I don't need to ask. I know that you know all about my love for this woman, readers – both her writing and her being. And more. She's at the top of my (extensive) social media crush list, her writing workshop I attended gave me mad inspo, and her books are written in my favourite style – like I have a friend chattering to me, dropping boundless wisdom into the convo now and again which I of course lap up, happily.
Okay, so. Laura Jane Williams (that's her, fyi), creator of Superlatively Rude, ex-Grazia columnist and author of 'Becoming: Sex, second chances and figuring out who the hell I am' (2016) and 'Ice Cream for Breakfast: How rediscovering your inner child can make you calmer, happier, and solve your bullsh*t adult problems', which is out tomorrow!!!
I was fortunate enough to chat with Laura after receiving a proof of this gorgeous new read. As expected, it was an utter delight. In fact, I'll stop rambling and delaying your reading of this excellent interview now. Read on! Go!
***So, lovely Laura, these are gonna be some Qs about you as a superb writer and human as well as a few specific ones about your new book, 'Ice Cream for Breakfast'. Hope that's cool!
I mean, absolutely! WE'RE GONNA TALK ABOUT ME FOR TWENTY MINUTES? Me is my favourite subject! I'm in heaven!
I'll start by asking...what have been your best and worst experiences being interviewed (as a writer or for a job)?
Urm, I guess you can tell when somebody is interviewing you with no idea of who you are and what you do, and it's hard not to feel offended that ultimately that's a waste of everyone's time: theirs, mine, and the readers', who aren't gonna get much from a half-baked inquisition. Like, shit! You don't have to know everything about me, but at least do enough research that you're not taking the piss out of the people you're expecting to consume your content! *rolls eyes*
When – and where – in your life did you realise you were meant to write? That it was a natural talent you needed to use, and that you had infinite magic to share with readers?
You flirt. Well. Urm. When you came to one of my writing workshops you said something about how you took for granted, for years, that everyone "writes to see what they say" - that everyone has a brain that needs to jot things down to make sense of them. That made so much sense to me. I've long said that speech is my second language... I have always had to put pen to paper to figure stuff out, but I suppose it's not until I started blogging ten years ago and making a public habit of it that I began to understand that ah, no, not everyone processes information this way. Once I understood that, I set to learning how to make what was on the screen in front of me as interesting as possible. Began to develop a ~craft~ I suppose you could say.
How long did you work on 'Becoming: Sex, second chances, & figuring out who the hell I am'? And what was it like then working to get it published?
Fucking ages, babe. I suppose as soon as I got my heart broken I started jotting down notes - just for me, really, to - again - understand what it was I was feeling. Then I started a creative writing degree and the blog came about because I knew I had a responsibility to build a community around my words - that if I ever did want to get published, in whatever capacity, I'd be in a much stronger position if I had both a good manuscript AND hard numbers to prove there was an appetite for them. So, I started working on a social presence, and that encouraged me to keep putting stuff online, and I was telling everyone how I was writing a book so that I was accountable, and marvellously also then further encouraged because people said they'd love to read it one day. I came offline a bit to focus on getting it done, and then blogged about needing an agent... the rest is history! Social media has been a key component to me getting traditionally published.
I loved following your Insta stories when you were recording your audiobooks recently. You said in one though that it was tough re-reading your first book again, aloud and some time later. Why was this?
The girl in those pages doesn't exist any more, I think. And it's painful to think she ever did. Reading what is basically your diary out loud is always going to be an emotional, provocative experience! And, you know, in a lot of ways the biggest gift I gave myself is that by writing that book I got to let all of what happened go, so that I might move forward. I don't know how healthy it might be to loiter around that old narrative. I sat with those wounds and words for so long, it's exciting for me to focus forward, now, whilst being so very appreciative of what got me here.
Your Insta posts and stories are straight up gorgeous. I love reading every caption – and all of your tweet threads, too! How do you decide what to write as an Instagram caption, what to piece together in a Twitter thread, what should be saved for the blog and what can only work in a book?
Instinct - and I don't always get it right. Insta tends to work for more heartfelt, emotive stuff, whereas Twitter is a great place to be snarky or political. I once heard that if you're getting more than three Tweets out of something you should pitch it as an article, but journalism doesn't really make my heart sing. In those cases I start to think about expressing myself on the blog, then, or wonder if what I'm saying fits in with a bigger piece I'm working on. Ultimately everything is copy, right?!
You run the most excellent writing workshops (fact, can personally confirm). What would you say is your favourite thing about teaching?
The connection, I think. The human connection. That I get to sit with groups of women and watch them unfold to themselves as their confidence builds and they relax and they start trusting themselves that what they have to say is valid and worthy and that they don't need permission to say what they want to say. I am humbled by every class I do, every cohort I work with. It's just... lovely.
One of your recent workshops was to help writers craft the perfect pitch and sell their stories. You listed your badass skillz and awesome achievements pitching when advertising it, and whoa. If you had to give one key tip to writers right here and now about getting people to read what they write and want to buy it...what would that be?
Those are two different questions - writing words people want to read is about not giving a shit, telling a truth, and trusting that truth will connect with the right people. When pitching projects, though, getting a "yes" basically means leaving zero room for a "no", and to do that you have to give ALL of the shits!
When did you decide to write your second book about these kids you nannied, and what they taught you about life?
Actually, I was asked my my publisher to do it. It's weird -- I nannied because I was exhausted from writing, and really quite embarrassed by it. Nannying didn't fit in with my idea of what a "successful" "writer" looks like (LOL, I'm a dickhead). But folks would comment on Instagram posts about my nannying days and say, "This so has to be your second book!" and every time I'd think, "That sounds like a very boring book". Then, at the end of last year, Hodder said did I think I could cultivate what I'd learned from nannying into some "life lessons", and that made so much sense to me! Yes, I could! Those kids had done nothing BUT teach me stuff!
Time for a classic Q: what can we expect in this new book?
It's forty lessons on what hanging out with smart, clever, insightful girls taught me about the importance of sleep, and how to have adventure, and asking for what you want - heck! That you're allowed to have needs in the first place! It's got little prompt questions and workbook space and the whole thing is packaged in this beautiful dusty-coloured hardback. I'm so, so thrilled to put it out there. I'm truly proud of it.
Finally, can you please tell us about the best breakfast you've ever had? Was it ice cream, or...?
Ha! It wasn't ice cream, BUT! Breakfast is indeed my favourite meal of the day, and honestly, a hotel buffet breakfast or good boozy brunch would be death row meal for sure. Is that weird, that I've thought about that?
There you have it! My goodness, this was one of my all-time fave author interviews. And definitely inspired me to do more; not to be scared of asking or fret over questions!
Thank you so much, Laura (is it weird that I sometimes call you LJ in my head? Blame Twitter!), for your time and general awesomeness. You rock. Heart emojis apenty.
In case y'all haven't already, now is the time to snatch up a copy of her new book.
Bear in mind that pre-ordering (on any website, in any way) is the best way to get good stats - and more readers! - for authors.
Have fun finding and nourishing your inner child, folks!