Today I’m pleased to welcome Sharon Maas to the blog. Sharon is the author of Of Marriageable Age, The Small Fortune’s of Dorothea Q and the Amazon best selling The Secret Life of Winne Cox and her latest novel, The Sugar Planter’s Daughter was published by Bookouture on 11 July 2016.
Sharon kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Sugar Planter’s Daughter.
The Sugar Planter’s Daughter is Book Two of a trilogy called The Quint Chronicles. It continues the story of Winnie Cox, the daughter a British planter family in British Guiana who breaks loose from her privileged roots to fall in love with, and then marry, a black man from a poor area. Determined to make the marriage work, Winnie willingly eschews the trappings of her background and adapts to a simpler life; she supports her husband in the struggle for freedom of the oppressed underclass. Her younger sister, Yoyo, however, is both hostile and jealous; for in spite of her lowered status, Winnie seems to have the very things that Yoyo lacks: a loving husband, and sons. As Winnie’s family grows, so does Yoyo’s ire, and when she finally strikes she leaves deep wounds behind her. Wounds that can never be healed.
2. What inspired the book and the Quint Chronicles?
Winnie’s story is actually based on my grandmother, who was also a white woman who married a black man in the very early 20th century. It was her wedding photo that made me start wondering about the circumstances, and how difficult it must have been back then. An aunt gave me the bare bones of Granny’s life (like Winnie, she had eight sons and yearned for a daughter) and I simply filled in the gaps with my imagination.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel?
I don’t plan at all! In this case, I did know the bare bones, as it was based on a true story, but I have been known to sit down at a blank screen and write a novel from scratch, not having a single idea of where it would take me. It’s not as crazy as it seems; there is a method to this kind of writing and over the years I’ve become more fluent at it. With The Sugar Planter’s Wife, I vaguely knew eher the story would go but had no outline written down. I just sat down and started writing. The first draft took exactly three months to write (1st October to 31st December 2015) and it was the first time I ever felt confident enough to send in a first draft to my editor. It needed very little revision: just the filling out of certain scenes, and clarification where motives of the characters were unclear.
4. What did you discover about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?
The reason I started novel-writing so late in life (late forties) is because I honestly thought it was a difficult process that needed a lot of planning and plotting, and I knew I would never be able to do that. It’s just out of character. After reading a book that told me that stories are created in the subconscious mind, and that it was possible to learn to access this part of myself, that I had my lightbulb moment. Suddenly, I knew I could write, and a few years later I finished a novel that was published by HarperCollins.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I have a full-time job, and a second weekend-job, so there really isn’t much free time; what time I do have I spend reading or on the Internet (yes I am addicted!) I love nature – it relaxes me, brings me back to myself. And I love travelling. I go to India once a year where I stay at an Ashram and practice meditation. I also go to my home country of Guyana when I can.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
The One Book of my life is definitely the Indian epic, The Mahabharata. I’ve read various versions of it countless times, written my own version, and still haven’t read it in its entirety – it’s the longest epic in the world! So I would read that, and maybe learn Sanskrit to read it in the original… now there’s a lifelong task!
7. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
The question is: How would you cast a movie of the Quint Chronicles?
I would answer thus:
Archie Cox: Benedict Cumberbatch
Winnie Cox: (a young) Helena Bonham Carter (the way she was in A Room with a View). Or a young Kate Winslet.
George Quint: (a young) Denzel Washington
Yoyo Cox: (a young) Kristin Scott Thomas
Ruth Birnbaum: Meryl Streep
Thomas: (a young) Leonardo DiCaprio, or Brad Pitt
Uncle Jim: (an older, living) Robin Williams. So sad he can’t make it.
Auntie Dolly: Whoopie Goldberg
I think it would make a great movie, or two movies!
About the book:
A breathtaking and unforgettable story of a woman torn between her family and the man she loves.
1912, British Guiana, South America: Winnie Cox is about to marry George Quint, the love of her life. Born into a life of luxury and privilege on her father’s sugar plantation, Winnie has turned against her family by choosing to be with George – a poor black postman from the slums.
Winnie may be living in poverty, but she’s got what sister Johanna doesn’t have: a loving husband and a beautiful family. And despite Johanna running her family’s sugar plantation, Winnie will always be their mother’s favourite daughter, a bitter pill for Johanna to swallow.
Then Winnie’s son falls ill and she must travel to Venezuela desperate for a cure. With her sister away, Johanna finds herself increasingly drawn to George. But he only has eyes for Winnie. Johanna, stung by the rejection and the fragile state of her own marriage, is out for revenge – no matter how devastating the consequences.
A compelling and evocative story of betrayal, temptation and buried secrets that will captivate fans of Dinah Jefferies and Kate Furnivall.
(Image and synopsis from Amazon)