A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Today’s the day a lot of people have been waiting for — the publication of Lauren James’s debut The Next Together! The Next Together is book one in a new UKYA duology, and has been causing all sorts of excitement, because a) the concept is amazing, b) the cover’s beautiful, and c) it’s a darn good read.
I was lucky enough to read it when it was still a baby Word file, and this is one book you definitely want to get your hands on.
How many times can you lose the person you love?
Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.
Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?
Maybe the next together will be different…
A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, “original” historical documents, news reports and internet articles.
I invited Lauren to the virtual Author Allsorts sofa to ask her some questions.
Hey, Lauren! Can you start by telling us a little about The Next Together?
The Next Together is what I like to call a “reincarnation romance”. It follows the various lives of Katherine and Matthew as they meet and fall in love throughout history. There are timelines in the recent future and distant past, and each time a mysterious being is tracking Kate and Matt’s relationship, and making sure they fall in love and save the world in every life….
The Next Together covers multiple plot threads and time periods that all link together in some way. How much planning did that take?
It was a little complicated to keep track of, I admit! Especially during editing, when I struggled to remember which plotlines I had written, which I had removed from an earlier draft, or had yet to write! As the plot involves time travel elements, this made is especially confusing, both for myself and my editor. I had to make a lot of posters keeping track of plots.
If you could travel to one time in the past or future, when and where would you go?
If I went into the past, I would without a moment of doubt have to go and see the dinosaurs. How could anyone turn that down?
If I got to go to the future, I’d want to visit the first human colony on another planet – but I’d like to arrive a few hours before their spaceship first landed, so I could pretend I’d been there waiting for them all along.
In a film of The Next Together, who would you pick to play Kate and Matt?
I have spent far too much time thinking about this, so instead of just one actor, I have a whole selection of them! Here’s Matt, who is mostly Ben Whishaw in James Bond:
And here’s Kate, who is a young Gillian Anderson:
If Kate and Matt were real people and you could only be friends with one of them, who would you pick? (Cruel question entirely the fault of Non Pratt.)
This is the most horrible question I can imagine, and I really can’t answer. It’s physically impossible. How could you do this to me?
(Okay ….. Matt. I guess, if I absolutely had to, I’d pick Matt.)
The cover for The Next Together is one of my favourite book covers ever! Did you have much input into the design?
I left it all up to my wonderful cover designer, Jack Noel, and he came up with the best cover I could have ever hoped for. I did have a bit of input, as I didn’t want a photograph of any models on the cover. I like to imagine characters in my head without pictures! Luckily the cover he came up with has silhouettes instead of pictures, and it’s absolutely perfect!
Your debut’s been brilliantly received by so many readers — before the book’s even out! What’s been your favourite part of the publication process so far?
I get a lot of messages from teenage girls asking for advice about becoming writers, and I always try to advise and support them. I would have found that kind of resource invaluable when I was first starting to write, so I want to make sure I encourage as many people to get into writing as possible! People telling me that I’ve inspired them to write is really rewarding.
What can we expect from book two, The Last Beginning?
The Last Beginning will be released in September 2016, and contains a lot more time travel than The Next Together. It has a mix of different time periods, past and future. The central plot is a lesbian love story, and it’s just as timey wimey and romantic as Kate and Matt’s story in the first book. I like to think of the series as Jane Austen meets Doctor Who, and that is even more appropriate for the sequel than for The Next Together.
What was it like writing book two, versus book one?
Book Two was a lot harder! There was a lot more pressure, because I wrote The Next Together just for myself, whereas I wrote The Last Beginning knowing that it was definitely going to be published.
Finally, how will you be celebrating The Next Together finally hitting shop shelves?
On release day I’m going to see the musical Wicked in London with my family, to distract me from refreshing twitter (and amazon rankings!) all day. Then I’m holding a book launch for my friends and family, which I’m busy planning lots of themed snacks, like cupcakes with iced drawings of Kate and Matt, and cannon biscuits!
Sounds amazing! Thanks for the chat, Lauren, and have a fantastic book birthday.
Lauren James is 23, and graduated in 2014 from the University of Nottingham with a Master’s degree in Natural Sciences, where she studied Chemistry and Physics.
Her first novel The Next Together, a YA reincarnation romance, is out now with Walker Books in the UK and Australia, and will also be published in the USA, Germany, Turkey and Brazil. The Last Beginning will be published in Autumn 2016.
Kendra is a YA author represented by Lutyens & Rubinstein Literary Agency. Glimpse, her debut novel, was inspired by Alfred Noyes’ poem ‘The Highwayman’. It was published in 2014 by Constable & Robinson. Kendra also runs a chocolate company. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found taste-testing chocolate, reading YA, or trying to steal other people’s cats.