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My next book, The Quiet at the End of the World, is about Lowrie and Shen, the youngest people alive in a time after humans go infertile. They have grown up knowing that they are going to watch their species face extinction, and spend their time exploring the crumbling remains of civilisation, treasure-hunting for things their ancestors have left behind – objects like the ones in the pictures.

It took a long time to decide on a title for this book, but in the end we settled on The Quiet at the End of the World because that’s what the book is about – the time after the apocalypse, when there’s no hope, and nothing to do but wait and try to enjoy life at the end of the world (also, let’s be honest – I just wanted a longer title than The Loneliest Girl in the Universe).

I love post-apocalyptic novels, but they are always very grimdark – depressing and tragic. I wanted to subvert that trope and write a kind of soft apocalypse, with an uplifting look at humanity and kindness in the small community that would result from a large population loss (it’s a very English kind of village, and book).

I read Station Eleven a few years ago, and really came away from that novel with a sense of just how much there still is to live for when you’ve lost everything. As a reader I feel like there are so many stories that hadn’t been told in that kind of setting – after the angst of the apocalypse, when you’re not necessarily trying to rebuild the world but live a good, happy life in the time you have left. So as a writer, I didn’t want to write a dystopia full of villains and evil governments (there’s enough of that in real life). I just wanted to write about humanity in isolation.

I wanted to tell a story about how vulnerable life is, when the human race is an endangered species on the brink of extinction. And how easily the smallest thing could push it over the edge.

What do you do? If you know you’re the last of your kind, and nothing you do matters or will be remembered once you’re gone. How can you spend your days in harmony, when you know that every hour represents the thousands of years of human civilisation behind you? With those generations looking over your shoulder, are you ever truly yourself, or are you just the culmination of their decisions? How can you be an individual without looking ahead or behind you? Should you even try? Those are the questions that Lowrie and Shen are asking each other in The Quiet at the End of the World.

It’s out in Early 2019 (date to be confirmed) and I’ll be revealing the cover in a few months. I really can’t wait for you to meet my childhood best friends and their robot pal Mitch. You’re going to love them all.

(Also, this photoshoot took like a solid week, I had to keep giving up and coming back to it. All of the objects are family heirlooms and/or things found in our 1850s cottage when we renovated it. I love treasure-hunting and I’m thrilled I was allowed to write about it!)

The Quiet at the End of the World will be published in the UK and Australia with Walker Books in March 2019.

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Tumblr tag

Here are some of my recent blog posts, which you might have missed:

10 graphic novels recommendations

My last newsletter

Books for fans of The Last Beginning


Ladies Characters studying STEM in YA

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

The groundbreaking transformation of a decorated WWII warship

A Rich Woman Abandoned This Apartment In 1942. What They Just Found Inside Is Incredible

The Digital Ruins of a Forgotten Future
I am very excited to announce that I’ve written an article for the 2019 Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook! The new edition comes out in July, and my section is on writing LGBT+ characters in children’s fiction. If you’re a writer, check it out. I learnt so much from the yearbook that I had struggled to understand about the quirks of the publication industry, and it’s a massive boon if you’re just getting started.
Final copies of the American edition of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe are here! This is out on July 3rd.

First Chapter  Amazon UK |  Amazon US | Waterstones | Wordery |  Book Depository | Foyles  | Barnes & Noble | WHSmith | Hive | Audible
We're halfway through 2018, and I've read 115 books so far (wow.). Here are my favourite recent reads.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid - One for fans of the You Must Remember This Podcast - old Hollywood royalty, publicity manoeuvring, bearding & more scandals than you can wave an Oscar at. 
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente - This is described as 'Eurovision in space', which is EXACTLY what this is. A loving ode to Douglas Adams, updated for the 21st century, this is funny and imaginative and colourful. The alien performances were truly excellent.

The Likeness by Tana French - Someone recommended this during a panel as being like The Secret History (my fave), and it really was, in the best possible way. Dilapidated grandeur, rich murderers, amorality, secret identities and found families

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers - An emotional, moving look at what it means to be human, and the importance of heritage and legacy. 

The Dark Days Deceit (Lady Helen #3) by Alison Goodman - High octane demon-fighting, Regency social politics, angst-ridden romance and the best heroine of all time - I could read about Lady Helen forever.

The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Daniel Mallory Ortberg - Just as weird and odd and delicious as you'd hope for, from the creator of The Toast. My favourite was the serial killer Velveteen Rabbit.
Spotted: my books auf Deutsch in Vienna’s buchhandlung Frick! I signed some copies if you’d like to buy one. I got to see my books in Prague too and it NEVER gets old. It’s one of the coolest parts of being an author. 💖
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'm talking to an author who is also represented by Claire, Tom Easton. As well as publishing his own fiction, most recently the award-winning and hilarious Boys Don’t Knit series, Tom works as a ghostwriter – writing novels behind the scenes that are credited to a different person when published.

I’ve been intrigued by ghostwriting ever since it was revealed that Zoella’s first YA novel was written by a ghostwriter. This received a lot of backlash from the publishing community, mainly because it wasn’t stated upfront that the novel was ghostwritten.

Tom was patient enough to answer my many questions about this topic at a party. The discussion was so interesting that I knew immediately when planning this series that I wanted to include him. Luckily he agreed to talk more about his own experiences with ghostwriting in an interview with me.

What does ghostwriting involve?

From my perspective, there are two main types of ghostwriting. The more visible ghosts are those that work closely with a named author to produce a work of non-fiction, often an autobiography or a fact book about the celebrity’s area of expertise. A ghost is often required because the celebrity has neither the time or experience to write a book as well as it needs to be written. These ghosts are often journalists who know the celebrity well in any case and have the contacts, the writing ability and the journalistic know-how to get the job done. Many autobiographies are written in this way and the ghost will need to get the story not only from the ‘author’, but also interview family, friends and colleagues.

The other type are those who write fiction under pseudonyms, or on behalf of a named author. There are a number of popular fiction series ‘written’ by made-up authors. These tend to be written by many different authors, working to a pre-prepared storyline, being careful to follow characterisation and world-building as laid down by the publisher. Some big-name authors also employ ‘studio’ writers to flesh out novels in their trademark style. The amount of input the ghosts get from the named author can vary a great deal. Some named authors form a close relationship with the ghost and are very hands on, in other cases the publisher will come up with the story idea, the ghost will write it and the named author does nothing more than pick up the cheque.

How did you get started in ghostwriting?

An editor asked me to write a book that was part of a series written by a number of different authors but all using the same pseudonym.  I’ve have a lot of contacts in the trade and am asked from time to time to submit sample writing for various projects under other people’s names. Some of these I like the sound of, and if I have time I’ll write a couple of chapters and send them along. Sometimes I get the job and sometimes not.

What do you enjoy most about ghostwriting?

It can be quite liberating, not having to be concerned with plotting my own story. That part has already been done and I can concentrate on telling that story in the best way I can. It also forces me to write in a variety of different styles, forms and voices. I have written books for first readers right up to adult fiction which is good practice.  Also, the books I’m asked to write tend to be quite short. I can fit the jobs in around my own books and it provides useful income.

How much guidance do you tend to receive on a new project?

It varies, but for the most part I’ll receive a detailed chapter breakdown. Sometimes the length of the breakdown might be as much as half the length of the book. For established series I’ll receive a ‘bible’ telling me what I can and can’t do with the characters and their world.

Has being a ghostwriter had any impact on writing your original fiction?

I’d like to think it’s made me a better writer. I think it’s helped me learn to write from different perspectives and for different audiences. It’s also taught me a lot about keeping the plot tight, something that hasn’t always come naturally to me.

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

When I read YA fiction I tend to have a more critical eye than when I read adult fiction. I also get very jealous when I read authors who do things better than me!

How long does it usually take you to finish writing a first draft? Is this different for original fiction?

Usually much less time. The schedules I’m given are often very tight and because I don’t have to stop to think about plotting I can write very quickly.

After writing the manuscript, do you tend to have any involvement in the project further – editing, sequel, etc?

Like any manuscript, the editor will ask for changes to be made. But I’m unlikely to receive structural edits as I would when writing my own books. Unless I’ve gone wildly off-piste, we’d just go direct to line edits. If I do a good job I’ll likely be asked to write follow up books, but I wouldn’t expect to have any involvement in cover design, sales or marketing.

How do you feel about ghostwriters publicly receiving credit for their work in the finished book?

I wrote a blog post on this subject which you can read here.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to get into ghostwriting?

Ask your agent if he or she knows any editors or publishers looking for ghostwriters. I have had a number of very valuable contacts through my agent. Most agents will receive periodic requests from editors looking for writers interested in this sort of work. Also, check out the websites of Working Partners and Hothouse, two excellent publishers who sometimes use ghostwriters.

Tom Easton is an experienced author of fiction for all ages and has had more than thirty books published. He has written under a number of different pseudonyms in a variety of genres. Subjects include vampires, pirates, pandemics and teenage agony aunts (not all in the same book). He lives in Surrey with his wife, three children and two cats.

In his spare time he works as a Production Manager for a UK publisher. His latest book is An English Boy in New York, the sequel to the award-winning Boys Don’t Knit, published by Hot Key Books. He is currently working on Our House, the first of an MG series to be published by Piccadilly Press in 2016.

You can follow him on twitter at @tomeaston or at his website

Upcoming Events

20 July: YA Prom - More information here

28th July: YALC - 1pm, Amongst the Stars: Brought to you by Destination Star Trek. We go stratospheric in the discussion about space and creating worlds that none of us have had the chance to go to except in our authors wonderful books
Becky Chambers, Lauren James, Lindsay Cummings, Samantha Shannon & Sasha Alsberg. More information here

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The current cheapest places to buy my books are:
The Next Together - Amazon Kindle (£1.99)
The Last Beginning - WHSmith (£5.75)
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe - Wordery (£5.26 with free shipping)

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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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