Sisters Laura and Lucy are only 21 months apart in age. They both signed book deals for their debut novels with different publishers, but only last month realised that the two books were, completely coincidentally, being published on the same day - the 23rd April. Laura's book, The Confectioner's Tale (Transworld, £6.99) is a decadent story of love and scandal set in a Parisian patisseries in 1910 while Lucy's novel, Starborn (Tor, £12.99) is a fantasy about a young girl who will shape the fate of thousands in a corrupt world.
Although your books are published on exactly the same day, the genres you have chosen to write in couldn’t be more different. Why do you think that is? Was that a conscious decision to go down different paths?
Laura: We've both always loved reading. Our parents read to us every night, from when we were very small, and exposed us to a wide range of books; Dad started reading us The Lord of the Rings at bedtime when I was two and Lucy was four! It took him two years to read us the whole thing, but I still remember hearing the end vividly. (I felt very sorry for Gollum). Lucy - being older - probably remembers more of it than I do, which I'm sure sparked off her love of fantasy...
Lucy: Oh definitely! Those readings and the fantasy I read as a teenager had such an impact on me that I decided to write my own full-length novel aged 15. During that time, I realised it was something I could imagine myself doing for the rest of my life. For my part, I've never wanted to do anything else.
Laura: Yes, Lucy has wanted to be a writer for a lot longer than me; I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was little, then a director. I always loved writing, short stories, poems, bits of script, but it took me another four years to start my first novel... I'm a bit of a chameleon: I love switching between genres and styles.
What kind of relationship did you have growing up, and has it informed your writings in any way?
Laura: Lucy and I have always been very close. We were also extremely imaginative children, which meant we probably seemed weird to a lot of people. We'd often go off on complete flights of fancy, so much so that our parents would have no idea what we were talking about. We still do that, actually.
Lucy: It's fantastic to have someone so close at hand who you can trust with something as personal as writing. Laura is the first person I turn to when I'm stuck on a chapter and need to find my way out of the woods. Rather than writing tips, though, we tend to share more on plot and character ideas.
Laura: I’d say the same. When I'm stuck with something I'm writing, Lucy is the first person I call. It's easy to get too close to your own work - and Lucy is a perfect sounding board.
Can you think of anything that has contributed towards your simultaneous success stories?
Laura: The coincidence of our getting book deals in the same month and published on the same day is ridiculous but perhaps not wholly unexplainable. We've both been writing since our teens, and were both actively seeking publication for probably about five years before we both signed contracts. Those five years represent a lot of hard work, drafts, edits, rejections and learning curves.
Is there any competition between you?
Lucy: We've been moving on parallel trajectories for some time and I suppose there's an element of friendly competition, but moreso encouragement. Our interests are far enough removed not to crowd each other out. It would be different if we were both writing in the same genre; maybe then there'd be more of a danger that one of us would appropriate a favourite tea set and end up like Drabble and Byatt.
Laura: I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Lucy's a better writer than me! There's not really any competition, though; our writing styles and preoccupations are so different. If anything, it's reassuring to have someone close by who's experiencing the same things.