Ask the Author: Louisa Treger

Louisa Treger, author of The Lodger, spoke to me about her writing process.

4100sdt80GL._UX250_Louisa Treger has worked as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. Treger subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early 20th century women’s writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship “for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature.”

The Lodger is Treger’s first novel, and what a fantastic debut it is. (I reviewed it for The Book Bag, which can be found here.) I wanted to know what inspired her to become a writer.

I remember sitting in the garden eating ginger biscuits and balancing a pad of paper on my knees. I must have been six or seven years old. And suddenly, there were the beginnings of a story on the pad. That was it, really, I never looked back. I was always trying to scribble thoughts in a diary, or make up stories and plays. I trained as a classical violinist and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. It wasn’t until after a career change in my twenties that I started writing in a serious, disciplined way.

Her tips for aspiring writers are simple: Write every day!

Glue your butt to a chair and write! That story inside you isn’t going to get out any other way. Don’t worry about whether early drafts are good or not, just get it out. You can leave the polishing till later. Also, read as much and as widely as possible.

As far as getting published goes, don’t give up and don’t take no for an answer. I believe that patience and persistence pay off. Take constructive feedback, ignore the rest.

She’s currently working on her second novel.

It’s about a girl who was part of the Kinderstransport – the rescue mission that brought thousands of refugee Jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe to safety in England. They left their families to go to the care of strangers, in a foreign country whose language they only had the barest grasp of. They didn’t know what would happen to them, or if they would see their parents again. The novel describes how the girl and her descendants adjust to English life.

cover_lodgerThe Lodger centres around H.G. Wells, but the novel is primarily about Dorothy Richardson.

While I was researching her, I became fascinated by the love affair she had with H.G. Wells, and decided to make it the heart of the book. He was such a complex and compelling man, not conventionally handsome, yet irresistible to women because of his intellect and the way he made them feel he was interested in all of them – their thoughts as well as their bodies. His relationship with Dorothy was turbulent and complicated, not least because he was married to her oldest friend. Yet Wells encouraged Dorothy to write, and their encounters helped her find her voice as an author – partly in opposition to his views. So he was an extremely influential figure in her life, and the time she spent with him shaped everything that came after.

I wanted to know more about Dorothy, and why Treger chose to write The Lodger from her perspective.

Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957) was a fascinating figure. In her lifetime, she was considered Virginia Woolf’s peer, and she forged a new style of fiction that became known as stream of consciousness. Her life was as interesting as her writing, for she was deeply unconventional in both. She couldn’t settle down and conform to any of the roles available to the women of her day, but smashed just about every boundary and taboo going – social, sexual and literary. The more I learnt about her, the more strongly I felt that her story should be retold – and what better way than through her eyes?

The autumn is looking quite busy for Treger.

Appearances in London include talks at St John’s Wood Library (16th September) and Chelsea Library (17th September) and events at the London History Festival (29th October) and the Bloomsbury Festival (date tbc).

She’s currently reading A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale, which she can’t put down – a woman after my own heart.

The Lodger is available on Amazon, and more information can be found on Treger’s website.

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