The Writing Life of: Lorraine Wilson

Lorraine Wilson

This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Lorraine Wilson. Lorraine will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her new book ‘This Is Our Undoing‘, which was released on 3rd August 2021, and answering a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.

Lorraine Wilson

Having worked for years as a conservation scientist in remote corners of the world, Lorraine Wilson now lives by the sea in Scotland writing speculative fiction that is touched by folklore and the wilderness. Her debut novel, This Is Our Undoing, was released in August 2021, with The Way The Light Bends coming out in 2022.

She also has short stories and creative non-fiction in several anthologies and magazines including Strange Horizons, Forge Lit, The Mechanics’ Institute Review and Boudicca Press.


1) Did you enjoy writing when you were a child?

I wrote poetry a lot all through my childhood and teens, and even had a few pieces published! I found it very cathartic, I think, and a powerful way of exploring things I was finding hard to process. I didn’t write prose though until about eight years ago.

2) Which author shaped your childhood?

Ursula le Guin. Without a doubt. I loved The Lord Of The Rings, and I probably actually read Jane Austen’s book more often, but it was le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy that changed the way I viewed stories entirely. They made me realise that it wasn’t just about the adventure, the plot, but that stories carry layers of meaning and messages, that they hold power. Her writing continues to resonate with me now, as an adult. She was a visionary woman.

3) What motivated you to begin your first novel?

I had to step back from my work as an academic scientist as my health deteriorated, and I knew that in my new almost-housebound state, I needed something that would give me a focus and a mental challenge, but would fit around my health and my daughter. That was when I decided to try writing prose. I’d been telling myself stories for years (thanks insomnia!), so it didn’t seem much of a stretch to actually put them on paper. Coming from scientific writing, I fell in love with the very different art of writing creatively and haven’t looked back since.

4) Do you plot your book, or are you a pantser?

I plot. Any excuse to draw graphs, to be honest! I do quite a bit of development of the theme, then each character’s psychology and narrative arc, and then build the ‘external’ plot around that. I create a host of graphs, flow charts, spider-diagrams, mind maps etc which make me inordinately happy. And then I start writing.

I don’t plan the actual contents of chapters too closely though, and I revise my plans as I go along. I think you always, however thoroughly you plan, need to write your way into the story and let it breathe as it grows.

I also find that although I consciously plan a fair amount, there are always other things formulating in my subconscious that only emerge on the page. At which point a wee lightbulb comes on, making sense of something that I knew but didn’t know I knew!

5) What is your average writing day?

It largely depends on my pain levels on any given day. But if I’m doing okay, then I’ll see my daughter off to school, do some Pilates and then get to writing about 10:30ish, stopping when my daughter comes home. With breaks to feed the cats, push them off the keyboard, etc (note the cat basket on the desk)!

Writing has been a bit different these last eighteen months, partly due to the joys of home-schooling, but also as I learn to balance writing with being a published author, and all the non-writing things that go with having a book out in the world. I’d like to say I’ve got the system cracked and am really organised about dividing my time between the two, but that would be a lie. I’m figuring it out as I go along! But fortunately, I love it all, even the public speaking!

Where Lorraine Wilson Writes

Where Lorraine Wilson Writes

6) What is the best thing about being an author?

The friends I’ve made. The writing community is a wonderfully supportive, uplifting community and the people I’ve had by my side through the last few years are incredibly precious to me. This last year as a debut author, I’ve discovered a whole new world of lovely people in book bloggers, podcasters and event organisers – I never anticipated how happy people would be to let me talk about my book to them! It’s an absolute joy to be a tiny part of this world.

This Is Our Undoing by Lorraine Wilson

This Is Our Undoing

Author – Lorraine Wilson
Publisher – Luna Press Publishing
Pages – 300
Release Date – 3rd August 2021
ISBN 13 – 978-1913387730
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover


Could you condemn one child to save another?

In a near-future Europe fracturing under climate change and far-right politics, biologist Lina Stephenson works in the remote Rila Mountains, safely away from London State.

When an old enemy dies, Lina’s dangerous past resurfaces, putting her family’s lives at risk. Trapped with her vulnerable sister alongside the dead man’s family, Lina is facing pressure from all sides: her enemy’s eldest son is determined to destroy her in his search for vengeance, whilst his youngest carries a sinister secret…

…But the forest is hiding its own threats and as a catastrophic storm closes in, Lina realises that to save her family she too must become a monster.

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7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?

The world in This Is Our Undoing is a near-future Europe, so essentially I looked at where we are now, at how passive we are in the face of climate change and far-right politics, and I imagined scenarios where we continued along that trajectory! It was a sobering thought process and the world I’ve created feels like quite a pessimistic outlook, but everything happening in that world has its roots in things happening today.

As a deliberate contrast to that quite dystopian political setting, the entirety of This Is Our Undoing is set in the vast wilderness of the Rila Mountains in Bulgaria. It’s a beautiful and mysterious space that makes for a fabulously wild, atmospheric backdrop for the story. My research for that came directly from my own experiences. I’ve worked as a research scientist in the forests of eastern Europe and Russia so I drew on my own knowledge (and gazillion photographs!) of those ecosystems and their folklores when writing the book.

8) How long did it take to go from the ideas stage to writing the last word?

About six months to the end of the first draft. Then about a year of editing amongst other projects, then a complete rewrite that took four months, another edit, and that was more or less it done. Until I signed with my publisher and the edits, copyedits, proof edits began again!

9) What made you choose the genre you write in?

This book is a blend of several genres, mixing dystopia, murder mystery, thriller, and magical realism. I didn’t entirely set out to do that, but it was how the world grew in my mind so I went along with it! I think the common thread in everything I write is the presence of the wilderness, and hints of folklore, but how they take shape on the page varies enormously between stories. My next novel is very different to This Is Our Undoing, but it still carries a wild and fantastical heart.

10) How did you come up with the name(s) for your lead character(s)?

I can’t remember! Lina Stephenson is my main character, and honestly I think it just sprang from nowhere. Most of my character names do. I spend far more time deciding what birds are singing, or what my character’s behavioural tics are than on choosing their names! The only thing I do stop to check is whether I have names that sound similar or start with the same letter.

11) Can you give us an insight into your characters?

Oooh. Well, my main character is Lina. She’s clever, brave, fiercely loyal and deeply scarred by the loss of her mother. She’s had to reinvent herself to protect her family and in doing so found a sense of belonging she thought she’d lost.

Thiago is her friend and colleague in her new life in the Rila Mountains. He too is scarred by his past, carrying a burden of his perceived sins and utterly protective of Lina and the haven they have built for themselves.

Silene is the wife of a murdered politician. She’s everything Lina hates, but also a devoted mother and more fragile than she pretends. Then there are the children, all of whom I adore. #

I’ve Xander, an angry, vengeful teen; my lost, fey boy Kai; and Genni, Lina’s sister, who blames Lina for the upheaval of her world and is struggling to trust in either the safety Lina offers, or the love.

12) How did you feel when you had completed your book?

Relieved! In more ways than one. Partly because by that time I’d written the whole thing twice so I was delighted to have finished. But also because it started from a place of anger at my own powerlessness, and ended up being almost a love letter to the preciousness of hope.

Fun Questions

Interview penguin 2021

1) Do you have a favourite quote you live by?

‘This too shall pass.’ I’d no idea who said it, so I just googled it and apparently it’s Persian in origin. It’s got me through a lot!

I also think a lot about the Martin Luther King quote: ‘In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.’ It feels deeply important to take those words in and let them shape you.

2) Do you have any pets?

Three cats and a noodle! The cats are Marley (elderly boy), Ginny and Lila (ex-feral brothers). In the photo, it’s Ginny, Marley, Lila from left to right, and they weren’t supposed to be on that bed! The snake is my daughter’s, she’s called Garnet but generally goes by Noodle and is far cuter and more charismatic than I imagined a snake would be!

Lorraine Wilson Cats

3) What’s on your current reading list?

I’ve just finished Nicole Glover’s The Undertakers, which was fab. Next up is either Roshani Chokshi’s The Bronzed Beasts as it just appeared on my kindle (don’t you love pre-orders!) or Emma Stonex’s The Lamplighters.

4) Your book has been made into a feature film, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what would you be doing?

I think I’d be a villager, leaning on my garden wall beneath the vines, watching a very tense confrontation between Lina, Thiago and some resistance fighters. There’d either be some chickens or a cat by my feet.

5) If you could travel to the fictional world of any book for the day, which would you choose?

I’m tempted to say the Shanghai of Chloe Gong’s These Violent Delights because it’s just so cool, but I’d not last a minute in their criminal underworld so perhaps not! How about one of Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels because sentient spaceships, or the fantastical Song Dynasty in Guy Gavriel Kay’s River Of Stars? Wow, I don’t know, that’s a harder question than ‘What’s your favourite book’! I kind of want a new planet, but I also want a big dress and shiny knives…

6) There’s a penguin sitting in your writing chair, what is the first thing he says to you?

‘Did you know your tea’s gone cold again?’

I would like to say a big thank you to Lorraine Wilson for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.

Author links

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Interview instagram 2021

Interview goodreads 2021

interview Website 2021

Share your thoughts on our interview with Lorraine Wilson in the comment section below!

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2 Responses

  1. DJ Sakata says:

    Not my genre but I find I am intrigued.

  2. Thank you DJ for your comment. Good to hear we have intrigued you.