Today I’m pleased to welcome Sue Shepherd to the blog. Sue is author of Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? and her latest novel, Love Them and Leave Them was published by Corazon on 27 September 2016.
Sue kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Love Them and Leave Them.
Love Them and Leave Them is a story about love, loss and possibilities. In the first chapter Ed has a decision to make. He assumes it’s insignificant and makes it in a heartbeat. However, in actual fact, that decision proves to be pivotal.
The book then moves forward six years and the reader sees the affect his decision had on his twenty-something daughter, Jessica. It’s a parallel lives story, showing two possible outcomes.
2. What inspired the book?
It’s actually quite a sad story. I was reading about a woman who swerved to avoid a bird in the road. She collided with a telegraph pole and was very badly injured. I read about how her paralysis impacted on not only her life but that of her family, and I felt terrible for them all. It really got me thinking, she must desperately wish she could go back and do things differently. From there, a story developed in my head about a man making a very similar decision and what affect his choice might have on his loved ones, in particular his daughter.
3. How much research do you have to undertake when writing your novels? Do you plan all of the story or see where the words take you?
I do almost no planning in advance. I’ve written three books now and I can honestly say I had no idea how any of them were going to end until I was well over half way through. For me, knowing the whole story at the start would be stifling. I much prefer to put my characters in a situation and see how they cope. Watching the story unfold before you, is like reading a book you really enjoy, only so much more exciting. I realise not everyone will agree with me, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with plotting, just that it’s not for me. Once I’ve completed the first draft, I write a timeline and make sure everything makes sense and check all my characters are where they should be. I did have some research to do for Love Them and Leave Them, because I decided to make one of my characters a barrister, and then realised I wasn’t too familiar with the law. Fortunately, I know people who worked in law previously and their knowledge, combined with Google, helped to make the story as realistic as possible.
4. Love Them and Leave Them is your second novel, after Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? What surprised you about the novel writing process?
Sometimes, people who don’t enjoy writing, say to me, ‘How can you write a whole book. It just seems too many words.’ And, I suppose, previously, I might have thought the same. But, if you break it down, it’s not as intimidating as you’d suppose. As I said in the last question, you begin by putting your characters into a situation and watching them wriggle their way out of it, or further into it, as the case may be. Those one hundred thousand words plus merely represents a series of situations. I’m lucky that my characters speak to me often, so I’ve never really struggled to decide what’s going to happen next. I even found myself hinting at a secret from the past, and not even known what that secret was. I just trusted that when it came time to reveal it, the character would let me know – which, I’m glad to say, they did.
So, I suppose the thing that surprises me about the novel writing process is how it’s not as daunting as you’d think. If you’re in tune with your characters and you talk to them, they’ll practically write it for you!
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I’m lucky that I live on the beautiful Isle of Wight, where, much of my free time is spent walking our 2-year-old standard poodle, Forrest. He really does have a pretty idyllic life here. He’s either running along a beach or digging in the mud in the local copse.
Also, once a month I meet up with other members of my local writing group and we have a good old chin wag in a coffee shop. We all find the meetings help us to focus, and if anyone has a problem or a query, the group are nearly always able to help. The members of The Wight Fair Writers and Artists Circle are a great bunch.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
I’m going to choose The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger. Possibly not the most original choice, but an honest one. I think it’s the book I’ve read most frequently (excluding my own work.) I’m a real lover of time travel as a theme, there’s just something about all the possibilities that make it so exciting. The Time Traveler’s Wife is very clever and I love how the first time Clare meets Henry is not the first time Henry meets Clare. Mindboggling!
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?
Interesting! I don’t have a question that I’ve been waiting to be asked, but, I’ve given it a little bit of thought and there is something I’m rather proud of, so I’m going to turn that into a question.
Which author have you been most pleased to find one of your books sharing an Amazon page with? The answer to this is Jilly Cooper. (Screenshot below.)
I remember reading Jilly’s novels in my 20s and becoming lost in her world. I was smitten with Rupert Campbell-Black and everything he represented. To find my first novel, ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?’ sharing a page with her new novel last year was a very proud moment indeed.
About the book:
Six years ago, Jessica’s dad made a split-second decision that changed her life forever …
Now, twenty-something Jessica has a successful career, loving boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home.
But in a parallel world, Jessica’s dad made another choice and everything turned out differently …
Now, twenty-something Jessie is stuck in a job with no prospects, with an unreliable boyfriend, Chris; her dreams never fulfilled.
Can Jessie gain the confidence to get her life back on track? And will Jessica lose everything she cares about because of one stupid mistake?
Whichever decision Jessica’s dad makes, the same people are destined to come into her life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the mistakes of the past.
(Image and synopsis from Amazon)
About the author:
Sue Shepherd writes contemporary romance and enjoys creating novels with heart, laughs and naughtiness. She doesn’t pull any punches when choosing her subjects, but manages to handle her characters’ challenging situations with sensitivity and humour.
Her debut novel ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?’ was published by Corazon Books in March 2015. It reached the top 10 UK Kindle chart, and also topped the romantic comedy, contemporary romance and humour charts. It became available in paperback on Amazon.UK in November 2015.
Sue’s second novel ‘Love Them and Leave Them’ was published in September 2016.
Sue lives on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle. Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the sea-side and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!
Twitter – @thatsueshepherd
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/SueShepherdWrites