They say to write what you know about, but Laura Price’s debut book is the best example of this I’ve seen in such a long time.
Single Bald Female follows Jessica, who is in her early 30s and seems to have it all, but whose life it thrown into turmoil when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measures.
I sat with Laura to ask her how she has a little help in procrastinating, and the exciting setting of her next novel.
Where does inspiration come from for you?
Life! I turn 40 this year and I feel like I’ve lived a lot. In my twenties and thirties, I travelled all over the world, living in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Ireland, learning about different cultures and how people live and work.
In my late twenties, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which sparked the inspiration for my debut novel, Single Bald Female, but I’ve also gained inspiration from relationships, work, meals I’ve eaten, travel, and even the mundane, day-to-day life stuff. I also find reading books and listening to podcasts opens my mind and might spark a new thought or idea.
Have you ever based a character on yourself?
Single Bald Female is inspired by my own experience of being diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 29 years old, so of course a lot of the ideas in the book come from my own experience. But my protagonist, Jess, isn’t based on me per se.
One of the things I love about writing fiction is that your character can be whoever you want them to be – you can take the good parts from yourself as well as elements of the people you know, and perhaps even the person you want to be. Mix it all together and you can come up with some pretty cool characters.
Is there anywhere in the world you would love to set a book?
I have spent a lot of my life in Latin America and have lived in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and… Ireland! I’ve had so many incredible experiences in Latin America that might sound exotic and interesting to people in the English-language market, so it’s a backdrop that can excitement and intrigue to a story. I’m working on a new novel at the moment that includes scenes set in Rio de Janeiro, but that’s all I can say for now.
What is your most common method of procrastination?
Where do I start? I like a good list, so I would say:
5. Hoovering… and I really hate hoovering, so that’s saying a lot.
What snacks do you have closeby when reading?
All of the snacks! Food writing is my other job, and I also host a podcast called Life in Food with Laura Price, so I think about food pretty much 24/7. But I’m pretty good about not snacking between meals. There’s usually some chocolate after lunch, whether it’s Maryland cookies, Green & Blacks dark chocolate with ginger, dark chocolate rice cakes from Itsu or Pret, or dark chocolate goldenberries from Nature’s Heart. (Are you sensing a theme?) After dinner, I usually stuff my face with crisps – my current top five is here, in case you’re interested.
How do you work through to overcome writer’s block?
I haven’t found the answer, but here’s another list:
a) The only way is to sit there and write it out – switch off your phone *and* put it in another room, then keep writing nonsense until you actually come up with something good. The words will flow eventually.
b) Get out there and do things; see people. Most of my ideas or phrases come when I’m walking down the street, overhearing things or people-watching. Or experiencing life. You’re unlikely to gain great inspiration just from sitting at your desk all day every day. Even a walk in the park is helpful.
c) Read all the books and listen to all the podcasts. My favourites include Happy Place, How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, Ctrl Alt Delete and Book Reccos, among others.
d) If you’re not feeling it – if you’re wasting time, procrastinating and giving yourself a hard time, call it quits for the day. Go and read a book instead – you’ll get a lot more out of it. I’ve written about this in my newsletter, Doughnuts for Breakfast.
e) Writing lists.
What’s your elevator pitch for your debut novel?
The one I’ve been using is ‘Single Bald Female tells the story of a young magazine journalist called Jess who deals with the double blow of break-up and breast cancer before plunging herself into the murky world of online dating with a bald head.’
It’s described on the jacket as ‘Dolly Alderton meets The Fault in Our Stars for grown-ups,’ and I don’t think I’ll ever get over that comparison. (Dolly is the best).
What’s your elevator pitch for your WIP?
This is strictly under wraps for now, I’m afraid! But I can exclusively reveal that it will have more of a food storyline than Single Bald Female.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for wannabe authors?
Keep writing. For a long time, I was one of those people who said ‘I’d love to write a book’ but it will never happen if you don’t just sit down and write the d*mn thing. Writing a novel is the hardest thing I’ve ever done; it took so much resilience. But if you believe your work is worth sharing then you have to keep pushing for it. Also: read everything you can, particularly within the genre in which you’re writing. Also start developing your social media presence now, as you’ll need it when your book comes to be published, and it’s something you really have to build overtime, rather than overnight.
What’s your opinion on NaNoWriMo?
I’ve never done it, but I’d say anything that helps you find the discipline to write is worthwhile.