Louise Mumford – Q&A

Louise Mumford is the author of Sleepless which was published by HQ on 10 December 2020.

Louise kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Sleepless.

Sleepless is a dystopian, psychological thriller. Thea is an insomniac; she hasn’t slept more than three hours a night for years.

So when an ad for a sleep trial that promises to change her life pops up on her phone, Thea knows this is her last chance at finding any kind of normal life.

Soon Thea’s sleeping for longer than she has in a decade, and awakes feeling transformed. So much so that at first she’s willing to overlook the oddities of the trial – the lack of any phone signal; the way she can’t leave her bedroom without permission; the fact that all her personal possessions are locked away, even her shoes.

But it soon becomes clear that the trial doesn’t just want to help Thea sleep. It wants to control her sleep…

2. What inspired the book?

I have always been an insomniac. As a child I didn’t really see the point of sleep – why would you sleep when there were so many marvellous and interesting things going on in the world? I think I trained myself out of sleep and have spent my adult years trying to train myself back into it! Caldey Island, just off the coast of Tenby inspired the setting. In reality it is a delightful day trip: the working monastery makes beautiful perfume and chocolate and there is a lighthouse and gift shop. In my tale it is decayed and abandoned – not so delightful, I’m afraid!

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

I sit down and see where the words take me. That is definitely what I did with Sleepless – it was fun to see where the story took me, though I would say that this method does lead to much re-drafting afterwards to clear up plot holes. I do think structure is very important though and have read up quite a bit about story arcs because I believe that a good book has to have a strong skeleton (the main beats of the story) otherwise it can go off-course. I am trying to plan a bit more with my next book but to also strike that balance so that it is still enjoyable for to write and things can naturally unfold.

4. Having been through the publishing process, is there anything about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?

Pretty much all of it! I love learning about the process and have been on a steep learning curve since signing my contract. Cover design particularly fascinates me because there is so much thought that goes

into it and it takes into consideration so many things. For example a good cover has to work equally well on a supermarket shelf, on the small screen of an ereader (often in black and white) and as a spine on a bookshelf. Design teams are incredibly clever at attracting the key audience for the book.

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

Before the pandemic, I used to be a regular at all sorts of gym classes. Boxercise is good fun and it has made me feel like I could defend myself… as long as my attacker stayed still and I had a certain musical track playing! Obviously right now I don’t go to the gym so it’s all running and doing virtual online classes. Exercise is important to me. I think it’s important to get out of my head and away from my desk, otherwise, on some days, I would never leave it!

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

The Neverending Story… because it is neverending, isn’t it? It will keep me entertained for the rest of my life. Wait? What do you mean it has an ending? That’s not what’s advertised… (Seriously though, I loved this book as a child. It was the title that drew me in, because every bookish child wants a story that doesn’t end, but the colourful world and characters have got a special place in my heart even today.)

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

I wish someone would ask me about my impressive ability to remember the names and faces of actors and actresses in film and television. I’m not sure it’s a particularly useful skill – I can remember who played what part in an obscure television series but struggle to recall the password for my online shopping sites…

About the Book

Don’t close your eyes. Don’t fall asleep. Don’t let them in.

Thea is an insomniac; she hasn’t slept more than three hours a night for years.

So when an ad for a sleep trial that promises to change her life pops up on her phone, Thea knows this is her last chance at finding any kind of normal life.

Soon Thea’s sleeping for longer than she has in a decade, and awakes feeling transformed. So much so that at first she’s willing to overlook the oddities of the trial – the lack of any phone signal; the way she can’t leave her bedroom without permission; the fact that all her personal possessions are locked away, even her shoes.

But it soon becomes clear that the trial doesn’t just want to help Thea sleep. It wants to control her sleep…

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