Thursday, 25 June 2015

Blog Tour: If You Don't Know Me By Now - Author Q&A with A.L. Michael

"What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Imogen has come to London to make it as a writer. At least, that was the plan. Finding herself in a dead-end job serving coffee to hipsters was not on her to-do list. And even if gorgeous colleague Declan does give her more of a buzz than a triple-shot cappuccino, Imogen can feel her dreams evaporating faster than the steam from an extra-hot latte.
Until her anonymous tell-all blog about London’s rudest customers goes viral – and suddenly, Imogen realises that landing the worst job in the world might just be the best thing that’s ever happened to her! As long as she can keep her identity to herself…"

I'm delighted to be kicking off the 'If You Don't Know Me By Now" blog tour with a Q&A post with the wonderful A.L. Michael. She stopped by Little Northern Soul to chat about her latest novel, writing inspiration and plans for the future. Hope you enjoy!

1) Hello and welcome to Little Northern Soul! Could you start by telling us a little more about 'If You Don't Know Me By Now?' 

It's about a girl called Imogen who moves to London from Doncaster to work for a magazine. That falls through and she ends up working as a barista in a posh coffee shop, and is shocked by how awful and stuck up people can be. She ends up creating a blog about the horrible customers to blow off steam, and it becomes really popular. She's got to make sure she stays anonymous though, which becomes harder as people start looking for 'the west london coffee bitch'!

2) Who was your favourite character to write and why? 

loved writing her cousin Demi, she was such a firecracker! As I'm nearing 30 I'm starting to realise the gap between early and late 20s, and Demi really summarises that difference in attitude and energy. Imogen tries to keep up, but also she's there as a source of comfort for her younger cousin, to let her know it will get better!

3) Where do you get ideas and inspiration for your stories? 

Well usually I think the ideas erupt after taking in things around me- watching tv shows, reading, but also listening on the tube, noting down funny things I hear, listening to people's stories. However, in this case, I was a barista in a coffee shop, and I did end up writing a blog to blow off steam, so the excerpts from Imogen's blog are actually mine! I wanted to tell the story of working in that industry, but also wanted to give it some romantic sparkle!

4) If You Don't Know Me By Now isn't a sequel to your previous novel The Last Word, but it does contains some of the same characters. What made you decide to bring back some familiar faces? 

I missed them! I'd originally hoped to write a sequel, but I also love when characters from different books cross over- Tabby was in the background of My So Called (Love) Life too! I like sneaking them in, because that's often how London is; it seems massive and full of strangers, and yet you bump into people all the time!

5) Are there plans for a sequel to The Last Word? 

The story is ready in my head for when anyone wants to read it, but I've got a series coming out next year, so it wouldn't be for a while. But if you want a sequel, tell my publisher and maybe they'll let me write one!

6) Your writing style is really funny and enjoyable. Do you plan out the humorous parts of the story or do they just come naturally as you write? 

Thank you! No, I don't plan it at all, I often worry that my books aren't funny enough. Occasionally I'll read back through and  giggle a little, then I'm relieved, because I'd forgotten about jokes I'd put in, so it must just be natural.

7) Where do you write your stories - do you have a special writing place? 

It depends on the time of day- if I'm trying to write during the day, I do best in a coffee shop. Luckily my boyfriend runs one, so I can sit there and get some great work done- but obviously the amount of delectable treats are not good for keeping away Writer's Bum! Otherwise I'll write in the evening in my trusty armchair, with the tv on in the background.

8) How was your journey to publication? Can you tell us what it was like when you found out you had a publication deal? 

I'd always been aiming for publication, and had my first book published by an indie publisher in York. I'd already written The Last Word, but had never intended to publish it- it was just for me and I didn't think it was any good. Thank goodness I saw Carina on twitter and I just thought 'well, it's sitting in a drawer, why not submit it?' I remember getting the email saying they loved it and wanted to offer me a two book deal, standing in my mum's kitchen reading the email on my phone. I didn't think it was real! 

9) Do you have plans in place for your  next book -  anything you can share with us? 

It's a three book series about three old friends running an arts centre in Camden. Very London, full of memories and arty fun! They're out next year and I'm really excited about them!

10) Finally, it'd be great to find out a bit more about you. How do you like to relax and unwind when you're not busy writing? 

I'm a bit of a fitness freak- I love going to the gym and lifting weights, and I'm trying to train myself to like running! I also love yoga and dancing. I really like cooking, and trying to find ways to substitute in baking, so I can make delicious things healthy. That said, some days the only way to unwind is with a glass of wine and too many hours of netflix!

About the author:

A.L. Michael is a twenty something writer from London. She works as a creative facilitator, running workshops in creative writing, writing for wellbeing, and children's lessons. She has a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing, an MA in Creative Entrepreneurship, and is working towards an MsC in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes. She is not at all reliant on her student discount card.

When she's not writing or talking about writing, she bakes, runs, plays with her puppy, and gets continually distracted by shiny things on Pinterest. 


Your chance to win  an If You Don’t Know Me By Now coffee themed goodie bag!

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