It’s a warm, English summer’s evening in the historical and beautiful City of York, happy on a full tummy of jerk chicken and watermelon, with a brand new unopened Lucy Diamond novel in my summer tote, my best friend on my arm and a ticket in my hand to the most exciting gig of the night.
Well, for a Book Geek that is. For we had a ticket to the event we’d been getting exciting about for weeks – an evening with Yorkshire’s own Millie Johnson (Author of ‘The Yorkshire Pudding Club’) and (EEK!!) one of my favourite authors of all time, Lucy Diamond (Author of many books including The Secrets of Happiness – book review here).
So.. eagerly we join a line of women waiting outside of a beautiful old Waterstones, tickets clasped in hand, waiting for the doors to open. Once they do there’s a general air of ‘OMG WHERE DO WE GO BUT HOW DO I ALSO LOOK TOTALLY COOL ABOUT THIS’ whilst everyone navigates to the cafe upstairs where the event takes place. We climb the staircase to be handed Prosecco at the top (How fabulous) and here we meet two of the UK’s most loved Female Authors, as is felt in the room by the excitement and energy created by women of all ages attending the event as they enter, which is a real testament to their work.
The evening was based around their latest novels, Millie’s latest Novel is entitled ‘The Magnificent Mrs Mayhew’, and Lucy Diamond’s ‘Something to tell you’, with questions and answers.
I’ve tried to recall as much as the Q&A as possible, to share with you. I know I have many Lucy Diamond Lovers as Readers, and hopefully we’ll be joining the Millie Johnson fan club too (I haven’t yet read her books, but having met her, looking forward to doing so!).
Q&A: Lucy Diamond & Millie Johnson
Waterstones York, Thursday 1st August 2019, 7pm
Q: How did both Authors become writers?
A: Lucy originally worked as a publisher in her twenties and became interested in writing. She began writing children’s books and was worried that she wouldn’t be taken for her merit being published with a publishing background, so she tried to conceal it as much as possible. The name Lucy Diamond is a pen name, the name is taken from one of her Children’s books. For any budding writers, she advised that she learnt a lot from publishing; including how a book is made, how the manuscript process works, how to behave and how to get an agent.
A: Milly from Yorkshire worked at an Asda warehouse near Leeds and didn’t enjoy it too much, but the positive outcome was a bunch of really good friends, all of whom were diverse in nature, age, background etc. Millie and 2 of her Asda friends became pregnant at the same time, and one afternoon in a friend’s living room, with a cup of tea and surrounded by babies, she realised that it would become a great book. That’s how Millie got the idea for her first book, ‘The Yorkshire Pudding Club’. Two of Millie’s friends attended the night, which was lovely.
Q: What themes do each Writer tend to focus on within each book?
A: Milly focuses on friendship and writes in a lot of villains. Lucy focuses on likeable and relatable characters and has themes of friendship and family. She does however always ensure everyone gets their Karma, which is probably why we find them so satisfying!!
Q: Are any of the characters or stories related to people they know?
A: The aim is not to, but sometimes they slip in by accident…!
Q: What makes a likeable character?
A: Lucy advised that her favourite characters are brave, relatable, and with courage. Her favourite character is Gloria in shell cottage as she is punchy and courageous (who wasn’t planned, and just walked onto the page!).
A: Milly advised that her favourite characters are ones who shares same values. I personally really related to and understood this as I hated the main character in Hausfrau (Jill Alexander Essbaum) because she went against my morals and everything I stand for.
Q: How do you write your novels? Do you Plan or free flow?
A: Both Authors wrote free flow but now Lucy is trying planning. I can tell you from my own creative writing – I am not a planner! In my school exams, we had to create a plan AND a story to be graded, so I wrote the story and then wrote my plan, just to get the A grade! I personally find it too choppy in creative flow to plan.
Q: Where do your ideas come from?
A: Situations. Lucy looks for where she can add drama in her every day life (her latest book is set at a golden wedding anniversary, which came to her at her parents golden wedding anniversary) and Millie writes about what she sees around her or can imagine. Her latest book is inspired by what she feels is behind the eyes of Melania Trump.
For any unpublished writers or anyone writing their first novel, the following encouragement was given:
When you hit the writing brick wall of ‘this is shit’ (which you will do and they have both done so)..stick with it. Do not start again.
For characters, if you meet or see someone unusual IRL (could be on a train or in any public space) then keep a log of characters that may be able to be used in your story writing. Also, to keep your mind creative, look for everyday situations and try to find how you could change the story. Milly for example reads newspapers and thinks of beginnings and endings to their stories.
I found the evening truly special and fascinating, I think learning about what makes one of your favourite authors who they are and how they got to be where they are is really quite enjoyable to learn, both for readers and budding writers.
Also, both authors are absolutely lovely. Millie’s wit is second to none, she had us all laughing our heads off multiple times. I walked out with her book tucked under my arm and I really cannot wait to read it.
If you have an author meet locally in your area, I would strongly suggest you attend one. We travelled to the next city to meet these Authors, and both my friend and I said we absolutely will return for the next one. It really was a treat.
What questions would you have asked the authors? Which authors would you like to meet? Are you a writer, or would you like to be?