Sharing #TenThings she’d like her readers to know about her is author of This Is Our Undoing, Lorraine Wilson. This Is Our Undoing is Lorraine’s debut novel and is published by Luna Press. Thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour.
#1 Perhaps the first thing I’d like you to know, and this is aimed at all the aspiring authors, is that eighteen months ago I was seriously considering walking away from writing. I felt like I’d had so many nearly there moments, and so many set-backs that I wasn’t sure I could, or should, keep going. Was I just setting myself up for more hurt? Did I need to give up on the dream of being published and just write for myself alone? Did I need to stop writing entirely?
Two things made me keep writing and keep trying. First, I desperately need something to focus on and work towards because I live with disabling illnesses that prevent me doing a ‘normal’ job, and without something I would drive myself bonkers very quickly. So very simply – what else was I going to do? And second, my writer friends. They cajoled, reassured and downright bullied me into not losing faith. They rock!
So … if you are having one of those days when you can’t see the point in pursuing your writing, keep going. You’ve got this. It’s only impossible when you stop trying.
#2 It’s mid-June as I’m writing this – nearly longest day. The nights here in Fife are short (dark between 11 and 3.30ish?), and I want you to know that I love this time of year. I love going to bed with the light still long and lovely, waking with the sun already warming the garden. I love that my garden looks like someone took a meadow & fed it LSD and caffeine. I love that the fledgling goldfinches being brought by their parents to my feeder might be the 10th generation of goldfinches to come. I might be a sort of unimpressive demi-god seed provider figurehead in their mythology, complete with divine swearing when I spill the water bowl. This is lovely. Please remind me of this in six months’ time when daylight is a scarce commodity and I am cursing the very name of Scotland with every Burmese gene in my being.
#3 I had a reddit AMA chat alongside some other Luna Press authors a wee while ago, and discovered that a lot of writers’ stories start with a character. So I want you to know that mine never do. They start with a setting, and a question. Actually, they probably start with the question. My mind is littered with potential settings so once I’ve got a question, a sense of place generally attaches itself to that. The question that started This Is Our Undoing was: Does it matter what choices you make in the face of issues far beyond your control? And then a little later, this: Does it matter if, in saving someone you love, you become someone you cannot love?
#4 Getting into publishing isn’t easy. And it’s particularly hard if you live outside London, if you don’t have disposable income, if you are non-white, LGBTQI+ or disabled. Real logistical and financial barriers are in your way, as are a welter of unconscious biases in the industry. I know, I’ve come up against them, and I know how demoralising and exhausting it can be. But there are people in the industry driving positive change. If you belong to one or more of those identities, look for those people. They are the ones you want to work with because they are the ones educating themselves and reaching out and putting their hearts into getting marginalised voices out into the world. Luna Press is one of this marvellous group, and I count my lucky stars daily that we found each other. If you are a marginalised writer and are feeling in need of a bit of help, get in touch (Twitter DMs @raine_clouds or my website). I won’t always be able to give you what you need, but I’ll do my utmost.
#5 My favourite character in This Is Our Undoing is Kai. I can’t say an awful lot about him without spoilers, but he is a young child, the adopted son of Lina’s murdered enemy, and he is strange. He’s lost and wild and very fey, and alongside the foxes he empathises with so strongly, he captures the very heart of this novel – a quiet blend of fierceness and fragility. Which is why I totally and utterly fell in love with Daniele Serra’s amazing cover art – the fox on This Is Our Undoing’s cover is the wilderness in the story, but is also a link to Kai, my wee lost boy.
#6 As I mentioned, I live with disabling illnesses which forced me to give up my career as a research scientist, and which restrict my life now in dozens of small and large ways. I think it’s important to talk about this, even when I’m not entirely comfortable doing so, because I’m not alone. There are lots of you out there living with chronic pain or fatigue or other life-curbing symptoms, and I want you to know I see you. It’s brutal sometimes, but you aren’t alone. You’ll see me doing events, or you’ll see me looking productive online, and it’s easy for you to forget that you’re only seeing a small fraction of my day. The fraction that I’ve saved up energy and painkillers for, that I’ve blocked out recovery time after, that I’ve bartered the physical costs versus career/fun/fulfilment benefits of. So I guess if you’re out there dealing with something similar, hi, yay you, you’re a bloody marvel. If you are lucky enough to be able-bodied, please remember the Twitter updates and the zoom calls are not the whole person, you don’t know what anyone is carrying when the screen is turned off. Be kind.
#7 I’m a planner with my writing. I think that’s mainly because it’s an excuse to draw graphs and even though I have left science behind there’s just no escaping some things! My two favourite books for developing my awareness of plot and character arcs are Dara Mark’s Inside Story: The power of the transformational arc, and Jessica Brody’s Save The Cat! Writes a Novel.
Whenever I say anything that veers into ‘writing advice’ territory, I feel compelled to add that you have to find your own path, your own toolkit. What works for me won’t resonate with everyone and visa versa. However graphs are a universally Good Thing, how could anyone resist!?
#8 One of the most exciting things about publishing This Is Our Undoing is Luna Press’ decision to produce a Collector’s Edition hardback. It’s such a show of faith in my book that I get a little shaky and choked whenever I think about it. As I write this, the details have just gone online & they’ll only be available during pre-orders, so if you like unique and personalised foxy books, please go to https://lunapresspublishing.com/product-page/this-is-our-undoing-collector-edition and take a look.
#9 We have three cats, which seems an appropriately writerly quantity! They are all rescues. Marley is old, ridiculously soppy and thanks to an ear infection, permanently slightly wonky. Ginny and Lila are ex-feral brothers, and Lila in particular is very much a One Woman Cat. I am safe, everyone else is blindingly terrifying … unless there’s food involved, of course. My desk is in the dining room, very close to the back door so my day is a constant stream of cats coming by to see if Dreamies are in the offing, to help me type or just shout at me a bit.
#10 Publishing a book is a little akin to diving into the sea from high rocks. You want to do it, you know it will be amazing and the water will be lovely … but there might be rocks, and sharks, and actually when it comes to it, it’s just a little bit scary. (I’m abandoning the simile now) This book carries a little bit of my heart, and much as my mum will do her best to singlehandedly put me in the bestseller charts, what if no-one likes this thing I’ve poured so much time and energy and faith into? I know every writer feels exactly like this, and I know every book has a readership (well, maybe), but if you read This Is Our Undoing and like it, please leave a few stars on Amazon or Goodreads, please possibly even let me know. It would make this anxious debut writer very happy. Thank you.
From the back of the book
Could you condemn one child to save another?
In a near-future Europe fracturing under climate change and far-right politics, biologist Lina Stephenson works in the remote Rila Mountains, safely away from London State. When an old enemy dies, Lina’s dangerous past resurfaces, putting her family’s lives at risk.
Trapped with her vulnerable sister alongside the dead man’s family, Lina is facing pressure from all sides: her enemy’s eldest son is determined to destroy her in his search for vengeance, whilst his youngest carries a sinister secret…
…But the forest is hiding its own threats and as a catastrophic storm closes in, Lina realises that if she is to save her family, she must become a monster.
About the Author
Lorraine is a writer, biologist, photographer, herder of cats and drinker of tea. Having spent years working in remote corners of the world she now lives by the sea in Scotland and writes literary/speculative stories that explore themes of family, belonging and trauma. The wilderness is never very far away from her characters, and folklore is always there whether hidden in the shadows or centre stage. She hopes to write in a way that resonates with those parts of ourselves we find hard to share with others, and that provides representation for people who do not get to see themselves in the majority of books.
Find her at https://shadowsonwater.wordpress.com, on Twitter @raine_clouds or IG @raine_clouds_writes