Yes, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was very young. I read all the time as a child and loved to make up stories about adventurous girls and their ponies. I always hoped to be an author one day.
Reading your website it is clear that you love romance set against a rural setting. Are you definitely inspired by setting rather than a character initially?
A landscape is usually the first thing that draws me to create a story. It might be a village or a beautiful view, but there’s always a community at the heart of my writing. Once I have my setting, I begin to imagine the characters who might live there, and those who might be newly arrived and why. I hope to convey a real sense of place in my writing.
Does family and faith play a strong part in your plots as they do in your life?
Friendship and family are very much part of my writing and faith is something shared by a few of my characters but not all. Charlie and Sam Stewart, the young vicar of Thorndale and his wife, have proved popular with readers and they do return in later stories. Sam in particular is mischievous with a lovely heart, and great fun to write.
What character traits do you think are essential in a hero/heroine?
I write heroes who are sensitive without being overly sentimental; and honourable, even if that is not immediately apparent. Kindness, an ability to understand when they are wrong and passionate also go a long way.
I like heroines to be independent, have confidence and warmth. Both hero and heroine need to have some self-awareness, along with the opportunity and willingness to change and develop.
Do you always aim to deliver a feel-good story with a happy ending?
I do, yes. I read romantic fiction as well as write it, and I so enjoy characters falling in love, whether that’s a gradual realisation or something more immediate. As an author, I hope for my readers to feel uplifted, following characters working out their differences to consider a future together.
Since joining the RNA you have been taken on by an agent and signed a three-book deal (huge congratulations on that!). How important has being a member of the RNA been in finding your route to publication?
I don’t think I can overstate the importance of the RNA to unpublished romantic writers. I’ve made great friends and received lots of support since joining and benefitted from opportunities to learn, and Conference is just one of them. I believe it’s important to discover how publishing works, along with the roles of industry professionals such as editors and agents, whether you plan to follow a traditional or indie route to publication.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
I love to actually just write a draft, something I mostly do early in the mornings. When the story is flowing well and the characters are making themselves heard, then it’s a complete joy and difficult to stop. Editing is also something I find very satisfying, and I enjoy going back and finding ways to improve the manuscript.
What is your least?
I’d probably say the amount of time I manage to spend distracting myself researching something online when I should be writing!
How have you coped with life during a pandemic?
Life has changed, as for so many people, and my husband now works from home and my son is studying mostly online for his A levels. We are thankful to have close family nearby and have been able to support one another during the pandemic and very much appreciate the community we are a part of. The house is busier now and we are all adapting to a new way of working. I’ve also realised how many simple things we took for granted, like meeting up with family and friends for a meal, and I’m really looking forward to being able to hug my wider family again.
I think we are all waiting that day. Having come this far on the road to publication what advice would you give to anyone considering joining the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme?
Join, if you possibly can, the opportunities to develop your knowledge and make friends are so brilliant. And once you are a member, do try and get the best from your membership by taking part in the activities on offer, whether that’s social media, online learning, chapter meetings (currently all online) and attending events. The RNA is excellent at welcoming people, and Conference, once it is able to run again, is a real highlight and not to be missed if at all possible.
What is next for Suzanne?
Right now I’m finishing my Christmas story, which is set in Thorndale, and I’m looking forward to the publication of my second novel, The Garden of Little Rose, in February 2021. After that I’ll be planning my fifth book and hopefully spending some time on a tiny Hebridean island for research, rules permitting.
That sounds lovely!
Thank you for the opportunity to be included on your website, Valerie, I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions.
You are very welcome. If any readers have any other questions please leave them below.
Merry Christmas, Suzanne and good luck with the book!