Author Archives: Lauren James

About Lauren James

Lauren James was born in 1992 and is the British Young Adult author of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, The Next Together series and the upcoming The Quiet at the End of the World. She graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. She started writing during secondary school English classes, because she couldn’t stop thinking about a couple who kept falling in love throughout history. She sold the rights to the novel when she was 21, whilst she was still at university. Her books have sold over fifty thousand copies in the UK alone, and been translated into five languages worldwide. She 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. Her other novels include The Last Beginning, the epic conclusion to The Next Together which was named one of the best LGBT-inclusive works for kids and young adults by the Independent. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was inspired by a Physics calculation she was assigned at university. Lauren is a passionate advocate of STEM further education, and all of her books feature female scientists in prominent roles. Her next novel, The Quiet at the End of the World, will be released in 2019, and considers the legacy and evolution of the human race into the far future. Lauren is published in the UK by Walker Books and in the US by HarperCollins. She lives in the West Midlands and is an Arts Council grant recipient. She has written articles for the Guardian, Buzzfeed and The Toast, and wrote an article for the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2019. She works with Writing West Midlands, providing creative writing courses to children through the Spark Young Writers programme.

10 graphic novels recommendations

22822839

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua

Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar proto-programmer and daughter of Lord Byron.

Lovelace and Babbage have completely captured my heart. I can’t remember the last time I loved characters more. They have such a great male/female friendship, and they are both oddball and fun and I just – I love them so much. If I ever get access to a time machine, my new answer to what I would do with it is: GO AND HANG OUT WITH LOVELACE AND BABBAGE.

7389

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan and Rainbow Rowell

Meet Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico – a group of teens whose lives are about to take an unexpected turn…

This is the teen superheroes comic you’ve always wanted. The original run was written a few years ago, and has since been rebooted by YA superstar Rainbow Rowell. If you want a long, angst-filled read, this series is a great way to get into comics for a YA reader. Then read Fangirl.

tumblr_inline_pfyx5oAdWY1qkegog_500.jpg

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

This UK based contemporary romance between two secondary school boys is beautifully drawn and written, and ties into the YA novel Solitaire. Meet Charlie and Nick, and fall in love.

 

 

The Sandman by Neil Gaiman

23754

A wizard attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his escape, Dream goes on a quest for his lost objects of power.

This is the series that got me into graphic novels. It’s very long, and I distinctly remember the desperate search over a few years to track them all down in my local library system. It follows a group of immortal siblings, centred around Dream (the ‘sandman’), as well as his goth sister Death. It features cameos from Shakespeare and others. It captures the nineties perfectly, and I promise it will keep you hooked until the very end.

25785993

Giant Days by John Allison

Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird.

Set at a British university, this series about the adventures of three girls is one of the most perfectly English things you can imagine. It also now has an excellent tie-in novel by UK YA superstar Non Pratt!

 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan

15704307

Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds.

This name might be familiar, as Brian K. Vaughan wrote Runaways, above. You can’t get far in the world of graphic novels without reading one of his works, as he’s the creator of some of the most original work out there today. Saga is an inventive, hugely ambitious science fiction, well, saga, told from the point of view of a baby throughout her entire childhood. There are bar fights, heists, prison break-outs, spaceship speed races, western gunfights and giant monsters. It truly has everything, and I love it.

 

28587971The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.

Mythical, beautiful, romantic and feminist, there’s really no one else like Greenberg in the UK making graphic novels. Each one is work of art that can be read over and over, just for the pictures. But the story is pretty excellent too.

 

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

19351043

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc.

This is a graphic novel, about a shapeshifting girl who forces an Evil Villain to let her be his sidekick. He is a grouchy, one-armed villain with a tragic backstory, and she slowly melts his heart and makes him kind-of happy again. With great diversity, and the strongest of strong female leads (with the best hair), this is a wonder to read.

 

Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley29800

Scott Pilgrim’s life is totally sweet. He’s 23 years old, he’s in a rockband, he’s “between jobs” and he’s dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties.

Funny, slick, silly and supernatural, this comic which inspired the film is a cult classic. It kick-started a lot of the trends in current graphic novels, and it’s really worth a read for that alone – but it’s also a great story in its own right.

514Mo68tpiL.jpg

On A Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together.

The most beautifully drawn, imaginative graphic novel about space travel. Every page of this was just absolutely stunning, especially the fish spaceships.

Advertisements

A statistical analysis of the science of writing

I finished drafting my seventh novel this week! It’s crazy to me that I’ve written so many books. In a lot of ways, I still feel like I’m only just finding my feet as a writer. The process of writing a book is really mysterious to me, so I wanted to talk about the process of getting a first draft on paper.

I’ve been using a website called mywriteclub for a few years now, long enough to have gathered data on how I wrote three complete novel drafts. The first was a book about ghosts in 2016, which took a full year:

ghost

As you can see, this was a very complicated and drawn out process, as I edited it halfway through drafting (HUGE MISTAKE), taking out 20,000 words and really slowing me down.

The second book I kept a record of was The Quiet at the End of the World in 2017, which took 6 months:

the quiet

This one was a lot more simple, with no editing happening during the writing process (phew!). The third was my current Untitled Project, which took 7 months:

mywriteclub

Again, quite straightforward, but with a very long break in the middle while I did other projects (and also accidentally wrote another novel, which I didn’t use mywriteclub to track – I wrote it too fast, with about 45k written in a fortnight. I know, ridiculous, and definitely an outlier for my writing process).

From these graphs, I can see that I write novels of a pretty consistently length of 70,000 words. I always take at least one break somewhere in the middle (to do edits on a different book), usually for around a month. After I’ve taken a break, I always write a bit faster than before I paused, because my brain has had a chance to decide what comes next. I average around 2500 words a day during sprint times. I usually sprint for a week at that speed before slowing down again. I write a lot in spring, and much less during the summer.

While these graphs are all really different, the books actually always take a similar amount of writing days to complete. My seventh book took around 30 full writing days, as a very rough estimate. Ghost book took 33 days, and The Quiet took 31 days. Those are the days I was increasing my word count, not including the ones where I was plotting the book (or staring at the screen and not making any progress, which happens a lot).

If I’m working ten hours a day, that means each book takes at least 330 hours. According to Microsoft Word, my total editing time on book 7 was 21,000 minutes (350 hours), though I’m not sure how accurate this is, as I’m sure I changed documents a few times, and wrote scenes in other places before pasting them in.

editing time

So, it takes me at least 400 hours to draft a novel. Which is a scary figure to know. Because this book is under contract (i.e. it sold before I started writing it), technically, I could work out my hourly rate. This book will probably take another month to edit, if not longer – say another 400 hours. Then I’ll be promoting and publicising it, online and in person. All of which is unpaid, so the time taken has to be taken account in the earnings from the sale of the book. So – do I make minimum wage from writing a novel, based on the guaranteed income I currently know about? (Assuming it doesn’t ever sell out its advance and make any royalties –  AKA, the worst case scenario.) I think I do. Just.

The fact that I am unsure on that is a very worrying thing, as a full time author. This job is a risk, in a lot of ways. But the fact that even when I’m under contract, I’m still not sure if I’m doing work that will earn me a living wage, shows that some things need to change for authors to have sustainable incomes. An author still puts the same amount of work in, regardless of whether the book is a success or not.

Every writer writes at a different rate. Someone else might write the same novel as me in twice as long, or half the time. Does that change how much they should receive as an advance? Should this vary as they gain more experience and become faster writers? How could such a thing be calculated?

I don’t have any answers to this, I’m just trying to analyse the data I’ve been collecting about my writing over the last few years. Here’s what I know: I work as fast as I can. I have deadlines, and I am very efficient with my time, and at this point in my career, it takes me at least 1000 hours to develop a novel ready for publication, as a very low estimate.

As it supposedly takes 10,000 hours to get good at something, that means that after 7 books I still have a long way to go. I’m very interested to see where these figures change when I reach that point.

Also: I’m sure there are more accurate ways to track the time it takes to write a novel (I think Scrivener can do this?) but, honestly? I think it would stress me out to know a more exact figure that this. Part of the creative process is not knowing how things are going to work out. If I was comparing my drafting to a timeline of the last book I wrote, I think I’d go a little mad!

In other news: I have some upcoming events –

November 3rd-4th: Clexacon, Novotel London West – Tickets here

November 10th: SFX Con 2 at Foyles Charing Cross, London – ‘Tech Wars’ panel with Peter F Hamilton, Richard Morgan, Pat Cadigan and James Smythe. Tickets here

The Quiet at the End of the World comes out in five months, in March! Here’s one of my favourite scenes, of Lowrie having breakfast with her parents and their dogs, Victoria and Albert. It makes me smile even though I’ve read it a hundred times:

Do_ZQYZXsAAwLiz.jpg

 

There are now enamel pins and art prints in my etsy shop.

I’ve started a fortnightly books & baking newsletter.

Teachers! I still have a few slots open for events in World Book Day week – which in 2019 falls on the release week for The Quiet at the End of the World! If you’d like your class to help me celebrate, email me.

I’ve given a lot of interviews over the last few years on different blogs, so here is a complete collection of all my answers.

 

 

How to solve ~~writers block~~

Today I am going to talk about some things you can try if you feel like you can’t write.

1) Put your draft on your kindle/print it out, and read it all the way though as a book. Ignore grammar and spelling and just LIVE in your world. Make notes of ideas as you go along.

2) Find some books & films with a similar style to your book, and watch them as a fan. Make notes of the things you LOVE about them & analyse why – why did you choose to write this story? Go back to the roots of your reading self and add more of those things you love to your book

3) Do a deep dive in your characters & write some fanfiction about them. Ignore your plot, ignore your world. Take your characters & just write a scene where they’re hanging out together. Make them fight. Make them kiss. Make them banter. Just get to know them & have fun with it. You might not use the scenes, but keep them at the end of your manuscript anyway. There might be a time in the future where you find a scene they’ll be perfect in. And if not, it will be great for making you ENJOY writing again, if you’re lost.

4) Expand your world. Choose a question from this long list that is somehow tangentially related to your story (e.g. if you’re writing a dystopian where they need to overthrow the government, decide how a political election would work in your world).

5) Make a moodboard or playlist or drawing. Pick out the features you think a future reader will like the most. Add more of them. Try and see your writing from the perspective of your biggest fan.

6) Skip ahead. If you’re stuck, there’s no reason to force yourself to finish a scene before you move on. Write the ones you’ve had in your head that you’re excited to write. Any word count is progress, even if by the time you fill in the gaps it needs rewriting completely

7) Brainstorm new scenes. Don’t try and write them! Just make a list of snippets of dialogue, creepy/funny/tense moments that could bring a scene to life, endearing character traits for side characters, good names.

8) Write something in a different format. If you can’t make progress with prose, write a diary entry, letter, script, social media, text conversation, TV show, fic. It will flex your brain and add something refreshing to the manuscript – it might even give you ideas for new plots

This list has mainly been for MYSELF, because I have to finish this book and I am having the worst time getting my brain in gear. When it’s your job, you have to write even when you don’t want to. These things all help me just DO IT.

Weird internet conspiracy theories: a primer

I’ve recently become sucked into a wormhole of internet conspiracy theories that’s taken over my life. I’ve written a post before about my massive obsession with books set online:

For me personally, books about internet culture are something I want so much and am never satisfied by. I am 23, and I can’t remember a time without the internet. I’m sure there probably was a time I didn’t use the internet (probably around the time Harry Potter first came into my life), but I don’t remember it.

Despite that, books rarely, if ever, talk about life online. There might be occasional references to Facebook, but they don’t actually talk about the internet. At least not as a vital, relationship defining form of communication, the way I use it. My friendships wouldn’t be the same without the internet. The way I speak to people, and the language and topics we cover, are completely different online to the way we talk in real life. The internet has a language all of its own.

Give me the historical novels set online. Give me the thrillers set on Tor. Give me the YA coming of age novels where a teen is trying to reconcile who they are in real life with who they are on 4chan or on tumblr (or both). I want these stories, and they aren’t being told.

Three years after I wrote that, I finally sat down and wrote a novel set on the internet. And in the process of writing it, I discussed online conspiracy theories with a lot of people. It turns out, most of my favourite, life-changingly bizarre internet events are generally unknown. This is unacceptable, because some of these stories will change your life. Especially if, like me, you crave fiction about the internet.

So I thought I’d share a list of my favourite write-ups of weird events that have happened on the internet. The fan essay is an unappreciated form of artwork that deserves to be more widely shared. Consider this a primer in the narrative potential of the internet, for anyone who hasn’t spent their whole childhood in internet black holes (cannot relate).

Note: these are all looooong. I personally put these on my Kindle and read them as weird bedtime stories, so the second link is to a PDF which you can download if you’d like to do the same.

Second note: You will probably be confused by some of the terminology and events discussed in these essays. That’s because internet culture is fast moving, and sadly, is not very well documented, unlike other periods of history (except by the University of Iowa, who I adore). Treat these documents like primary sources from Ancient Greece, and read them with the expectation you’ll have to pick up certain things as you go along. The fact that internet culture has changed so much in the three decades it has existed is absolutely fascinating to me, and makes these essays all the more interesting.

Okay, notes are done. Let’s begin.

9) The cassandra clare one (PDF) 2006 -This one is about the YA author from her Harry Potter fandom days, circa 2002 on LiveJournal. A masterclass in detective work.

8) That Lorde powerpoint (PDF) 2018 – everyone has seen this one recently, I think, about Lorde’s affair with her producer. A fresh take on the typical fan essay, that’s very visual.

7) The Scott/Tessa secret baby one (PDF) 2013 – A view into the mind of a fan who is convinced the ice skaters are not only in a relationship, but have a child.

6)  Kaylor timeline (PDF) 2015 – a collection of meticulously compiled tumblr posts documenting every interaciton that Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss have ever had. A+ work, here.

5) The real life cult (PDF) 2002 – WHY

4) The terrifying Korean stalkers (PDF) 2012– this gives me chills, still.

3) The Dan/Phil one (PDF) 2011 – i really hope the person who researched this now works for the FBI because the level of detail is immense. This is the only youtuber one on this list, but I’m sure there’s a lot more of these kind of essays out there.

2) The inevitable One Direction one (PDF) 2014 – I LOVE THIS. (Also worthy of note: 1D’s rainbow bears)

1) The msscribe story (PDF) 2006 – The original. The best. If you read the above Cassandra Claire saga, a lot of the cast involved in that will be familar to you here. This involves a fan who desperately tried to become friends with Cassandra Clare, and ended up causing a huge rift in the community instead. This literally rewrote my brain and made me the human being I am today. (I am old enough to recognise a lot of the usernames in this story. I wasn’t there in 2001, but i was definitely in the HP fandom a few years after that.)

Happy reading, pals! And if any of the Google drive links go down, please let me know so I can fix them, however far in the future you’re reading this. Gotta keep that fan history preserved, right?

If you’d like to read more internet analysis, please take a jaunt to my fandom tag on tumblr, which is full of interesting essays and content. If you like my work, you can support me on ko-fi.

Oh and the book I’m writing, set on the internet? I will keep you up to date on its progress into the world of publishing over the next few months.

Cover reveal – The Quiet at the End of the World

Drumroll please! I am very pleased to share the cover of The Quiet at the End of the World!

cover.JPG

Out March 2019, this is about the last boy and girl born after humanity stop being able to conceive. With GOLD FOIL 💃

This was designed by Lisa Horton: http://lisa-horton.squarespace.com

How far would you go to save those you love? 

Lowrie and Shen are the youngest people on the planet after a virus caused global infertility. Closeted in a pocket of London and doted upon by a small, ageing community, the pair spend their days mud-larking for artefacts from history and looking for treasure in their once-opulent mansion. Their idyllic life is torn apart when a secret is uncovered that threatens not only their family but humanity’s entire existence. Lowrie and Shen face an impossible choice: in the quiet at the end of the world, they must decide who to save and who to sacrifice…

Some of my favourite things about this cover:

+ The mix of biological (the gold nervous system), mechanical (the cogs) and electronic (the fluorescent vertical code) elements

+ Lowrie & Shen holding hands and staring off into the distance like they’re contemplating the future

+ that quote!

+ the font which is now officially My Brand’s Font

+ The deep dark beautiful glowing blue

The Quiet at the End of the World will be published in the UK and Australia with Walker Books in March 2019.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Tumblr tag

commission

Illustrator @stoffberg has just started accepting commissions, and I couldn’t resist getting this lovely artwork done of Lowrie, Shen and their robot pal Mitch from The Quiet at the End of the World. I love Miles’ style, and he’s captured the mudlarking gang and the crumbling ruins of London so well. I’m thrilled.

IN OTHER NEWS:

I’ve started a fortnightly books & baking newsletter.

I wrote an article on LGBT+ fiction for the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2019, which published this week.

Di774qJX4AEnTEy

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is currently £3.89, if you’ve been waiting to snap it up.

From September I’m going to be running the Rugby Sparks Young Writers group for Writing West Midlands, so if you know anyone in years 5-9 in the area who loves to write, let them know.

I have designed some enamel pins which are up for preorder now.

The Loneliest Girl continues to orbit around America. Here are some nice new quotes:

DiPc40KWAAASEor

And here’s a snazzy Epic Reads title generator for it…

DhXX_mdXkAAZWcg.jpg

I made this to celebrate the first ever LGBT STEM day, for my favourite grumpy gay computer programmer, Clove Sutcliffe:

last1last2

last3

And that’s all, folks! Hope you’re having a good heatwave where you are . . . x

Kindle Highlights for authors

As you may or may not be aware, Amazon Kindle has a feature where popular sentences of eBooks are underlined, showing parts that multiple readers have highlighted.

This is basically the best gift ever for a writer: if you’re ever feeling down, go and flick through your eBook and see what people like. It’s great.

I thought I’d share the quotes that were highlighted in one of my books – The Next Together, since it’s been out the longest.

To be honest, if I stopped joking around I’m pretty sure I’ll go to bed and never get up again. I’m only barely holding onto my sanity right now through a series of poorly thought-out puns.

All throughout history they had been doing this, finding and loving each other and being ripped apart before they even had a chance to live.

I don’t think there are any true heroes. Just people who ignore their survival instincts long enough to do something incredibly foolhardy.

It doesn’t do any good to mourn for someone who is gone. They don’t care. Their story has finished.

Will you marry me, Katherine? I want us to spend this life and the next together.

“Did you have nightmares about it?’ He nodded hopefully and then said, completely seriously, “It was traumatising.”

“A pencil. A PENCIL,” he said, with growing horror, staring into empty space as if at the horrific vision she had laid before him. He shook his head. “Some people just want society to collapse.”

Isn’t that cool?! From that I’ve learnt that readers like the romance, the humour and the intellectual thoughts about life. I can provide more of that.

Authors, I’d love to see yours if you do this (and make sure to add the quotes to the book’s Goodreads page, as it’s a great way to draw in new readers).

Behind the book – Audiobook narrator Lauren Ezzo

Previously in this series: Agent | Ghostwriter UK Editor Library Assistant  | Publicity Assistant | Typesetter | Cover Designer | Foreign Rights Manager |Blogger |Scout |Translators Book charity Copyeditor | Journalist | US Editor  | Scholastic Book Fair Product Manager | MG/YA Author

Last week I interviewed Catherine Doyle, and this week I have another special guest on the blog – the narrator of the audiobook for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, Lauren Ezzo. This is my first English-language audiobook (I do have one in German), so I am incredibly excited to listen to my book spoken out loud. I’m anticipating that it’ll be a strange but wonderful experience.

I was given the choice of a few different narrators by HarperCollins, and I chose Lauren because her sample sounded like Romy in my head – she perfectly captured the mix of confidence and naivety that Romy has. If you’d like to listen to Lauren’s version of Romy (and, of course, buy it!), there’s a sample on the Audible page and another on soundcloud here.

audible

With that, onto the interview!

How did you become an audiobook narrator? Did you do any work experience
or internships?

10796101.jpg

In college, I majored in Theatre/English — which was, in retrospect, a pretty great setup! I  was hired for my first title by Brilliance Publishing — a friend of mine from school was working there and happened to know they were hiring new narrators. I went in with copies of ‘Love Wins’, by Rob Bell, ‘Fragile Things’ by Neil Gaiman, and ‘Twilight’ (maybe you’ve heard of that one). The rest is history!

What books have you worked on in the past?

Several!! At this writing, I’ve narrated over a hundred, hooray!! Some favorites or notables include “The Last to See Me”, by M. Dressler, “Rules for Werewolves”, by Kirk Lynn, “The Butterfly Garden”, by Dot Hutchison, “Kill All Happies”, by Rachel Cohn, “The Hundredth Queen” by Emily R. King, and, sincerely, “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe”. [All of the books narrated by Lauren on Audible are here]41kblU0-EyL._SL500_.jpg

Ahh, thank you so much! How long does it take to record a book? 

It depends on the title — the general formula I use is about two minutes per page — so for a 300 page book, I’d budget 10ish hours. “Loneliest Girl” was a bit different since many of the ‘chapters’ are so short — less than a page sometimes, so she took about 6 hours!

Do you do it in one sitting?

I do and don’t record all in one sitting — usually I like to work in sort of standard business days — 9ish to 5ish, with breaks and lunch — to keep easy track of my progress and keep things expedient. If I were able to record all in one go, though, I think I would….to stay in storyteller brain for that long would be great for me and the book.

Do you work from home? What kind of equipment do you need?

I do! I have a custom built isolation sound building courtesy of my loving father, and when I do record at home — a la “Loneliest Girl” — that’s where I’ll be! Pared down as simply as possible, all you need to record is a good space, a microphone, an interface (a machine which converts soundwaves captured by the mic into binary for the computer to read), and a computer, and I have all of these — but of course things get a bit more complicated and technical than that.

I also have a lot of filthy tea mugs and cookie crumbs in there, but you don’t really NEED those….

How do you choose voices for characters? Do you take notes in advance of a recording session? 

Ooof, good question. Not enough people ask this one! First I look at my ability. When the text says something to the effect of. ‘ the deepest, rumbliest voice EVER’, I look to see what my version of that can be that will fit the tone of the story — sincere? comic? scary

Secondly, I look to see what my author wants or needs — so, with “Loneliest Girl”, I knew Romy should sound a little like the main protagonist from ‘Hundredth Queen’, since that’s what you (Lauren) listened to!51bpDKF1wKL._SL500_

Then I go to my text — what descriptors am I given? Pitch, accents, even body characteristics– does this character have jowls, or big teeth? Are they painfully shy? And I let all those things sort of percolate in my brain, along with the theme and feel I get from the book.

For Romy, I knew what my base voice was, but I thought it was also important that she’s a little immature — not her personality, but the fact that her adolescence has taken place in isolation. She has no peers to mimic or bounce her thoughts off of, and no adults on which to model her behavior, other than what she sees through her messages and downloaded media.

So I tried to err on the side of youth, enthusiasm, when we first meet her, and then adjusted accordingly as the plot proceeded. There’s also a lot of ‘me’ voice in Romy, since she’s so relateable — a lot of her reactions and syncopations are mine.

J, Loch, and Ness I had fun with — these are all characters whose voices we hear through Romy. Her brain and emotions ‘distort’ them. I wanted Loch and Ness to be a little overdone, overdramatic — Romy’s ideals. And J…without giving too much away, I wanted to sound a bit like the ‘best friend’ — the guy everyone falls in love with.

What is the most difficult part of recording books? (mispronouncing things would
worry me!)

DEFINITELY worrying about pronunciation!! And listeners will nail you every time on that! But there are resources to take care of those things, and they’re usally not a huge issue in the end.

I think for me the most challenging aspects are the same for any collaborative artist — I want the work to be good and intriguing, and for my performance to suit it — not just for me, but for its author, its engineer, its publisher, its listener. Audiobooks are NOT an isolated experience. I’m the voice of a given title, but many, many people get to it before and after I do, and the pressure to deliver, for me at least, can be scary.

What’s your favourite part of your job, and what are you proudest of in your
career? 

Another really good one!!!! My favorite part of my job is that I get PAID MONEY to ACT and READ. Those are my favorite things in the world. If I can ever get paid to nap and eat, we’ll reevaluate, but that’s the best part. These are the things that make me happiest.

What would be your #4dreamprojects

Only 4!?!?! Okay.

16788

1. Anything Neil Gaiman. Preferably a title he’s written as a gift  to me personally, but really anything of his would do.

2. The “Loneliest Girl” sequel, set after Romy reaches Earth II, chronicling her rise as its first matriarch.

3. A book from my childhood; see below

4. A previously male-narrated classic, a la Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, Remains of the Day, Hero’s Journey…the guys get a lot of good ones.

A Loneliest Girl sequel, huh? Well, we’ll see….. 😉

Has being involved in publishing changed how you read books for pleasure? 

Big yes. In the first place, I have less time to do this. In the second, I’ve learned IMMENSE amounts about writing, and what makes effective writing, from all the reading. If you are an author, please, make reading at least some of your work aloud part of your editing process!

I read out loud and it is SO HELPFUL. Especially in later edits, it’s so easy to skim over sentences and reading aloud really catches you up on the clunky things.

What are some of your favourite recent reads from your childhood? 

444357Eeee I love this!! My ‘first’ book was the picture book “Put Me in the Zoo” by Robert Lopshire — the adults in my family had to hide it from me, they got so sick of it.

Other first loves include “Go Dog Go”, The Time-Warp Trio, “His Dark Materials”, Shel Silverstein, “The Hobbit”, “Harry Potter”, numerous Eyewitness books, “The Cricket in Times Square”, “Ender’s Game”, “Walk Two Moons”, “Because of Winn Dixie”, “Belle Prater’s Boy”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “Pure Dead Magic”, Tamora Pierce, Suzanne Fisher Staples, “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales”, Avi, Magic Treehouse, and really anything if it held still long enough.

Do you have any advice for aspiring narrators? 

Acting classes are esential – I’d say at least a year’s worth, of reputable training, but really
that should be continuing as your career progresses. Invest in a quality microphone
within your budget; no USBs should be visible anywhere. Be courteous and kind to
everyone in the industry you come across — you don’t know who they are or who
they’ve worked with, and they deserve a pleasant interaction at the very least. Listen
to other narrators and industry professionals, and decide what is good for you —
there’s a lot of advice. You don’t have to take it all, and it’s not possible anyway. If
it fits you, that’s the best advice. Also brushing your teeth and McDonald’s hashbrowns get rid of mouth noises in situ.

Thank you for the wonderful interview, Lauren! I learnt a lot from this – and now I kind of want to become a narrator too. 


Lauren Ezzo is a Chicago based audiobook narrator and commercial voice
talent. A Michigan native and Hope College alumna, at this writing she has
narrated over 100 titles for authors including Catherine Ryan Hyde, Adam
Rapp, M. Dressler, Christopher Rice, Kirk Lynn, Lauren James, & Dot
Hutchison.

She has won multiple awards for her narration, including several
“Best of the Year” lists, and several Earphones Awards. In 2016, her
performance of “The Light Fantastic”, by Sarah Combs, co-narrated with
Todd Haberkorn, was named one of AudioFile’s best books of the year. She
was accorded the same honor in 2017 from School Library Journal for her
narration of “To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the
Donner Party”.

In 2018, she was Audie-nominated as part of a full cast of
narrators for Best Original Work, “Nevertheless We Persisted”, performing
two pieces – one of which she authored. She is a proud member of the Audio
Publishers Association, and a lifelong bookworm. Follow her exploits on
Facebook at @laurenezzoaudiobooks, on Twitter at @SingleWithFries, and
on the web at laurenezzo.com!