Friday, 25 August 2017

Freshers Blog Tour: Q&A with Tom and Lucy

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Freshers blog tour! I'm a huge fan of Tom and Lucy's books so I'm incredibly excited to be hosting a Q&A with them today all about writing together, uni advice and what they're working on next. Freshers is one of my favourite reads of this summer and you can find out my full thoughts on the book in my review here.

Freshers Q&A with Tom and Lucy

1.) Hi Tom and Lucy, welcome to the blog! As collaborative authors what is your writing process like? Do you always know what the other is going to write or do you surprise each other? 

Thanks for having us! Basically, the way we write is a bit like an over-elaborate game of Consequences - so one of us will write a chapter, then send to the other, then the other continues the story, and so on. We set out a few basic plot points before we start writing, but aside from that we basically just take it where we want to go, and the other person has to deal with that. So there are constant surprises along the way, but hopefully that's a good thing, as the reader will feel the same surprise we felt while writing it! Right from the start on FRESHERS we were surprising each other - there's a bit at the end of the very first chapter where the male protagonist (Luke) breaks down in tears - Lucy wrote that bit, and Tom thought it came completely out of left-field, but once he kept writing, it took the story in a really interesting and different direction. So, most of the time, the method works!

2.) What’s the best and worst thing about writing with another person? 

TOM: Best thing for me is the second and third draft, where we sit in the room together, reading through it all out loud, and try to make the jokes better, or the dialogue stronger. We do a thing where, if we come to a line we think could be funnier, we each go away for five minutes and write three alternatives. Then we come back and 'pitch' each other our three ideas, and the one that makes us both laugh most gets into the book. So that's very fun. In terms of the WORST thing, it's definitely that Lucy uses me as a human spelling and grammar check. So rather than simply hitting 'spelling and grammar' on her computer, she just sends me wild, typo-strewn chapters and expects me to clean them up. I constantly tell her how much that annoys me, and to be honest I think it just makes her do it more regularly.

LUCY: I agree about the second and third drafts. We spend ages thinking about what is intrinsically funnier about certain words… like how monster munch is just a naturally funnier crisp than say, walkers salt and vinegar. We sometimes spend whole afternoons just trying to make each other laugh and those times make all the other times we are finding it hard, worth it. Tom is always early to everything and then gets angry and makes out you are late, when you're actually just there at the agreed time, and that makes me hate him.

3.) What’s been your favourite author moment so far?

TOM: There have been lots of amazing moments. Maybe the most scary and exciting was last year, when we went to Holland to speak at a big Dutch YA festival, alongside people like Stephanie Perkins and Ransom Riggs and Becky Albertalli. There were more than 400 people in the audience - by far the biggest crowd we've ever spoken in front of us - and that definitely made us feel like superstar authors (for about an hour!)

LUCY: Mine was when someone came up to us at YALC and said that Negin in Freshers, who is muslim and so doesn’t drink, made them feel more confident about going to uni and not drinking. When moments like that happen, it’s amazing.

4.) What sparked the idea behind Freshers? Are any scenes in the book inspired by your own time as students?

We had the idea to write something about the first term of university from very early on. Our first book, LOBSTERS, is about the summer between finishing A-Levels and starting uni, and we always wanted to write a kind-of sequel (with different characters) about the term that follows that summer. We came up with the basic plot one morning when Tom was helping Lucy set up a baby shower for her best friend. We drove across London - from west to east - and in that hour or so in the car, we mapped out pretty much the skeleton for FRESHERS. And yep, plenty of the characters are based on real people we were at university with, and there are lots of bits in there inspired by real-life events. There's a bit where the girl protagonist (Phoebe) is sitting opposite the boy she fancies (Luke) in a seminar, and writes a text to her friend saying 'LUKE TAYLOR IS THE HOTTEST BOY IN THE WORLD'. And then - to her immense horror - she accidentally sends it... to Luke Taylor. And that same thing happened to one of Tom's friends at university. It's been 12 years, and the memory of it still haunts her...

5.) Is there any advice that you would give to somebody about to start uni? 

TOM: Apart from 'Have fun!', I would say it's important to remember that everyone else is just as nervous (and excited) as you are. So, even if it looks like everyone is immediately fitting in and having the best time ever, they may not be. Don't panic if you don't instantly feel this is the greatest period of your life - everyone talks about how amazing freshers' term is, but in my experience, I had the most fun - and made my closest friends - during second year, when I had settled in a bit more.

LUCY: Don’t feel like you have to decide who you are going to move in with in the first term. The pressure is real but you do not have to succumb to it! If you are not sure you want to move in with the people who ask you first, then don’t just say yes out of panic or to be polite.

6.) What books would you recommend to fans looking for similar stories to your own?

TOM: Anyone from the UKYA community writing funny, realistic teen stuff - so people like Holly Bourne, Juno Dawson, Non Pratt, Lisa Williamson. Also, in terms of campus-set books, Fangirl is obviously very good, and David Nicholls' first novel Starter For Ten is really great, too.

LUCY: For more classic stuff I think Nancy Mitford is hilarious. I just read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and whilst it is totally totally different to our stuff, it really gets mixing the dark with the comic and I absolutely love that.

7.) Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next? 

TOM: I am trying to start writing something on my own, but me and Lucy also have another co-written book we want to have a go at pretty soon. It's dual narrative, but a bit darker and more dramatic, and set in the 90’s.

LUCY: I am finally writing the historical middle grade novel I have been banging about doing for ages. And also excited for our 90’s book too. It’s more ambitious than our other books, so will be a challenge but I think it will be fun too.

8.) And finally, what three words best describe Freshers

TOM: I'm stealing this wholesale from the back of the book, but... HONEST, FUNNY, MESSY!


Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

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