Over to Sue…
What part of the world do you come from?
I live in Northamptonshire, England. Generations of my family were farmers and I can take a short trip to see the headstones of my great, great grandfather Thomas and his two wives in the graveyard of a village church. Thomas had twenty children – so I come from strong stock. I’m one of five sisters, so we were a large family by today’s standards and our council house in Northampton must have been rather crowded. But I didn’t notice at the time. We were a long way from open fields, so I found the green freedom I craved in a beautiful local park.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t think about that very much. Certainly not while I was at school. I discovered books when quite young and that gave me a glimpse into other people’s lives. I watched medical dramas on TV with my dad, and for a while I thought I might be a nurse. But that all changed when I read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and realised you could make up imaginary worlds. That really appealed to me. The idea of writing books myself was born then.
List three words to describe yourself?
It’s difficult to choose only three! (I’m tempted to begin with Airhead!) But here goes. Creative, Observant, Meticulous.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
Someone dreamy, introspective and unconventional and with anxiety issues at times, but who comes across as outgoing and fairly confident. I think Saoirse Ronan would do a good job. I love her acting and she has a very expressive face. Not that we look anything like each other!
If you had a super power, what would it be?
I would be able to shape-change into any person or animal. How exciting it would be to experience life through someone else’s eyes or to range over wild hillsides by moonlight and swim in crystal clear rivers and leap waterfalls! I’ll have to just write about doing that instead.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
It wasn’t until my sons started school that I began to write. My first effort was an historical novel set in the Iron-Age based around the remains of a nearby hillfort. It was never published, but did impress a literary agent enough to take me on as her client. It was still some years before I was published, but luckily the agency kept me on. I wrote a number of books for adults, which are now mostly out of print and then my agent pointed me towards a company who were looking for writers to contribute to the children’s series, Animal Ark. I wrote those as Lucy Daniels and then contributed to the Rainbow Magic series, as Daisy Meadows. My own series of Magic Kitten, Puppy, Ponies, and Bunny books for Puffin Books are written under my own name. I now use my own name for all my writing, whatever the genre or age of my readership.
When not writing I’m generally doing writing stuff. Reading, researching, working on plot details, visiting bookshops, doing author events and signings. Then there’s the business side, which I realised early on is really important to learn if I was serious about making my living from being a writer. Promoting your books and yourself can be very time consuming. Even traditionally published authors like myself, have to work at it these days. There’s truth in the saying, don’t work harder, work smarter.
Where does your inspiration come from for your books?
Inspiration’s all around us, we’re swamped by it these days. Writers and other artists, note something interesting and then begin digging down into the nuts and bolts of it. For example I read or heard somewhere that in medieval times, people had two sleeps every night. They woke in the middle of the night, did some work and went back to sleep. I found that fascinating. It immediately prompted questions. Who were these people? How they run their lives? Lots of fuel for a story or character development. It’s that extra focus that leads to an incident, fact or newspaper article morphing into the bones of a book.
Do you have a dedicated writing space?
I’m lucky to have a large room at the front of our house. I love spending time there surrounded by books and piles of notebooks. I have an office area, with a desktop PC and lots of bookcases. There’s a reading area with a comfy chair and table for visiting writer friends to chat all things books over coffee. I burn essential oils in a diffuser and like soft lighting. When I’m deep in a book, I hang my ‘writing in progress’ sign on the door, pull down the blind, and only admit kind people who bring me tea, biscuits and chocolate (in silence!)
Can you give us a brief excerpt from your latest novel?
Context: Second Skin is a dark fantasy novel about shape-changers. In this extract Aledra, a Drakkoni, one of a privileged race of dangerous beings is fleeing for her life. She’s being borne downriver by the tide on a stinking island of refuse. And is just about to encounter a person who will change her worldview forever…
Excerpt: Sitting up, Aledra encircled her bent knees and stared into space. The smaller of the two moons appeared from behind a cloud, sending silver light across the river. She caught a movement from the corner of her eye. A sleek dark head, moving in a straight line; some creature which appeared to be a strong swimmer. The rubbish floating in the water hid it from view for the space of two breaths. When she spotted it again it was closer and heading directly for her. A length of wood propelled by the tide spun into view. As it collided with the creature in the river, there came a thud of contact, followed by a gasp of pain and an accented voice raised in a curse.
Aledra leaped to her feet, but the figure was nowhere to be seen. With secondskin sight, she scanned the river’s cluttered expanse. Bubbles broke the surface and a body floated into view. It was face down, the limbs spread. In moments the injured person’s lungs would fill with water. It was none of her concern. She had her own problems.
She paused briefly, then shook her head. Grabbing a pile of old rope beside her, she fashioned one end into a noose and hurled it towards the swimmer.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I enjoy writing across the genres, so at present I’m working on a Gothic mystery/suspense, entitled Frozen Charlotte, which is set in Victorian Northamptonshire. It was inspired by the shoe trade for which the county’s famous. I also plan to write another book set in the wild and dangerous world of Second Skin, and a further novel featuring dark fairies and long-kept secrets to continue the story I began in We Other.
You can find out more about Sue, including her series of books for younger readers here:
To buy Sue’s latest book click here: http://mybook.to/SSkin
We Other, and her children’s series, Magic Kitten/Puppy/Ponies/ Bunny books are available on Amazon.
HUGE thanks to Sue for sharing those fun facts and the gripping excerpt (and WOW! Love the book covers). Be sure to click on the links to follow and support her.