Second novel series: Lisa Dickenson

This week I am so pleased to welcome the fabulous Lisa Dickenson to the blog to talk second novels and writing a book in just over a month. Her second novel, You Had me at Merlot, made me cackle so much I woke my husband up on more than one occasion, and it’s out now. Her novels are published in four-part serials and then in paperback and here she is to tell you all about the highs and lows of writing her second.

 When did you have the idea for your second novel, and was writing it part of your book deal? 

Idea numero deux came in rather quickly, like a train I suddenly realised I had to leap onto!  I’d been approached about a new book deal in March of 2014, but Little, Brown wanted an idea first to take to their acquisitions meeting. And if it got through, the book would be coming out that summer, so the idea needed to be evolved ASAP! I had the title, location and characters locked down, but needed the hook. I remember standing outside a station in London with my friend Emma, in the sunshine, as we waited for another friend to join us. We kicked around dirt and ideas and suddenly the concept of a singles holiday came into fruition.

 How long did it take you to write?

You Had Me at Merlot had a really tight deadline, what with it being released that same summer. It had to be written within six weeks, with each part being sent over as soon as it was written and editing occurring at the same time. I was then poorly for two weeks, so in reality it was all done in just over a month, during which time I had a full time job as well. Hoorah for wine and an understanding Husband Phil!

How does the style and subject matter compare to your first novel?

Similar in both, in terms of them being humorous rom-coms, it’s mostly the seasons, locations and the people that make the second different to the first.

How did the experience of writing it compare to your first novel?

It was easier!  Despite the short deadline, I now had a big insider knowledge of what my editor did and didn’t like, and the types of mistakes I made during draft one of The Twelve Dates of Christmas.  It was scary – because The Second Book is always thought of as a bit of a deal breaker – but the actual writing was a lot smoother.

What did you love or hate most while writing it? What went well or badly?

I loved writing about being under the Tuscan sunshine, especially as it was springtime in the UK. Twelve Dates of Christmas had been written over a hot summer, so writing during the correct season was a nice treat. I hated not being able to get on with it though, when I felt really rough!  I knew the deadline was so tight, and I had the house to myself because Husband Phil was off snowboarding, so I should have been able to just crack on but I couldn’t.

Was your second novel harder than your first, or do you think that the ‘difficult second novel’ concept is a myth?

I think the writing of the second novel is much easier – at least, I found it so. But I think what happens before and after the writing is definitely harder – finding the initial idea that you think your publishers, and your readers, will like, and then once it’s close to release day there’s an impending fear that you won’t live up to people’s expectations, and it’ll all come crumbling down!  Haha, how dramatic!

Thanks so much to Lisa for answering my questions. You can find links to her books here:

You Had me at Merlot

The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Catch me if you Cannes (e-book):