Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Guest Post - Writing The Truth About Gemma Grey by Sophie Ranald - Blog Tour

When I look back over the past 18 months, it seems incredible to me that my first novel, It Would Be Wrong to Steal my Sister’s Boyfriend (Wouldn’t It?) took just 12 weeks to write. The process of getting Gemma from glimmer of an idea to finished novel has been somewhat different!

When I first pitched the idea to my agent at LAW, then the lovely Peta Nightingale, the concept was around a blogger who wrote posts describing a life far more glamorous and interesting than the one she was actually living. Peta liked the idea, but she said, “Of course, you must make her a vlogger, not a blogger, because this is 2016, LDO.”

Now I hadn’t been living under a rock, so I knew that vloggers – YouTubers – were a Thing. But that was pretty much all I knew. My education into the world of vlogging had to start pretty much from scratch, and that meant watching Zoella videos. A lot of Zoella videos. It got so my partner would come downstairs and find me gazing vacantly at my screen and say, “You’re watching that Zoella again, aren’t you?”

The more I watched, the more I realised that first, Peta was right and second, my initial idea was going to have to change somewhat. YouTubers live their entire lives in the public eye, and it would be immensely difficult for Gemma, if she were one of them, to pull off a double life. So I had to go back to the drawing board and rethink things.

The other thing I wrestled with, watching make-up tutorial after make-up tutorial, was what motivates their creators. Money? Certainly, the likes of Zoella have built hugely successful businesses from humble beginnings and made a fortune in the process. But (like authors!) only a lucky few achieve anything like this degree of success. So I had to give Gemma a motive other than money or fame… Enter Jack and Olivia.

My next challenge was to give Gemma a cause to care about. Many YouTubers do this, embracing politics, mental health, HIV education and so on, and using the audiences they have built up to spread the word about something that matters to them. This was something I’d decided on quite early in the process, and I was greatly looking forward to writing it. Unfortunately, Life intervened at this point.

My partner and I moved house. The place we bought thinking it would need minor cosmetic work turned out to need major structural work, and I spent the next few months mired in architects’ drawings, helical screws and builder’s crack stitching kits (yes, really). By the time I returned to  Gemma, the world had moved on to the point where my wonderful plot point was no longer relevant, and I had to bin and rewrite about 20,000 words. Gutting doesn’t even cover it.

So, what with one thing and another, the process of writing this novel was anything but smooth. At 110,000 words, it’s longer than my previous novels, too. Nonetheless, I’m really excited to have released it at last. Even though writing it was tough, there were still many of those moments every author longs for, when the words flow easily, the characters take on a life of their own, and before you know it you’ve spent hours immersed in their world and the cat is complaining that she’s about to lapse into a hypoglycaemic coma (or is that just Purrs?).

Thanks to Rachel for hosting this post and being part of the Gemma Grey release tour, and thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy the novel – please get in touch and let me know what you think.  

Thank you so much Sophie for sharing your story behind your new book. I look forward to reading it at some point in the future, The Truth About Gemma Grey sounds great. 

Genre: Chick lit/romantic comedy
Release Date: 19 June 2017
Life isn’t working out quite as Gemma had planned. Her breakthrough job turns out to involve writing clickbait articles about cats. Her boyfriend Jack is off travelling the world with his glamorous BFF and her mum’s social life puts Gemma’s own to shame.
Then, after a late-night online rant, Gemma’s YouTube channel goes viral and everything changes.
Suddenly, she’s living the dream – only it’s not turning out entirely as she imagined.
Gemma realises she’ll have to choose between fame, real love and being true to herself – because she can’t have it all. Or can she?

Sophie Ranald is the youngest of five sisters. She was born in Zimbabwe and lived in South Africa until an acute case of itchy feet brought her to London in her mid-20s. As an editor for a customer publishing agency, Sophie developed her fiction-writing skills describing holidays to places she'd never visited. In 2011, she decided to disregard all the good advice given to aspiring novelists and attempt to write full-time. After one false start, It Would Be Wrong to Steal My Sister's Boyfriend (Wouldn't It?) seemed to write itself. Her second, third and fourth novels followed, and a fifth is due for release in Spring 2017. Sophie also writes for magazines and online about food, fashion and running. She lives in south-east London with her amazing partner Hopi and Purrs, their adorable little cat. 
Twitter: @sophieranald

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