What has been your inspiration for your latest book ‘Goddess’?
I've always been a little obsessed with the legend that Britain was founded by an exiled Prince of Troy, Brutus. So I decided to treat it as historical fact, and imagine an alternate modern Britain that still worships the Ancient Greek Gods.
I started the story just as the economic crisis was beginning to bite in Europe, and Greece in particular looked about to implode. It made me wonder how Britain would cope if faced with similar economic meltdown – the strikes, the riots, mass unemployment, the rise of the far-right… It’s in times like these that people often turn to religion. So my heroine Aura, having lived a very sheltered life as a priestess of the Cult of Artemis, finds herself a figure head for popular protest when she starts receiving prophetic visions from the goddess. However, in the Greek myths Artemis comes across as a bit of a bitch. It's not long before Aura realises that becoming the goddess's representative on earth is less of a gift, more a demonic possession…
Is being an author all you expected it to be?
It's both great fun and hard work, which I was prepared for. But I do think I underestimated how isolating writing is. When you're stuck or hit a bad patch, it can be really lonely! Thankfully I've joined some online writers' groups. We meet up IRL too, to moan about deadlines and throw ideas around. Or just eat cake and gossip, ahem.
What advice would you give to a young author?
Aim to write something every day, even if it’s just brain-storming. Writing needs to be as natural a part of your routine as brushing your teeth. If you’re not sure what you want to write about, or don’t feel quite ready for it, start by keeping a journal. This will get you into the writing habit and is great training for putting thoughts into words, or capturing a special moment or feeling. Oh, and read, of course - LOTS. Don't be too picky. Try a bit of everything!
Are any of the characters in your series based on anyone you know or have known?
Little bits of people I've met and conversations I've had do creep into my writing from time to time. Usually it's not deliberate, and the references are so tiny nobody could possibly recognise themselves. It's much more fun to create characters out of thin air, anyway, since they tend to take a life of their own as the story progresses.
Do you think you will ever become a full time author and leave your job at the English National Ballet?
I find it hard to imagine, because I'd get slightly depressed if I didn't spend at least some of my working day with real people rather than imaginary ones. Plus, ballet is one of my all time favourite things. I find it hugely stimulating just being in the same building as all these amazingly talented dancers, choreographers, costume designers and musicians and so on. (They even let me try on a tutu once. Definitely a career high.)
Are you reading a book at the moment? If so what?
I was obsessed by "Flambards" when I was a teenager and one of my writer friends recommended another K.M. Peyton YA novel called "Pennington's Seventeenth Summer". The main character's a dreamboat badboy and musical genius, so that's me happy. I've also started a book called "Stoner" by John Williams, because it said on the cover "the best novel you've never read". I'm a sucker for a good shout-line.
Who is your all time favourite author and why?
Argh. The most UNFAIR QUESTION in the world! I will have to give you a list: Jane Austen for her sharpness and psychological brilliance, Mary Renault for making me fall in love with the Classical World, Margaret Atwood because she's dazzling at everything she turns her hand to, John Masefield for writing my favourite children's book, "The Midnight Folk", and Catherine Fisher and Maggie Stievater for page-turning, heart-melting excitement.
Do you have any hobbies that don’t involve reading, writing or drawing?
Ballet, ballet, ballet! I also love baking, and brownie recipes in particular. My two current favourites are cardamom and pistachio brownies, and sea salt and lime "margerita" brownies. Mmmm. I also do a lot of swimming, and walking in the Welsh countryside. Very good for the soul (and for counterbalancing the effect of all that baking.)
What are your plans/hopes for the future in your career as an author?
Obviously I'd love to be an international superstar mega-seller - who wouldn't? - but in the meantime I always hope that each new book is better than the last. Oh, and some time I'd like to write a really dark boarding school book. For some reason, although I've got lots of ideas about it, they haven't yet come together. One day!
To find out more about Laura's new book 'Goddess' please visit www.bloomsbury.com.