Welcome back to the Author Interview Series! I’ve been mixing in some more personal blog posts, and book reviews, but the interviews are just too much fun to put aside! I hope you love them as much as I do!! It’s like going out for coffee with a writer and picking their brain for trade secrets! I love to hear how writers work and how they go about creating things and I always learn something for my own creative process.
Please welcome the lovely Suzie Tullett and her hilarious and down to earth work!
Featured Author Snapshot
Author’s Name: Suzie Tullett
Author’s Genre(s): Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Comedy
Featured Title or Work: Going Underground
Author’s website: http://suzietullett.blogspot.com
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Suzie-Tullett/221204154583599
Twitter Account: @SuzieTullett
Publisher: Mirador Publishing
About the Author
Suzie Tullett is a Contempary Women’s Fiction/Comedy author living between the UK and Greece with her husband and dog, Roma.
Meet and Greet
MF: Welcome and thanks so much for sharing your work and experiences with us! Can you tell us a bit about your latest project?
ST: Going Underground is about three men on two scooters (a vintage Lambretta and a Vespa) heading down the country to Brighton… Three women and a heavily pregnant belly in hot pursuit – all squashed into a classic, Union Jack roofed mini… with an off duty Police Officer bringing up the rear… and with musically themed chapters, it even has its own soundtrack.
MF: What are you working on right now?
ST: At the moment, I’m working on my second novel – Little White Lies and Butterflies. It’s about a woman who’s come to a standstill in her life; but rather than admit to the wider world that she’s in something of a rut, she invents a whole new, more exciting persona for herself… Unfortunately, it isn’t long before her little, white lies start to catch up with her and the consequences for telling them start to go from bad to worse.
MF: How would you describe yourself as a writer?
ST: Hilarious! Then again, I wouldn’t be a comedy writer if I didn’t think that, would I?
MF: How would you describe your work?
ST: I like to write about ‘real’ people; stories with characters that everyone can identify with. And I love to fuse both comedy and tragedy to demonstrate how very often one stems from the other, something ‘Going Underground’ is full of!
MF: Are there themes that come up again and again in your work? What are your core themes?
ST: I think there are, yes. In both ‘Going Underground’ and ‘Little White Lies and Butterflies’ the storylines revolve around a secret that’s being kept; secrets that impact on everyone around them, whether the protagonists want to admit it or not. And let’s face it, we as individuals often portray one thing to the outside world, when what’s actually going on inside of us is something else. There are things we struggle to come to terms with (both big and small) in and about ourselves that we don’t want anyone else to know, so we pretend they don’t exist. However, in both real life and fiction we do eventually have to deal with these things, of course. We just have to hope there isn’t too much fall out.
The Writing Story
MF: How did you start writing?
ST: Years ago when I was teaching at a local college, I was telling one of the performing arts tutors about an idea I had for a short story. He suggested the premise would make for a great sitcom and as a result, I sent it off to a production company to see if they agreed. For a while they did and although in the end it actually came to nothing, it led me to studying a Masters’ Degree in Television and Radio Scriptwriting and my career went on from there – firstly, as a scriptwriter and now as a novelist.
MF: Was there a moment in your life when you decided that you were a writer?
ST: This happened when I gave up my ‘day job’ once and for all. At the time, I was managing a Training & Advice Centre and trying to juggle this with writing wasn’t easy. I had one of those ‘now or never’ moments where I decided that in order to succeed in my writerly ambitions the ‘day job’ would have to go… I’ve been a writer ever since.
The Writing Process
MF: Stephen King talked about situations as being the starting points for his novels, and author Lois McMaster Bujold talked about building situations around what she wants to show about a particular character. Is there a pattern to the way a story starts in your imagination?
ST: For me, it’s always character first. I’m a great people watcher and often I’ll hear someone say something that triggers my imagination. From just a few words I’ll find myself building a whole new persona, warts and all, and it’s from here that the situations start to develop.
MF: Do you listen to music while you write? Anything you would recommend?
ST: Never. I remember doing homework as a child, insisting I needed music in the background to help me concentrate. Of course, this was just an excuse to listen to my favourite bands at the time, but now I’m older and wiser, I’m able to recognise that for me it really is just a distraction.
MF: Do you use an outline when you write or does the story evolve as you’re writing it.
ST: I always use an outline, even if it’s just a basic one to give me an idea as to where I think the story should go. Of course, this often changes once I get going with a particular project – especially when the characters start speaking for themselves, which does happen. But to start with a character and blank screen in front of me would be a bit too scary… And besides, I find the initial character building and story development processes way too exciting to want to miss out on any of it.
MF: Do you prefer to compose on paper or on a computer?
ST: To be honest, I do a lot of my writing with a pen and paper, especially when I’m at the first draft stage. For some reason, I’m able to consider what it is I’m trying to say in more detail; plus I like the romanticism of it… And even though we have laptops, netbooks and i-Pads etc these days, a trusty pen and notepad are still a lot more portable; so you’ll quite often see me scribbling away at our local coffee shop, engrossed in my latest imaginary world.
New Era Writing
MF: How do you feel about e-readers? Do you have one yourself?
Obviously being a born romantic I have a thing for actual books. As a reader, I love the smell and feel of them and as an author it’s always nice to see my name in print. But I don’t have anything against e-readers either, as long as people are reading books that’s the main thing. And yes, I do have an e-reader myself, I have a Kindle. I find that living between the UK and Greece it’s ideal for keeping the weight of my luggage down. And as I often say, it’s like having a library in my handbag.
MF: Would you rather see your own work in print or in an e-format?
ST: I’d rather see my work in both. As a debut novelist, I want to build the widest readership possible and that means making my novels available to the whole of the book reading public, not choosing one over the other.
Romance and Sexuality
MF: How do you handle sexual content in your work?
ST: With a lot of humour!
MF: Which authors are your greatest influences when it comes to romance?
ST: I’m guaranteed to enjoy anything written by Marian Keyes. She manages to combine romance and some quite serious subject matters with such a down to earth humour that you really are taken on a roller coaster of ups and down… You know the phrase ‘if you don’t laugh you’ll cry’? Well for me, that’s at the heart of all her novels.
MF: What is it you hope your readers will get out of the romantic elements of your work?
ST: That romance doesn’t have to be all undying love and red roses. In my view, romance can also come through in the most insignificant of circumstances, through the smallest of gestures and it can certainly include a lot of fun.
MF: How many children do you have and how old are they?
ST: I have two absolutely gorgeous sons, aged 20 and 22. One is a Senior Style director for Toni & Guy, living out in China with his lovely girlfriend; the other serves in the Royal Air Force and is based in the south of England, living with his equally lovely wife… Yes, I did say wife, but with me and their Dad having gotten married at ages 18 and 21 respectively, who am I to argue! And besides, it’s worked for us so far so why not them?
MF: When you write, do you ever worry about what your kids will think when they read it later?
ST: Not at all. In my experience, when it comes to certain relationships we’re very often put in boxes where we’re expected to behave and think in a certain way. This can be especially so when it comes to being a parent. I think in reading my writing my children have the opportunity to see me outside of that box, so to speak. It enables them to learn a bit more about the way I tick not just as their Mother, but as an individual in my own right.
MF: Do your children read your work? What do they think of it?
ST: They do read it, yes. In fact, my youngest very often reads through my writing as I go along – he tells me what he thinks is and isn’t working, what’s not quite on the page the way I think it is and he’s an excellent spell checker. Whereas my oldest tends to wait until it’s a bone fide book before he picks it up… As to what they think of it, from what they say they do enjoy my work. They’re very enthusiastic and laugh in all the right places, which is good. And going back to the last question, learning something about their old Mum along the way.
MF: Who has helped you along the way to becoming a writer? Is there a family member or friend, perhaps an agent you’d like to mention?
ST: Professionally, I’ve had a fabulous mentor in Romance Author Margaret James. She’s been a fantastic help throughout my novel writing career. Starting out as my tutor when I did a novel writing course with The London School of Journalism, she’s been continuing that support ever since and is always on hand whenever I have a question or need a bit of help or advice. Non-professionally, I have to give a special mention to my other half. He’s been wonderful throughout this journey, supporting me both mentally and financially along the way… and believe me, that hasn’t always been easy!
MF: Who’s your favourite author or authors and briefly, what is it you love about them?
ST: Like I’ve already said, I do like the down to earth humour found in many of the Marian Keyes novels, but I also like the quirkiness of character demonstrated by the Australian author, Liane Moriarty, especially in The Last Anniversary. And I found the situation comedy that Karen Quinn brought to her novel, The Ivy Chronicles, absolutely hilarious – many of her scenes still making me laugh to this day… In fact, it would be nice to think I’ve managed to bring just a little bit of each into my own writing.
MF: Thanks so much for stopping by here Suzie! It was great to meet you and learn about your journey!
Please let us know if you have any other questions for Suzie or myself, and we’d also dearly love to hear your comments or your own experiences with writing in the Comments below. To read more of our great host of Authors, here’s a link the category Author Interviews!
Some comments from the old blog we didn’t want to lose!
Great interview ladies.
Love that your children are involved with your reading. Going Underground sounds like a book for me.
It’s great meeting you,Suzie.