I am delighted to be able to share an interview with debut author, Louisa Treger, today. Louisa’s novel, The Lodger, was released in hardback last month and is the first biographical novel ever to tell the story of the writer Dorothy Richardson during the 1900s. I was absolutely enthralled by this book, it was a fascinating and hugely intriguing read. Therefore I was so grateful for the opportunity to quiz Louisa about her writing and what inspired her to write about Dorothy’s life…
Hi Louisa, welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! I’m thrilled to have you on the site, thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
Thank you very much for having me; I’m delighted to be here!
I live in London with my husband, children and dog. I started out as a classical violinist and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher, before turning to writing. I now look back on my time as a musician as an extended writer’s block! But it was also an ideal training for writing, because it gave me the discipline to be a self-starter and spend hours alone, practising my craft.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel, The Lodger? (Released 1 June 2015 by St Martin’s Press)
The Lodger is a biographical novel about the writer, Dorothy Richardson (1873–1957). Dorothy was a lover of HG Wells, she pioneered a new style of fiction that became known as ‘stream of consciousness’, and in her lifetime, she was considered the peer of Virginia Woolf. My novel covers a brief, dramatic period in Dorothy’s life, during which she falls in love with HG Wells, explores her sexuality and independence, rejecting the conventions and restrictions of the age, and finds her voice as a writer.
What was the inspiration behind you writing this novel?
I discovered Dorothy by accident, while searching in the University of London library for an angle for a PhD thesis on Virginia Woolf that hadn’t been written before. I found a review by Virginia of one of Dorothy’s novels, and was hooked. Dorothy was a literary pioneer and her life was as interesting as her books; she was deeply unconventional in both. She couldn’t settle down and conform to any of the roles available to the women of her day, but smashed just about every boundary and taboo going – social, sexual and literary. The more I learnt about her, the more strongly I felt that people should know about her.
How did you go about doing the relevant research for The Lodger?
Before I even thought of writing a novel about Dorothy, I did a PhD thesis on her, so most of my research was completed at an early stage in the British Library. I also spent a lot of time walking around Bloomsbury, where the novel is set, to soak up its atmosphere. My most exciting moment was being given a first edition of one of Dorothy’s books and finding a handwritten piece of paper inside. It turned out to be notes she had written for a novel. It was quite thrilling to hold what she once held; it made me feel close to her living breathing presence.
How long did The Lodger take you to write?
It took four years to write, partly because of the research, but also because I am the mother of three children (and dog!) and there is a certain amount of fitting my writing around their schedules.
The Lodger is your first novel; how does it feel having your debut book released into the big wide world?
It’s very exciting! And slightly surreal that this dream I carried in my head for years is now an actual tangible book. It’s also scary sending one’s baby out into the world to be judged!!
Can you tell us a bit about your publication journey?
I wanted to take the traditional path to publication. There are pros and cons to both traditional and independent routes, and my decision was personal and subjective. It took years to reach my goal, and several rejection letters from agents and publishers. I am living proof that persistence pays off!
To tell you the truth, I don’t feel that my journey has ended with publication of The Lodger. I am always trying to improve my writing.
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a writer?
I might go back to music. Or perhaps, I’d train to be a psychologist because I am fascinated by what goes on in people’s heads, what makes them tick. Music, writing and psychology are all interlinked…
Who are your favourite authors and which type of books do you enjoy reading?
I could go on about this at length – there are so many writers I love! Three books that had a profound effect on me and I return to again and again are Villette by Charlotte Bronte, Fugitive Pieces by Ann Michaels, and The Hours by Michael Cunningham.
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
My second novel is well under way. It’s about a girl who was part of the Kindertransport – the rescue mission that brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to England from Nazi occupied Europe. They left their families to go to the care of strangers, in a foreign country whose language they only had the barest grasp of. They didn’t know what would happen to them, or if they would see their parents again. The novel describes how the girl and her descendants adjust to English life.
A huge thank you to Louisa and to Sarah at Four Colman Getty. ♥