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My First Time...with Gytha Lodge

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy. She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. When not writing, she heads up a copywriting team at a global translation firm, where she generally tries to keep all the video-game writing to herself. She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA.

Gytha is appearing at The Riff Raff on April 11th. Snap up your ticket here.

Here's the bio for She Lies in Wait...

On a hot summers’ night in 1983, seven teenagers went camping in the New Forest. In the morning, one of them, Aurora, was missing. Despite a tireless, ever-growing search, she remained undiscovered for thirty years, when her body was found in a place that only those teenagers knew about.

It’s up to DCI Jonah Sheens, once at school with the group, to untangle thirty years of lies to discover what really happened. But Jonah has secrets too, and there are lines of enquiry that come dangerously close to parts of his past he never wants to relive.

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?

As part of the UEA course, where I did a lot of script-writing as well as prose, I was asked to write a short TV piece in which current events had a large effect on the characters. I chose to set it in 1983 and began with a champagne socialist 15-year-old going on about Thatcher’s Falklands campaign. I had fun developing other characters, and showing these intense interpersonal relationships that happen when you’re a teenager. And then I started thinking about how the night might continue. With not just social or personal disasters, but with something really terrible. And the worst thing, to me, was that one of them ended up dead, all because of the decisions made by those teenagers on that particular night.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?

That I really could do it, despite a terrible year in which the business I was running failed, my relationship went south, and a previous book hadn’t sold to publishers. I’d love to go back to the Gytha of then and say “Hang in there! It’s going to be ok.”

What did you enjoy most about writing it?

The fun of weaving together the past and present strands, and having each tell on the other in turn, to draw the story out. Hours of fun! And the worst part?

Trying to finish it whilst working a far-more-than full-time job, and single-parenting a small boy. Fortunately my lovely agent stalked me very nicely until I took some holiday and finished it.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

Crosswords or social media. One of the two.

Go-to writing snacks?

Yoghurt-coated anything. Cashews, brazils, raisins, hazelnuts... You could basically coat anything in yoghurt and I would eat it. Though I said I’d join Slimming World with my Mum so apparently I only get blueberries now. Without the yoghurt.

The book that changed you?

Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses was one I read at just the right time to make a huge impact. I was a teenager, setting out to write, and I honestly cried over the prose (largely out of envy and a feeling of total inferiority). And some of its scenes haunt me even now. An incredible work.

Your pump up song?

A Town Like Malice by the Jam. It was totally perfect when writing about the eighties, and would have been out by the time my teenagers went camping.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer, who would it be?

If I’m allowed a dead one, Simone de Beauvoir. I have SO many questions. I might have said Faulkner but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t give me any of the wine...

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?

Do not. Stop. Writing. I have been through so many failures just to get to this point, and thought so often that my writing career must be doomed. But I’ve learned every time, and kept going in the end (after picking myself up off the floor).

Why do you write?

For so many reasons. It’s partly therapy – no matter how bad things are, and how different to what I’m writing about, I always feel better after I’ve written something. Somehow it still writes some of it out.

Sometimes I use it as a way of coping with the awfulness of the world. Something truly terrible happens to someone innocent that I can’t stop thinking about, so I formulate a story which I can control in which somehow justice happens, or there’s some salvation.

And I suppose I have always loved to read and to tell stories. It’s ingrained somewhere as a thing that I need to do, so I do it. Both verbally and in my writing.

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