Having just listened to your interview on radio Leicester I wondered what it was that swayed you away from fantasy and faerie folk of your younger years to the romance genre?
Growing up in Scotland with the Ravenscraig Steel Works literally at the bottom of my garden I, along with my friends, created an alternative reality. In the nearby woods we went in search of faeries under toadstools, nyads at the bottom of wells and dryads in the trees. Having no luck in finding them I started reading historical novels, starting with the Prisoner of Zenda, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter Scott, Rosemary Sutcliffe, Margaret Irwin et al. Via their work I discovered the romance of history, castles, knights and feisty princesses prepared to give any dragon a run for its money. Having found my milieu, I never looked back until . . . I read my first Jilly Cooper novel.
You were a founder member of the New Romantics’ Press – what was it that inspired this bold move?
When we self-published our novels in 2012 indie authors were rare beasts and social media was in its infancy. We realised that if we wanted to find readers and for our books to ‘be discovered’ we would have to come up with a plan to bring them to readers’ attention. We created a blog, embraced social media and created an online presence. We held book tours, gave talks and workshops on the theme: Sisters are Doing it for Themselves and created a stir around our name.
What has been shortlisted for the RNA’s Indie Champion of the Year Award meant to you?
The recognition of my peers for self-publishing six novels, forming the Leicester Chapter of the RNA The Belmont Belles and Beaux and showing what indie authors can achieve means a great deal to me. I love organising workshops, presenting talks and inviting agents, publishers and well-known authors to share their collective wisdom with us and this nomination has inspired me to continue with this work and to get on with my next novel.
You have spent a successful teaching career encouraging young minds to develop so did you find running workshops and holding talks a natural progression to your love of writing?
Public speaking and sharing my knowledge and love of writing has been a natural progression after 34 years career as a primary school teacher and deputy head. Helping others is part of my psyche and I get a real buzz from encouraging wannabe authors to believe in themselves, finish their WIP and start sending it out to agents and publishers.
Have you ever been tempted to revisit the faerie folk and write for a younger audience?
I must admit that the faerie realm still appeals to me. Perhaps that’s why I’ve set four of my six novels in Scotland which is a magical, mystical place where anything can happen: creatures in the mist, myths and legends, clootie wells, Jacobite treasure and water horses. After I retired from teaching everyone expected me to write children’s books but that didn’t appeal. However, the heroine in Harper’s Highland Fling is a primary school headmistress who finds herself in a spot of bother after meeting the hero. Many friends and readers have wondered if the character is me, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
You have described writing as being an aid to help mental health as is reading and losing yourself in a good book – which writers have definitely inspired or influenced you over the years?
Oh, this is a tricky one. Jilly Cooper for sure and looking at the books on my shelf Jill Mansell, Jenny Colgan, Carole Matthews, Cathy Bramley and Sue Moorcroft. And, obvs, fellow members of New Romantics Press – Adrienne Vaughan and June Kearns.
How has Covid impacted your writing life and how have you coped mentally and physically through lockdowns?
I’m very happy in my own world and my husband and I happily exist side by side pursuing our different hobbies and interests. I must admit that I’ve missed seeing my friends and was glad to keep in touch through Facebook, Zoom, videos and phone calls. When lockdown was in place (and Leicester fared worst than most) we would pack a picnic and flask, drive into the countryside to escape the four walls which at times felt like they were closing in. Physically we tried to walk as often as we could – not easy when the next chapter of the novel is demanding to be written.
You have a great affinity with Scotland even though you live south of the border, where does this connection come from?
I was born in Scotland and lived there until I was eleven years old, and my family moved to Leicester to find work. I’ve never lost that connection with Scotland and then we cross the border and I see the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign I feel tingly all over and I know I’m home. Although I no longer ‘sound’ Scottish I can soon find my accent and start using the patois. It was a no brainer to set my novels north of the border and to remind myself what my Scottish heritage means to me.
Which locations/places are your favourite to revisit?
We both adore Wester Ross and the coast from Fort William to Ullapool and beyond. We have a large caravan which we tour in and its our home on wheels and have twice completed the North Coast 500 in it. This summer we spent six weeks sightseeing, chilling, researching, writing and absorbing the scenery and culture around Mallaig, Camusdarach and Arisaig where my next novel is set. During that time, we clocked up three thousand miles although I dare not look at the petrol receipts! My husband and I would happily live there 24/7 but I’d miss my friends and family, so it’ll have to remain a pipe dream and a holiday destination.
Gairloch, Wester Ross
What can a reader expect from a Lizzie Lamb novel?
Heroes you’ll fall in love with, heroines who’ll become your new best friend, secondary characters who’ll make you laugh and cry. Not to forget gorgeous, romantic locations and passionate encounters which will help you to remember that ‘moment’ when you met the person fate decreed you would spend the rest of your life with and fell in love.
Silver sand of Morar
What is next for Lizzie?
Firstly, a series of blog post about my six-week research trip in Scotland and, of course, finishing #7 – DARK, HIGHLAND SKIES, and publishing it in 2022, the tenth anniversary of my becoming an indie author.
Here’s the blurb –
Astrophysicist Dr Halley Dunbar has spent her career searching for the one-in-a-billion exoplanet outside the solar system capable of sustaining life. Required to travel to Scotland for her great-uncle’s funeral she leaves behind the safe world of academe for Lochaber where she meets a smorgasbord of characters who make her realise there’s more to life than searching for something that might not exist. When the laird’s son, Hector (Tor) Strachan rocks up, he turns her world on its head and Halley discovers, not the exoplanet which will establish her reputation as an astrophysicist but the one-in-a-billion man capable of making her happy. But there are obstacles in the way of their happiness, and it soon becomes clear that Tor has demons to confront before he can be the man Halley deserves. As for Halley, she has a secret she’s kept for eighteen years, one which she won’t/can’t reveal to anyone, and that includes Tor.
Thank you for stopping by, Lizzie. I wish you every continued success.
Please leave comments and questions below.