Guest Post from Lauren Westwood

Guest Post from Lauren Westwood

Time moves in strange ways when you’re an author. In real time, it’s only been two and a half years since my first women’s fiction book, Finding Home was published by Aria. On September 4th of this year, my fourth book, Moonlight on the Thames was published.
In the interim, I’ve lived many lives. I’ve discovered treasures of imperial Tsars, I’ve been left destitute by a philandering husband, I’ve found love with a famous film director, a clockmaker, an entrepreneur, and a Russian pianist. I’ve been shot at by criminals, made millions in private equity, found a looted Rembrandt.
All in the pages of my books, of course.
My real life is less exciting, but just as hectic. I work as a lawyer for a renewable energy company, and have three daughters under the age of ten. Writing stories is my passion, and it goes on in my head whether I’m at the school yard gates, or on the train, or lying awake at night at 3am. It is, quite simply, what I do.
All of my books reflect my basic philosophy as an author, which is to write books that I would want to read. I grew up in 1980s America reading books in the ‘romantic suspense’ tradition. This included authors like Elizabeth Peters, Phyllis A Whitney, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt and Daphne DuMaurier. These books were strongly plot driven, with mystery and romance at the heart of the story. We didn’t have chick-lit in its current form: little cake shops, and things like that. I have always been a career-driven person, and frankly, the idea of running something like a café, B&B or cake shop, terrifies me.
The first three Lauren Westwood books I published: Finding Home, Finding Secrets, and Finding Dreams, all represent a modern take on the romantic suspense or mystery tradition. As such, they are considered cross-genre, and because they blend humour, mystery and romance, they aren’t easy to put into one particular box. This has proved to be both a good thing and a bad thing in today’s world of cookie-cutter publishing. There are a lot of readers who, I think, appreciate the fact that my books are a little different than what else is out there, but it’s harder to find and reach these readers.
Moonlight on the Thames is a departure from my first three books, in that it is not romantic suspense. It is on some levels a straight romance, though told in dual point of view from the heroine and hero. However, as will quickly become apparent (and despite what the cover and marketing may imply) it is not light Christmas fluff!
I still chuckle a little thinking how a few eyebrows were raised by my publisher when I submitted my idea for an ‘escapist Christmas read’. But once the characters Nicola and Dmitri were in my head, I felt that I had to explore their journeys. In fact, the first draft was even darker than the final book, but I hope that the end result strikes a good balance.
It was a risk having a lead character like Nicola – she is not the instantly likeable Cinderella-type heroine that the genre expects. I know she won’t be for all readers, but for those who stick with her journey, I hope that they will find her interesting, and hopefully appreciate the ups and downs of her experiences through the book.
Dmitri was in some ways an easier character to write, and for me personally, he is an important character. For a long time, I’ve wanted to write a book that explores on some level the ups and downs of being a creative person and an artist. I am myself a ‘failed’ musician, having once studied music at university with vague dreams of becoming a professional oboist. Music, as well as other creative pursuits, can bring a person to great heights, but also great depths of despair, and I have attempted to capture this through Dmitri’s character. Music plays an important role in the book, and it also plays an important part in my life even though I am no longer a performer.
I think that Moonlight on the Thames is my best book to date, and though I know it may not be to everyone’s taste, I am happy with the way it turned out, and I’ve found the characters hard to let go of. That said, I’m on to the next project now, and it’s always an exciting time to begin exploring new worlds, and entering the mindset of new characters as they come to life on the page.

You can see my review of Lauren’s latest book Moonlight on the Thames here x

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