An Unauthorised Fan Treatise starts today

The prologue is out now! Read it here. Remember to put in your email address on the sign in sheet at the end of the chapter to receive each chapter in your inbox!

Support on Patreon to read the next chapter now too, a week ahead of the general public.

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I’m releasing a serialised novel online!

final cover.pngIt’s time for another special announcement! Starting on 14th October, I’m going to be releasing a new chapter of a novel online every Monday until March 2020.

Obsessed with Caroline Calloway? Remember MsScribe, One Direction’s Babygate, the Lorde powerpoint, the Kaylor drama, or Cassandra Clare’s LiveJournal days (see below)? Still miss the Serial podcast? If so, this is the story for you. I’ve channelled my lifetime obsession with weird internet conspiracy theories into creating the ultimate fandom drama.

AN UNAUTHORISED FAN TREATISE (on the nature of the relationship between actors Rob Hennings and Nathan O’Donnell on TV show Loch & Ness, by @gottiewrites)

Gottie is a fangirl for Loch & Ness, a TV show about paranormal detectives. She’s convinced that two of the male actors are secretly dating, and she’ll stop at nothing to prove it. When her online investigations accidentally uncover far more than she expects, she becomes complicit in secrets beyond just a romantic conspiracy theory.

An internet thriller told in a ‘true crime’ style recollection of events, the novel includes social media extracts such as modern Tumblr posts and early-noughties LiveJournal blog entries. 

I wanted to write a story set online because I’ve thirsted for books about internet culture my entire life. 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. There are subcultures upon subcultures, stacked together like a Russian doll. This novel is an attempt to explore that in the language of the internet: comments and anonymous asks and forum posts.

All the ‘fandom’ YA books I’ve read are told in prose, and don’t really go into this much investigative detail about what fans get up to online. I think teenagers today, who have grown up with the internet like I did, are incredibly well-versed in this kind of detective work online, and I hardly ever see it in books. It’s a massive skill that a lot of teenagers don’t know they have, and I’d love to see that celebrated more. This kind of internet-based narrative is so fascinating to me because it’s such a unique space to tell stories that have never been told before. So I hope that you like it, or at least find it interesting and refreshing to read!

You can sign up at the bottom of the page of the website to receive email updates of each new chapter, or add it on Goodreads. You can also sign up for my mailing list to receive general book updates (you won’t get each chapter unless you sign up at the website).

Read online 

I wrote the entire first draft of An Unauthorised Fan Treatise over a few weeks last July while my dad was having a triple heart bypass. It was pure comfort writing as a distraction during a very stressful time. I just wanted to write about obsessive fangirls breaking the law (who doesn’t?). My dad is back to full health now, so this is still a really important novel to me.

Because the story is told entirely through social media posts, and so different from my normal novels, I wanted to share it online first before it’s published (I think we’ll have to add in prose sections and more explanations of the ‘internet’ content beforehand). This is my first contemporary YA, and I’m so nervous and excited to be writing in a new genre! Especially one that’s so close to my heart.

If you’re excited for the novel, here’s some 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. This article is a really good general introduction to obsessive fandom.

10) 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

9) 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.

8) 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.

7)  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.

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

5) Caroline Calloway and Natalie Beach 2019 – Still on-going! See here for more.

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. Happily, Dan and Phil came public as a couple this year!

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 familiar 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.) Here’s a sample chapter. It’s like the Serial podcast, in the sheer scale of collaborative investigation going on in real time with readers.

Title reveal!

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Introducing. . . THE RECKLESS AFTERLIFE OF HARRIET STOKER! Coming out on 3rd September 2020 with Walker Books in the UK and Australia, this is my first ever fantasy novel. It’s a big one – it’s currently 110,000 words, which is the longest thing I’ve ever written. It’s about a girl who gets in above her head when she tries to become the most powerful ghost in a building of ancient spirits.

The other ghosts happen to be freshers who all died in their halls of residence during their first year of uni, decades earlier. They’ve spent years bickering, flirting, play-fighting and developing in-jokes with each other in the decrepit and abandoned building where they all died. When Harriet becomes a ghost, she finds them as baffling as they find her modern. She has a lot to learn about life, even after she’s died.

I’m so excited for you to meet my nineties ghost gang – Rima, Felix, Kasper and Leah, as well as Leah’s young baby Claudia, and Rima’s pet fox Cody. If you liked Being Human, Misfits or Crashing by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, then I hope you’ll like this book. It’s a horrom-com (AKA a genre I just invented, the horror romantic comedy). It’s grisly and gory, with an epic romance and quite a few plot twists along the way (would it be a Lauren James book without them?) I’ve been talking about this project using the code name ‘ghost house’ since 2016, so it’s really odd that it has a title now.

Here’s the official blurb:

What if death is only the beginning?

When Harriet Stoker dies falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a world of ghosts with magical powers – shape-shifting, hypnosis, or even the ability to possess the living. As she learns more about their community, Harriet is willing to do anything to unleash her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy. Because who knows what grudges people have been holding onto for millennia, just waiting for a reckless girl to give them the chance to get vengeance.
A sharp thriller with a twist of the supernatural from a masterful sci-fi writer.

 

The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker will be published in the UK and Australia by Walker Books on 3rd September 2020.

Subscribe to my mailing list to be notified on release day | Goodreads 

Coventry writing workshop weekend announcement

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On 1st and 2nd February I’m going to be hosting a writing workshop at the Village Hotel in Coventry Business Park with WriteMentor. Here are the details, all on the website:

Cost: £200 for 2 full days or £100 for 1 full day

SAT AM: Workshop One: Writing Diversely – explain the core concepts of diversity in writing, and explain why it is important for writers of all kinds to make their work inclusive, and how to research identities and avoid stereotypes

SAT PM: Workshop Two: Worldbuilding – a group exercise using pictures of real world locations to write a story using their senses to create atmosphere and setting, building out a story from the location

SAT PM: 1-2-1 session with industry professional Miriam Tobin – Miriam Tobin grew up in London and studied English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. She then lived in Barcelona where she worked at the Ella Sher Literary Agency before returning to London to join Rogers, Coleridge and White in 2017. She works closely with Claire Wilson on her eclectic list of children’s authors and with Zoë Waldie on her adult list. She loves discovering new voices and is always on the lookout for quirky stories, distinctive styles and well-drawn characters.

SUN AM: Workshop Three: Working with publishers – the process of submitting to agents and editors, the timeline of editing with a publisher, we will also work on crafting query letters, synopsis and pitches

SUN PM: Workshop Four: Writing with STEM – how to write science fiction based on articles in the news. We will choose a recent news topic based on a scientific subject and use the ideas and concepts to create an engaging story

Inclusive of the following:

Free Wi-Fi access throughout the hotel
Notepad and Pen at each place setting
HUB Sweets
Hub Conference Café:
Unlimited use throughout meeting including full range of Teas, Coffees, Herbal & Fruit Teas
Fully stocked fridge with soft drinks, mineral water and orange juice
Selection of Flapjacks available in morning & Cakes in the afternoon
Fresh fruit available throughout the day
Lunch
Still and Sparkling Mineral Water
Complimentary use of leisure facilities including a state-of-the-art health and fitness club, spa and large pool (via prior arrangement)
Free Car Parking available

Venue: Village Hotel, Dolomite Lane, Coventry Business Park, Coventry CV4 9GZ

Tickets are on sale now!

I’m launching a podcast!

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Some news! I’m a big fan of writing podcasts, and I’ve been wanting to make one myself for a while. So Lucy Powrie, author of The Paper & Hearts Society and #UKYAchat creator, has teamed up with me to create Dog-Eared Pages, a new literary podcast full of book recommendations and writing advice. Specifically our chat focuses on that weird intersection between classics (Lucy’s area of expertise) and genre fiction (mine).
The first episode is coming on Monday. This time, we’re discussing The Books that Made Us – including The Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted, North & South, Pride & Prejudice, Shirley, His Dark Materials and Nevermoor.
It’s 55 minutes long and you’ll be able to find it at soundcloud.com/dogearedpages.
New episodes will come out every two weeks. Next up: summer reads!

I’m really excited about this fun new project and if you’re a fan of podcasts too, I hope you join us both. Hopefully by the end of the episodes your book wishlist will be bursting at the seams.

Writing a ‘readable’ novella for Barrington Stoke

When Barrington Stoke approached me about writing an accessible novella for struggling readers, I knew immediately that I wanted to write a science fiction story.

The sci-fi genre can be incredibly hard to get into for new readers. Books tend to be 500+ pages long, with lots of dense science facts and made-up terminology that’s been developed by generations of writers over the year (see: artificial gravity, terraforming, parallel universe, hive mind).

I wanted to write a more readable story that still uses all of my favourite sci-fi elements – there are hints of Binti, Jeeves & Wooster, Starfleet Academy from Star Trek, Saga, Howl’s Moving Castle and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.

 

This novella is designed to be a jumping-off point to help readers explore the whole canon of sci-fi, hopefully while feeling like there might be a place for them in the genre, after all.

This is nothing like my usual science fiction novels. It’s not based in science at all. There’s not even a human in the story. It’s full of sentient volcanoes, bicycle-riding-butterflies, clockwork birds and golden gears and cogs. I hope that it feels as magical to you as it did to me, while I was writing it. And if you’ve not read much sci-fi before, I hope this encourages you to give the genre a try.

I want to write a sequel set on Dorian’s underwater planet – I have a plot already planned out, so fingers crossed I get chance to write it! Hugo and Dorian’s relationship still has a lot more story to tell.

I want to speak a bit about Barrington Stoke, and the amazing work they do. For their readable books, they work to make sure that sentence structure is chronological and easy to understand, there are plenty of dialogue markers to make the speaker obvious, and there isn’t any complicated formatting.

As an example, there’s one of the (many!) rounds of edits this book went through.

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Each word was analysed carefully several times to make sure it was the best choice. At the end, it still feels like my writing voice, which is an incredible feat! I feel really lucky to have been able to work with Barrington Stoke on this

Fancast –

Hugo (voice)  – Eddie Redmayne

Dorian (voice) – Jack Farthing

Ada (voice) – Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Playlist –

Campus//Vampire Weekend

Like Real People Do//Hozier

Death of a Bachelor//Panic! at the Disco

When the Party’s Over//Kina Grannis

Starlight Watchmaker RGB.jpgWealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

A wildly imaginative sci-fi adventure from YA star Lauren James, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+.

The Starlight Watchmaker is a 20,000 word novella which will be published in paperback and eBook by Barrington Stoke on 16th July 2019. Cover designed by Helen Crawford-White.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones | Foyles | Wordery

Tumblr tag | Join mailing list to be notified on release day | Writing inspirations  | Read the first chapter on Wattpad

Preorder a signed paperback copy from my Etsy (comes with assorted bookmarks and postcards)

Buy a Hugo (tattooed android) pin on my Etsy

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Moodboard about the book

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