It’s Meet the Author Monday! Each week we meet a new author and get to know a little about them, their writing process, publishing experience, and tips for other writers. Today we’re talking to Sophia Lambton, author of The Crooked Little Pieces: Volume 1.
About Sophia Lambton:
Sophia Lambton became a professional classical music critic at the age of seventeen when she began writing for Musical Opinion, Britain’s oldest music magazine. Since then she has contributed to The Guardian, Bachtrack, musicOMH, BroadwayWorld, BBC Music Magazine and OperaWire, and conducted operatic research around the world for a non-fiction work set to be published in 2023.
Crepuscular Musings – her recently spawned cultural Substack – provides vivid explorations of tv and cinema together with reviews of operas, concerts and recitals at sophialambton.substack.com.
The Crooked Little Pieces is her first literary saga. Currently she’s working on her second.
She lives in London.
Lost are the creatures destined never to be understood.
1926. Professor Josef van der Holt obtains a post at an all women’s college overseas. Stuffy London suddenly becomes the site for the unseemly exploits of his half-Dutch and half-German daughters Anneliese and Isabel. When tragedy carves out a hollow in their lives, a severed soul sends the sororal twins along a jagged path: while Isabel takes flight in sensual hedonism Anneliese skirts danger in her role as sleuth. Elusive are the sentiments they seek: swift stopovers of fleeting feeling. Lopsided loves and passions scarcely probable veer each away from the predictable.
And when the obvious appears unstoppable the opposite may achingly be true.
Spanning the twentieth century’s five most volatile decades, The Crooked Little Pieces is a series about inextricable entanglements. Perverse relationships pervade a glossary of scenes. Plots criss-cross over a rich tapestry of twists and tension-fuelling characters: some relatable, others opaque and many “crooked”.
It is television drama. Novelised.
Author Interview with Sophia Lambton:
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- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It mainly energizes me but there are moments of exhaustion.
Most of the time it is a sweet exhaustion, though: a recognition of fulfillment.
When I look back on it, it never feels like recognizable exhaustion. It’s a transient impression that proves something good has been accomplished.
- Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes and no. I imagine there are distanced, journalistic styles adept at crafting other worlds. I don’t think I would personally react to that aesthetic but the art requires mind and soul. I think a not-so-emotional person could write decently but not astonishingly well.
- What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I just published my first book and have eleven and a half unpublished volumes (currently I’m on my thirteenth book). That said, I write series, so if you calculate it differently the total is five books and puts me on my sixth.
- What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I LOVE this question.
As a woman I’m not sure I’ll ever realistically enter a male mind the way an author of that sex would.
But I’d also say the same for the reverse: I dislike a number of great (male) writers’ explorations of their female characters.
I think I try to demonstrate what I perceive to be men’s impulsivity and rashness but most probably project my (sometimes stereotypically female) concepts onto my depiction of them.
I’m trying to learn more with each new male creation.
- How do you select the names of your characters?
I seem to gravitate to particular sounds… for this reason I end up with a lot of characters whose name contains “el”, “en” or “ic”. It’s pretty instinctive unless I’m creating a supporting role. Sometimes I use the Oxford Name Dictionary to help. If I have a foreign character I look up names of people of that nationality. It’s a fun process.
- Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes, but they’ll remain a secret…
- What was your hardest scene to write?
An espionage scene pretty early in this series (one that features in the book that I’ve just published, The Crooked Little Pieces: Volume 1). I expected it to be easier but as my heroine kept moving both surrounding objects and herself I started to get lost in where she was and what was where. The scene’s logistics became puzzling to me and ever since I’ve found the easiest scenes transpire when my characters are sat around a table, preferably not moving much (although it doesn’t make for thrilling drama so I don’t afford myself this luxury that often!).
On an unrelated note, a few weeks back I wrote a major chapter having had two hours of sleep in the space of two days. I’ve yet to see how that panned out but it was certainly a challenge.
- When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?
It can be hard to get into that frame of mind.
These days my writing mostly takes me there – so if I’m not in such a state at the beginning, I’ve arrived at that place some two pages in.
In the past I remember watching a scene from ER (I think it was the death of Mark Greene) to conjure feelings at the passing of a major character.
Nowadays I kind of think that’s cheating and attempt to get there on my own.
The same can be said for euphoric scenes, sex scenes, love and loss…
I try to live in my created realm as much as possible when not writing, and sometimes find (most helpfully) that by the time I’m in the work so much of my subconscious has marinated in it that it’s easier to surrender than expected.
- What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
That I know myself most closely as I write.
Characters come out with dialogue that tells me more about them than I thought I knew…
Which makes no sense as they’re my characters…
In other words, I’m never more myself than when I’m writing, and it takes me into my subconscious’ elusive corners.
To learn more about Sophia Lambton, here’s where you can find her: