Author Spotlight: Susan Pape

 

 

Name: Susan Pape

Author of: (with Sue Featherstone) A Falling Friend; A Forsaken Friend

From: A village between Leeds and Ilkley in Yorkshire.

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I used to make up a lot of stories when I was a child, and I’d tell them to my mother and her friends (getting into trouble once as I claimed in one story to have been attacked by a whale).

I don’t remember writing anything down until I got to school – but once there, with a supply of paper and pencils, I was off. I think my first ever written-down story was about an otter, because I’d seen a picture of one in a nature book.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

From about the age of five. I remember telling my primary school teacher that I wanted to work for a newspaper. She didn’t think journalism was a ‘nice’ profession for a ‘nice’ girl (this was the 1950s) and didn’t offer any encouragement. She did, however, occasionally read out my stories in front of the class.

Do you exclusively write contemporary women’s fiction or have you written in other genres?

The first two books written with Sue (my co-author) were academic journalism text books. We had both completed degrees as mature students – and were both teaching journalism at different universities – when we saw the lack of good, practical books on journalism. The resulting books, Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction, and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction were both published by Sage of London and are still listed on university reading lists.

I also ghost wrote two cookery books which, if you knew me and my cooking skills, would make you laugh. But a publishing company approached me and asked me to do it – and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience (especially the lunches the chefs cooked for me).

 

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

It’s so hard to write as much as I’d like because real life gets in the way. It’s a luxury if I can block off two or three days in a row to concentrate entirely on writing. But the phone rings, the washing has to be hung out, my husband wants to book a holiday and needs my opinion (which is lovely, but…) it’s my turn to buy and make tea, and a hundred and one other things …

When I’m not sitting at my desk writing, I’m generally thinking about what I need to write next. I make little notes when I’m away from the office, and have plot ideas when I’m out walking or swimming. Churning up and down the pool is a great way of thinking about where your characters are going next.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

Our first novel, A Falling Friend, took eight years to write because Sue and I were working full time and had family commitments. The follow up, A Forsaken Friend took eight months because we’d both given up full time work, and family problems had eased a little. The final book in the Friends trilogy, A Forgiven Friend, should be finished by the summer because we both feel more confident about where it’s going, and what we’re doing. I have to admit, though, that the original first chapter of the third book took only a short while to write as I’d composed it in my head while out walking one day. Trouble is, I had deep reservations after I’d sent it to Sue for her approval. We both agreed it was not in the same style as the two earlier books – and would cause us problems further down the line. So I scrapped it.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

Preparation means coming up with ideas for characters and plots, which involves meeting with Sue (for coffee and/or lunch) to discuss our thoughts. We agree – or disagree – make copious notes, and go away to start writing. But you can bet that by the time we start sending each other our completed chapters, we’ve both gone off piste. It’s amazing how characters take over once you start writing, and how new plot lines develop as you go on.

Research is vitally important – especially if you’re writing about something you know little about. We might be writing fiction, but we don’t like ‘making it up’ completely especially if there are factual points to be made. I would hate to write about somewhere in Yorkshire – my home county – and get it wrong as there would be many dozens of people wanting to correct me. Both main characters in A Falling Friend and its follow-up, A Forsaken Friend, have travelled – but to places that both Sue and I have visited, so we know what we’re talking about.

Otherwise, our two novels feature academia and the media quite strongly. But that’s fairly straightforward for Sue and I because we’ve both worked in those environments, we know what goes on – and we’re happy to spill the beans!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

One of my plans is to visit Spelsbury Church in Oxfordshire. It’s where John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester is buried. He’s probably the most controversial poet within the restored court of Charles II, and a total libertine. He features in both A Falling Friend and A Forsaken Friend, because he reminds one of the main characters, Teri Meyer, of her one-time lover, Declan – a philandering rake. He will be making another appearance in the final book in the Friends trilogy, which Sue and I are currently working on.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

The inspiration for my part in A Falling Friend was tripping over a ‘Cleaner at Work’ sign, conveniently positioned just inside the door of the Ladies’ loo at the university where I worked. I tripped and cursed, but there was something about that sign, put in a position where it would cause maximum inconvenience, that summed up my life at the time: ridiculous things were trying to trip me up. I couldn’t get the phrase ‘conveniently positioned’ out of my head and wrote it down… and suddenly there was Teri Meyer rushing into the Ladies’ loo, tripping and cursing as life conspired against her.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific genre as I have quite an eclectic taste in books. Of course, I enjoy intelligent women’s fiction but I also love well written novels – from the historic (Philippa Gregory and Hilary Mantel) to the contemporary (Joanna Cannon and Marina Lewycka); but I also enjoy books by Sebastian Faulks, Anthony Doerr and Fredrik Backman – to name but a few, as they say.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Some of the situations in the books are exaggerated versions of real events. But I couldn’t possibly divulge further!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Oh yes… but Sue says I mustn’t tell! However, I have a mental image of each of ‘my’ characters and they invariably start with someone I know, someone who caught my attention in the street, or an actor, for instance. One of our current characters, Duck’s Arse (or Richard Walker) is actually the actor, Greg McHugh. He doesn’t know it yet, but when the Friend trilogy is turned into a TV miniseries (I wish!), lovely Mr McHugh will be asked to play D.A.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Australian writer Kate Grenville’s fifth book, The Idea of Perfection. The story brings together a plain woman with a broken past, a desperately shy man, and a bridge damaged in recent floods. It’s written in such meticulous detail that the reader can feel the heat of the sun on his/her back as the bridge shifts and creaks beneath their feet

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

The first time I Googled myself I found I was a prominent member of the Law Society! I am now a chief financial officer at the San Antonio Express-News, and also something of a whizz with dressage horses. Clearly, I’m none of these important people!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A butterfly. I love their quiet gentleness.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Marketing and promotion, which might sound strange coming from someone who has a background in journalism and public relations. But I find it difficult promoting myself, and thinking of good things to say about me and my writing. It’s not modesty – because I don’t think I’m particularly modest – it’s more a case of, will people believe what I’m telling them?

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Stop talking about it and do it. Any number of people tell me they’ve got a book ‘inside them’ or they’ve always wanted to write, but don’t have time. My advice: get some paper and a pen, or sit at a computer – and start writing.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Congratulations! Getting published is a huge achievement. Once that’s done, keep going – promote and push your book so that as many people read it as possible.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I ‘meet’ other aspiring and new authors mainly through Twitter and Facebook. I have also been mentoring a young writer who is writing an extraordinary memoir, and I encourage others by listening and making suggestions. But it’s only in exceptional circumstances that I’ll read someone’s manuscript. Let me see a chapter or two, by all means, but please don’t ask me to edit the whole thing.

Where can people find more about you?

 

Want more information on Susan’s books?:

A Falling Friend on Amazon

A Forsaken Friend on Amazon 

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Double Cover Reveal: A Falling Friend & A Forsaken Friend

 

 

A FALLING FRIEND
There are two sides to every friendship.
After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire – and back into the life of childhood friend Lee. Plus, there’s the new job, new man – or three – and the guaranteed lump sum of a bursary for her academic research piece on the way. Life is first-rate.
What could possibly go wrong?
Going out on a limb to get best friend Teri a job at the same university seemed like a great idea. But it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to notice a pattern. Teri seems to attract trouble, or maybe she creates it, and Lee can see exactly where things are spiralling – downwards. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch.
And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.
For fans of BRIDGET JONES, this ‘witty’ chick lit has been described as a ‘rollicking good read’ and is the first in the FRIENDS trilogy following the lives of two thirty-something women, who, despite their close friendship, don’t always see eye-to-eye.
Amazon US Amazon UK Barnes & Noble Goodreads

A FORSAKEN FRIEND
No-one said friendship was easy.
Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.
But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…
It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.
Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.
The FRIENDS trilogy continues in this heartwarming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A FALLING FRIEND.
Amazon US    Amazon UK

 

About the Authors

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.
More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.
The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage).
Their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, has been followed by a second book, A Failing Friend, in their Friends trilogy.
Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.
Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.
They blog about books at https://bookloversbooklist.com/
You can find both Sue and Susan on Twitter: @SueF_Writer and @wordfocus

 

Giveaway
One winner will receive an e-book of A FALLING FRIEND and an e-ARC of A FORSAKEN FRIEND as well as wine voucher!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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