Name : Susan Roebuck
Age : As old as the hills and a bit younger than the sky (but only by a few seconds)
Where are you from?
I’m from the UK but I live with my husband (who’s Portuguese) in Portugal.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I’ve always had itchy feet and so I’ve done quite a bit of travelling – I adore India (especially the Malabar Coast) and I’ve been to the ice of the Arctic off Svarlbard. But I love the United States. If I could, I’d live in a cabin in the Catskills, Upstate New York (preferably with someone who knows how to survive) and pretend I was back in the days of hippy Woodstock.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Not much because I’m writing. And when I’m writing that takes up all waking hours. My last novel (the third one, called Rising Tide which is a romantic suspense set in a small fishing village in Portugal) was published almost a year ago and since then I’ve been writing a new novel. But, as you no doubt gather, I’m a slow writer and tend to go like blazes for a while, then go back and delete it all!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I won a prize for a small book I wrote when I was 14. It was all about a village in the UK during WWII where an army training camp was set up. The villagers got all het up about it and tried to get rid of it. Since I wasn’t born, nor have any experience of WWII (let alone army training camps), the old adage that says: “write about what you know” doesn’t seem to apply.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still have my doubts, even after 3 published books.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The USA! Actually Perfect Score (romance suspense m/m – non explicit – and set in the 1960s) originally was set in the Catskills. It came after a holiday I had there when I fell in love with the place and the people – I met one who was into levitation. Where was I? Oh yes. As so happens with me, I upped the lads and moved them right across country until Perfect Score was no longer set in the Catskills but in Colorado (things never plan out as I expect them to). Until 2009 I never had time to write because I worked, but then I got sick and had to give up work and could then do my dream job of writing.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I think everyone does have a natural writing “voice”. If I do, then I’m not really aware of it but I must be careful not to get too “dark”.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
“Perfect Score” was because one of the main characters wrote a song (he was a musician) dedicated to the other main character and it was the title of the song (“my luck of the draw, my perfect score…”) “Hewhay Hall” (dark fiction, not exactly horror) is a play on words. Think of Hewhay backwards and see what you get? Not saying more, otherwise it’ll spoil the plot. “Rising Tide” is set in a small fishing village which struggles to survive and the title comes from the economics saying, “a rising tide lifts all ships”. My next one will probably be called “Forever Autumn” because my m/c is a ballerina and she dances to the Moody Blues’ song of the same name.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I always have a theme running through all my books: the fight against injustice, the rich against the poor, the strong against the weak. “Hewhay Hall” is about unsung heroes. I really hate anything that’s unfair (and that seems to be the way the world runs nowadays) and I’m not afraid to speak up about it.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
None of them are. I do tell my friends though that if they’re naughty, I’ll put them in a book. But I’ve yet to do that, although now I come to think about it….
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
They do say that to be a writer you have to read a lot. And I do. I probably get through three books a week on a regular basis. That’s a lot of reading and so I’ve probably, without being exactly conscious of it, had a lot of influence on various levels. One of my favorite books is Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake, a dark gothic novel, and it’s one I’ll read over and over. I wouldn’t say it has influenced me but I’m just so envious of the writing style and wish I could emulate it, but that’s not going to happen. I’d really like to write a paranormal book one day too – “Hewhay Hall” was on its way towards that.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I do like paranormal stories. I’ve just read Charlaine Harris’s Midnight Texas books and I like her not-so-obviously paranormal characters. On the surface they seem to be normal human beings but underneath there’s something different. And it’s not always spelled out so the characters are all very subtle and that’s just how I like it.
When I was a child I devoured the Narnia books and then the Lord of the Rings series. I think by now you can see the type of books I enjoy but, as far as I can see, they have nothing to do with the type or genre that I actually write! Perhaps the novel after this one will go in that direction.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I won’t get rich writing. Only a very few, a lucky few, who happen to be in the right place at the right time, or who have such an innovative idea (think Harry Potter) will make any money, I think. But it is my career at the moment, just a poorly paid one.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Noooooo – don’t tempt me. I’m in the middle of writing a new book and I will go back and delete at the drop of a hat. I’m gritting my teeth, telling myself to keep going. Mind you, if I write myself into a corner I do realize that something’s wrong with the plot and I have to go back and change things.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
My family were enthusiastic readers – they once sat on a beach reading while someone nearly drowned and they hardly batted an eyelid. The life-guards brought the man in and saved him, but I don’t think my Mum and Dad even looked up, they were so engrossed in their reading. Dad wrote a book once but it was never published, and my mother likes writing poems. So I would say my interest was already there in the womb.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Thank you, yes. It is about an ambitious ballerina who never manages to rise above the corps de ballet in her London company. She’s also rather slow in coming forward and very shy of men after she was attacked at 18. She inherits a cottage in the forest near Lisbon, Portugal. To claim it she arrives in the tiny village clinging to the edge of the mountains. Here she comes into her own, finds her courage, wins the hearts of the villagers and helps protect them from corrupt local politicians. I hope I can immerse the reader into the sights and smells of Portugal as well as its cuisine.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing the blurb and synopsis.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Perfect Score and Rising Tide were published by Mundania Press. The covers were both done by Niki Browning who is such a clever designer.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
To lay off the descriptions a bit and get down to the plot. I love purple prose and I know it bores the pants off readers. I’m learning, I’m learning.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Golly. I had actors in mind in Rising Tide: Charlie Hunnam for Leo and Ellen Page for Piper.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you really want to write, you won’t be able to not do so. It’s a yearning, almost an addiction. But it’s also a very tiring occupation that doesn’t come easily and isn’t well-paid. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said something like he spent all morning putting in a comma and all afternoon taking it out.
Nowadays a writer pens his/her book and then has to spend a long time marketing it. Publishers do not have the money for marketing and what they do have they reserve for the best-selling authors. So if you suck at marketing, I suggest you take a course or pay someone to do it for you.
If you’re going to self-publish, for goodness sakes get your work properly edited. Do not ask mum or grandma to do it. By paying a reputable company to do your editing, you should recover that money by selling millions. If you don’t, and your work is full of typos and errors, then you won’t make a penny and you’ll earn yourself a bad reputation for sloppy work.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Please write reviews. Reviews sell books and help impoverished authors.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Charlaine Harris one mentioned above: Midnight Texas
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“OK, she’s gone. Now you can read her books.” Because I can’t see myself getting well-known for a good long time.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I was a teacher until I gave up work. But I often wish I’d gone into medicine. It would’ve been useful in my writing too because medical fiction is very popular at the moment, and all that forensic stuff.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes indeed: http://www.susanroebuck.com
Once again, Fiona. Thank you for inviting me today.