Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Next Together Blog Tour: Interview with Lauren James + Excerpt & Giveaway


Hey everyone! Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Next Together by Lauren James. I loved this book so, so much. It's one of my favourite 2015 reads! Thank you to FFBC Tours for picking me for this amazing blog tour. You can check out the full schedule here.

For this tour, I have here an interview with the lovely Lauren James. Check it out below, and read the first chapter of the book! Oh, and don't forget to enter the giveaway :)



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 The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, "original" historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

Release date: September 3rd 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
Purchase links: Amazon | Kobo | The Book Depository


Check out my review of The Next Together HERE!


Hi Lauren, it's great to have you here on City of Books! I'll start by asking you what it feels like to have your YA debut novel out there in the wild. Are you more excited or nervous?

I’m ecstatically petrified right now! It’s been two years since I was offered a book deal, so it definitely felt like publication day would never arrive. I’ve put my whole heart into the book though, and I don’t think I could have made it any better than it is. I’m very happy with it!

The concept of this novel is so unique! How did you come up with it?

I’m not really sure where the idea first came from, actually. I’ve been thinking about a couple who are reincarnated throughout history since I was about sixteen. I always wrote about them during Creative Writing assignments at school! It stuck with me long enough for me to actually start writing the full novel when I was eighteen.

There are significant historical settings in this book, and scientific concepts as well. How much research did you need to do, and how much of it was from your imagination?

In hindsight, choosing a storyline with multiple historical time periods might have been a bad idea for my first ever novel, which was hard enough to write without the research!

I was a student when I started writing as a hobby, so I didn’t want to spend any money on history textbooks. I actually chose the timelines in the book based on which I could research for free, mainly using my university library and primary sources available to access on Google Books. It seemed to work out quite well!

If there was anything I couldn’t find out through research (even when I caved and bought textbooks, after I realised I wanted to make the story into a proper novel!) I used my imagination, and a bit of dramatic licence.

The science is all hopefully accurate, but don’t hold me to that! I did study Chemistry and Physics at university, so there’s quite a lot of my experiences from lab experiments in the story.

What I loved most about Kate and Matt is that they seemed so real to me. Are they based on anyone you know personally?

I think both Kate and Matt are a little bit of me, but apart from just shamelessly stealing my own characteristics - Matt is based a little on Prince Char from Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I absolutely adored that book when I was thirteen, and I would have taken a bullet for Char – and Matt!

Kate is inspired by Jim Kirk as played by Chris Pine in the Star Trek reboot, because when I saw that film I was desperate for a silly, lewd, brave character like him - but who was a girl!

And lastly, what can you tell us about the sequel?

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 fun and romantic as Kate and Matt’s story!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Lauren! I can't wait for The Last Beginning :)

Chapter 1 of THE NEXT TOGETHER


University of Nottingham Campus, England, 2039

Kate poured glycerol into a beaker, measuring out what she would need for the afternoon’s experiment. She wasn’t really in the mood for labs today, but it was only her second session of Biology practicals since university started and she couldn’t miss it. It didn’t help that she was the only person without a lab partner, so she had to do double the work of the other first-years. Not that she minded the extra work particularly.
She’d just enjoy having someone to gossip with, which − judging by the crowd gathered by the ice machine − was all the other students did.
She was opening up her labbook on her tablet when a voice from behind her said her name.
“Kate Finchley?” a harried-looking supervisor asked.
“Yep,” she said, dropping her pen and turning around.
At the same time, she stuck her hand into her pocket, fingers catching on a locket she’d stuffed in there last week when it had annoyed her while she was working in a fume cupboard.
The supervisor gestured to a boy who was standing behind her. “Here’s your new lab partner; just transferred from Chemistry. You can get him settled, can’t you?”
Then the supervisor disappeared in a cloud of stress and steamed-up goggles to deal with another fresher, who had just managed to drop a beaker of something foul on the floor and then stand in it.
Kate stared at the boy. “Hi,” she said dubiously. She fished out the locket and put it back on.
He stared back at her, his expression indecipherable. Then he nodded hello. He was wearing a tweed waistcoat, of all things, over a ratty band T-shirt. His light brown hair hung over his eyes in a retro fringe that seemed to be based on something from the late noughties.
She was delighted to note that despite his doubtful fashion choices he was exactly her type.
“Welcome to my lair. Make yourself at home.” She gestured to the lab, which was filling with the gentle scent of rotting manure. Nearby a cluster of the Ice-Machine Gossipers, labcoat sleeves over their noses, were gathered around the spillage, offering advice to the flustered supervisor.
Kate turned back to the boy, who’d dropped his labcoat onto the bench like he’d just been waiting for her permission.
He’d apparently been using it as a kind of satchel, as he pulled out an assortment of stationery, notebooks and what looked like his lunch (in a biology lab; did he have no survival instincts at all?) from its depths. As he finally wrestled his way into his sparkling new labcoat and then rescued an apple from where it had bounced across the floor, she found her gaze lingering on the way his hair curled over the back of his collar.
Having picked up the apple, he turned around and actually blushed when he noticed her watching him − a vivid pink staining cheekbones that she was frankly jealous of. Bone structure like that was wasted on a chemist. Kate pulled off her goggles to distract from the fact that she’d been caught watching him. She fought for a moment to pull them from their determined grip in her tangled red hair.
He had blushed? She wasn’t sure what to do with that, actually. Was it a good thing, a guy blushing when you looked at him? He might as well have a name tag saying, “Hi, I’m a shy, socially awkward scientist. Please don’t look me directly in the eye or I might faint.”
Kate was just imagining him introducing himself as “a socially awkward scientist”, his Scottish lilt skipping quickly over the words, when he cleared his throat and spoke.
“I didn’t actually download a copy of the labbook. What experiment are we doing today?”
That was a bit odd. He sounded exactly as she had imagined him: the same soft Scottish brogue. She frowned.
Why had she assumed he would be Scottish?
“Cleaning up horse muck, by the look of it,” she joked, glancing over at the students still gathered around the spillage.
He dimpled a smile at her, and relaxed a little.
“What’s your name?” he asked, looking her up and down. His eyes lingered on her labcoat collar, which was decorated with badges and beads, but he didn’t mention it. She didn’t think he had any right to judge – there was half a ham sandwich poking out of his pocket.
“Kate,” she said brightly, trying to convey a more normal aura.
His eyebrows rose at her answer in what looked like surprise. She wasn’t sure why her name would be surprising.
“Matt,” he replied. “Matt Galloway.”
“Hi, Matt, nice to meet you. Welcome to Biology, etc., etc. I know you from somewhere. Have we met before?”
Or instead of being normal she could just act like his own personal stalker. That worked too.
“We haven’t met before. I would have remembered.” He blushed and then stammered, “I mean, I haven’t even been to this country before. I moved here for university.”
She eyed him speculatively. He must be particularly intelligent to have got permission to study abroad. Since Scotland had gained independence from England after the last world war, almost twenty years ago, it had been practically impossible to get permits to study internationally.
Hmmm. He didn’t seem like he was lying. Where did she know him from?
She should probably get back to work and give him a week or so to settle in before she began to torment him further by actually chatting to him, or doing something equally terrifying like nodding to him in the corridor. It was obvious he was completely overwhelmed by her raw sexuality − or that was what she was telling herself, anyway, and no one could prove otherwise. But she couldn’t look away. There was something … familiar about him.
He made no attempt to continue talking, just looked at her, nonplussed. Kate was afraid to continue any line of conversation in case he actually died from the blood rushing to his face, but the silence was awkward, so she eventually said, “Why are you transferring over to biology, anyway?”
“There weren’t as many explosions as I was hoping for in chemistry.” It sounded like a prepared response; he’d probably been asked that question a lot recently.
“Well there aren’t nearly half as many giant octopuses as you’d want in biology either, sorry.”
He grinned. “Shame. How’s the physics department here?”
She could sense him eyeing her, and she tried not to feel self-conscious. Her grandmother had once described her as a perfect Pre-Raphaelite beauty, which she took to mean that her figure was a little too soft around the edges to conform to twenty-first-century perceptions of beauty, and her hair was a vivid shock of red. Sometimes people at school had teased her for being ginger, but she’d always loved her hair too much for it to bother her.
Either way, she was secure in her body image a lot of the time, but it didn’t stop her feeling self-conscious, especially when there was a cute boy looking at her like she was the most interesting thing he’d seen all day.
“I’d give the physics lot six out of ten. There aren’t enough brunets,” she said.
There’d been a disappointing mixers event in freshers’ week.
He grinned and Kate smiled back, then she said, “I hear their MRI research rivals Cambridge’s, though.”
“I’ll look into that, then. If the octopi don’t work out.”
“I’m sure they will. No sea monsters today, though. We’re testing fertiliser effects on the development rates of bacteria cultures.”
“Sounds a lot easier than chemistry labs. I had to bring an acid to boil. On my first day.”
“Ouch. Well, I’ll look after you today.” She handed him a pair of latex gloves. Their hands touched, just slightly.
> First contact established in time-landscape 2039
Kate shuddered, closing her eyes for a moment. She felt a little strange.
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About the author:


Lauren James is a scientist by day, writer by early hours of the morning. She graduated in 2014 with a first class Masters degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Nottingham, where she studied Chemistry and Physics. 
She now lives in the village of Berkswell in the UK.

You can find her on Twitter at @Lauren_E_James, which she mainly uses to fancast actors as her characters and panic about all of the overly ambitious plans she has for her PhD, or her website at http://lauren-e-james.tumblr.com

She likes strong, intelligent women, Dylan O’Brien, and things with plants on them. These are her favourite books: http://www.myindependentbookshop.co.uk/Laurenelizjames.

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