Hello everybody! Today, I’m so honoured to be welcoming Lauren St John, whose books I’ve loved basically my whole life, to the blog for an interview as part of the blog tour for her new book Wave Riders. Onto the post!
Hello Lauren! Thank you so much for being here and answering my questions today.
1. First of all, can you please describe your new book Wave Riders for us?
Wave Riders is about 12-year-old twins Jess and Jude, who live a dream life sailing from one exotic destination to the next with their guardian, Gabriel Carter. But after Gabe vanishes and a storm smashes up their lives, they’re left alone at sea. When a wealthy, glamorous family offer them a home, everybody tells them they’re the luckiest children in the world.
But the Blakeney’s stately mansion is full of secrets – secrets that seem entangled with the twins’ own fate. As they race to uncover the truth, Jess and Jude must confront their deepest fears. How do you solve a mystery when that mystery is you?
2. I`ve been absolutely obsessed with your books since I first picked up the Laura Marlin series when I was 10, and while I already loved reading, Dead Man`s Cove sparked a whole new fire for me. I`ve since read basically all your other books, and loved them too! Which authors were your favourites when you were a child? Are there any books that you`d say changed your life?
Firstly, thank you so, so much. That’s so lovely to hear, in particular, that Dead Man’s Cove sparked an even deeper love of reading in you. Growing up, I adored the Famous Five and other Enid Blyton children’s mysteries, but also Sherlock Holmes mysteries by Arthur Conan Doyle.
However, my absolute favourite author was Patricia Leith, who wrote the brilliant Jinny at Finmory series, about a Scottish girl who rescues a chestnut Arab horse from a circus. For Love of a Horse, the first in the series, is my favourite children’s book by far.
There are many books that I’d say changed my life over the years for different reasons – Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte – would be one of them. But, For Love of a Horse, which I read when I was about eleven, had the most lasting impact on me, because it made me think about horses, nature, art and storytelling in a way that changed me and has stayed with me always. I also adored the Black Stallion and Silver Brumby stories, and now I love Journey to the River Sea and anything else by Eva Ibbotson.
3. One of my favourite book events I`ve ever been to is when I came and watched you speak at the Edinburgh Book Festival. What are some of the best bookish events you’ve attended? Are there any authors you`ve never seen speak that you`d love to?
Thank you so much. That means a lot. My favourite author event ever was watching Judith Kerr, author of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, being interviewed by Sunday Times reviewer Nicolette Jones at the Oxford Literary Festival. Judith Kerr was just so wise and funny and humble and all-round awesome. I always love listening to Alexander McCall Smith and Jacqueline Wilson, and I went to a Jackie Morris painting masterclass at the Hay Festival which was unforgettable. I’d love to go an event by Abi Elphinstone.
4. I remember you talking that day about how you always do meticulous research for your books, so I was wondering what your research process for Wave Riders was like? What has been your favourite of your books to do the research for?
Before I wrote Wave Riders, my favourite ever books to research were Dolphin Song, for which I went to the stunningly beautiful Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique, and The Glory, which is about a long distance horse race across the American West. I drove 1,800kms and rode a palomino mustang through the snowy mountains of Wyoming to research it, and it was horse heaven.
For Wave Riders, I knew I’d have to learn to sail. I was dreading it slightly, because the only previous time I’d been on a yacht (for just an hour, dolphin-watching), I was extremely sick. However, I signed up for a five-day Competent Crew course, took along loads of ginger biscuits, which prevent sea-sickness, and was absolutely fine all week. I loved learning to sail, but, for 24-hours, we sailed in Force 7 winds. It gave me a serious insight into the dangers of sailing and how tough it is physically and emotionally, especially when you’re on a tiny, cramped yacht with five other people. It’s very technical and accidents can happen very easily. It was utterly freezing too.
5. As an only child, sibling relationships in books have always fascinated me, and Wave Riders tells the story of twins Jude and Jess. Who are some of your favourite fictional siblings? Did you ever wish any characters were your sibling?
I think that Ken from For Love of a Horse would have been a brilliant brother, and Maia from Journey to the River Sea would be the best possible sister!
6. You are also absolutely brilliant at crafting page-turning mysteries, that never fail to delight me with their twists and turns. What tips would you give to other writers writing in the mystery/adventure journey?
Thank you! I adore writing mysteries. My advice would be to read as many different types of mysteries, thrillers and nail-biting adventures as you possibly can. Watch TV mysteries like Murder on the Orient Express too. If you’re stuck for ideas and plot twists, remember that, every day of the year newspapers are jam-packed with drama.
There are amazing tales of jungle and mountain survival and cats saving people from burning buildings and scientists stealing nuclear secrets. It’s dead easy to take elements of a story and move them to your own neighbourhood and put in the sorts of characters you know and understand.
7. Also on the theme of your writing, what is your writing routine like? Do you have any unusual habits or quirks?
Like a lot of writers I know, I’m very easily distracted. If I’m stuck on a paragraph, I’ll think, I’ll just feed the birds, or play with the kittens, or read another page of this exciting book, or eat some chocolate, or check Twitter, or phone a friend, and next, a whole morning has disappeared! I once read a wise quote, where a writer suggested that publishers pay authors for the time they don’t spend writing. I agree! Because, basically, the whole time I’m procrastinating, I’m also day-dreaming and thinking up sentences or plot twists in my head.
Procrastinating aside, I usually start writing about about 8pm with my Bengal cat, Max, by my side. I write until about 6pm, then make dinner and chill for the rest of the day. If I’m late with a book, that’s not an option. I’ll often get up at 4am and work till midnight.
8. Finally, before our quickfire round, can you tell us anything about what you`re working on at the moment/will be releasing next?
I’d love to write a sequel to Wave Riders and/or another horse book…Watch Twitter or my website, www.laurenstjohn.com, for news…
Animal you`d love to be for a day? A horse. I’d love to understand them better and have an insight into how they think, feel and see the world
Your favourite thing about nature? The peace of forests, the music of rushing rivers and birdsong, the ancient energy of mountains, and the innocent joy of small birds, deer and other gentle creatures.
A real life mystery you`d love to solve? I’d like to find out who is poisoining red kites and hen harriers on grouse moors across the country and have them sent away to jail for a very long time.
Top 3 books you`ve read in 2021 so far? The Crackledawn Dragon by Abi Elphinstone, When the Sky Falls by Phil Earle and Twitch by MG Leonard
Your favourite place to read? A hammock in the orchard on a summer’s day
Thank you so much for reading! Are you a fan of Lauren’s writing? Is Wave Riders on your TBR? I’d love to hear in the comments!
3 thoughts on “Wave Riders Blog Tour: Author Interview with Lauren St John”
Another great interview Amy, I always love your Q&A posts, love hearing how writers work, their inspirations etc. And I know how excited you were to be interviewing Lauren too – fab all round!!
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I’ve honestly wanted to interview her FOREVER, so I couldn’t believe I was allowed to for this blog tour!! 💜
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So exciting and you’ve done a sterling job!!
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