When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).
From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t. Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .
Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…
Title: The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness
Author: Laura Bambrey
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 28th July 2020
Links: UK: Amazon US: Amazon
I had the pleasure of meeting Laura a few years ago at a blogger/author meet up in London, organised by the fabulous Kim Nash. we got on really well and have stayed in touch ever since. So I was absolutely delighted to hear that she had signed a book deal with Simon and Schuster, I got in touch to congratulate her and to confide that I had also signed a book deal with Orion Dash, it was such a fantastic co-incidence and Laura suggested that we do a blog swap to celebrate. So today we are welcoming her to sincerely book angels blog and I am over at laurabambreybooks.blogspot.com.
Hi Laura and welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog.
Hi Annette - thank you so much for having me over to your gorgeous blog today! Who’d have thought when we met all those years ago that our debuts would be publishing in the same month?!
It was something we could only ever dream of and as we've learnt dreams can and do come true.
Tori, my main character, has been pottering around in my head for a long time. I knew she had a story to tell me, but it took a long time for her to share it. I recon she was waiting for me to gather a bit more life experience before opening up!
I think we have all experienced loneliness at some point (even more so now that we’ve all had to endure lockdown!) Whether you’re completely isolated or surrounded by people, part of a huge family or flying solo - loneliness can hit at such random moments. It can be a flash that dies away quickly or something far more persistent, and exploring that feeling and the way it can affect your life was my inspiration and the theme that I wanted to explore.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always loved the idea of being a writer - but I was attracted to an abstract image rather than the reality - a character wafting around, sitting on hay bales with a notebook at sunset, playing the part of “writer” in a romcom. It’s only more recently that I’ve fallen in love with the reality of sitting down and actually writing, long hours immersed in an imaginary world, getting those sentences just right.
What other jobs have you had?
I’ve had quite a mixed bag of jobs, from Sculpture Conservator to Trapeze Choreographer and Stilt Walker. I’ve worked in retail, theatres, and the charitable sector as a fundraiser. The one thing they’ve all had in common is the opportunity to study people and gather stories and characters along the way.
I’ll let you know on the 28th July ;) Finding out that I had a contract with the Books and the City team at Simon and Schuster for their DigitalOriginals was an incredible moment - something I’ll never forget.
Can you please tell us a little about your publishing story.
Last year, I fully committed to my writing for the first time and I promised myself that I would take every opportunity I came across. I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme to help push me to complete my debut novel. Then I spotted the #DigitalOriginal #OneDay open submission call from Simon and Schuster and on the 15th of July last year, I hit send on my submission. Two days later, I received a request for the full manuscript.
At this point I had to come clean and tell Sara-Jade and the team that I hadn’t yet completed the draft. I asked for six weeks to finish writing it, and they very kindly agreed. I spent a very busy summer, and by the end of August, I had it ready for them. October saw me visiting the S&S offices for a meeting about the book, the Autumn and Winter saw me working hard on a structural edit, and early in the new year, 2020, my dream came true when I signed my contract.
Have you ever had writer's block?
Not so much writer’s block - I’ve had Writer’s Doubt. You know what I mean? The “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t possibly...”, “I’m never going to be able...”
If so how did you overcome it?
For me, the best possible way to get past Writer’s Doubt is to sit down and keep writing, even if it’s structural work on the plot rather than actual word count. I interviewed my characters to get to know them better, I made a huge visual plan of what I had left to do and what I’d already I achieved. I set a series of personal deadlines to keep me motivated. And then I got back to achieving that word count - because nothing makes me feel more positive than moving forward with the story.
What motivates you to keep writing?
Deadlines. I love a challenge, and there’s nothing more likely to get my bum in gear than something that feels only just within the realms of being possible to achieve.
Where is your favourite place to write? ( can we please have a picture)
I have an armchair that’s right next to my writing desk. I love to write new words in the chair and edit at the desk. The main problem is Mop, my rabbit, also loves the writing chair so we have a bit of a turf war going on!
What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
1. Write as regularly as you can. It’s a muscle and it needs to be used to get stronger (and to stave off the dreaded Writers’ Doubt)
2. Set yourself achievable targets. I started off by giving myself a tiny 400 word daily word count target. It soon adds up, and even on the toughest of writing days, it’s still achievable.
3. Be yourself. Sounds clichéd, but when you settle in and find your own writing voice, your characters and story come to life.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished My One True North by Milly Johnson - gorgeous gorgeous book! Next up, Sunshine and Second Chances by Kim Nash.
If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Ooh can I choose end credits instead? Then it would be True Colours performed by Ane Brun.
Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
I can really imagine a dark-haired, thirteen year old Chloë Grace Moretz as Rowan.
What is your next book about?
I can’t say too much about it yet as I’m in the very early stages of writing - but it will be a story that explores identity and the healing power of community.
Thank you so much for having me on your beautiful blog, Annette - and I can’t wait to read Wedding Bells at the Signal Box Cafe!
She has spent many years as a book blogger and reviewer of women's fiction and now lives in Devon with her very own romantic hero and a ridiculously fluffy rabbit named Mop. The Beginner's Guide to Loneliness is her début novel.
You can connect with Laura on twitter @laurabambrey, on Instagram @laura_bambrey_books, on Facebook @laurabambreybooks, and via her author blog laurabambreybooks.blogspot.com