Thursday, September 8, 2011
Writer Spotlight: Sue Watson
On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.
This week, I'm really excited to welcome the very lovely SUE WATSON into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...
When did you first decide that you wanted to write? (Was it a Damascus-esque flash or a slow burn?)
It was a very slow burn. When I was nine I had a wonderful English Teacher (Mr Winstanley) who would read out my stories to the class which I found mortifying, but at the same time encouraging. When he made me promise to send him a copy of my first book, the seed was planted. Writing that book has always been on my life’s ‘to do,’ list but I had to go through a career in journalism and TV first... life got in the way.
What interests you as a writer?
The fascinating thing about writing is that you get to know yourself a little more and having written several short stories, I’m currently writing my second novel, planning my third – and themes are merging. I wanted to write a lyrical, beautiful, soulful book that would make readers cry – but I soon realised couldn’t write a completely serious novel if I tried. Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes is essentially a book of humour and heartbreak - I have a strong sense of humour which has always pulled me through difficult times and Stella my heroine is pretty much the same. I also think food and wine (particularly cake consumption - obviously!) can say a lot about a character and create a mood or an event within a narrative.... well, that’s my excuse for eating my own body weight in cake and chocolate while writing.
Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?
Yes I sit at my desk at 9 every morning until 5 every evening and write without stopping. Ha... I wish! I have a tendency to be rather low on self-discipline and it only takes one text or call from a friend, a fascinating item on This Morning or an invite for coffee and I am lost. I abandon my desk to head off for TV, retail/lunch/coffee and other, equally urgent matters. Most mornings I make packed lunches, see everyone off the premises, start my diet, watch Jeremy Kyle, think about writing, drink more coffee ... eat toast...text, tweet, go off my diet .... eat cake....then read someone’s fascinating online blog or tweet for too long while watching daytime TV. By about noon I drag myself from tweeting/online retail/ Heat Magazine and tell myself it was all good research. After a substantial lunch of chunky Kit-Kats I’m ready for work - I am very strict in the afternoons though and always manage to squeeze some writing in between Loose Women and light snacks.
Which authors inspire you and why?
I enjoy all kinds of books but one of my favourites is crime writing. Ian Rankin, Joy Fielding and Sophie Hannah are favourites. I love the way Rankin’s Rebus is such a ‘real’ character and I love the way the minutiae of his life is present in the narrative. His drink of choice, his record collection his likes and dislikes all create a very real and believable person. I am also a great fan of American writer Jen Lancaster too (she’s so hilarious I can even forgive her for being a Republican!) she’s smart, at times darkly funny and writes honestly about - among other things - weight struggles and TV addiction (more themes emerging here?) Jen Lancaster also procrastinates and avoids writing by watching TV... I’m convinced we were separated at birth.
Another inspiring novelist set me on my latest path is Miranda Dickinson. The Terrible Truth About Tanya Travis the novel I’m currently writing, is set partly in Nepal - I love the idea of this magical, mysterious place and was compelled to write about it. Initially I doubted that I could achieve the sights and atmosphere of somewhere I’d never visited. I then recalled a favourite book, Fairytale of New York, which was wonderful – and apparently the author had never been there. This inspired me to go ahead and write the book I wanted to and set it in the place it had to be. One day I will visit Nepal, until then I’ll live there with my characters and enjoy the views of the Himalayas from my kitchen table.
What are the best things about being a writer?
Being able to escape into another life, meeting new and fascinating people, inhabiting another world and having dangerous affairs, all from my kitchen table. Oh and watching Jeremy Kyle every day!
And the worst?
Watching Jeremy Kyle every day and the fact that you can never leave work. Anyone who writes will know you are actually working 24/7 because you can’t abandon your characters and are always looking for stories, settings, perspectives and answers.
Tell me about your new book.
Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes is all about Stella, a forty-something woman on the wrong side of twelve stone, struggling with age, weight, marriage, motherhood, a media career and a nasty boss. These combined ingredients just simmer away until something cataclysmic happens in Stella’s life and she has to consider a different future than the one she’d always envisaged. The book is also about cake – with some of Stella’s favourite recipes included in the book.
Do you have a dream project you would love to write?
I wish I could say I’d like to write a groundbreaking, life-changing feminist tract - but I couldn’t! If I’m honest I would love to write an outrageous Hollywood Hills bestselling bonkbusting blockbuster! I want to dip blingy toes into azure pools of the rich and famous and write about what it feels like to be internationally loved, glamorous and beautiful with men falling at one’s feet. This would of course take place in a white stucco mansion with sweeping staircases, priceless art its own gift wrapping room (darling you’re no-one without a gift-wrapping room in LA!). If readers of Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes want more of Stella – I also have plans for a sequel and something rather fabulous for our heroine – but I don’t want to give anything away so I’m not telling yet.
What would be your top three tips for aspiring writers?
1. Never give up. I abandoned my career with the BBC to write and went through many rejections before discovering Rickshaw, a new publisher who at the time was looking for new writers. We are the perfect fit.
2. Write everything down. Even when life and writing hurts and you can’t take any more - write about it - channel your feelings into words on the page. One day you may use them – or not – but either way you will feel better – I promise.
3. Be ‘out there’. All it takes is one person to spot potential. Send your writing everywhere in any form, publish short stories online, tweet, facebook and blog about yourself and your life – just make sure your work is seen.
Anything else you'd like to say?
Well, firstly thank you for having me. Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes is published on September 8th and it’s like a dream come true but it’s a strange feeling that I can only liken to pregnancy. I’ve waited so long and I’m excited about the new baby, but at the same time I’m very scared!
Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes is out on 8th September and available from online retailers, bookshops and Amazon. You can find out more about Sue at her blog. Many thanks to Sue for braving the Writer Spotlight!
If you would like to be considered for a future Writer Spotlight interview, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.