5 days to The Next Together: Deleted scenes

To celebrate the release of my first book, I’m posting a new “Behind the Scenes” exclusive about The Next Together daily until September 3rd. You can find them all here, including Chapter One from Matt’s Point of View, a Harry Potter crossover,  A scene from start to finish, a playlist and the book as different genres. 

If you preorder The Next Together before September 3rd you can get a free signed bookmark! Details here. The last person to email me with their preorder information before midnight GMT on September 2nd will receive an extra special gift with their bookmark!

Today I have two deleted scenes to share with you! I have lots and lots of scenes which were cut out of the final book, but I think these two are the ones I miss the most.

The first is from the timeline set in 2039. In this version, Matt is suspicious of Kate, and thinks she’s spying on him. That plotline was cut out of a very early draft, which meant that this scene didn’t fit with the story any more. I still really love it though, so I’m sharing it now! 

University of Nottingham campus, England, 2039

As they wandered out of the library,  Kate took a deep breath.

“So, Matt. Can I ask you something?”

He took a deep breath, looking resigned. “I guess,” he mumbled, which wasn’t encouraging.

She forced her voice to behave and not embarrass her with a tremor. Lightly she smiled at him. “Do you maybe, want to go out for a drink now? Like- a date?” When she plucked up the courage to look, he seemed a little blind-sided.

“Oh, er-” He frowned at her, silent a moment. “Really?”

She stared at him. Well. That was direct. He seemed to realise how that sounded, because he quickly corrected himself. “I mean, I’m, er- I’m not interested, sorry.”

“Oh. Well, that’s fine,” she said breezily, brushing it off. She tried and failed to keep up her calm and unperturbed composure without any noticeable falseness. “Lots of work to do at the minute anyway, it’s probably not the time.”

He watched her carefully. He kind of looked like she couldn’t have surprised him more if she’d burst into song and dance.

“It’s fine, Matt. Chill out. I’m not going to force you to date me if you don’t want to- consent is important and all that. No means No.” She faked a laugh. “Anyway, with all this going on it’s probably safer not to do anything.”

His reply was sullen. “Sure. Thanks.”

They were silent as they walked, Kate overcome with embarrassment she was trying desperately to hide and Matthew quiet with some unidentifiable emotion.

“You don’t need to do this,” he said suddenly, viciously. “That was just mean.”

She took a moment to process that, wondering if she’d misheard, or just drifted off to sleep and missed half the conversation. “Do . . . all of what?”

“I know you’re spying on me.” He sounded tortured, angry.

“Spying on you,” she repeated with blank incomprehension. “Why would I be spying on you?”

He stared at her. “You aren’t?”

“Why would I be?”

“But- all of this stuff about the Galloways. Isn’t that just a way to find out? I thought you-” He cut himself off, looking at a loss. He ran a hand through his hair, sending it sticking upright.

She let out a noise of frustration. “Find out what? Matt, what’s going on?”

“Nothing,” he said shortly. “I’ll see you in labs.”

Kate watched him leave incredulously. What was that?

This scene was cut out because nothing much happens in it – but it’s very sweet, so I wanted to share it! In it, Katy is in disguise as a boy, working as Matthew’s manservant and note-taker. Unfortunately, she can’t write, which turns out to be a problem when you’re working for a journalist…….

Off the coast of France, 1854

Matthew handed her his pen and a notebook. Katy looked up at him questioningly.

“I thought we could start taking notes. I could teach you a bit of shorthand to speed the process up.”

Katy bit her lip. She’d thought she’d have a little longer before he found out she couldn’t write. What if he was so angry he dropped her off in Spain and sent her home? He handed her the pen, and she took it reluctantly, perching awkwardly on her hammock and staring down at the paper.

He began talking quickly. “The journey progresses smoothly, with good weather and few delays.”

The. She knew what that looked like. This wasn’t going to be so hard. She tentatively pressed the nib of the pen to the page.  A dark dot of ink appeared, spreading across the surface. She pulled back, startled, and then did it again. This time it only left a small dot, the excess ink had gone.

She drew a line, revelling in the shaky dash it left on the crisp sheet. After a moment of delighted enjoyment, she realised Matthew had gone silent. She looked up to find him watching her with an odd expression.

“You can’t write, can you?”

She blanched. “Not- exactly. I can read! I just . . . haven’t done the actual writing part before.”

His lip tightened. Katy shifted nervously, waiting for him to shout at her. After a moment he relaxed and looked back.

“Well, I suppose we can fix that. We have plenty of time, after all.”

She let out a relieved breath. “Thank you. I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to deceive you.”

He stood up and came to sit on her hammock. She was distracted for a moment by the lines of his shoulders, surprisingly well-defined muscles visible through his shirt. He took the book off her and she let her eyes drift over the hair falling in his eyes. His spectacles were just clinging to the brink of his nose. One sharp movement and they’d fall off. He pushed them up absently, and she shook herself. What was she doing? She was here to spy on him, not admire him.

He handed her back the notebook. He’d written out the alphabet across the top of the page.

“We’ll start with the basics. Once you master writing the letters you should catch on quickly, especially if you can already read.”

She once again picked up the pen, trying to ignore his voice, lilting and low in her ear, as she focused on making shaky letters on the page.

After she’d written out three lines of letters in an almost illegible hand, she was immensely frustrated with her own inability to grasp the method. Matthew leaned close, inspecting her work.

“Why don’t you try using your left hand?”

She tried to ignore the touch of his hair against her cheek, and did as he advised. The letters immediately flowed better, and her pen sped across the page.

“There you are,” he said in great satisfaction. “You’ll be outpacing me in no time.”

“That’s why I’m here,” she said, the high of her success relaxing her enough to reply cheekily, “because you can’t manage to write yourself, right?”

To her delight he responded in mock-outrage, “Are you calling me weak?”

“I meant . . . because you can’t keep up with your speedy thoughts. Obviously. They run so fast, it’s hard work writing and thinking, you know.”

“Is it now,” he said, amused. “Nice save. Well, it is true that it’s hard to transcribe interviews fast enough. You’ll have to practice before we get to the front, we don’t want to miss out on any important information because you struggle to keep up.”

Her grin faded. For a moment she had felt content, but the reminder of their purpose made her remember herself. She couldn’t be friendly with Matthew like this. She was here for work.

She bent her head back to the paper and didn’t reply.

If you want to know more about Kate and Matt, you can read the first chapter of The Next Together here, and buy the book in the following places:

Amazon UK | Waterstones |  The Book Depository (free international shipping)|Wordery | Foyles | Kobo | iBooks |  Goodreads

A rebloggable version of this post can be found here.

Published by Lauren James

Lauren James is the twice Carnegie-nominated British author of many Young Adult novels, including Green Rising, The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. She is a RLF Royal Fellow, freelance editor and screenwriter. Lauren is the founder of the Climate Fiction Writers League, and on the board of the Authors & Illustrators Sustainability Working Group through the Society of Authors. Her books have sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide and been translated into six languages. The Quiet at the End of the World was shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and STEAM Children’s Book Award. Her other novels include The Next Together series, the dyslexia-friendly novella series The Watchmaker and the Duke and serialised online novel An Unauthorised Fan Treatise. She was born in 1992, and has a Masters degree from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and many of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. She sold the rights to her first novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her writing has been described as ‘gripping romantic sci-fi’ by the Wall Street Journal and ‘a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water’ by Entertainment Weekly. Lauren lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the Guardian, Buzzfeed, Den of Geek, The Toast, and the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2022. She has taught creative writing for Coventry University, WriteMentor, and Writing West Midlands.

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