked. I’d given myself a deadline of 5 years to get published and it all seemed to be moving much faster than I’d anticipated! A few weeks later, the editor phoned me an offered me a one-book deal. I was so shocked that I didn’t even scream with joy or cry on the phone, I must have been the most unexciting author ever to break the news to! So that was how my journey began. I’m still with Harlequin, although now they’ve been bought out by Harper Collins and I write for one of their commercial fiction imprints, HQ.

2) At this point of your career, what is the one advice you would give your younger self who was working on the first draft of her debut novel?

When it comes to writing, I’d say, “Don’t freak out when you get stuck or you think everything you’re writing is awful. It happens with every book. It happens with every writer. Just calm down and keeping going. You can fix it later.” When it comes to the publishing industry, I’d say, “Don’t expect your career to have a steady upward trajectory – it’s going to be a rollercoaster. There are going to be highs and there are going to be horrible lows. You’re going to have to be determined and just keep going if you want a long lasting career.”

3) You have over a decade of writing experience under the name of Fiona Harper. Why did you decide to debut under Fiona Lucas after all this time?

It’s actually a really boring answer to do with sales and distribution. While I had some phenomenal sales with some of my Fiona Harper books, there were a couple that didn’t sell as well as the others. I don’t know what it was, whether it was the cover, the title, or it just didn’t hit what readers were looking for at that time. But it meant that when the next book came out, retailers looked at the sales numbers of the couple of previous books and decided not to stock it, even if they loved the story and packaging! It's not unusual for authors to try a new pen name if this happens. We were very open about my writing history, but retailers (especially when it comes to the big supermarkets, where most books are sold in the UK) see you as a new entity - a  new product, if you like – with a new name. And it worked. My Fiona Lucas books have been stocked by retailers who wouldn’t stock my last few Fiona Harper books. But I also felt it worked creatively, as my Fiona Lucas books have been more emotional and dealt with darker subjects than most of my Fiona Harper novels.

4) Your profile on Instagram says ‘I write emotional, heartbreaking love stories’. Is that something you set out to do in the first place or is it something you discovered that you do best once you set upon your storytelling journey?

I definitely set out to write love stories, but I was probably drawn more to writing lighter, funnier stories when I first started. However, now when I look back at my very first attempt at writing a book, I can see it had both humour AND big emotion, which eventually became more obvious to me as my style developed. Strangely, it was both there in the beginning but has also been an evolution.

5) Both ’The Last Goodbye’ & ’Never Forget You’ have blurbs, if you do not mind my saying so, that tell a cliched outline. Yet the books are so much more. Do you want to lure readers in with familiarity? Do you worry that some readers might read the blurb and say ‘oh! I know this story already’?

I have to admit that because I’m traditionally published, it’s often not me who gets to write the blurbs! I have done a couple of times but usually my editor writes them and then I get to say what I think. It’s so tough with blurbs, because you have to say enough to intrigue readers but not so much that you give the story away!

6) In ’The Last Goodbye’ more than the central love story, what drew me in was the way you portrayed how different people experience and react to loss. What were you hoping to deliver with the book?

I really wanted to explore if it’s possible to move on after tragic loss. How do you find hope again when everything you hoped for has been shattered? I wanted to make Anna’s journey one of almost “waking up” after being in a fog of loss and grief and learning to embrace life with all its ups and downs again rather than hide away from it, trying to live in the past.

7) The book could have ended up being a very heavy read, but while it did make me tear up & even cry at places, there was this underlying sense of hope throughout. How did you balance it out without making it obvious?

It’s a tricky tightrope to walk! I think adding moments of warmth and humour in definitely helps, but also making sure the ends of each storylines held some hope for all the characters.

8) In 'Never Forget You’, did you plan out the amnesia theme from the beginning or did you let the characters tell you?

The amnesia element was there in the very first spark of the idea for that book! I was having a restless night a couple of years ago, and a couple of days earlier, I’d read a story about a man who had suddenly lost his memory – I mean, he woke up one morning and didn’t recognise his wife! And while I was tossing and turning, I must have been thinking about that story, because I ended up wondering, “What if you weren’t in your own bed when you woke up and discovered you’d lost your memory? What if you were far away from home and you had now idea where home was and how you’d got there?

9) As a writer, what is the most important thing for you? What do you want the readers to remember your books for? And as a reader, what’s the one thing you want to take away from books? Does the reader in you make it harder or easier to be a writer?

I think, first and foremost, I want readers to simply enjoy the book, enjoy the adventure that the story takes them on. If certain themes, ideas and emotions that resonated with me when I wrote the book also resonate with them, then I’m really pleased that we’ve made that connection together. I know not every book is every reader’s cup of tea, but I’d like to think my stories give people a sense of hope.
I’m really not sure if being a reader makes writing harder or easier – both I think! I do try and remember what makes me love a book or what irritates me when I write my own, but it can be hard to step back and get the perspective to see if I’m delivering what I plan to. I can never read my finished books the way a reader does, because I’m always aware of all the different versions and changes that happened along the way, and I know all the secrets and plot twists before I start the first page!

10) Please tell us what more we can expect from you in the next couple of years?

I’m currently working on my next book for Harper Collins, which will be out in November 2024 – long wait, I know! My working title is Always You, but that may change! I’m also planning to independently publish some of my backlist under my former pen name of Fiona Harper – shorter, lighter romances and rom coms. But that’s a whole new arena for me, so I’ve got a steep learning curve ahead of me!

Good Luck Fiona!

Check out these Books:

What if you met the right person at the wrong time?

When Lili meets Ben by chance one hot summer’s day, it feels like fate. But life is about to take them in different directions, and so they agree to meet next July, in the beautiful hidden garden where they first laid eyes on each other. But one of them never shows up…

 Five years later, Ben still wonders how he got things so wrong – he let the love of his life slip between his fingers. And then a stranger, Alice, arrives in his tiny Scottish hometown. Alice has no memory of how she got there: she can’t remember anything before that morning. The only clue to her past is the silver bee necklace she wears – the very same one Ben bought for Lili that magical summer’s day…

As Ben, Lili and Alice’s stories converge, so begins a beautiful and deeply emotional story of love, forgiveness and second chances.

Book Links:

How can you move on if you can’t let go?

Spencer was the love of Anna’s life: her husband, her best friend, her rock. She thought their love would last forever.

But three years ago, Spencer was tragically killed in an accident and Anna’s world was shattered. How can she ever move on, when she’s lost her soulmate?

On New Year’s Eve Anna calls Spencer’s phone number, just to hear his old voicemail greeting. But to her shock, someone answers…

Brody has inherited Spencer’s old number and is the first person who truly understands what Anna’s going through. As her and Brody’s phone calls become lengthier and more frequent, they begin opening up to each other—and slowly rediscover how to smile, how to laugh, even how to hope.

But Brody hasn’t been entirely honest with Anna. Will his secret threaten everything, just as it seems she might find the courage to love again?

Book Links:

1 comment:

  1. That is just nuts that you can put on a new skin and be a new commodity. I wonder how many famous pen names got started that way.