Tuesday 19 November 2013

Secret Serendipity Seven with Laura E. James

To celebrate the digital publication of Truth or Dare by debut Laura E. James, I am so pleased to welcome Laura onto the blog to tell us all her secrets! I met Laura over a year ago at a creative writing course with Julie Cohen and I am over the moon to see her dreams of publication finally realised.
Choc Lit
Thank you so much for inviting onto you beautiful site, Viv. I could frame your backdrop and hang it on my wall.
As the title suggests, there are many secrets within my debut novel, ‘Truth or Dare?’, but I’ll keep them for the readers to discover. What I have for you today are seven secrets surrounding the story’s creation.
Secret Number 1:
‘Truth or Dare?’ started life as Cabbage or Mother? The main character, Katherine Blair, playing a truth game with her two best friends, Mickey and Rosie Jenkins, (a brother and sister duo) had been asked to choose between the two things in her life for which she had the least regard – cabbage or her mother. She disliked both in equal measure but at least cabbage was considered good for her and however awful its smell, it was still preferable to the stench of stale alcohol, not to mention she could chop and quarter the vegetable without repercussions.
Secret Number 2:
‘Truth or Dare?’ was six years in the making. With a young family, and a disabled mother for whom I cared, writing time was limited. It’s impossible to know how much actual time I spent writing, but many months whizzed by, as I created my imaginary world. The first time I logged the file as complete was 20th March 2010, still with the title of Cabbage or Mother, and with a word count of 115,287. I confess, I have lost track of how many drafts the story went through, but it was somewhere in the region of eight. Possibly nine. The word count dropped to 77,000, before adding the hero’s point of view, and it now stands at approximately 92,000.
Secret Number 3:
Originally, ‘Truth or Dare?’ was hand-written in four A4, spiral-bound, hard-back note books, which I still have. On the day I decided to write that novel I always said was inside me, my left arm was in plaster. Not up to sitting at my desk, and prone to losing control of the heavily slabbed limb, resulting in many annoying and quite frankly, embarrassing thuds to my forehead, it was safer to snuggle on to my sofa. I had my favourite pen, a brand new notebook, and an imagination fuelled by post-operative fuzziness. I started writing.
Hands 8
Secret Number 4:
My hero was called Stuart Smith, until a very good friend, who is an excellent author and respected tutor, suggested a rethink of the name. There is nothing wrong with either Stuart or Smith, but I needed something to reflect the hero’s heritage. Declan O’Brien was born. It wasn’t until the editorial stage I changed some of the minor character’s names, realising too many started with the same letter. It seems I have a penchant for names beginning with L. I wonder why?
Secret Number 5:
The character of Mickey Jenkins was written for an entirely different purpose to the one he now fulfils.
Imagine, if you will, one of our great serial dramas – the postman – a bit-part for an unknown supporting cast member, who then auditions for the role of a regular character, and gets the part. That’s Mickey. Except, he’s not a postman.
Secret Number 6:
Eleanor’s Gate, a large Georgian house on the edge of a new development, owned by Lilian and Jonathan Willis, does not exist. It is ‘situated’ on the land occupied by three detached houses, in the village of Portesham, not far from the beautiful Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens. The house is at the top of an incline, and the road leading to it, windy. I used to live in one of the houses.
Secret Number 7:
I am a huge Paloma Faith fan. That’s not the secret, but Paloma’s song ‘Black and Blue’, gave me a terrific shot of inspiration when I was struggling to give Declan a way out of a situation. One day, I may reveal the Paloma line that solved a major plot problem, but there are no spoilers today.
That can be my eighth secret.
Laura x
Truth or Dare?
Love’s a dangerous game … 
Kate Blair’s sick of unrequited love. She’s quietly waited for Mickey for the past six years and finding a compass-carved heart, with their initials scratched through the middle, only strengthens her resolve: no more Mickey and no more playing it safe.
It’s time to take a chance on real love and Declan O’Brien’s the perfect risk. He’s handsome, kind, and crazy about her so it’s not long before all thoughts of Mickey come few and far between.
But old habits die-hard. Kate may have started to forget … but has Mickey?
‘Truth or Dare?’ was nominated for the Festival of Romance Best Romantic Ebook 2013. 
It is published by the award-winning, independent Choc Lit: http://www.choc-lit.com and is available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Truth-Dare-Choc-Laura-James-ebook/dp/B00G3I4PHM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382540337&sr=8-1&keywords=laura+james+truth+or+dare
You can follow Laura at www.lauraejames.co.uk  
or on Twitter @Laura_E_James  and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LauraE.JamesWriter


  1. Fabulous post! Thoroughly enjoyed it. And am loving Cabbage or Mother LOL. So looking forward to reading this one. Wonderful to have you within the Choc Lit family, Laura. Viv - I second Laura's comments about the beauty of this site :) X

    1. Thank you, Sarah. I was told Cabbage or Mother as a title suggested a light read, which didn't reflect the darker aspects of the story. I tried several titles before opting for Truth or Dare. It's definitely the right title :-) Laura x

  2. The new title is much better and Stuart Smith wouldn't have worked half as well as Declan (no offense to any Stuarts or Smiths out there)

    1. Thanks, Angela. I wanted an Irish name, and when I researched the meanings, Declan (full of goodness), an d O'Brien (high and noble) suited the character. :-)

  3. A really interesting insight into your lovely book Laura. I'm glad you change it from Cabbage or Mother though - Truth or Dare is a great title and gives you a lot of ideas for promotion like the fabulous game you launched with. Not sure Cabbage or Mother would have worked in the same way...!

    1. It reminds me a little of Crackerjack, at five-to-five on a Friday! They played a game called Cabbages and Kings, I think. I'd have struggled to recreate that :-) Thanks, Kathryn x

  4. I agree - Truth or Dare is a brilliant title. I loved the book, Laura! Congratulations :)

    1. Thank you, Berni :-) I don't think I've seen a romance with a cabbage on the cover. I love my ToD cover :D x

  5. Love the secrets, some I knew, some I didn't.

    Truth or Dare? is a great read.


  6. Thanks, Sue :-) I've got to hold some secrets in reserve. Really pleased you enjoyed ToD xx

  7. I, too, loved the insights into Truth Or Dare - and I definitely prefer the title, however I loved hearing the reasons behind the original title which have really prompted me to get onto reading it soon. I'm in the middle of another Choc Lit book which I'm loving - Yes, a few on my TBR list!

    Good luck with it!



Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.