Q&A with Lucy Parker, The Austen Playbook
Your latest book THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK is out this month! Tell us a bit about the inspiration behind THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK.
I knew that I wanted to feature a stage adaptation of a Jane Austen book, but couldn’t decide which book, and in the end decided to opt for all the Austen books, with a contemporary gaming twist. And I’m a big fan of classic detective fiction, so since the action in the book is primarily taking place at a country estate, I couldn’t resist making it a murder mystery play and going for a modern-day house party vibe.
Once I decided that Freddy, a secondary character in an earlier book, was going to be the heroine, it was without question that the sunniest, most optimistic person in the series was going to be paired with the man who is possibly its biggest grump. She’s this exuberant beam of happiness, and he’s this cool-tempered, work-focused “walking ice cube”, as Freddy puts it. I have such a weakness for the Slytherin/Hufflepuff pairing, that clash in temperament, and watching as the cynical character falls hard for this bright, chirpy light, and has no idea what’s happened to their life.
What three words best describe Freddy?
Optimistic, loyal, and affectionate.
What three words best describe Griff?
Needs more hugs.
What’s your writing routine?
I have some mobility issues associated with chronic illness, so it’s uncomfortable for me to write at a desk. I do most of my writing, whenever I can, on my bed, lying down with my laptop propped up on my knees. I can’t write in complete silence, so I tend to have reruns of a show I’ve seen hundreds of times playing in the background. And I try not to snack too much, because I’ll just keep eating without realising, but if I get writer’s block, it’s instinctive that I’ll go and get something to eat! When you’ve written yourself into a corner, apparently the only answer is carbs.
What do you do when you get stuck?
Eat. All the carbs and sugar. J Then I’ll talk it out. Usually, a long-suffering member of my family is the recipient of my long-winded complaints about where I’ve gone wrong in a book they haven’t read yet, and they always do an amazing job of prompting me with the right questions so that, generally, I can find a way forward. My incredible writer friends online have also frequently stepped up to help me in a similar way.
What distracts you the most when you're trying to write?
Honestly, my own anxieties. The more I start second-guessing what I’m writing, and worrying about other people actually reading it, the more blocked I’ll feel and the more stilted the writing becomes. I really have to try to get into the zone where I’m just writing for me, and enjoying what I’m doing, and I’m in my own little bubble.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Not received personally (sadly!), but definitely the quote by Nora Roberts: “I can fix a bad page. I can’t fix a blank page.”
Do you use a bookmark or dogear pages?
If they’re my own books — I dogear. I’m sorry. But I think of it as book wrinkles; they’re lines of experience. They show somebody loved that book, and are visual evidence of its past history of reads. I’m sticking to that story.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently deep into writing, so not reading as much as I normally do, but I recently read Olivia Dade’s Teach Me (out in May) and it’s wonderful. I highly recommend it.
Who are three romance authors you fangirl over?
Nalini Singh, Tessa Dare, and Laura Florand.
How would you describe your ideal romantic hero?
My ideal romantic book hero is a grump and/or stuffed shirt who’s never fallen in love before and doesn’t know how to handle all the feelings when it happens. Preferably with a sarcastic, cynical sense of humour.
In real life, however, I would probably find that man very fatiguing, and in an actual human, I like kind, gentle, supportive and affectionate, with a wry sense of humour.
About the Book:
In which experienced West End actress Freddy Carlton takes on an Austen-inspired play, a scandal at a country estate, an enthusiastic search for a passion outside of acting…and the (some people might say icy*) heart of London’s most feared theater critic.
*if those people were being nice
Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.
She can’t take her eyes off him.
Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially when Freddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.
Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.
As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.
“There’s more drama offstage than on, the writing is outstanding, and the bit of mystery blends well into the romance. Theater fans will devour this lovely contemporary romance.”-Publisher’s Weekly, starred review, on The Austen Playbook
“The London Celebrities series-some of the wittiest, smartest dialogue to come down the romance pike in years.”-Kirkus ReviewS of London Celebrities series