My third book, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, is now finally out in the UK and Australia. It’s been an incredible journey getting to publication day – it was the bestselling title at the Young Adult Literature Convention 2017, sold out at Edinburgh Book Festival, is being published by HarperCollins (the stuff that dreams are made of) and was reprinted before it was even published. I’m so excited for everything still to come for Commander Romy Silvers.
Over the next few days I’m going to be releasing a series of blogs as a guide to everything related to the book – coming up is a bumper series full of extra content: fancasts of the characters, a book playlist, deleted scenes, book recommendations and more.
Please share them with anyone who you think will love the book – and if you’ve read it, please share on social media. Your support really helps boost the book. I’m so proud of this story, and I think it’s the best thing I’ve written to date. I hope you do too!
I’m thrilled with this trailer for my book, made by the team at Engine House (@EngineHouseVFX). Doesn’t it just bring the cover to life? It gave me shivers when I saw it!
First up, I’m going to be discussing the inspiration for the book. The nugget of an idea for this story first started with a question from some Physics coursework at university. The question was about special relativity, and went something like this:
An astronaut travels in a spaceship to a new planet. After a few years, a newer faster ship is developed and launched, which overtakes the first ship. How old are the two astronauts when they each arrive on the planet?
I started thinking about what it would be like to be that first astronaut, and dedicate years to travelling alone in space, only for your ship to be overtaken by a faster one before you even arrive. What would that feel like? What kind of relationship would you have with the person on the faster ship? From that, the story of Romy Silvers was born.
I knew that if I was writing a whole book where there was only really one person in isolation, I would need to create a character who would keep the reader’s attention and loyalty. It was a big challenge, but I fell totally in love with Romy while I was writing about her, and I hope everyone reading The Loneliest Girl in the Universe does too.
Romy is powerless, easily influenced, subject to frequent panic attacks, sensitive and lacks self confidence. She’s weak in almost every way you can name: emotionally, mentally and physically. Despite that, she’s the strongest female character I’ve ever written – because she’s the most realistic of all of my characters.
I really wanted to make a flawed character, because every woman is worth reading about, as long as they are human: with whatever strengths and weaknesses that includes. They don’t have to be likeable and admirable and special to be deserving of attention. Romy is a direct answer to the cliché of the ‘strong female character’ trope – she is weak and scared at times, but that doesn’t stop her being a strong and well-developed character. Strong doesn’t mean ‘physically skilled’, it means ‘three-dimensional’.
The tone of the book was inspired by lots of books, which are listed below in more detail, but I just want to highlight one film which influenced the tone of the book more than any other – Stoker.
To be friends.
We don’t need to be friends. We’re family.
This is my all time favourite film, described as “Alfred Hitchcock psychological thriller meets Tim Burton coming-of-age freak-out” by the Telegraph. The eerie, tense, richly visual tone of the film was something I referred to frequently when writing The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it – perhaps after you finish reading my book!*
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?
Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.
Their only communication is via email and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?
Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…
“Gripping psychological thriller with a very relatable heroine” ~ The Bookseller
“Black Mirror-esque. A fantastic slow-build drama.” ~ SFX
The Loneliest Girl In The Universe is the third novel by Lauren James. It is a psychological thriller set in space and will be published by Walker Books in the UK and Australia on 7th September 2017, and Harperteen in July 2018. You can add it on Goodreads or subscribe to my mailing list for updates.
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My tumblr posts about The Loneliest Girl In The Universe are all collected here. Here are some links to get you started: