Category Archives: news

We have lift off!

My second novel The Last Beginning is, as of today, available for preorder! (Amazon UK | Book DepositoryThe release date is 6th October! 179 days to go!!

Here’s the blurb:

imageThe epic conclusion to Lauren James’ debut The Next Together about love, destiny and time travel.

Sixteen years ago, after a scandal that rocked the world, teenagers Katherine and Matthew vanished without a trace. Now Clove Sutcliffe is determined to find her long lost relatives. But where do you start looking for a couple who seem to have been reincarnated at every key moment in history? Who were Kate and Matt? Why were they born again and again? And who is the mysterious Ella, who keeps appearing at every turn in Clove’s investigation?

For Clove, there is a mystery to solve in the past and a love to find in the future.

I’M GETTING GOOSEBUMPS? It’s so amazing! And so, so gay!!

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We tried really, really hard to write a blurb that didn’t spoil anyone who hasn’t read The Next Together yet, so I hope we succeeded!

This is just the PREORDER LINK and I’m freaking out. I’m gonna so mad with joy when the cover is revealed (IT’S SO GOOD, GUYS. SO GOOD.)

If you would like to review The Last Beginning, you can request a review copy here. You can also add the book on Goodreads.

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🎉 Branford Boase Award nomination! 🎉

Exciting news today – my editor Annalie Grainger and I have been longlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2016! It’s such an unbelievably cool honour, and I can absolutely confirm that Annalie deserves it for the hard work she put into The Next Together with me.

Annalie is nominated not only as an editor, but an author, for her own 2015 debut novel Captive. Superstar, or what? You can read an interview I did with Annalie about her editing process here.

The shortlist is announced in May, so keep your fingers crossed for us. Here is the rest of the longlist. Congratulations to all of the other nominees!

US Book Deal announced!

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THE NEWS IS OUT! The Next Together is being pub’ed in the US by Sky Pony Press, edited by Alison Weiss! I’m absolutely thrilled to bits. I’ve been keeping this a secret since MAY so I’m going to be talking about it a lot now that I finally can!

I’m really excited to work with the wonderful Alison and the team at Sky Pony to make the most beautiful American editions of my duology that we can. Both books are going to be coming out in 2017, so there’s  not too long to wait after the UK release. It’s going to be a hugely exciting year. Bring on 2017!

I wrote an article for The Toast!

I’m a huge fan of the feminist humour website The Toast, and my super secret personal goal for 2015 was to write an article for them. I’m happy to say that I managed it! Here is my first ever freelance article, written on the topic of (of course) Harry Potter. I also put my chemistry degree to (debatably) good use and added a bit of science to it.

The Hogwarts Houses of the Periodic Elements: A Critical Analysis

To read the rest, visit The Toast here! There are diagrams.

Abstract

Over the century since its creation, the Periodic Table of Elements has been studied almost as much, if not more, comprehensively than the Harry Potter universe. It is far past time that the two academic schools of thought were combined.

Introduction

In the Twentieth Century, a system of organising subjects into a simple order was invented. It quickly caught on, and has since become a worldwide shorthand for summarising complex information.

The system is, of course, the Hogwarts Houses of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. They were created by J. K. Rowling in 1997, when they were originally published as ‘fiction’ in the Harry Potter series. The Houses have since been reclaimed as a social tool.

In transferring over to the real world, the sorting system has become so much more than just fictional boarding school Houses. The Houses are a personality type; a Buzzfeed quiz; a political affiliation; an allegiance stronger than blood; and for some people . . . a way of life.

Almost as famous as the most important invention of our age was the development of the Periodic Table of Elements in 1869 by the chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. The table orders atomic elements into groups based on their characteristics, behaviours and interactions. Similar, some might say, to the Hogwarts Houses.

So, how do the two systems compare? Is it possible to combine them, to create one perfect, hyper-efficient organisational tool? This publication will present a hypothesis for the possible structure of this type of system.

Method

The procedure is simple: what happens when you mix, for example, a Gryffindor and a Slytherin? The same thing that happens when a Group 1 and Group 7 element react: explosions. Violent, but very cool, explosions.

Following careful analysis, here follows a ground-breaking proposal for a possible “Table of Houses”, designed for the use of chemists and Harry Potter fans everywhere.

Results

Slytherin – Alkali Metals and Alkaline Earth Metals

The groups on the far left of the Periodic Table, like Slytherins, are easily excited. It takes very little to set ‘em off. In particular, they react extremely aggressively with the following:

Gryffindor – Halogens

These are useful occasionally, but in general they are pretty harmful – especially in high doses. They are particularly clique-y, and tend to travel in pairs. Very competitive amongst themselves.

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Fig. 1: Slytherin in green, Gryffindor in red

Ravenclaw  Transition Metals

These are very impressive and shiny at first glance, and pretty strong. They generally need some sort of catalyst to force them to change their behaviour. They are reliable and useful in day-to-day life. 

Hufflepuff – Noble gases

These are always . . . around. They know everyone, but they are so laidback they never seem to get in any kind of conflict. They just kind of, you know, hang out.

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Fig. 2: Ravenclaw in blue, Hufflepuff in yellow

Additional categorisations:

Professor Albus Dumbledore – Hydrogen

These get involved with everything and everyone. They can be problematic but they are generally needed, and keep everything running smoothly. Works closely with the following: 

Professor Minerva McGonagall – Nitrogen and Oxygen groups

These are the catalysts that get things going. They are essential for life, and everything would fall apart without them.

Giant Squid – Lanthanides and Actinides

These are very mysterious. You hear a lot about them, but they never seem to do much. It’s never really made clear where they came from. They can’t survive in air, generally.

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Fig. 3: Dumbledore in purple, McGonagall in green, the Giant Squid in grey

Durmstrang – Boron group

These can bond with some Gryffindors/Halogens (especially those with bushy hair and high intelligence) but may react explosively with others. They all look very similar physically, and while they seem tough, they are surprisingly soft.

Beauxbatons – Carbon group

These are silvery and beautiful. Very stable, and a lot stronger than they look. They often gather huge numbers of followers. Very adaptable.

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Fig. 4: Durmstrang in brown, Beauxbatons in blue

Conclusion

It is obvious that the Periodic table divides up easily, logically and completely, absolutely naturally into the fictional universe of the Harry Potter series. This discovery has vast potential in and out of classrooms, perhaps as a Chemistry study aid or as a new form of insult. “Urgh, you’re such an Alkaline Earth Metal!” people might soon say, in the same way they would accuse someone of acting like a Slytherin, or a Giant Squid.

Excuse the lack of modesty, but this may even herald the beginning of a new era and a startlingly original way of thinking. Maybe this day will be recorded for years to come as the beginning of . . . Pop Culture Science.

If there are any comments or corrections to this paper, please submit your comments in the format of an academic peer review, under COPE guidelines.

The Most Wonderful Announcement!

As some of you may know, I was lucky enough to be offered a book deal while I was still at University. While this was amazing, it did leave me with a big question: what was I going to do when I graduated? My original plan, back when writing was still a hobby instead of something Real, was to jump straight into a job. But now I had a whole new option: to be a full time author! This was something I’d wanted to do since I was a child, so I really wanted to give myself the best chance to be successful as an author, while I had the wonderful opportunity available.

Instead of choosing between the two, I decided to take a kind of gap year, where I’d write as much as possible for a year. I told myself that I’d have to get a real job by the end of that year. I gave myself some time to be a full time author, and then I’d have to get a ‘proper job’ as well as writing.

I’m coming up to the end of that gap year now, and it’s been amazing. I’ve loved writing full time. In the last nine months, as well as working on The Next Together, I’ve written one (and a half!) new novels. And now I have some brilliant news.

Amazingly, incredibly, wonderfully . . . Arts Council England, supported using public funding by the National Lottery, have awarded me an Arts Grant, to give me ‘time to write’!

They help artists and arts organisations in England to create work which will engage the public artistically. This means that the Arts Council haven been generous enough to give me the chance to write 3 whole new Young Adult novels!

I can’t even explain how much this means. I’m so grateful for the confidence they’ve shown in my writing, and in me personally. It’s such an honour to be part of their mission to create high quality, enriching art. I will try my best to live up to it.

As I’ve previously discussed on this blog, I take my role as a writer for teenagers and young adults very seriously. I try to do things with my writing beyond telling a story. The right book can shape a childhood, so I try to make sure I live up to that responsibility. To know that the Arts Council have put their trust me to do that as well is a huge, huge honour.

As for what I’ll be writing . . . I’m already hard at work on the first of the three novels, the sequel to my first novel The Next Together. The Last Beginning will feature an LGBT protagonist (and lots of time travel, history, adventure and romance). I’ve also planned out the other two novels I’m going to be writing, and I hope you’ll be as excited about them as I am!

Thank you to Zoë Marriott and Ross Montgomery, who both advised me on the application process (it’s, er, pretty lengthy!) and to my agent Claire Wilson and my editor Annalie Grainger for their guidance and support, always.

Finally: I get to use this logo now. It gives me shivers just looking at it!

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Update: The lovely Nicole at YA Interrobang interviewed me about my grant here.

My first novel, The Next Together, will be published in September by Walker Books. You can preorder it, add it on Goodreads, or read the first chapter

Updates on The Next Together

I thought I’d write a bit of an updates post, just to show where everything is at the minute.

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This is where I am, mentally, all the time.

The Next Together is now completely done on my end.  With exactly 100 days to publication, I sent my editor a print-out of the pages, with my final final changes written on in red pen. It’s kind of terrifying that I won’t be able to mess around with it again, but in a nice way.

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Every time I read through it I add another twenty post-it notes of things to change.

I’ve now seen the full cover look, with the spine and back cover. It’s stunning. The spine is a beautiful light green with molecules dotted around it, and the back cover continues the style of the front. My lovely friend Louise O’Neill has a cover quote:

“A funny, gripping, and incredibly imaginative story of true love and reincarnation.”

I’m not sure who’s more overjoyed about that, me or her.

I’ve had a brilliant meeting recently about all the fun things I’m going to be doing with Walker for publicity, in which about two million complicated ideas were thrown around. I’m very, very excited about it. I think in a month or so I’ll be offering signed bookmarks for people who have preordered, so get your preorders in early! Very excitingly, at a recent Walker books conference, my book was given away in the goody bag! Doesn’t it look lovely?

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Picture by Wei Ming Kam

There are now The Next Together mugs for sale, in a UKYA dedicated shop here. This is ridiculous and amazing all at once.

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Just as crazily, a post about my writing journey has nearly two thousand notes on tumblr, and so many people preordered it after reading the post that it hit #21 in the Amazon charts. I had to screenshot it, because if this is as good as it gets, at least I had a small moment of victory.

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While I was in the Walker building, I signed some proofs to be sent out to bloggers. I had a bit of a panic because I hadn’t really practised my signature beforehand, and had to come up with one on the spot.

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Can you see the panic on my face?

I’ve since refined my signature, and here’s what it currently looks like (recorded for posterity, so I can see how it’s changed in a couple of signings!).

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The Next Together has now sold foreign rights in several countries, none of which I can talk about yet, which is very hard for me. I’m so so so excited and it’s very painful to not be able to share it with anyone. #soon

I’ve been very stressed about foreign rights ever since Egmont US closed, and I am probably more emotionally invested in it than I should be, so I’m happy to say there haven’t been any more setbacks – everything is going really well, so far. Phew!

I’ve started getting reviews from people I don’t know on Goodreads, which is pretty terrifying. I’ve decided I’m just going to ignore it, for now. This plan will most definitely not work. Whenever anyone says something nice, I feel like this:

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I’ve finished the second draft of the sequel, based on editorial suggestions made by my agent and editor. It now has a title:

THE LAST BEGINNING

Terrible graphics made by me (sorry).

It’s 75,000 words, compared to The Next Together’s 73,000, and I absolutely love it. I’m hoping it won’t be a disappointing successor, but I haven’t got enough distance from it to give it an unbiased judgement. My best one word description of it: loopy. In any and all senses of the word (time travel, it’s a mess).

I’m about halfway through my third novel, which is driving me mad and crazy with excitement in about equal amounts. As this won’t be out until 2017 (fingers crossed!) I’m not going to say anything more about that yet, except that this picture describes it pretty well:

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I was just about to finish when I realised I almost forgot the most important news of all…..I got a new bookcase! My dad made it for me as a belated 21st birthday present (I’m nearly 23….).It’s oak and lovely and holds so many books. Look!

tumblr_no7eitoUzp1qa24muo6_1280So I’ve spent most of my time just staring at it. No regrets.

Til next time, bye guys!

The Next Together is a real book!

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Today I got to hold my book for the first time as a real physical thing. I’m feeling very emotional and a little tearful about it right now, so please indulge me for this post. Here’s the story of The Next Together, and why this is such a huge huge deal to me.

Two weeks after I turned eighteen I started university. I was very shy and awkward and didn’t really make many friends at first. Especially not in my hall/dorm, where I didn’t know anyone at all. I would sit in my room and feel so homesick I couldn’t bear it.

So to make myself less lonely, I started writing a story. I didn’t really have any ideas, so I started by making a list of all the things I like best in books, and brainstorming from there.

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I described it on my livejournal, back in the early days pre-tumblr, as a ‘reincarnation type thing’.reincarnation 1

I quickly realised that I wouldn’t have enough time to work on it, so I put it to one side for a while, until the summer.

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It took me a while – so long that I’d moved from livejournal to tumblr to scratch my social networking itch by then –

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– but eventually I finished it.

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Reading back through these entries now, it’s unbelievable how much determination it took to get to this point, where it’s a real actual book I can hold in my hands. On and off, I have been editing this story from July 2012 to March 2015. That’s three freaking years. THREE YEARS. I’ve been thinking about it for even longer – the earliest post I can find about it is from 2009. Six years ago. I was sixteen.

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The internet has been a huge part of my writing process, from fancasting to research to just complaining about writing. I even ran a poll to ask the internet what I should call my characters!

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Tumblr, you’ve seen this book develop from the very beginning:

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You were the first people to ever read it:

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You were there when I sent it to agents:

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And then you put up with my panic again when it was submitted to publishers:

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And celebrated with me when I got a book deal:

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You helped me objectify actors in the noble pursuit of fancasting:

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(Many, many times.)

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(No, really.)

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You mourned with me when I had to choose a new title to replace the original name, The Red Earth Rolls:

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And you went mental with excitement when the cover was revealed.

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The Next Together cover reveal

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I can’t even count the number of friends I’ve made because of a stupid idea I had for a book.

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Some of whom have even drawn me FANART!!

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And now, it’s time.

I’m now twenty two. I’ve been writing this book since I was eighteen. It’s more of a part of who I am, and my personality and my experiences growing up than almost anything else. When I started it, I was a shy teenager who couldn’t bear to be away from home, who wrote to escape the real world. Now I’m a grown up (kind of) (I mean, not really) (I still spend a lot of time on tumblr) and writing is my job: my actual, real life job. This book has changed and evolved and matured at the same rate as me.

And as of today, it’s no longer a figment of my imagination. It’s real. An actual, paper book that I can hold and stroke.

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Please excuse me while I stare at it forever. And thank you, tumblr. Thank you, livejournal. Thank you, internet. You made this happen. Let’s celebrate.

The Next Together will be published on 3rd September. You can read the first chapter here.

How many times can you lose the person you love?

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about reincarnation and the timelessness of first love from a talented young writer.

Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace? Maybe the next together will be different.

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Waterstones | The Book Depository

A rebloggable version of this post can be found here.