Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first play when I was only nine. Then I hand delivered it into RTE – Ireland’s National Radio & television Network It was during the troubles in Ireland and the Irish Army were protecting the place from behind sand bags but I didn’t mind as I marched up with my pencil written manuscript. I remember the receptionists looking amused when I explained why I was there. They probably thought it was a hoot. Not me, I was very serious about my career. In due course, I got an incredibly kind and supportive rejection letter. They explained that the plot needed a little more development. I wish I still had that letter – my first rejection.
When did you first consider yourself as a “writer"?
A job becomes a real job when you do it five days a week and get paid for it. I reached that stage with writing about twelve years ago. Then I had to stop because our family life got too hectic. I have five kids. Now they’re all at school, I’m a writer again – phew.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
No, I was very lucky. I got a publishing offer half way through my first book. I was living in Ireland at the time and sent the first ten chapters to Irish Publishers, Poolbeg They offered me a three book deal.
Do you have a process or routine that you follow when writing
This is what I aim for but don’t always achieve. I drop the kids to school and then get my bum on that seat but it so easy to get distracted - Emails, phone calls, group texts – waghh. I always start with new writing. After lunch I deal with editing. Midafternoon it’s time to get the kids and 3 – 8pm I’m a full time mom, homework monitor, cook and taxi driver. After 8pm I often head back to my desk for fun stuff like marketing, PR, interviews like this.
What books can we expect from you in the future? Any works in progress?
Lincoln Ladies is the 3rd book in my New England Trilogy. I love the story and thoroughly enjoyed writing it. I wrote three books in three years which was a big work load so after that, I took some time out. Now I’ve just begun a series of books set in Silver Strand, Sligo, Ireland. I grew up in Sligo and know it well. I’m very excited about it and will post more on my FB page as the plot develops…
What genre do you write? Do you stick with this religiously?
I’ve always written romantic comedy, with a strong sense of Irish humor because as a race we really do laugh at life. Years ago, starting my broadcasting career, I worked with a fabulous man called Ian Dempsey He gave me some excellent advice, telling me to be myself and not try to mimic anybody on air. An audience can sense if you’re fake. They may not be able to put a name on it but they’ll know. That advice served me well on air and I think it’s equally valid for books. If you’re going to make a success of your profession, no matter what it is, be true to your inner voice. If it rings true and you persevere - chances are you’ll succeed in the end.
Do you have a favorite book out of the ones that you have written?
Right now it’s got to be Lincoln Ladies. I love Tuscany which is why I used it as the backdrop. There’s a magic quality to the countryside there. It’s the perfect place to enjoy all that amazing fresh pasta, super Tuscan wines, and maybe fall in love? You’ll have to read Lincoln Ladies to see what I mean.
How important is humor in you works?
Very. I think we are what you read - at least I am. If I read a depressing book, it makes me depressed. I’m reading The Secret Garden with my youngest daughter at the moment. Written in 1910, the language is quiet old fashioned. Yesterday I found myself “fetching some afternoon tea,” like the Lady Dowager of Downton Abbey - instead of just “grabbing a coffee.” That’s the power of books and so; I choose to right humor into my books. It’s my gift to the reader. I write funny escapist female fiction. If I give the reader a few giggles and the odd belly laugh along the way, I’ve done my job.
Do you get feedback from anybody close to you before you submit them?
I have literary agents. I aim to get a story well written, very well edited and polished. Then they take it to the market. It’s an exciting and terrifying time. Once it’s with a publishing house, I’ll work with the in-house editors. They’ll have particular views on strong and weak characters/plotlines. I listen to them and usually obey. This is a business. Books are the product. It’s not a time to be precious. Sorry if that sounds hard-nosed but it’s the difference between writing being a hobby and a job.
How do you approach reviews? Have you had many negative ones? Do you read them?
I read them all. I’ve been very lucky with the New England Trilogy. Most were very complimentary but I can’t take all the credit. My publishers The Writers Coffee Shop, have an amazing team of editors. A book is a team effort. I have had a few bad reviews. Meh. Let ‘em go, I say. You can’t please everybody.
Tell me about the covers for the New England Trilogy; you seem to use a particular theme and style?
I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I used the company out of Donetsk in Ukraine. I’m thinking of them a lot at the moment because that is the town in the center of the Russian/Ukrainian conflict right now. I’m in touch with the girls in the office and they hear bombs going off nearby. It’s surreal – their word not mine. Love and prayers for them please. One of their artists came up with the animation style. I love it because; as you well know you can’t tell a book by its cover only with mine, you get a few hints. There was a black cat and a red Ferrari in Wellesley Wives - just like the book cover. We have a little white dog and a house on the lake, in Newton Neighbors and yes there are hairy sheep in the Tuscan hills in Lincoln Ladies. Enough said, you’ll have to read the books to get the full story…
Lots of love Suzy