Name Sue Watson
Where are you from
I was born and brought up in Manchester, then in my twenties I swung by London for a little while until I was ‘rescued’ by a knight on a white charger. He swept me off my feet to beautiful Worcestershire where the hills are alive with the sound of music … or something like that.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Well, it’s all a bit secret at the moment because my next book is going to be slightly different. I’m going for less ‘hilarious romcom’ and more ‘heartbreak with humour’ – it’s a BIG romance with lots of warmth and tears and I’m very excited about it.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I did English lit at university and my first ‘real’ job was as a journalist. I worked for national newspapers and magazines in London in the 90’s which I loved, and then went on to become a TV producer with the BBC. Consequently, I’ve always had a career that involves writing, but fiction was a revelation because finally I could decide what happens in the end! About eight years ago I started to write a novel – I didn’t know what would happen or if it would even be published, but in 2011 it was. Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes became a best-seller, sold to other countries and went on to reach number 1 on the amazon kindle charts in Italy.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Yesterday, when I sent in my latest manuscript to my editor and realized I now have to start thinking about the next one. Oh it’s full-time then!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was inspired by events in my own life, struggling with a career, children, a marriage, so it was like therapy. But Love, Lies and Lemon Cake was the book that I was driven to write; It’s about Faye, a woman over forty who works as a hairdresser in a dead end job with a dead-end husband called Craig who’s a plumber. Craig loves his work and is far more interested in water pipes and combi-boilers than he is in his wife – so when she gets some attention from a new face in town she has some decisions to make. I laughed and I cried as I wrote this book – and judging from the wonderful messages I get on my FB page it speaks to lots of women out there.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes I suppose so. I think my trademark is mainly humour, and as someone who sees the funny side in most things I find it hard not to turn something into comedy.
But I also write about darker themes, loneliness, disappointment, disillusion, and just how difficult it can to be a woman of a certain age in the 21st century. I always like to add a sparkle of optimism and hope too because we all need to believe in fairy tales sometimes.
Fiona: How did you come up with your titles?
Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes just came to me one day when I was having afternoon tea with friends – we were all talking about diets while eating fairy cakes and a title was born! One of my chapter headings in Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes was Love, Lies and Lemon Cake – and I knew one day I would write that book. Other titles are ones I come up with along with my publisher where we play around with the different elements of the novel and try and shoe-horn some alliteration in where we can.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
If I had to choose one message for all my novels it would be ‘It’s never too late… live your dream whatever it might be.’
Fiona: How much of your books are realistic ?
I think they are very realistic because many of the characters and the situations are based on events in the lives of people I know, or of my own experiences.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I love Renita D’Silva, who writes so beautifully and eloquently – often about India and its people. I have never been to India, it’s somewhere I would love to go to – until then I will continue to read Renita’s wonderful novels.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Now I do. I was still working part-time in TV and PR work to support my writing after I left the BBC, but last year I was able to devote all my time to writing, which is a dream come true.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My last book was ‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off’ and I am happy with how it turned out, but a year on who knows how I will feel? Having now written 7 books I sometimes have an idea for a book I wrote two years ago and think ‘damn,’ I wish I’d thought of that line/character/ending instead.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Yes – but until my editor has had her wicked way and my publisher has revealed it I can only share the title; It’s going to be called ‘We’ll Always Have Paris,’ and it’s out in June in ebook, July in paperback.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging thing is to actually make myself sit down and do it. I love writing and I am very lucky to be able to do this for a living – but most of the time I have to drag myself to my desk. It can be quite daunting, especially at the beginning when all you have is a blank page and a deadline – but once I start writing I get carried away and can’t stop. I LOVE it!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have lots of favourite authors, but I particularly love Jen Lancaster’s writing. I just think she’s hilarious and is the only author who can make me laugh out loud – ‘Such a Pretty Fat,’ is just brilliant.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not at the moment, but I would love to and who knows I might in the future? The Seychelles would be nice…?
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn such a lot every time I write a book. It really is an ongoing process and I am lucky enough to be working with brilliant editors and a brilliant publisher who all teach me so much every time they edit my books.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
To follow on from the last point, every time you write remember it’s a learning process, so even if you don’t get published for a while it isn’t wasted. If you’re prepared to take criticism, and advice, I promise your writing will improve. It’s a cliché – but also I have to say – never give up. I have hundreds of rejection letters from agents and publishers and had some very disappointing and despairing times, before I was finally published, but I kept on. Even after my first couple of books were published I was lost for a little while, but then I found Bookouture who have published my last four books, they have been wonderful. I now have a fantastic agent – Hannah Ferguson and a brilliant publisher in Oliver Rhodes – I work with amazing people and sometimes have to pinch myself!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes – do get in touch and say hello! I’m on FB Twitter and you can contact me through my website too. 😀
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes, it was The Magic Faraway Tree, I loved it – couldn’t wait to see what world was on top of the tree next time.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Amy Poehler makes me laugh. Donald Trump makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Bette Davis because she is the original diva! I love strong women who don’t take any nonsense and do it with glamour and style – my last book ‘Bella’s Christmas Bake Off’ is all about a diva-ish TV chef and she’s just awful, but I love her.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
‘That was fun.’
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Baking and watching box sets when I really should be writing.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Parks and Rec (have all the series on DVD and am on 3rd time around) Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Affair, The Office US and UK. I love going to the cinema but haven’t seen a great film for a while.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Cake, pink, James Taylor
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I have always wanted to be an actress – it’s never too late.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
My Twitter is @suewatsonwriter