An Interview with Sue

These are questions that people have asked me recently. If you have a burning question, feel free to ask here.

DO YOU WRITE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU KNOW?
Not exactly, but I do use incidents that have happened or bits of conversations I might have overheard. I’m a terrible eavesdropper. I’m that woman on your train who sits with a notebook jotting things down. I hate it that these days everyone’s glued to their phones instead of talking to each other. But if they’re reading on a Kindle, I’d have to forgive that.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?
Over twenty years. I started writing short stories and had a few published but I always wanted to write longer stories as I always had trouble saying goodbye to my characters. I wrote six novels before Another Summer. Each one was better than the one before so I feel like I’ve learned my trade.

WHEN DO YOU WRITE?
As I have a full time job and a family I like to spend time with now and again, I can’t usually do the recommended stint every day. I tend to write for about three hours at weekends and whenever I have a day off. During the week, I’m constantly scribbling things in a notebook so by the time I sit down to actually write, I usually know what I’m going to say.

HOW DO YOU PLAN YOUR NOVELS?
I like an outline plan so I know where I’m meant to be going but I don’t like to work it out in too much detail as there’d be no excitement in writing the book. Having said that, I’m intimidated by a blank screen so I tend to write a scene at a time in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way. The next day I go back to it and tidy it up a bit, then do the next scene and so on. I enjoy editing and re-writing so I have to be disciplined and avoid the temptation to make the first draft perfect or I’d never get to the end of the story.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT WRITING?
It’s my therapy. Like everyone else, my job can be stressful sometimes so it’s nice to be able to escape to a different world. I do like a happy ending and I enjoy fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together without it seeming contrived.

HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR CHARACTERS?
I’m not one for compiling in-depth character profiles before I start writing. I tried that but found it too restrictive. I usually start with a scene or a situation between two people. I know why they’re there and where they’re trying to get to and then I develop the characters scene by scene. To me it’s like when you meet a new person. Only the external characteristics are visible at first then as you spend more time with them, you find out more about their background and personality. It’s their story I’m writing so for me that’s the best part of it and I have been known to walk around the house talking to them when I’m working through some dialogue.

WHICH AUTHORS DO YOU ENJOY?
I’ve loved everything from Adele Parks and Freya North and I really like Nora Roberts, particularly her “women in jeopardy” books. Her male characters are usually pretty hot. Recently I’ve been enjoying Mhairi McFarlane and Paige Toon. My all time favourite book is The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher, which definitely inspired my love of Cornwall. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it and I cry every time. I even read it to my daughter years ago as a bedtime story, although she was probably a bit young to appreciate it.

WHAT ABOUT FILMS AND TV?
I’m not that much of a movie fan. If I’m not hooked within the first half an hour I don’t usually bother. I hate the current fashion for clever special effects instead of an actual story. I did love Last of the Mohicans, however. If ever a movie had everything – romance, history, fabulous photography, stirring music and a charismatic leading man. I much prefer TV drama, particularly American shows with quick and slick dialogue. I’m still loving The Good Wife. Six seasons in and Alicia has never worn the same suit twice. I’m also on team Poldark for obvious reasons.

WHO IS YOUR YOUR IDEAL ROMANTIC HERO?
I have a soft spot for the misunderstood rebel, the bad boy with a soft centre. He’d be dark and dangerous, a bit scruffy but scrubs up well. The opposite to a public school office type. I have a teenage need to collect pictures of hot looking men and I have an embarrassing collage on the wall above my desk to inspire me.

Hot man collage

ANYTHING ELSE EMBARRASSING YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?
I’ve given up trying to hide my passion for purple pens and girlie stationery in general, the more sparkly the better. And I’ve never really grown out of my rock-chick phase. My daughter thinks it’s hilarious going to Whitesnake gigs with her mother.