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A lot has happened since my last email, so I'm going to dive straight into the news. Firstly, I shared the cover of my next book, The Quiet at the End of the World, which is out in March 2019.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Tumblr tag

This was designed by Lisa Horton.

Some of my favourite things about this cover:

+ The mix of biological (the gold foil nervous system), mechanical (the cogs) and electronic (the fluorescent vertical code) elements

+ Lowrie & Shen holding hands and staring off into the distance like they’re contemplating the future

+ that quote!

+ the font which is now officially My Brand’s Font

+ The deep dark beautiful glowing blue

Illustrator stoffberg drew this lovely artwork done of Lowrie, Shen and their robot pal Mitch from The Quiet at the End of the World. I love Miles’ style, and he’s captured the mudlarking gang and the crumbling ruins of London so well. I’m thrilled.
I've started an Etsy shop full of lovely merch about my books. 
There are enamel pins which celebrate science fiction, reading, shipping and fandom! In the colours of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, with rose gold copper metal. 
And art prints by Alice Oseman of characters from my books, including a A5 print of Romy in The Infinity from The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, a bookmark of Kate and Matt from The Next Together (11cm x 22cm), and a square print of Clove and Ella from The Last Beginning (21cm x 21cm). All are printed on silk 300 gsm card stock with a high quality finish, and the first 200 will include signatures on the back of The Next Together print by both me and Alice.

Teachers! I still have a few slots open for events in World Book Day week - which in 2019 falls on the release week for The Quiet at the End of the World! If you'd like your class to help me celebrate, email me.

I’ve started a fortnightly books & baking newsletter.

I wrote an article on LGBT+ fiction for the Children’s Writers and Artist’s Yearbook 2019, which is out now.

I’m going to be running the Rugby Sparks Young Writers group for Writing West Midlands from October, so if you know anyone in years 5-9 in the area who loves to write, let them know.
Here are some of my recent blog posts, which you might have missed:

Weird internet conspiracy theories: a primer

My last newsletter

How to solve ~~writers block~~

Kindle Highlights for authors

Interview with Middle Grade and Young Adult writer Catherine Doyle

Can You Guess the YA Book From the Dedication?

How to tell if you're in a Lauren James novel

I found my early notebook from writing The Loneliest Girl in the Universe.

I’ve given a lot of interviews over the last few years on different blogs, so here is a complete collection of all my answers.

And here's some cool things I've read online recently which I think you might like too:

Remember the Bees That Swarmed Times Square? We Tried to Find Out Where They Came From

Drought In Central Europe Reveals Cautionary 'Hunger Stones' In Czech River

A (very) short story by Robin Sloan that is EXACTLY why I'm always banging on about wanting more books set on the internet.

“To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” Became An Instant Classic. Here’s How It Happened.

My new favourite podcast - Be the Serpent, about fanfiction, writing and sci-fi.
Here are some books I've read and loved recently:

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison - I wasn’t sure this was my thing, but it reaaaaally was. A rejected son unexpectedly inherits the throne and has to learnt to become emperor in a court that wants to take him down. SO satisfying. Full of courtly intrigue and machinations. 
The Invitation by Keris Stainton - Keris' books always make me feel like I can achieve anything I set my mind to. Heart-warming, body-positive, sweet and caring, I am going to be thinking about these characters for a long time.

The Fifth Season by N K Jemisin - In a world where extinction events destroy civilisation every hundred years, the survivors have to try and relearn how to create a society from the remains of cultures that surround them. This is exactly my sort of thing - archaeology as a means of survival. It's about legend and science, and how to work out which is which. It's about found families and slave races and a science type of magic.

Think of England by K.J. Charles - this was the most excellent English country house heist/murder mystery, it was a RIOT. One of the best romances I’ve ever read!

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley - a very endearing detective story with a Chemistry-prodigy 11yo protagonist. I read this for the girl in STEM, but by chance it had all of my other favourites too: dilapidated grandeur, quirky murders, 1950s English villages

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal -A meteorite has hit Earth and triggered an extinction event. Humans have a decade or less to get off the planet before the sun disappears beneath skies of dust, and crops die off. But it's the fifties, and the space race has only just begun. The remnants of the US government team up with space agencies around the world to fast track a moon settlement mission. The WWII pilots are chosen to train as astronauts - but only the men. Which isn't much use when you're trying to start a colony. HIDDEN FIGURES meets INTERSTELLAR, this is part science-based adventure and part uprising for race and gender equality.

If you like my book recommendations, then check out my brand new baking newsletter just for recs, where I've written about A Curious Beginning and Chicken & Dumplings,  The Fifth Season & Sweetcorn FrittersA Sky Painted Gold & Apple TurnoversFence & Frozen Custard and The Calculating Stars & Cordial.
Behind the book

If you're interested in learning all of the work that goes on in the background to get books published, over the next few newsletters I'm going to be sharing a series of interviews I've done with different people working in publishing. Last time I interviewed my agent, and this time I have another special guest  – the narrator of the audiobook for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, Lauren Ezzo. This is my first English-language audiobook (I do have one in German), so I am incredibly excited. It's already garnering awards, and recently won an Audiofile earphones award.

I was given the choice of a few different narrators by HarperCollins, and I chose Lauren because her sample sounded like Romy in my head – she perfectly captured the mix of confidence and naivety that Romy has. If you’d like to listen to Lauren’s version of Romy (and, of course, buy it!), there’s a sample on the Audible page and another on soundcloud here.


With that, onto the interview!

How did you become an audiobook narrator? Did you do any work experience
or internships?


In college, I majored in Theatre/English — which was, in retrospect, a pretty great setup! I  was hired for my first title by Brilliance Publishing — a friend of mine from school was working there and happened to know they were hiring new narrators. I went in with copies of ‘Love Wins’, by Rob Bell, ‘Fragile Things’ by Neil Gaiman, and ‘Twilight’ (maybe you’ve heard of that one). The rest is history!

What books have you worked on in the past?

Several!! At this writing, I’ve narrated over a hundred, hooray!! Some favorites or notables include “The Last to See Me”, by M. Dressler, “Rules for Werewolves”, by Kirk Lynn, “The Butterfly Garden”, by Dot Hutchison, “Kill All Happies”, by Rachel Cohn, “The Hundredth Queen” by Emily R. King, and, sincerely, “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe”. [All of the books narrated by Lauren on Audible are here]

Ahh, thank you so much! How long does it take to record a book? 

It depends on the title — the general formula I use is about two minutes per page — so for a 300 page book, I’d budget 10ish hours. “Loneliest Girl” was a bit different since many of the ‘chapters’ are so short — less than a page sometimes, so she took about 6 hours!

Do you do it in one sitting?

I do and don’t record all in one sitting — usually I like to work in sort of standard business days — 9ish to 5ish, with breaks and lunch — to keep easy track of my progress and keep things expedient. If I were able to record all in one go, though, I think I would….to stay in storyteller brain for that long would be great for me and the book.

Do you work from home? What kind of equipment do you need?

I do! I have a custom built isolation sound building courtesy of my loving father, and when I do record at home — a la “Loneliest Girl” — that’s where I’ll be! Pared down as simply as possible, all you need to record is a good space, a microphone, an interface (a machine which converts soundwaves captured by the mic into binary for the computer to read), and a computer, and I have all of these — but of course things get a bit more complicated and technical than that.

I also have a lot of filthy tea mugs and cookie crumbs in there, but you don’t really NEED those….

How do you choose voices for characters? Do you take notes in advance of a recording session? 

Ooof, good question. Not enough people ask this one! First I look at my ability. When the text says something to the effect of. ‘ the deepest, rumbliest voice EVER’, I look to see what my version of that can be that will fit the tone of the story — sincere? comic? scary

Secondly, I look to see what my author wants or needs — so, with “Loneliest Girl”, I knew Romy should sound a little like the main protagonist from ‘Hundredth Queen’, since that’s what you (Lauren) listened to!

Then I go to my text — what descriptors am I given? Pitch, accents, even body characteristics– does this character have jowls, or big teeth? Are they painfully shy? And I let all those things sort of percolate in my brain, along with the theme and feel I get from the book.

For Romy, I knew what my base voice was, but I thought it was also important that she’s a little immature — not her personality, but the fact that her adolescence has taken place in isolation. She has no peers to mimic or bounce her thoughts off of, and no adults on which to model her behavior, other than what she sees through her messages and downloaded media.

So I tried to err on the side of youth, enthusiasm, when we first meet her, and then adjusted accordingly as the plot proceeded. There’s also a lot of ‘me’ voice in Romy, since she’s so relateable — a lot of her reactions and syncopations are mine.

J, Loch, and Ness I had fun with — these are all characters whose voices we hear through Romy. Her brain and emotions ‘distort’ them. I wanted Loch and Ness to be a little overdone, overdramatic — Romy’s ideals. And J…without giving too much away, I wanted to sound a bit like the ‘best friend’ — the guy everyone falls in love with.

What is the most difficult part of recording books? (mispronouncing things would
worry me!)

DEFINITELY worrying about pronunciation!! And listeners will nail you every time on that! But there are resources to take care of those things, and they’re usally not a huge issue in the end.

I think for me the most challenging aspects are the same for any collaborative artist — I want the work to be good and intriguing, and for my performance to suit it — not just for me, but for its author, its engineer, its publisher, its listener. Audiobooks are NOT an isolated experience. I’m the voice of a given title, but many, many people get to it before and after I do, and the pressure to deliver, for me at least, can be scary.

What’s your favourite part of your job, and what are you proudest of in your

Another really good one!!!! My favorite part of my job is that I get PAID MONEY to ACT and READ. Those are my favorite things in the world. If I can ever get paid to nap and eat, we’ll reevaluate, but that’s the best part. These are the things that make me happiest.

What would be your #4dreamprojects

Only 4!?!?! Okay.

1. Anything Neil Gaiman. Preferably a title he’s written as a gift  to me personally, but really anything of his would do.

2. The “Loneliest Girl” sequel, set after Romy reaches Earth II, chronicling her rise as its first matriarch.

3. A book from my childhood; see below

4. A previously male-narrated classic, a la Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, Remains of the Day, Hero’s Journey…the guys get a lot of good ones.

A Loneliest Girl sequel, huh? Well, we’ll see….. 

Has being involved in publishing changed how you read books for pleasure? 

Big yes. In the first place, I have less time to do this. In the second, I’ve learned IMMENSE amounts about writing, and what makes effective writing, from all the reading. If you are an author, please, make reading at least some of your work aloud part of your editing process!

I read out loud and it is SO HELPFUL. Especially in later edits, it’s so easy to skim over sentences and reading aloud really catches you up on the clunky things.

What are some of your favourite recent reads from your childhood? 

Eeee I love this!! My ‘first’ book was the picture book “Put Me in the Zoo” by Robert Lopshire — the adults in my family had to hide it from me, they got so sick of it.

Other first loves include “Go Dog Go”, The Time-Warp Trio, “His Dark Materials”, Shel Silverstein, “The Hobbit”, “Harry Potter”, numerous Eyewitness books, “The Cricket in Times Square”, “Ender’s Game”, “Walk Two Moons”, “Because of Winn Dixie”, “Belle Prater’s Boy”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, “Pure Dead Magic”, Tamora Pierce, Suzanne Fisher Staples, “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales”, Avi, Magic Treehouse, and really anything if it held still long enough.

Do you have any advice for aspiring narrators? 

Acting classes are esential – I’d say at least a year’s worth, of reputable training, but really
that should be continuing as your career progresses. Invest in a quality microphone
within your budget; no USBs should be visible anywhere. Be courteous and kind to
everyone in the industry you come across — you don’t know who they are or who
they’ve worked with, and they deserve a pleasant interaction at the very least. Listen
to other narrators and industry professionals, and decide what is good for you —
there’s a lot of advice. You don’t have to take it all, and it’s not possible anyway. If
it fits you, that’s the best advice. Also brushing your teeth and McDonald’s hashbrowns get rid of mouth noises in situ.

Thank you for the wonderful interview, Lauren! I learnt a lot from this – and now I kind of want to become a narrator too. 

Lauren Ezzo is a Chicago based audiobook narrator and commercial voice
talent. A Michigan native and Hope College alumna, at this writing she has
narrated over 100 titles for authors including Catherine Ryan Hyde, Adam
Rapp, M. Dressler, Christopher Rice, Kirk Lynn, Lauren James, & Dot

She has won multiple awards for her narration, including several
“Best of the Year” lists, and several Earphones Awards. In 2016, her
performance of “The Light Fantastic”, by Sarah Combs, co-narrated with
Todd Haberkorn, was named one of AudioFile’s best books of the year. She
was accorded the same honor in 2017 from School Library Journal for her
narration of “To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the
Donner Party”.

In 2018, she was Audie-nominated as part of a full cast of
narrators for Best Original Work, “Nevertheless We Persisted”, performing
two pieces – one of which she authored. She is a proud member of the Audio
Publishers Association, and a lifelong bookworm. Follow her exploits on
Facebook at @laurenezzoaudiobooks, on Twitter at @SingleWithFries, and
on the web at!

The  Wall Street Journal reviewed The Loneliest Girl in the Universe:

Romy Silvers is 16 years old, haunted by memories and utterly alone. In Lauren James’s gripping romantic sci-fi thriller “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe” (HarperTeen, 303 pages, $17.99), she’s the sole surviving passenger—and now commander—of a spacecraft hurtling toward a remote, habitable planet with the mission of founding a colony.

Born on the ship, Romy has no experience of other people than what she remembers of her parents and what she can see of life on Earth from movies and TV shows stored in the ship’s computer. A tech genius, Romy is also surprisingly normal: She writes fan fiction starring characters from her favorite TV series and corresponds at great intervals (because of her distance from Earth) with her therapist. When Romy learns that another ship is coming, one with superior technology that will allow it to overhaul her before she reaches the planet, she’s thrilled and relieved: She won’t have to settle Earth II on her own. Better still, the commander of the approaching vessel, “J,” is young, charming, communicative—and lonely too. As news comes of catastrophic war on Earth and NASA severs contact with Romy, she finds herself drawn yet more deeply into a relationship of trust and love (and momentary lust) with a compelling stranger who seems to have an uncanny feel for her deeper thoughts and desires.

Warning sirens may not yet be going off in Romy’s spaceship, but they will be blaring in the minds of readers age 13 and older, and rightly so. As a psychological drama, “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe” is a good read with several shocking twists. It’s even sharper as an extended metaphor for certain risky realities of modern adolescence. Teens who feel isolated are often tempted to seek solace in online relationships; they are wise to remember that a stranger who seems warm and genuine may have dark motives and ominous intent.

And Entertainment Weekly named it their top pick of July:

The better the thriller, the harder it is to review. I can’t think of a book I’ve read this year that this statement applies to more than The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, Lauren James’ impressively unsettling new novel. It’s an innovative, at times cruelly twisty little book, one that reveals itself gradually as something far, far different from how it’s introduced. And it’s all the better for it.

Loneliest Girl is sci-fi in nature. Its protagonist is Romy Silvers, a teenage girl commandeering a spaceship, the Infinity, in the wake of her astronaut parents’ tragic deaths. She’s hurtling away from Earth, searching for the planet her family was headed toward. But she’s completely on her own. The beginnings of the novel offer insight into experiences of isolation, with Romy veering between conversations with her therapist and immersions into mushy romance novels; the writing here is sensitive and occasionally sappy, but never patronizing. The sheer reality of her predicament — left in boundless space alone, reeling from grief and heartbreak — is emotionally transfixing. (At times it recalls, among other titles, the misfire of a movie that was Passengers.)

James’ writing is alternately voicey and spare, maintaining mystery and intrigue even as she plays with some fluffy tonal breaks to draw her reader in. (There’s also, in a bit of a change for this genre, very little dialogue.) It evolves into something of a romantic comedy when Romy is informed by NASA that there’s a second ship — helmed by a 22-year-old who goes by J — set to join her.

But James pushes past merely meeting expectations; a straightforward love story this is not. Her setting of outer space becomes less a metaphor for loneliness — even as that element remains core throughout — and more one of frightening unpredictability. There are some extremely sharp plot turns here, shifts that drop the book in entirely new genres and allow it to keep building momentum as a surprisingly engrossing psychological thriller. Its ending, especially, offers a harrowing surprise. At times Loneliest Girl reads like a very deliberate mashup of contemporary YA, combining tropes and familiar themes, with the product emerging wholly singular.

Through it all — and yes, the plot’s developments must go unmentioned here — there remains Romy. In her, James has crafted a memorable hero whose trauma and resilience aren’t glossed over or taken for granted. This is a strange, witty, compulsively unpredictable read which blows most of its new YA-suspense brethren out of the water. —David Canfield

Upcoming Events

24th Sept: Milton Keynes Lit Fest – In conversation with Alice Oseman – book tickets here.
August 2019: Worldcon Dublin!

Finally, I promised that a subscriber of this newsletter would win a set of the art prints from my etsy shop. The winner is...... Olivia M! Congratulations! I'll email you to get your details.
The number one way a book spreads is through word of mouth. If you like my writing, please spread the word!

If you're an aspiring author you may be interested in my editorial critique services.

The current cheapest places to buy my books are:
The Next Together - Amazon Kindle (£1.99)
The Last Beginning - Amazon UK in hardback (£6.61)
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe - Wordery (£5.33 with free shipping)

If you've missed any issues of my newsletter, you can read the archive here.
You are receiving this email either because you signed up at or because you participated in a promotional campaign for my books. 

My mailing address is:
Lauren James
Walker Books
87 Vauxhall Walk
London, SE11 5HJ
United Kingdom

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Lauren James · Walker Books · 87 Vauxhall Walk · London, SE11 5HJ · United Kingdom

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