Welcome to another of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with contemporary, humorous fiction and chicklit author Suzie Tullett. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Suzie. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Suzie: I’m author Suzie Tullett, from Lancashire in the North of England. I’ve been married for almost 25 years and have two very gorgeous sons; one of whom now lives in Holland and one who lives just outside London. Prior to writing novels I was a scriptwriter by profession, although in the early days of my writing career I was also lucky enough to have some poetry and short stories published, too. Up until recently I’d been spending a lot of time out in Greece. The landscape there is absolutely stunning, and the culture and history of the place fascinating. It provided a great setting for ‘Little White Lies and Butterflies’.
Morgen: I’ve never been, Cyprus is as close as I have got, but it looks beautiful. You mentioned ‘Little White Lies and Butterflies’, genre do you generally write and what have you had published to-date?
Suzie: I write contemporary, humorous fiction and chicklit. I’ve already mentioned the short stories and poetry I’ve had published, but I’m also due to have my second novel sent out into the world. It’s due for release on the 1st August and I’m so excited to hear what readers think, you wouldn’t believe.
Morgen: Oh, I would. 🙂 It would be great to learn how the launch went, perhaps you’d like to come back for an author spotlight later in the year. What do you think of eBooks?
Suzie: When it comes to eBooks, as long as people are reading that’s the main thing. And yes, I do have an e-reader myself, I have a Kindle. I find that living between two countries it’s ideal for keeping the weight of my luggage down. And as I often say, it’s like having a library in my handbag.
Morgen: They do say that e-Readers, mobiles etc have got more people reading so that can only be a good thing. I have 400+ novels on my iPad, plus I get to Facebook and play Word Drop on it. I do love technology. ‘Little White Lies and Butterflies’ is published with Safkhet, have you self-published? If so, what lead to you going your own way?
Suzie: Although professionals in the traditional arm of publishing felt my first novel, Going Underground, was well-written and had some great identifiable characters, they also felt it would be a difficult book to market. It didn’t slot into one particular genre quite a smoothly as they’d have liked. So rather than have it languishing in a drawer, when Mirador offered to partnership publish the book instead, I thought why not? Thankfully, the traditionalists’ concerns proved unfounded as readers are still enjoying it to this day. However, that’s not to say I didn’t take their feedback on board; as a first time novelist I felt it important to gain as much knowledge as I could. Which is probably why this time round I am, indeed, being traditionally published.
Morgen: Ah yes, the old cross-genre pickle. I think most books have blurred boundaries; thrillers often have romance for example. Do you have a favourite of your stories or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Suzie: I have to say I love all my characters. In ‘Little White Lies and Butterflies’ though, Lydia was fantastic to write. Because of her personality, every time she finds herself in yet another dilemma, instead of getting herself out of it she just keeps making things worse. And I love how Sam is able to use these predicaments to his own advantage – the relationship between the two of them is hilarious. Then there’s Lydia’s family, plus the Fatolitis… Of course, when you read the book, you’ll understand why I’m finding it hard to choose.
As for actors should it be made into a film, I honestly couldn’t say. I’m still enjoying it in book form!
Morgen: Maybe your readers will tell you. Which authors did you read when you were younger and did they shape you as a writer?
Suzie: I read anything and everything growing up – from Enid Blyton’s ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ collection when I was little, to Virginia Andrew’s ‘Flowers in The Attic’ Saga as a teenager. And although I can’t say any of these authors necessarily shaped me as a writer, they did instil in me the desire to write.
Morgen: That’s great. I read a lot of Stephen King (under the covers with a torch and I blame him for me wearing glasses) but I don’t write horror and only came to writing (half by accident) in my late 30s. Do you manage to write every day, and do you plot your stories or just get an idea and run with it?
Suzie: I certainly try and write every day, yes. As for plotting, writing by the seat of my pants would be way too scary, so I always outline. That’s not to say I rigidly stick to any plan though; characters very often have a way of surprising their authors by wanting to go off in a different direction. So outlines do tend to change.
Morgen: I love it when they do that. Do you do a lot of editing or research?
Suzie: Definitely, both these are important when it comes to good novel writing.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Suzie: I really enjoy writing in first person point of view; it enables both me and my readers to get right into the protagonist’s head, ensuring we stay there. Third person is great when I’m telling a story involving more than one lead character. But as for second person! I had to follow your link to ascertain exactly what it is. Personally, I agree with the commentator who points out it would be great for building suspense. However, I think it might begin to grate on me as a reader after a while. Not so much in a short story, but definitely in something like a full-length novel.
Morgen: Second is my favourite but even I don’t write much more than flash fiction in it. I might try a novella one day but it’s tiring to write, and read, so it would be a risk, although not many people have done it so that’s a challenge. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Suzie: To be honest, I feel so lucky being able to write full-time that I love all aspects of my writing life. What has come as a very pleasant surprise though, is the high level of support given within the writing world.
Morgen: Isn’t it great. I don’t think it’s like any other industry. I have compares us to learner drivers; everyone knows how hard it is to ‘pass’. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Suzie: I’m going to sound really boring here, but I’d invite my two sons and daughter-in-law. Not only are we all so busy these days, we’re very often not even in the same country. Of course, this means we don’t have anywhere near as much time together as I’d like, so for us all around the same dinner table would be fantastic.
Morgen: Not boring at all. My father would be one of my three (Roald Dahl and Kate Atkinson would be my other three). Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Suzie: When I’m in Greece, I facilitate a week-long ‘Introduction to Creative Writing’ course that runs periodically. It’s such fun and I’ve met some lovely people along the way and passing on the skills I’ve developed as a writer is my way of paying it forward.
Morgen: That’s exactly how I feel. I’m teaching (eight courses!) locally from January and I can’t wait. 🙂 Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Suzie: As a scriptwriter, when I decided to have a go at novel writing I found them to be very different animals and as such, I realised if I was going to write a book worth reading I probably needed a bit of guidance. So although I don’t necessarily have any writing-related websites or books I could recommend, I can certainly suggest the novel writing course run by the London School of Journalism. Despite my professional writing experience, I found it invaluable. http://www.lsj.org/web/novel.php
Saying that, they also run courses for those interested in other forms of creative writing like short stories and poetry.
Morgen: I have heard good things about the LSJ. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Suzie: I think forums and networking sites are great for picking up tips and ‘meeting’ other authors and readers. And with quite a few of them out there, there’s something for everyone whatever genre or medium we work in.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Suzie: At the moment I’m busy with the marketing and promotion of ‘Little White Lies and Butterflies’. Did I tell you how excited I am about its release? I’m also developing my next novel – no title for it as yet, but it’s another romantic comedy that I hope to have finished come the end of the year.
Morgen: You may have mentioned it, and I don’t blame you. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Suzie: I have a website http://suzietullett.com and you can find my author page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Suzie-Tullett-Author/221204154583599 You can also follow me on Twitter @SuzieTullett. So please drop by any of these and say hello, as I’d love to hear from you.
Morgen: I have. 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Suzie: Just that if any of your readers would like to check out my books, you can find them worldwide on Amazon and in any good bookshop.
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Suzie: I’d just like to say thanks for having me here today, Morgen. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Morgen: You’re very welcome, Suzie. I’m delighted you could join me and look forward to chatting again.
I then invited Suzie to include an excerpt of Little White Lies and Butterflies:
Following the incident at the beach, I had been hoping to avoid any future contact with Sam the Climber, yet here he was, larger than life. Not that I was sure which had bothered me the most—the football in the face, or the slightly unnerving eye contact. Neither of which I wanted to experience ever again and I wondered if I should just get up and leave while the going was good. But my drink still hadn’t arrived and the last thing I wanted to do was look rude in of front Efthimeos. I had to think of something else and quick.
Grabbing my book from my bag, I opened it up and used it to shield my face. This should do it! However, just to make sure I began sinking lower and lower into my seat, until I was horizontal to the point I was almost on the floor. Now he’ll never notice me.
I wondered if I should take a peek just to check on his whereabouts. But before I got the chance, a drink landing on the table in front of me caught my eye instead. It wasn’t the simple glass of coke I’d originally ordered, I further noticed, but some fancy, fandangle cocktail.
I stared at the umbrellas, the tinsel and the cherries on sticks, not even daring to look up.
Please let it be Efthimeos … Please let it be Efthimeos … I thought, finally plucking up the courage. Lifting my gaze I realised that unless my host had undergone some sort of superfast extreme makeover in the last few minutes, the game was up.
‘There you go,’ said Sam, indicating to the heavily adorned concoction. ‘Not just my apology, but as requested, the most expensive drink on the menu.’
I put my book down and began the difficult task of hauling myself up into a more vertical alignment. ‘I didn’t request it,’ I replied ungratefully. ‘In fact, if I remember rightly, I said such a purchase wasn’t necessary.’
My unwanted guest just carried on standing there, for some reason refusing to see this as his cue to leave—choosing instead to raise an eyebrow. He nodded to the drink. ‘Well,’ he asked. ‘Aren’t you going to at least try it?’
I considered his request for a moment, deciding it was a small price to pay if it meant getting rid of the man. And, duly picking up the glass and locating the straw from among all the flora and fauna, I took a long hard draw. ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph!’ I spluttered, all at once choking and coughing. ‘What the hell’s in it? Meths?’
Sam laughed. ‘A bit of everything,’ he said. He plonked his beer down on the table and took a seat, uninvited.
‘Well excuse me if I don’t share your amusement,’ I replied, realising that was the second time that day he’d tried to kill me. ‘And I don’t remember asking you to join me either.’
There was something of a twinkle in his eye and thanks to his air of confidence I could see that he was one of those men used to getting his own way when it came to members of the opposite sex. However, I’d met his type before and knew there was no way he’d ever come across the likes of me. Such a sparkle might’ve been enough to make any other girl go weak at the knees, but unlike theirs, my kneecaps were made of sterner stuff.
and a synopsis of Little White Lies and Butterflies:
A child of the nineties, Lydia Livingston is different. The last thing she’s ever wanted is to be superwoman; she knows first-hand that ‘having it all’ isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. As far as she’s concerned, when it comes to job versus family, it’s a definite case of one or the other. And whilst most women her age have spent years climbing the corporate ladder, she’s made a career out of bagging her perfect man. At almost thirty and still single, Lydia wonders if she’d made the right choice all those years ago. And realising the time has come to take stock, she goes against her family’s wishes and banishes herself off to a distant land – all in the hope of finding a new direction. At least that’s the plan. But Lydia Livingston isn’t just different, she’s misunderstood. A fact she knows all too well. So when the totally unsuitable Sam comes along, she decides to tell a little white lie, re-inventing herself as a professional chef – not exactly the best new identity to come up with for a woman who can’t even cook. Of course, the last thing she expects is for him to find out the truth and start blackmailing her. Let alone find herself roped into catering for a local wedding. But with things going from bad to worse, her madder than mad family also turn up in something of a surprise visit, intent on celebrating a birthday she’s no intentions of celebrating!
Suzie Tullett is a full time writer, lucky enough to live between the UK and Greece. And when she’s not tapping away on the computer creating her own literary masterpiece, she usually has her head in someone else’s. She can also be found via:
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