WITH HER COMICAL PERSONALITY AND INTERESTING BACKGROUND LEICESTER BORN AUTHOR LAURIE GRAHAM SPEAKS WITH PUKAAR MAGAZINE’S AARTI C. THOBHANI ABOUT HER LIFE FROM THE BANKS OF THE LIFFEY IN DUBLIN AND HER LATEST NOVEL.
They say there’s no age limit to achieving your dreams and author Laurie Graham is a classic example of that. Having published her first book at the age of 40, her successes have seen her write and publish over fifteen books, engaging readers with her style of writing.
Born post WW2 and brought up in Blaby, Leicestershire, the author to date has lived a fascinating lifestyle. Reflecting back to her memories of growing up in the city, she shares, “I have mixed memories of Leicester. When I was a little girl there was still a lot of bomb damage in the city, particularly around Highfields where both my parents were from. So I grew up thinking all cities had bomb sites and half-demolished houses. I then became a typical eye-rolling teenager, discontented with my home town and restless to see more of the world.”
Coming from a working class family with high aspirations, Laurie left the city aged 18, to follow her dreams and has never looked back. Her passion to see more of the world has led to an exciting lifestyle, following her marriage to her American husband; they both lived the Italian lifestyle – their idea of heaven on earth, in Venice for ten years, before settling down in the Irish capital of Dublin.
Speaking about her first published book titled ‘The Man for the Job”, she explains, “I suppose you could call it a lucky break. A magazine editor saw something I’d written and put me in touch with a literary agent. The agent had enough confidence in me to take me on and within weeks she got me a contract with a publisher. It wasn’t that I suddenly became a better writer. It was just that my writing came to the attention of the right person”.
Covering a variety of writing themes, Laurie describes her writing style as “darkly comic” and explains, “I’m deeply sceptical about the concept of inspiration. It doesn’t feature much in my writing life. I get ideas, sometimes from photographs or from overheard conversations, but writing for me is still quite a hard slog and a full- time job. If I had ever waited for inspiration my children would have starved”.
Since the age of 40, the novelist has been earning her living as an established novel writer and journalist. From 1987 to 1991, Laurie wrote a weekly column for The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph newspapers, as well as being a Contributing Editor of ‘She’ and ‘Cosmopolitan’ magazines.
With fifteen novels and several volumes of non-fiction to her name, Laurie shares whether a career as an author was the career she always wanted. “I began writing when I could first hold a pencil. But I didn’t get published until I was nearly 40! I never had any kind of career vision. It took me a long time to understand that writing was something (perhaps the only thing!) I had a gift for”.
Having begun her writing career later in life, Laurie shares the challenges many writers face today, “The book world is much tougher than it was 25 years ago. If I were starting out today I doubt I’d get that contract which enabled me to become a full-time writer. These days publishers want huge Harry Potter-type commercial successes. So for the rest of us just making a modest living has become harder”.
On a more positive note, she offers some positive advice for aspiring writers, “Just do it. Like anything, you learn by doing. And don’t seek the opinion of every Tom, Dick and Harry. You have to develop your own writing voice”.
With many interests including playing the piano and enjoying being a grandmother, she gives an insight into a typical day in her life, “As well as being a writer I’m also the full-time carer of my husband who has Alzheimer’s so there is no such thing as a typical day. I try to work on my current novel all morning, but if I get a call from a newspaper I may abandon the book in order to do some journalism. As you know, newspapers always want everything five minutes ago”.
Full of wit and enthusiasm, the novelist shares her plans for the future, “Old age. I’m also trying, in what I jokingly refer to as my spare time, to write a stage play”.
Her latest must read book ‘The Grand Duchess of Nowhere’ takes readers on a romantic journey with a woman who fights for the freedom to be with the true love of her life.
“I’m living in Dublin, which I’m sure has more writers per square mile than anywhere else in the world, and I’m working on a novel about the Whitechapel Murders”, shares Laurie.
Having lived away from the city, Laurie shares that she often returns to Leicester to visit family and reflects upon the city she once grew up in, “Now when I return to Leicester I really appreciate its rich history – I’m a lifelong Ricardian so I’m very thrilled King Richard is going to laid to rest (again) in Leicester. And in spite of the planners’ best efforts to surround the city with high-speed traffic and roads that are impossible to cross; it still has its charms”.