Laura Vaughan grew up in Wales on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, which has inspired a life-long love of wild landscapes and ancient myths. As a teenager, she studied Art History in Italy, then Classics at Bristol and Oxford. After five years working in publishing she left to focus on her own writing career - writing eleven books for children and young adults.
The Favour, her first novel for adults was published in March 2021 and is available from our catalogue.
- Who were your literary heroes as you were growing up and when did you first realise that you wanted to write?
I can’t remember a time I didn’t have the writing itch. I wrote a lot of poetry as a teenager but I was always unhappy with it – poems are so much harder than books! One of my literary heroines is the nineteenth-century children’s writer E. Nesbitt, who pretty much invented the contemporary fantasy genre. And as a teenager, I fell in love with the historical novels of Mary Renault; she’s one of the reasons I read Classics at university. Her writing still dazzles me.
- What is your writing routine? Do you have a favourite desk and a view? Do you keep particular hours?
I’ve got a five-year-old and a two-year-old so writing has to be squeezed in around their routines. I’ve become quite good at working with lots of background noise and distraction, especially over lockdown! But I am a bit tired of working at the kitchen table. I’m plotting to turn a corner of our bedroom into my office, which will be a real luxury.
- Your new book The Favour is rich in art references and your passion for the subject shines through. Was it as much fun to research as it seems?
I studied art history – but only for a couple of months over twenty years ago, so I’m a total amateur really. So it was wonderful to have an excuse to Google some of my favourite paintings and lose myself in art and Italy for a little while.
- What was your inspiration for writing The Favour and how did the character of Ada emerge?
I re-discovered the journal I kept of an art history course I went on in Italy during my gap year. It was a bittersweet experience, because when I read over my entries I realise how much I’d left out – I had a wonderful time, but I was also crippled with social anxiety and self-doubt. The rose-tinted version of the trip, and myself, that appears in the journal inspired the character of someone who’s very adept at creating a fantasy version of themselves, and then using it to get ahead.
- A powerful driving force in the novel is the narrative voice which challenges what the reader thinks they know. Was this something you planned or did it develop as the story unfolded?
I’m not much of a planner when it comes to writing; I literally make things up as I go along! So Ada did change quite a lot over the course of the novel as my subconscious got to work. I wasn’t sure of the path she’d take until right up at the very end. I still think it could have gone either way.
- Is there anything you can share with us about your latest project? Will there be more novels for adults?
My new book’s about a contractual (fake) relationship between an out-of-work actress and an actor about to hit the big time … who ends up dead. Despite the set-up, it’s not really a story about celebrity, more about a toxic relationship between two damaged individuals. Faking it until you make it is a dangerous game.
- What was your best book read/best music/best TV of 2020?
Call My Agent has been a joy from start to finish and I’m bereft that it’s finished. The characters feel like family and all that Parisian glamour was a tonic during the stained-sweatpants-and-mad-hair stage of lockdown. I’ve recently discovered Tessa Hadley, so I’m gobbling her novels up. And I read a lot of Mick Herron.
- What are you looking forward to doing most when we finally emerge from this lockdown period?
Firstly, going back home to Wales and seeing my parents, and running around with my kids in the country air. Then, for contrast, getting dressed up and going with my husband to a wildly over-priced central London bar, and drinking cocktails in dim lighting.
- Can you tell us one thing about yourself that your readers may not know?
I’m very good at reading people’s fortunes with Tarot cards. I researched them for a YA fantasy book I wrote a while ago, and it’s been my party trick ever since.