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My First Time...with Lauren Berry

Lauren Berry is the author of Living the Dream. She is the founding editor of satirical feminist ‘zine KnockBack and has been writing for and about women since 2005. Her work has been featured in Easy Living, Guardian, Observer and Independent. She was born, raised and works in North London.

Lauren Berry

Here's the blurb for Living the Dream...

Emma Derringer is an assistant at a branding agency in London. Each morning she arrives at the office, types in her password (Fresh_He11) and shoves her jacket under her desk (DEAR ALL, Please keep your coats and bags out of sight and NOT on your chairs as they are unsightly. Thx). Most days Emma wears a mask of indifference that disguises either her boredom, her hangover or both. When her overbearing boss isn't looking she pursues her career as a writer, sending articles, posting blogs and trying to get noticed for her talent, instead of mistakes on her PowerPoint presentations.

Clementine Twist arrives home from a stint in New York with a hefty overdraft, a crushed heart and a waning confidence in her budding career as a screenwriter. She moves in with her mum, gets a job in bar and spends her days composing emails to agents, producers and anyone who might help her onto the slippery ladder of the film industry. As their 30s loom and the freedom and fun of their 20s gives way to the adult pressures of job satisfaction and perceived success, Emma and Clem realise it's time to ramp up their efforts, and think about quitting the day job.

Amid life's larger questions Emma and Clem have to answer to the daily challenges of big city life on a little budget, as well as inane questions about getting their nails did from their mutual frenemy Yasmin, the phone to increasingly technophobic parents and emails to ever more rejection letters. Living the Dream is a razor-sharp comic novel of office life, friendship and the search for meaning.

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book.

I knew I wanted to be a writer from the moment I learned to write. But I was half way through a Masters in narrative non-fiction when I realised I hate non-fiction. I like making things up. That was the moment I decided to write this particular book.

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

That it would be picked up and published. That the work would be worth it.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

In summer – cleaning. In winter – eating.

What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing your book?

I stopped completely for two years because a hack editor told me they didn’t like ‘the voice’.

Best thing about writing your book?

Making myself laugh.

And the worst?

The isolation of writing, especially when there’s no guarantee that you’ll be published. I spent a lot of time on my own and sometimes it felt like shouting down a rubber tunnel.

Go-to writing snacks?

Literally all things. At one point I managed to create biscuits out of desiccated coconut, raisins and butter, rather than leave the house (aka get dressed / washed.)

Who or what inspires you to write?

The minutia and mundanity of ‘normal’ life. Like this morning there was a snail on the Northern Line. How snail, how?

The book that changed you?

Catch 22, which my dad made me read when I was much too young, and I’ve read every couple of years since.

Your pump up song?

'Here I Go Again On My Own' - Whitesnake

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

I’d like to be the bartender while Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut shared that bottle.

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

If you use people you know as inspiration for characters – don’t tell them so.


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