Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Guestopia: Laura Huntley

This month's Guestopia victim is Laura Huntley, a super talented author I met through the online writing group, Women Writers, Women's Books.

Hi Laura, let's waste no time whatsoever and get straight to the questions!

Is this your first published book?
It is! I am still in the nipping myself phase just to make sure this is real.

What’s it called?
Black Eyed Boy.

Which genre?
YA Contemporary Romance (with a big juicy, dark, gothic secret at the centre)

Which age group?
I would say 14-18, but the book is actually being read by all age groups.

Is it a series or standalone?
It is the first of a planned trilogy. I have written the sequel. It just needs a little more tinkering and polishing and it will soon be with the publisher. Next, to write the third and final instalment. I can’t wait!

Are you an agented author?
No. I’m in this all on my own, but I have been incredibly fortunate so far and I really haven’t felt the need for an agent.

Which publisher snapped up your book?
The fabulous Crooked Cat Publishing, my first choice. They publish such a diverse range of interesting literature. I am an extremely lucky crooked kitten.

How involved have you been in the whole publishing process of your book?
Massively. I wasn’t sure what to expect, this being my first novel and all, but I have been impressed and pleasantly surprised. Other than having an editor (THE best one actually, thank you Sue Barnard), I haven’t had to lose any of my ideas or any control over my work at all. Crooked Cat wanted my input when it came to choosing the cover artwork too. It has been a fascinating experience.

Do you have another job?
I organise local community events and I run a writing group at the library. I also make a range of handmade items such as cushions, jewellery, hair accessories and cards.

Did you receive many, if any, rejections prior?
Not for the novel. Crooked Cat were my first choice and they liked it enough to sign me up. I have had many short stories and pieces of flash-fiction published in anthologies too. I have had rejections sometimes, but I try not to dwell on them.

What created/what were you doing or watching when the first idea for this book sneaked up on you?
I heard the song by Texas ‘Black Eyed Boy’ and I thought that would be an excellent book title. Then, I started thinking … what would that be about? Once the idea (I think it must have fallen from the sky and landed on my head) arrived, I knew that I had something unusual and rather unique.

How long did you plot/plan until you started writing it?
For a few months. I had to do a fair amount of research initially, until I felt confident and knowledgeable enough to sit and write the story.

One you started, did the story flow naturally or did you have to step in and wrestle it into submission?
It was a dream come true, actually. It seemed to write itself. Every day was a joy and a pleasure. I’m certain that’s because I set the book in my most favourite seaside location though (Whitby, North Yorkshire, England). I felt as though I could hear the gulls and smell the fish and chips.

How many drafts did you write before you let someone read it? Who was that someone?
I never let a soul read it. I kept it entirely to myself until I submitted the first three chapters to my publisher. There is a huge secret within the story and I was determined to keep it that way.

Has the book changed dramatically since the first draft?
It has barely changed at all. It is certainly a million times tighter now though.

Are there any parts you’d like to change even now?
Ooh, good question! I was worried that I had left too many things dangling and unanswered but I wouldn’t change that. That’s what a sequel is for!

What part of writing do you find the easiest?
The beginning when it’s all fresh and exciting. And the end, that is so thrilling, particularly the final sentences. It’s such a shame about that huge pesky middle bit. Haha!

What part do you find hardest?
I struggle with the synopsis and the blurb. You have to be so succinct and I am frequently such a waffler!

Do you push through writing barriers or walk away?
Push, push, push. There were moments of writing Black Eyed Boy where I would be in floods of tears. It isn’t a fluffy book. There is a beautiful love story, but there are dark moments, full of grief and fear and that was quite hard to do. But you have to keep going.

How many projects do you have on the go at the same time?
One, ideally. I am better if I can give the project my undivided attention.

Do you think you’re born with the talent to write or do you think it can be learned?
Another fantastic question. I think, perhaps, I was born with the desire to write. Perhaps, if you’re truly dedicated and determined, talent will follow? You can certainly learn tricks and tips to make your writing better, but you have to have the love for it.

How many future novels do you have planned?
I have finished the sequel and I am currently editing that. There will be one final instalment in this trilogy and then I fully expect to return to horror. I haven’t written anything scary or grotesque for ages. And I miss it. Nasty things in shadows are calling my name, I can’t help it.

Do you write other things, such as short stories, articles, blogs, etc?
I like to try and keep my hand in. I write for my writing group and take part in daily haiku and poem challenges over on Twitter. I don’t blog as often as I feel I ought to, but I will occasionally scribble a post. I miss writing flash-fiction, sometimes, and the instant satisfaction that comes with that. But I feel I should concentrate on the novels for now.

Give me five writing tips that work for you.
Write down every single idea you have.
Try and write every day, even if it’s just a few words.
If you’re stuck, try a random words exercise to get you going again. The first five words you turn to in the dictionary will do.
Don’t let rejections get to you too much. Move on. Someone else will see your potential.
Do it because you love it.

And one that doesn't.
Staring at the blank page. If it’s really not happening, go and do something else. You might be prolific tomorrow.

Can you give us a clue or secret about your next book?
It’s called Green Eyed Girl, the sequel to Black Eyed Boy. And you will absolutely have to read it in one sitting because the story becomes incredibly tense. Like dangling off the edge off a cliff stuff / you will chew your nails.

What question have you always wanted to be asked but never have? What would the answer be?
Q: If Dylan (the Black Eyed Boy) was a real person, would you fall for him?
A: YES! (Insert dreamy sigh)

Wow, I'm in! Thank you so much for joining us today, Laura. We, at YAtopia, wish you mountains of luck with the Black Eyed Boy trilogy. Book one is already on my Kindle calling to be read. And for any readers who want to get their grubby mitts on it too, you can buy your copy here!

If you'd like to keep up to date with what's happening in the world of Laura Huntley, here are some places she might be!


That's it for this month, but make sure to come back in June when I chat with Australian middle grade author Angela Sunde.


  1. Great post, and I'm excited to read Black Eyed Boy, having loved the Texas single too!

  2. Great interview..never bought a YA book,,tempted now!

    1. I love YA. Teenagers still have the world at their feet. A good YA book can be a refreshing read. :)

  3. Great questions. It was such fun. :)

  4. Love the title and enjoyed learning about the plot.

  5. Love the interview and reading more about you, Laura. It's on my TBR list and I'll push it up nearer the top now!

  6. A great interview with s very talented author.

  7. It's a truly great book - in a league of its own. And thank you for your kind words, Laura! You were an absolute delight to work with. xx

  8. A fine interview with a terrific author. I enjoyed that!