You don’t like Christmas (well, you like the return to normality afterwards); you like David Bowie amongst a whole host of other singers and bands (and Ian Dury yay!); you love Formula 1 (love Girl Racer…); oh, and you write books amongst a few other things….
You were right the first time – I don’t much like Christmas! For one thing, there’s no Formula 1 in winter. (The first race is the 17th of March, by the way.)
Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing… being married to an F1 fanatic it has rubbed off on me, but I didn’t know the date of the first race!
I write novels, short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses. I like to keep busy.
And a fabulosi thing has happened in connection with my writing – Dream a Little Dream has been nominated for a RoNA! ‘The RoNAs’ is the name given to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s awards. There are five categories and ‘Dream’ has been nominated for the Contemporary Romantic Novel Award. The winners of the categories go forward to the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. There’s a glitzy event in London’s Piccadilly on 26th February when the category winners will be presented with their awards by Richard and Judy.
Congratulations Sue, you must be so thrilled! I’ll be there in the crowd rooting for you to win!
I saw you speak at the Festival of Romance in Bedford at the end of last year – clearly you have a lot of fun when you are speaking and interviewing. Are there any particular highlights that stand out above the rest?
I love a receptive audience – one that laughs in the right places. Then I feed off them and become more animated. It’s nice to speak to a large audience and know that those people have come along to hear me but I’ve had some great evenings with small groups, too. I recently spoke to a local Rotary club and they were such a great bunch. I felt as if I’d made twenty or thirty new friends.
Your work with the RNA must take up a lot of your time. I was lucky enough to become a member last August and was thrilled to be accepted. However, it took me a while to get up the courage to apply – even though I had a traditional publishing contract, because I’m new to mixing in writing circles. There must be a lot of newly published authors out there thinking of joining but maybe waiting until they are a bit more established. What advice would you offer?
Join. The Romantic Novelists’ Association is a great organisation, supportive and fun. You can get out of it as much or as little as you like but even those who never go to an event get the quarterly magazine and can be on the email loop, which gives them access to a lot of writing experience. It’s amazing – you ask a question and a multi-multi-published household name might come on with the answer. The Association’s fabulous for personal networking, too. Each year we have a couple of parties, an awards event, a few general meetings and our conference. The conference is fabulous for networking both with other writers and with editors/agents/other publishing professionals. I’m going to be vice-chairman from May 2013.
Is it tough being the head judge for Writers’ Forum Fiction Competitions? Do you find the winners stand out, or do you find occasions where it’s a difficult decision because the standard of submissions is so high?
There’s a lot of work involved as I write some of the critiques the magazine offers, too. Lorraine Mace (Frances di Plino) is the other judge and handles the rest of the reading and critiques. She sends her shortlisted entries to me and at the end of the month I read the entire list. And, yes, it can be difficult to choose! I begin with all of them – probably ten or twelve – open on my desktop. As I read, I try and put them in some kind of order of preference, based on quality rather than my personal likes or dislikes. Typically, I have five or six stories that I think could be the top three, so I look at them all again and come to a decision with a lot of lip chewing and rereading. Occasionally, yes, there is an absolutely stand out winner and it’s a joy to be in that situation.
You are a prolific writer – if you had to pick your ONE favourite book, whether it was the enjoyment in writing it or having it out there – which of your books would you choose?
Not just because it’s been nominated for a RoNA, Dream a Little Dream. I tackled a difficult subject by giving Dominic Christy the rare sleep disorder narcolepsy. I had an inadequate grasp of what a frustrating and fantastical affliction it is and the research was far more difficult than I’d envisaged. Dominic’s hot and his relationship with Liza sizzles, which is what the book’s about, but it’s lovely that readers and reviewers have remarked on how I handled the subject. My main research source said he felt as if someone had understood him and Narcolepsy UK have asked me to speak at their 2013 conference. Deeply satisfying.
It’s an exciting time to be a writer but it’s a steep learning curve. What one piece of advice would you give someone just starting out?
I’m afraid I have to give two! Educate yourself and persist. Learn about writing and publishing, apply what you learn, and keep on improving and trying for publication (if that’s your goal) to give yourself the best chance of success.
As a new author myself, I had to hit the ground running and found myself meeting up online with a huge group of wonderful writers. However, like many newbies I’m quite shy when it comes to attending events. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how important it is for new writers to attend events and what benefits they could gain from taking part.
I’ve already mentioned events when speaking about the RNA but there are loads and loads of conferences/courses/meetings outside of that organisation. I find the more informal they are the more chance you have of finding yourself next to someone helpful. Agents and editors will be at a conference or writers’ holiday in a chilled and receptive state of mind. Even if it’s just a talk at a library you can go up and talk to the speaker and ask if they’d read your stuff. If they say they will, when you send it in you’ll be able to say it’s requested material and remind them where you met. And you learn so much by just hearing other writers chat – not just about writing but about publishing. Invaluable.
Thanks, that’s helpful advice and something that I wouldn’t necessarily have considered.
What’s on your agenda for 2013? Is it going to be a busy year for you and what are the highlights that you are looking forward to the most?
Busy is my usual state. I’ll have a new book out in November 2013, Is This Love?, which I’m polishing now. I expect to have monthly columns in Writers’ Forum, work with students and competition entrants, give talks and workshops, attend conferences and try and sell some short stories and other writing. I’m really looking forward to the RT Booklovers’ Convention in Kansas City, too.
And something I think will be quite wonderful – I’m leading a week-long residential course in Umbria, Italy 3-10 July for Arte Umbria. Poggiolame is a private estate in the heart of the Italian countryside and accommodation’s in a big country house with a pool. Food, drink and extensive tuition are included and I just can’t wait. There are a few places left so anyone who’s interested can see my bit of the programme here.
Can I take you back to your very first novel? What inspired you to begin writing and did it come naturally?
I’ve never really stopped writing since school – although not much of it got down on paper when my children were small. I always thought that somehow, someday, I’d be a writer. I wrote two novels when the youngest of my children reached pre-school age and I’ve never enjoyed writing anything more. But that’s because I knew nothing and rambled on, writing down daydreams. Realising that publishers couldn’t get rid of these manuscripts quickly enough so I needed education, I embarked upon a correspondence course – what we call distance learning, these days, the same sort of course I teach on for the London School of Journalism. Having read that it would help catch the eye of publishers of novels if I had a record of around twenty short stories sold to national newsstand magazines, I concentrated on those. I’d sold 87 plus a serial by the time I sold my first novel, Uphill All the Way, so I was a bit behind schedule.
I used to think I was weird because I put my thoughts and daydreams into a narrative form in my head, including all the ‘he said/she said’ tags. Then I met other writers and realised that I wasn’t weird – just inhabited.
‘Inhabited’ I like that! Those times when you feel your thoughts aren’t your own…. ha! ha!
I’ve lifted a few comments from some of the reviews you have – ‘characters leap off the page’; ‘unputdownable’; ‘must read’; ‘phenomenal’; ‘real people – dire situations’; ‘hooked from the first page’. Honest answer required here – when you launched that first book and your future lay before you, what was your dream? Have you already achieved it?
No, I’d like to see my books sell in greater numbers but the competition is hot and there are a lot of good writers out there. I’m happier artistically – for want of a better word – with the content of my books, although I hope I continue to develop and improve, of course.
Last, but not least, the book of the moment! How long did it take to write and can you tell us a little bit about it…
How many ways can one woman love?
When Tamara Rix’s sister Lyddie is involved in a hit-and-run accident that leaves her in need of constant care, Tamara resolves to remain in the village she grew up in. Tamara would do anything for her sister, even sacrifice a long-term relationship.
But when Lyddie’s teenage sweetheart Jed Cassius returns to Middledip, he brings news that shakes the Rix family to their core. Jed’s life is shrouded in mystery, particularly his job, but despite his strange background, Tamara can’t help being intrigued by him.
Can Tamara find a balance between her love for Lyddie and growing feelings for Jed, or will she discover that some kinds of love just don’t mix?
It’s a book about different types of love. Tamara not leaving Lyddie is because of love, not duty. She has trouble getting this over to boyfriend Max, who, consequently, exits the book quite early.
Jed took me by surprise. He doesn’t have a qualification to his name so how did he manage to get a great job with a luxurious apartment? Why is Tamara attracted to him and suspicious of him in equal parts? (I began to ‘get’ Jed when he kicked someone off their chair in a pub. It’s the little things, isn’t it …?)
The book’s currently with my beta readers and has to be in in March for editing to begin, but my publisher has seen a draft and is enthusiastic – which is a fantastic feeling.
Well, it’s been an absolute delight talking to you Sue. You are an inspiration for many and a well-loved author. I hope 2013 is an amazing year for you!
Thank you! loveahappyending.com is a wonderful and successful site and I wish you all a happy and healthy year. (A little wealth wouldn’t hurt, either.)
Well, I say with confidence we’ll need to work on the wealth (ha! ha!) but we are also working on a brand new loveahappyending.com - LAUNCHING TOMORROW, 17 FEB 2013 AT 6AM GMT.
Loveahappyending Lifestyle is an online magazine with a downloadable emag version coming out three times a year! It’s going to be packed with lots of articles on all sorts of lifestyle topics, as well as book reviews and book launches. Featuring contributors from the UK, US and Canada. We are also having some wonderful, and very talented, guests popping along to contribute. Oh, looking at the list I can see Sue Moorcroft! Guess we’ll be welcoming you back in the not too distant future. Good luck at the RoNA’s – we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed!
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