Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is S.D. Mayes and I’m forty-something.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in a little village called Cavershamin Berkshire.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up in Wells in Somerset, but have lived all over the place – in London, Greece, Spain and Portugal. And I’ve worked in many different jobs – from being a medical secretary, to a recruitment consultant, and then a journalist for nearly twenty years, writing for mainstream newspapers and magazines. I now edit and beta read authors manuscripts as well as writing my own novels.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My book, Letters to the Pianist won a monthly best-cover award and is now nominated for cover of the year this year with a US Magazine.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, diaries, letters and short stories.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
From when I first started working full-time as a journalist in my mid-twenties.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The idea came to me about Letters to the Pianist three years ago, after I read my mother’s memoirs about her family home being bombed in the London blitz, and she was left orphaned. I found this discovery about her life totally inspiring. She’s a survivor and I really wanted my character Ruth to be based on her, and to include the tragic circumstances she had to go through.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I brainstormed it with my daughter, as the letters my protagonist Joe receives, changes the course of his life. She often comes up with great ideas.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write differently in every book as it really depends on the characters. In Letters to the Pianist, I have two protagonists – Ruth and her father Joe – and it’s written in first and third person, delineated by changed of chapter.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are the experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
It’s based on my mother’s real life memories of her childhood and also Hitler’s obsession with the Supernatural, so there’s a lot of truth within the fiction.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
No I didn’t, because the story is set in London and Bournemouth – and I know both places very well – but I did do a lot of research on events and places in the 1940s – for examples, restaurants and cafes, concert halls, clothes and hats.
Fiona: Who designed the cover?
A chap called Vern at my publishers. H came up with the idea and then we tweaked it together. I wanted a blue tint to the cover and a ghosted letter in the sky which he then added.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Although the story could seem to be about judgement and prejudice, at its heart it’s about the importance of family, and how can we find an anchor in the midst of loss.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I really like Paula Hawkins’ ‘Girl on a Train’ and ‘I Let You Go’ by Clare Mackintosh. I found both their books to be easy reads but very descriptive with a strong sense of authenticity with the characters. Both books were compelling in their storytelling and that’s what made them page turners to me.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
No one person did that. It came from me and I feel it’s always down to the individual to push through challenges to get published.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would say it’s part of my career already, but I’ve always had more than one string to my bow.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I’m happy with it as it is.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, I learnt a lot about the chaos and pain that everyone went through during World War II, which made me very emotional as I wrote it. I also got to understand my mother’s character a lot more. We didn’t always get on when she was alive, but through writing about her childhood in the book though the character of Ruth, I got an insight into what made her who she was. And that gave me a real insight and compassion for her as a person.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I would love Michael Fassbender to play Joe and Alicia Vikander to play his wife, Connie.
Not sure who I’d like to play the rebellious teenager, Ruth Goldberg. It would probably be a gutsy unknown actress.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Always get beta readers to test read your drafts, and make sure the MS gets edited. A good story is only worth the attention of a reader if it’s polished and well edited, otherwise attention gets drawn to the errors rather than the storytelling.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Keep an open mind. Letters to the Pianist is not just a standard historical fiction book. It’s historical suspense, so there are plenty of twists and turns. Everyone has a secret and everyone is flawed – just like in real life.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading ‘Innocence’ by Dean Koontz.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Winnie the Pooh.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Many things make me laugh – I love comedians like Michael McIntyre.
Sad movies and books make me cry like ‘The Light Between Oceans’, although I preferred the movie to the book. And when my daughter gets upset, that makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to meet Albert Einstein and Carl Jung. They have such fascinating minds and ideas, I’d love to just listen.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Going for walks by the river where we live, cooking, eating out, decorating, reading books, and going to the cinema.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Because I’m writing and editing until quite late in the evening, I tend to record what I want to watch. I love shows like ‘The Apprentice’ or gritty dramas like ‘The Fall’ and ‘The Missing’.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Thai food is a fave.
Turquoise is a favourite colour.
Musically I have an eclectic taste, so anything other than rap, house and heavy metal!
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d love to go travelling and see more of the world.
Fiona: What do you want written on your headstone?
She loved a challenge!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, my website is www.authormayes.com
And my Facebook Page for Letters to the Pianist ishttps://www.facebook.com/authorMayes/
Other links are here