I’m pleased to welcome Lola Keeley today.
Please welcome Lola.
Before we begin, thanks so much for stopping by today for a chat.
Thanks so much for inviting me along, it’s my pleasure.
Currently, you live in Edinburgh, Scotland. Does the city influence your writing? If yes, how so?
It creeps in to things, in ways I don’t even notice at first. I have a tendency to make everywhere’s weather grey and miserable for a start! It’s such a compact city too, with so much history packed into every corner, that’s pretty rich fuel for storytelling. It makes creating a scale for a fictional world seem more manageable, somehow.
Your love of the theater brought you to London. Did you enjoy living in the city?
London will always be one of the greatest loves of my life, honestly. It was my playground, my school, my home, and it gave me freedom I don’t think I’d have had anywhere else. Eventually it became a different place to me, and it got unbearable expensive for the quality of life, so that was a good sign to start again somewhere new.
Do you have a favorite musical, play, or ballet? Why do you love it?
My favourite musical is still Chess, even though it’s a bit of an imperfect show. I love the lyrics most of all, there’s a real love letter to the English language in all its tricky rhymes and rhythms. I was lucky enough to see Hamilton in London last month though, and I can confirm that it lives up to all the hype and then some. Absolute genius, I’m still in awe.
As for ballet, it’s probably Don Quixote. I let the dancers in my book play around with it, even if it’s not the final performance that makes their season.
What was it like being a train driver on the London Underground? Have you included any of your train experiences into your stories?
Not in any of my published work so far, but I am absolutely that person who yells at television or movies for getting the details wrong, or having the trains do something completely impossible. I almost got thrown out of Skyfall for that.
Your bio states in addition to being a writer, you’re a coder. What does that entail and do you enjoy it?
I’m finishing up my degree part-time at the moment, in Computer Science. Most of my coding work is in web design so far, but I’m branching out into creating apps and other cool things. The long-term goal is to merge that technical knowledge with the storytelling side of things, looking at new digital platforms and so on.
How and when did you decide to craft written stories?
It’s something I’ve wanted to do since high school, I had phenomenal English teachers. Along the way I lost confidence in my writing, but I’ve been rebuilding that over the past few years. My wife is an amazing novelist and journalist, so I’m around that world a lot. It was great encouragement to get words down on the page again.
Can you tell us about your new release?
It’s set in the world of a pretty hardcore New York ballet company, one that hires only the very best dancers. Our way in is with Anna, who’s a new member of the company, expecting very much to be in the background, but just glad to be there. Only she catches the attention of Victoria, the mercurial artistic director of the company, and that puts Anna on a crash course to the spotlight.
And maybe along the way, with all the demands and backstabbing company politics that get in the way, they might become more than just colleagues.
Are you a pantser or plotter?
I’m a combination of both. When an idea first strikes I tend to just write and write until I run out of steam. Then I get into the plotting side of it, filling in the blanks and working out where that enthusiastic start is building to. Then I have a structure to get me through to the end.
What authors have influenced you the most and why?
I’m a big fan of contemporary American writers. Paul Auster’s ability to make the location a character in its own right, to let characters make terrible and often baffling choices. Overall, one of my favourites and biggest influences is Ann Patchett. She writes interesting and wounded women beautifully, and gives them complex lives. Before all of those, the late Terry Pratchett gave me a love of the absurd.
Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to the plunge to write?
Not to sound like an ad campaign, but: just do it. Don’t necessarily sit down to write a whole book or a play. Write a scene, a chapter. Write it on post-its or the back of a receipt if you have to. Don’t wait around for some perfect feeling in a perfect environment, because those rarely exist. I write on trains, planes, waiting for someone at the bar, in meetings, while I’m making dinner, I even have a waterproof notebook in the shower so ideas don’t get away from me.
Thanks so much for chatting today.
Thank you for the thought-provoking questions, and for having me!
Release date: April 2018
Anna is the newest member of an elite ballet company. Her first class with her mysterious idol, Victoria, almost ruins her career before it starts. When she shows she might be a potential star, Victoria chooses Anna to launch a new season around.
Now Anna must face down jealousy, sabotage and injury, not to mention navigate the circus of friends and lovers within the company. The pressure builds as she knows she must pour everything she has into opening night and prove to her rivals and herself that Victoria’s faith in her is not misplaced.
In the process, Anna discovers that she and the daring, beautiful Victoria have a lot more than a talent for ballet in common, and that not every thrilling dance can be found on stage.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Lola Keeley is a writer and coder. After moving to London to pursue her love of theatre, she later wound up living every five-year-old’s dream of being a train driver on the London Underground. She has since emerged, blinking into the sunlight, to find herself writing books. She now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her wife and three cats.
CONNECT WITH LOLA KEELEY
Thanks so much for stopping by today.