An Interview with Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

You wrote both Lobsters and Never Evers as a duo. Is this difficult at all or do you prefer it to writing a book individually?

Well, we’ve never tried writing a book individually, so we’re not sure! But it definitely seems much more fun to do it as a duo, because the other person can take the story in directions you might never have thought of yourself. It’s like playing a slightly elaborate game of Consequences – you write your stuff, send it over to the other person, and then you’re excited – and often surprised – by what they send back.

Your new book is about a school trip to France which the cover declares is ‘not your average school trip.’ Where did the idea for this new book come from?

We wanted to write something for slightly younger teens (Lobsters is aimed at 15-18 year olds, and Never Evers at 11-15 year olds), so we thought that a school trip had a lot of potential for humour, flirtation and adventure. When you’re 14 – as our characters are – school trips can represent the first time you go away without your parents, and with your mates, so there’s a lot of excitement and drama, and we thought that would make for a funny and book.

Without giving away too many spoilers, which was your favourite part of the book to write and why?

TOM: I really enjoyed writing the chapters that take place on the first night of the trip. Basically, the boys have decided that they will sneak out of the hotel and knock on the girls’ window. But they get the wrong window, and teachers are prowling about, and there is a hamster on the loose (which one of the girls has smuggled onto the trip), so all sorts of stuff goes wrong.

LUCY: The scene that happens just before that one was definitely my favourite. The girls decide to form a witches’ coven, and cast a spell to try and conjure the boys to their window. It’s silly and crazy and was so much fun to write.

I think it’s fair to say that both books contain a large amount of romance, especially that of the awkward variety. Are you a fan of romance novels and why, especially in Lobsters, did you choose awkward love?

Yes, we are both definitely fans of a good rom-com. In terms of teen romance, the stakes always seem so much higher, so there’s more potential for awkward comedy. When it’s your first time with sex, or kissing, or even just talking to someone you fancy, there are so many things that can go wrong, and so many possibilities for cringeworthy awfulness. Which hopefully makes for a funny book!

What tips would you give to any aspiring writers who may be reading this? Any insiders’ secrets?

Well, we got our break through the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition, so we’d definitely recommend going in for that! Contests are a genuinely a really good way to get your book finished, as they impose a deadline; we definitely would have faffed around with Lobsters for a lot longer if we hadn’t been working desperately towards meeting the Times/Chicken House deadline. Other than that, read a lot – especially within the genre you are trying to write – and try to take note of what works and what doesn’t. And joining a writers’ group is also a great way to get good feedback on your stuff, and enjoy the process more.

Tom and Lucy’s new book, Never Evers, is out now. 

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