Today is Wednesday and what better way to celebrate another day than with a great author interview with the lovely Laura Bailey. Laura’s latest novel ‘Beneath the Blossom Tree’ is an inspiring novel about Laylla who is dealing with life changing situations. Also, all profits from the first 5,000 downloaded copies goes to www.braintumouruk.org.uk, so you know you’ve got to get buying! 🙂
Hi Laura thanks for joining me on my blog today, how are you doing? (Not in the style of Joey from Friends)
Hi Clare, thanks for having me. I’m very well, I’m having a relaxing Sunday with a lot of tea, a lot of things I shouldn’t really be eating and my laptop. My puppies are asleep and my fiancé is out doing the weekly grocery shop.
‘Beneath the Blossom Tree’ is a tale of Laylla Jonson and her struggles to deal with life changing situations. The blurb tells us it’s based on true life events, can you tell us a little more about this?
That’s right, broadly speaking, Beneath the Blossom Tree is based on my own life. When I was 12 years old my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. My mum, sister and I cared for him at home for 16 months until he eventually passed on. By very unfortunate coincidence, my mum was also diagnosed with brain cancer four years later. At that time I was 17 years old and studying at college and my sister was 21 years old, studying at university. Together, my sister and I cared for our mum whilst holding down part time jobs to support ourselves. Mum sadly passed after six months, six weeks before my 18th birthday, two weeks before my final college exams and just months before I had to make a decision about which university to attend.
Despite missing my predicted grades of straight As at A-level, Durham University was kind enough to admit me on the basis of mitigating circumstances. At university I made life-long friends and met my fiancé (whom I will marry in December). It was only with the benefit of hindsight years later that I realised the vast difference in my mentality and personality from the beginning of university to graduation.
So, there is a lot of fiction in Beneath the Blossom Tree but the key events in Laylla’s story are based on my life; the experience of losing my parents and dealing with the feeling of being completely lost and alone, then meeting new people and gradually building a new life in which I learned to cope with the past.
For the first 5,000 copies of your novel downloaded, all profits go to the Brain Tumour Charity. That’s incredibly kind of you, what made you decide to do this?
The Brain Tumour Charity is a cause that is extremely close to my heart. The truth is, I never wrote Beneath the Blossom Tree with the intention of making money from it and now, looking back, I can see how much writing the book helped me put some perspective around my life story and made me extremely thankful for everything good in my life; my childhood, my sister, my friends and especially my fiancé. I would love to think the book could give just one young carer hope and if it can do that, the book is worth more than money to me so it seems obvious to donate the net profit I make from the download of the book for Kindle to the charity.
Your latest project ‘Vengeful Love’ is nearly complete, how does it feel to have written two novels?
Beneath the Blossom Tree was an absolute labour of love for me and, as I say, although I broadly knew the beginning and end of the story, I let the lead characters write their own fictional story within that. I cannot describe how amazing it feels to go to bed at night or sit in a coffee shop during the day and have characters write a story in your mind. I was desperate to see what Laylla and Jacob would do next. That feeling is extremely addictive! I never embarked on Beneath the Blossom Tree thinking I wanted to be a writer but now, I cannot imagine my life without writing in it.
Vengeful Love is a very different book and it is a lot of fun to write. It is still commercial women’s fiction (if I have to categorise it!) but it is darker and a little sexier. Once again, I have fallen in love with my characters so it feels wonderful to tell their story on paper. I hope to finish the first draft of Vengeful Love by the end of summer and I would like to see this book in print…time will tell!
From day-to-day your job is a lawyer, if you had to choose between being an author or a lawyer which would it be?
Hmm, that’s a nasty question, Clare! Honestly, I love both and I think being a lawyer by day helps me write. In fact, the lead character in Vengeful Love is a lawyer in a big firm in London. Everyday life gives me ideas to write so I think it is great to go to work each day. I also think it means I don’t have to worry about the financial implications of writing because I am not reliant on making a big profit from writing. I think that gives me freedom to keep writing as a hobby and to really enjoy writing about what I want to write about.
And finally, this is a standard ‘A Book and Tea’ blog question, but how do you take your tea?
I love a good strong English breakfast tea with almond or soy milk. We also have a stash of loose leaf teas at home which I drink without milk…my favourites are masala chai and green tea.
About the Author
I was born in County Durham, England in 1987 and grew up with my parents and one older sister. I cared for and lost both my parents to brain cancer as a child and lived for a short time with my sister. I attended Durham Univeristy (where I met my husband-to-be) and obtained a first class honours degree in Law. I subsequently obtained postgraduate degrees in Legal Practice and International Trade Law and travelled the world with my fiance. Whilst we were travelling I began writing travel snippets and journals and sending them home to friends and family. Numerous people told me “you should write”. We eventually settled in Australia for eight months and, sat on the beach for the most part of each day, I thought “why not?”. That was the start of a long hand version of Beneath the Blossom Tree.
Returning from travelling, I began typing up and editing my first draft of Beneath the Blossom Tree whilst training with a private practice law firm. I qualified as a lawyer in 2012 in London and recently moved to North Yorkshire where I live with my fiance and two gorgeous puppies in a country home. I am now writing my second novel, Vengeful Love, alongside working as a lawyer by day.
About ‘Beneath the Blossom Tree’
“…in that moment I realised that being with the man I love for any length of time was worth the risk of losing again…”
Beneath the Blossom Tree is the harrowing tale of Laylla Jonson as she struggles to overcome the death of both her parents. Alone in the world, having lost touch with her friends and abandoned by her self-indulged relatives, Laylla feels she has little to live for but the memories of her parents will not let her give in.
With nowhere else to turn, Laylla enrols in university, intending to pursue a life of solitude and self-exclusion. But this is something her new friends simply will not let her do! Forced into socialising, Laylla realises every life has a story and she is not as alone as she once thought.
As she begins to recover pieces of her old self, Laylla meets the enigmatic, unfathomable and very desirable Jacob Bennett. Laylla and Jacob fight their feelings, each wrestling their inner demons. When Jacob realises Laylla means more to him than he has ever felt before, he will do anything in his power to break down her walls but this is one battle he may be destined to lose.
Based on true life events.
ALL NET AUTHOR PROFIT FROM THE ROYALTIES EARNED ON THE FIRST 5,000 COPIES OF THIS BOOK DOWNLOADED FOR KINDLE WILL BE DONATED TO THE BRAIN TUMOUR CHARITY www.braintumouruk.org.uk