Author Spotlight & Giveaway! Sue Moorcroft

Today we welcome UK author Sue Moorcroft to the RWA Author Spotlight. Sue is also giving away four books! To enter, answer the question at the end of the interview…

1. Congratulations on the release of your books into Australia, Sue. Can you tell us which titles are available here now?

Thank you! Starting Over came out on 1 April, All That Mullarkey on 1 May, with Want to Know a Secret? due on 1 June. These books have already been published in the UK so my publisher, Choc Lit, on moving into Australia, scheduled them for consecutive months. My UK June 1 release, Love & Freedom, is scheduled to be published in Australia on 1 August, I believe.

2. Do you have a favourite book from all those you’ve written?

Isn’t this a difficult question? It’s like being asked to choose a favourite from your children. I often recommend that people begin with Starting Over, because All That Mullarkey kind of follows on, in that it’s largely set in the same village of Middledip in Cambridgeshire, England, and the hero of Starting Over has a walk-on role in All That Mullarkey, and, of course, the people at the shop and the pub etc are the same.

All that said, I have huge enthusiasm for Love & Freedom because it was such a great book to write and came out exactly as I hoped it would. But I think Want to Know a Secret? has the least expected plot. (See what I mean about it being difficult to choose …?)

 3. Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication, how did your career as an author begin?

I can, but how long do you have? I’ll try and be succinct. I wrote two novels, which were absolutely unfit for publication, but I loved writing them. I read that if I had a track record in short stories in national newsstand magazines of, say, twenty, publishers of novels would look more kindly on me. So I took a distance learning course and I took that route and, loosely, it did work – but I had sold eighty-seven short stories by the time I sold my first novel, Uphill All the Way! By then, I had also sold a serial, articles, and become a creative writing tutor. I sold my first short story in 1996, first serial in 2004, first novel in 2005. If you look at certain online stores you’ll see that there are books there that I don’t class as novels – because they began life as serials. But they are now, indisputably, books that you can hold in your hand, albeit large print and short run. This, and the fact that a hardback, Family Matters, later became a paperback with Choc Lit, Want to Know a Secret? makes my publishing history confusing.

I worked in a part-time non-writing role for a sports newspaper, Motor Cycle News, in the nineties, and that taught me a lot about the realities and wrinkles of publishing, especially regarding periodicals, such as: The editor may not always be right but s/he is always the editor.

 4. What is a typical day like for you?

Alarm goes off at 6.20 am, I’m at my desk about 7.30. I spend the next couple of hours on emails, writing blogs, reading blogs etc. I spend the morning reviewing the work of creative writing students (I mainly teach via distance learning) and/or competition entries (I’m the head judge for a UK writing magazine, Writers’ Forum) and write in the afternoon. ‘Writing’ covers research, planning, everything. I finish about 6pm. I work five to seven days a week.

I also have days ‘out of the office’, either on research, like last Friday when I spent a hugely enjoyable afternoon speaking to a guy who used to work for fighter control, which is like air traffic control for fighter jets (how cool is that?) or I’m at writing events or something to do with my committee member status of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association (which post ends this month – I’ll really miss it!) As well as writing my novels, I often have a serial on the go and I write two columns a month for Writers’ Forum and I have a column at http://www.girlracer.co.uk/, covering Formula 1. I am a Formula 1-aholic.

5. Do you outline your stories or write as you go?

The more books I write, the more I plan. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the first book I planned properly was the first published. Although, reflecting on that, Starting Over, although published after Uphill All the Way, was written first.

I like to know major elements, such as what is my heroine’s mission or what is she reacting to? What does my hero want? What is keeping them apart? Why should they be together? How can I surprise readers? How can I keep this book going forwards? And, although I have a bee in my (extremely large) bonnet (which is fairly buzzing) about giving books forward impetus and page turning quality, I have to know the history of my major characters. History shapes attitudes and beliefs and I like to begin books at a moment of change or significance so, generally, this is where the history ends and the book takes over.

In Starting Over, Tess has been dumped via email two days before her wedding and, on her way to her new life, crashes her vehicle into the back of Ratty’s breakdown truck. (Miles Arnott Rattenbury, really, he’s from a family of lawyers and stuff but has pretty much rejected that life and is the tattooed owner of a business restoring and maintaining classic cars.) Tess’s history explodes the relationship between her and Ratty, throughout the book. It’s important.

By the time I’m ready to write, I generally have a kind of compost heap of notes and comments. I’ve written histories for my characters that begin in third person. When I unconsciously switched over to first person, I feel I’m getting under the skin of the character – it’s a bit like method acting. That said, I like to look at characters from the point of view of other characters, too. Tess, for example, is viewed as a source of anxiety by her parents: unpredictable and unsettled. But Ratty sees her as a hugely talented illustrator and hot babe. Her ex-fiance, Olly, sees her career as risible – drawing pictures for kiddies – and is always surprised she makes money at it.

 

6. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for aspiring writers?

a) Persist. I truly believe that the name for a writer who doesn’t give up is ‘published’ (and am living proof).

b) Educate yourself. Don’t fall for all that stuff about writers being born and not made. OK, you may have been born with a talent for storytelling, in the same way that you might have been born with natural rhythm or an eye for colour. But dancers and artists undergo extensive training, so why should a writer expect to become a writer, without training? This may not take the form of a course and certainly doesn’t necessitate a degree (I don’t have one), but consider reading writing magazines; going to talks by authors, agents and publishers; joining online forums; joining associations such as the RWA or RNA; joining your local writing group; reading books on writing. And going to conferences if you possibly can. The insight and inside knowledge floating around in the air at conferences opens many a door.

c) Network. This may just take the form of following a writer/editor/agent on Twitter or going up to talk to that person at the end of a talk. But do it. It will pay off.

7. When starting a new book, what comes first for you:  the plot, characters, or the title?

Usually, characters. Almost always. The title can be waaaaaay down the line but I did know it early in All That Mullarkey and also my wip, Dream a Little Dream. For me, plot springs from characterisation – I don’t shape my characters around my plot. In the thematically titled Starting Over, it’s one of Tess’s major personality traits that when things go badly for her, she just takes herself somewhere else and starts over. It’s when she finds something worth sticking around for that the book pivots.

 

8. Have you been to Australia? If not, where would you like to visit?

No, but I have wanted to from childhood, and it’s still on my ‘to do’ list. When I was a British army child in Malta we used to get a few Australian kids’ programmes so I thought that if I went to Australia I’d be able to have my own kangaroo. As a teenager I conceived the ambition to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef. As an adult, I had a friend who lived in Port Douglas for a while and I really liked the sound of that. I’d also like to go to Melbourne for the Formula 1. And visit the outback, because I adored the books of Nevil Shute.

The only one of these things I have discounted is owning the kangaroo.

9. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t make enemies.

10. Do you have a favourite author or book that inspires you?

My all-time favourite book is A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. I love romantic novels of all kinds and read voraciously but it’s always an absolute pleasure for me when I realise I haven’t read Alice for five or six years and so will enjoy it anew.

11. Do you spend a lot of time promoting yourself and your books? What have you found to be the most effective ways of ‘getting your books out there’?

OMG. Yes, I do spend a lot of time.

A lot.

I am active on Twitter and Facebook and find the former particularly useful – not just for promotion, by the way, but for research, too. I have my own blog; I guest on the blogs of other people and do online interviews such as this one; together with my publisher, I participate in various events both online and in reality; I run workshops at conferences or libraries or festivals; ditto speaking; I do book signings.

The Choc Lit publicist, Luke Roberts, arranges radio interviews, signings, etc. One of the (many) things I love about Choc Lit is that they are market savvy and forward thinking.

An interesting thing we’ve just begun is to use digital technologies to provide promo economically. To this end I wrote a prequel chapter to Love & Freedom and we’ve called it Flight to Freedom. It’s not only going to be available as a free download but it has also been recorded and will be a free audio download. (The plan is that you will listen to Flight to Freedom and run out to buy Love & Freedom to discover what happens to Honor …)

I’m also lucky enough to be a regular guest on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s ‘In the Chat Room’ afternoon show, which is always fun and they let me plug my books.

I have to say that I enjoy most aspects of promo, apart from the time it takes up. I love the digital world and that I can be talking to someone in Australia or America on email, Twitter or Facebook, as easily as I could be chatting to someone in the next house. I’m happy to stand up in front of an audience, too.

12. What’s next for you, are you working on a new manuscript right now?

Yes, Dream a Little Dream is the story of Liza, who is the sister of All That Mullarkey’s Cleo. She was just too naughty and fun to leave forever as a secondary character, but she has had a bad life experience since All That Mullarkey days and has sworn off men and alcohol. Her sister, Cleo, says to her, ‘Liza, don’t you think you’ve left it a bit late to develop virginity?’

13. How can readers connect with you online or find out more about your books?

Glad you asked! My website is at http://www.suemoorcroft.com/ and my blog at http://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com/. I welcome friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter.

All of my Choc Lit novels and Love Writing (my ‘how-to’ on writing romantic or erotic fiction for money) are available as ebooks. I’m in the throes of making Uphill and my serials available as ebooks, but it’s taking a while.

 

~ Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes for Choc Lit. Combining that success with her experience as a creative writing tutor, she’s written a ‘how to’ book, Love Writing – How to Make Money From Writing Romantic and Erotic Fiction (Accent Press). Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles and courses and is the head judge for Writers’ Forum. She’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner.

~ Click the following links for Sue’s books:

Starting Over

All that Mullarkey 

Want to Know a Secret 

Love & Freedom 

All Sue’s books are on Amazon  

 **Sue has four books to give away to four lucky winners! To win a copy of either Starting Over or All That Mullarkey, comment below before 18th May, and answer the following question: ‘What do you like about books set in the UK?’

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22 Comments

  1. Lovely learning some more about you, Sue. Congratulations on the upcoming release of all your novels in Australia. You’ve carved out a wonderful writing career and I’m in awe of someone who can write eighty-seven short stories!! I’m still trying to master one…

    Hope you make that trip to Australia soon!

    Reply
  2. Louise Reynolds

     /  May 11, 2011

    Hi Sue,

    Welcome to RWA. What a CV! Glad we had the opportunity to learn more about you. Your books sound wonderful so I’ll be looking out for them. Hope you’ll make it out here one day.

    Reply
  3. Claire Baxter

     /  May 11, 2011

    Hi Sue,

    Great interview! I’ll definitely be looking out for your books in the shops here.

    Claire

    Reply
  4. Hi Sue. Like Helene, I’m also in awe of your CV and all those short stories. I’d not heard of Choc Lit but since the name includes my two favourite things I don’t know how I missed it!

    Love that quote about editors, it really made me smile.

    UK books: I love the voice/word choices/whatever sets them apart as unique and particular to their setting (i.e. whichever part of Britain they’re set in.)

    Bron

    Reply
  5. I loved All That Mullarky! It’s such a lovely book.

    Reply
  6. Anita Joy

     /  May 11, 2011

    Hi Sue. Wow. Your writing list is certainly extensive… and impressive.

    What I love about books set in the UK are the differences in language (I’m reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to my boys at the moment and love reading Hagrid’s lines) and the different names/slang for things.

    Reply
  7. Thanks for the comments so far everyone, and don’t forget to be elgible for a prize just tell us what you like about books set in the UK.
    I can’t enter the comp, but I’d be happy to share what I like about Uk books… I like those set in quaint villages, as opposed to cities. Not that I don’t like city settings, but I love the cosy feeling of an English village!

    Reply
  8. Wow, Sue! Thanks for sharing your writing journey.

    What I like about books set in the UK is the wealth of history that often comes with them. The romance of the castles, gardens and villages would give you so much material to work with. I can’t wait to visit the UK and explore!

    Reply
  9. Hi Sue and Juliet,
    Great interview! Thanks…and I love the best writing advice line…’don’t make enemies!’ Indeed.
    Congratulations!

    Reply
  10. What do I like about books set in the UK? They’re a CHANGE, that’s what they are – a sort of soothing relief. And having been there recently, out comes the Atlas while I try to trace our trip and see if we’ve passed any of the places mentioned in the books. Somehow I feel at home with books set there. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s the spelling. Sometimes I get hung up on US spelling and can’t quite get past it, like a nagging tooth.

    Anyway, your books are exactly what I like to read, so I’ll start with Starting Over.

    Reply
  11. Sue, Your interview was so inspiring. I loved the comment that ‘an author who persists is called published’ and the ‘don’t make enemies’ one. When I’m reading books set in the UK I love the variety that’s possible in a tiny geographical area, say a small village or ancient country town. I enjoy it especially when there’s a bit of the wildlife thrown in, and if a historical, all the class differences give extra spice to characters’ struggles.

    Reply
  12. Hi
    Such a fun interview! What I like about the books set in the UK is the setting itself and the dialogue like when I read one and the lead said, “where’s the loo?” I loved that and have yet to use that 🙂

    Reply
  13. Sue,
    You are truly an inspiration and I am so looking forward to sourcing each of your novels and reading them ASAP! Your characters sound like such fun and I can’t wait to meet them.

    I have always loved everything “UK”, since growing up on Enid Blyton, and them moving on to Jane Austen. My major at Uni was British Constitutional history which added to the knowledge I had picked up reading historical fiction in my teens! My two visits to the UK were everything and more than I had anticipated.
    Reading books set in the UK, brings back all of the lovely memories of castles, Roman ruins and Cornish villages.
    Annie

    Reply
  14. I love anything set in the UK – hubby & I spent 6 weeks over there BC (before child) and loved it. I love reading about London esp parts I recognise, and I LOVE little English villages – the history on every corner, the little lanes (except when you’re trying to drive down them!), the stone walls..

    *sigh* Can’t wait to go back!

    Reply
  15. I’ve really enjoyed reading your kind comments – thank you!

    My books do tend to be set, or partially set, in villages. Middledip village appears in Starting Over and All That Mullarkey (and in my WIP, Dream a Little Dream) and in Want to Know a Secret? it’s Purtenon St Paul. My parents-in-law live in a really typically English village with lots of stone houses and I stole some of the names of roads for Middledip, like Great End and Ladies’ Lane.

    In Love & Freedom, which comes to you in August, I think, I have an American heroine, Honor, who feels much as some of you seem to – she’s a history major and she loves the way ‘you guys have castles and palaces right in the towns’. Not all towns, but definitely some.

    Reply
  16. I love England -there’s a sense of history about the place, but most especially I love the Grand Gardens and always wanted to set a story in a castle with huge gardens -alas I will have to settle for living in a bush garden in Australia and – wait for it – a bunch of cute Kangaroo joeys who were orphaned when mum collided with passing cars….
    Jelaous?
    I don’t own them though, I just raise a small mob and release back into the wild.
    If you do visit – I’ll let you have a cuddle….

    Reply
  17. Becky

     /  May 17, 2011

    I like the fact that I can relate to places in the UK. I always find myself opting for books set by the UK coast wherever possible because I was brought up by the sea, loved it, but unfortunately work doesn’t enable me to live by the coast anymore. I get a sense of freedom when I read these books and they make me want to visit new places. For example Freya North’s Secrets book really made me want to visit Saltburn, I haven’t got round to it yet but I will, and it’ll be lovely to see how the reality compares with the images in my head.

    Sue, as someone who is on a short-story fiction writing course at the moment I found your words inspiring.

    Reply
  18. I like books set in the UK because they offer readers a real sense of history, that is, something that can go back more than just a couple of hundred years. Because of its geography, the UK was frequently in peril of extinction or invasion–a sense of urgency rarely faced by North Americans. This creates an unbeatable atmosphere of tension for many stories.

    Reply
  19. Noreen

     /  May 18, 2011

    That was very inspiring about your writing progress. I like books set in the UK as that is where my folks came from originally. Growing up with Enid Blyton, the Princess books and the English Women’s Week brought a little of the UK into my life. Of course Georgette Heyer and Jane Austin also inspired a love for the UK. Maybe I will get there someday to see it for myself.

    Reply
  20. Thanks, everyone! Juliet will get in touch with the lucky winners, soon.

    I’ve really enjoyed the comments – and have put cuddling a kangaroo on my ‘to do’ list. Thank you for making me so welcome both on the blog and in the RWA. I’ve really enjoyed being here.

    Reply
  21. Thanks for taking part Sue, and winners… I have notified you via email!

    Reply
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