The Scribblers

Tales from our writers' journeys to publication

Lorna Riley #AMMConnect Bio

The year is 2069. Locusts ravage the Earth. Though America is safe, so far. Dr Gabriel Montoya, the brilliant entomologist and world-leading expert in locusts, is dead, by apparent suicide. And the formula for his revolutionary pesticide is lost with him. 

About Me

IMG_6116Hi, I’m Lorna. My mum wanted to call me Eleanor, but my gran said she couldn’t because “Eleanor Eifflaender sounds like a writer.” So I never was called Eleanor, and I’m not an Eifflaender anymore. But the writing bit. . . Well, I’m working on it. Really, really hard.

The book I’ll be subbing for #AuthorMentorMatch is Locusts, a speculative YA thriller set in Boston in the near future. More about that later because this bit’s supposed to be about me. . . Please ignore the palpable cringing as I spill my guts.

spill my guts

So, I’m a quarter German, a quarter Welsh, a sixteenth Irish, and the rest of me is English. IMG_6682 (3)I live on the edge of the Peak District with my husband and two kids. Plus two adorable rescue bunnies.

I’m a pharmacist by trade and an optimist by nature. You have to be at least slightly on the deluded end of the scale to get into this writing gambit, right? That doesn’t mean my books are all happy and smiley. . . When I write YA, my inner teenager takes over, and she’s got issues, dude. I just can’t write neat and tidy happy endings.


Even when I try really hard to invoke the spirit of Tommorowland and feed the right wolf, giving teenage-me the ending she needs, I can’t make it work.

There’s got to be at least some gut-wrenching pain in there. It wouldn’t feel right otherwise. Sorry.

My Writing Journey

Locusts is my 4th complete book. I started writing my first novel when I was on maternity leave with my daughter. I didn’t do it with any intent behind it; I just started getting plot ideas swirling round my head when my brain finally had chance to come up for air after finishing my clinical diploma. And, you know what, I loved it. More than I ever expected. It feels right, somehow, like this is what I’m meant to be doing with my life. And I’m bloody determined to make it happen.

I’ve mentioned being slightly delusional already, yeah?

stranger things


Genre: Speculative YA thriller with STEM and grounded sci-fi elements
Length: 73,000 words

17-year-old science-prodigy Nila must find the formula for her murdered father’s pesticide before a mutant swarm of flesh-eating locusts engulfs the US. To succeed, she must overcome the grief that plagues her and fix her strained relationship with her workaholic mother. But time is against them, and the corrupt corporation responsible for her father’s death will do anything to stop them.

What I hope it does well:

  • Kick-ass brainy MC
  • Intersectional sci-fi
  • Crossover / contemporary issues within near-future setting
  • Future tech grounded in current tech
  • interrogates larger questions of the world / humanity / identity
  • Twisty plot that’ll keep you guessing about where it’s going next

Mentor Wishlist

So, there are things I absolutely KNOW my MS needs. And I’m working my way through it. I’d love a mentor who’d be able to help me with the following (and more–I know there’s always more):

  • a love triangle that needs beefing up and balancing out
  • a villainous love interest that needs his arc working on: smoothing out his transition from Nila taking an instant dislike to him, her realising there’s more to him than she thought, to him actually being completely dastardly, but then him finally coming good in the end
  • crank up the thriller aspect so that it has the readers falling off the edge of their bus seats and missing their stops on the tube
  • generally point out where plot threads have been dropped / sidelined for too long, and where character motivations are unclear or don’t make sense

Why I’d make a great mentee. . .

I totally rock at getting feedback

I’m an ex-Curtis Brown Creative student [In 2015, I got in with a MG fantasy that didn’t get me an agent], so I know the score. I actually get a bit disappointed if my work doesn’t get ripped apart. I took part in the #1st5pagesworkshop in April (while on holiday in Portugal with my very understanding family), so you can see for yourself:


Everyone else had been really lovely and given me some really useful and sensitively-put twiddly bits of feedback, then Stephanie Scott wallops me one. And I love it.

I’ve entered so many contests with the specific aim of getting feedback. Including, Ink and Insights two years in a row to get the four sets of feedback on my first ten pages [Not that it’s about winning, but I came second last year].

I’m really focused and committed

I was a complete pantser, but when I got feedback from an agent about my MG fantasy novel, saying that my plotting was a weak point, I took it on board. So, for Locusts, I did a six-week online plotting course (with Writers’ HQ–they’re awesome, and the courses are great value for money). Then I wrote it in three months. After that, I did an editing course with Writers’ HQ again, and it wasn’t some namby pamby ‘let’s make a prose nice and pretty’ course. We ripped our work to pieces and put it back together again. And I’ve spent the last eight months editing some more. I’m determined to get Locusts right to give it the best possible chance out there in the world.

I’m in it for the love of it

Writing is my passion; I’ve got no ideas of grandeur. I want this to be my career, that’s all.

I may have won some stuff…

Well, not won. As I mentioned before, I came second in Ink & Insights last year. Locusts was also long listed in the 2017 Yeovil Literary Prize this month. Um. . . right. . . that’s about as much talking about me as I can handle.

the oa gotta go

Featured image sourced via Flikr


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