Thursday, 30 April 2015

Guest Interview With Sue Shepherd

I’m delighted to invite author Sue Shepherd to my blog today. Her debut novel, a romantic comedy called Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? was published by Corazon Books in March 2015.

Hi Sue and thank you for being the first guest on my blog. Can you start by telling us what your new book is about?

Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? is about three extremely different people whose lives collide. Their initial link is that they each have a secret they’re keeping from the people closest to them. Steph is a harrassed mum who’s considering an affair with her children’s sexy headmaster. Penny is not only living with OCD, but she’s also trying to live with a sad secret from her childhood. And Mike is a vicar who’s being blackmailed for his secret, although things are not all they seem. In addition, all three are being watched over by a team of guardian angels, who try, but don’t always succeed, to steer them in the right direction and help move their lives along. Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? is in essence a comedy and I’m assured it is very funny, but it also deals with some pretty serious issues, hopefully in a sensitive way.

How long did it take you to write? Were you able to write it all in one go or did you have to take any long breaks from writing?

I took huge breaks! My life as a busy, working wife and mum often took precedence and, before I knew it, sometimes months had gone past and my characters had remained frozen on the page, awaiting my return to the keyboard. However, they refused to be left indefinitely. Often nagging me in the depth of night or when I was driving, they would tell me what was happening in their individual stories and I’d be compelled to ‘get back to it’. All in all, from the day I first had the idea for the book to the day my publisher accepted my first draft was close to seven years. I sincerely hope my next book can be finished a tad quicker!

Have you got a favourite character and why?

If I’m completely honest, and why wouldn’t I be, I’d have to say that Steph is my favourite because, despite my loud protests that she isn’t actually ‘me’, she is very much like me. Often Steph’s behaviour or her thought process is very similar to mine or that of my friends. She is a busy mum who, momentarily, loses sight of her good fortune and fails to see what a gift she has in her family. I think we’re all a little guilty of that from time to time. However, I do have a soft spot for Penny too. Her story is harrowing and I find her character most endearing. Hopefully, she’ll bring out the protective side in my readers.

Did a particular scene make you either laugh out loud or cry when you were writing it?

I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a scene where someone dies and one of the angels supports them. I cry every time I read that scene (and I’ve read it a good few times!)

Do you have a strict writing regime or do you just fit it in when you can?

Sadly my life is just too scatty to allow any sort of writing regime, especially since the arrival of our four month old puppy. The characters in my latest novel wait forlornly for me to get back to writing and I currently make what time I can for them.

Have you been on any writing courses? In what way did they help you?

Back in 2007 I went on a couple of weekly creative writing courses with the novelist, Sophie King. Those two hours a week were incredibly enjoyable. During that period, when I had small children who were pretty demanding of my time, I relished the chance to simply explore the writer in me. Probably the most important thing I learnt from the classes was the fact that the reader may plan to put the book down at the end of the current chapter, but the writer’s mission is to make that impossible. I actually had my initial idea for Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? at one of the classes!

What are your future writing plans?

I’m working on my next book at the moment. It’s a story about parallel worlds, and explores how a fairly insignificant decision made by one person can change another person’s life immeasurably. I’m probably about a third of the way into it and I’m loving writing it (when I get the chance.) I just have to be sure to keep my wits about me so I don’t get the two parallel worlds confused!

What type of books do you enjoy reading?

As you can probably tell from the books I write, I like stories with a bit of a twist. I’m a great lover of parallel worlds, paradoxes and time travel. With these kinds of novels the possibilities are endless. I recently read Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and enjoyed it immensely; it was both intriguing and entertaining.

Do you think you’ve ever experienced the presence of an angel?

There are definitely times, particularly when I’m driving, when I make decisions and immediately question them. Only to discover, seconds later, that the choice I made was indeed a good one. These moments were the inspiration for Steph Stubbs and her horrendous driving habits. Whether those decisions were inspired by angels or just my sensible sub-conscience, I don’t know, but it would be nice to think there were angels watching over us. Quite a few of my friends, having read the book, say that they now often stop and wonder exactly who makes their decisions for them. It’s good to know that my book has provoked such deep thought.

Good luck with your next novel, Sue. Judging by the response to Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? your readers, myself included, are very much looking forward to reading more from you.

Thanks for having me, Ali. X

Read Doesn't Everyone Have a Secret?:

Visit Sue's website and read her entertaining blog:

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