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Author Interview: Sue Lilley

After being a secret scribbler for years, Sue Lilley has two published novels – ANOTHER SUMMER and HIGH HOPES. Her practical exterior hides the soul of a daydreamer and compulsive people watcher. When she isn’t escaping somewhere else in her imagination, she lives in the north east of England, a few miles from the stunning Northumberland coastline and the famous Alnwick Castle, last seen in Downton Abbey and the Harry Potter movies. She’s been married to Michael, an artist and fellow creative spirit, for more years than they’re brave enough to count. They have one daughter and a beautiful new baby granddaughter, which makes them sound very grown-up.

  • : High Hopes is my second novel. I’ve long had a fascination for secrets, how people go to great lengths to hide things and what happens when the truth comes out. In High Hopes, three old friends are confronted with a secret from twenty years ago. An adopted child traces her birth mother. The father knows nothing about her and when the truth is revealed, it rocks them to the core. They think they know everything about each other but are shocked to uncover jealousy and hurt simmering beneath the surface. High Hopes is the name of a place in the book and also represents the theme of having “high hopes” for the future.
  • : As I have a full-time job, I write mainly at weekends. During the week, I mull over the next bit of the plot so I’m ready to go as soon as I sit down at my computer. I walk around with a notebook and a purple pen, working out my next scene. I have become that mad woman talking to herself on the bus.
  • : I’m writing my third novel which is about a dispute over an inheritance. I’m also polishing a few short stories for readers to enjoy with a quick coffee. All my work is stand-alone, although I do seem to have developed a common theme of placing a house at the centre of my stories.
  • : As I have a full-time job and a lovely family, fitting in quality writing time requires forward planning and a tendency towards anti-social behaviour. This does not come naturally to a closet rock-chick like myself. I like a bit of fair-weather gardening to clear my head, whenever I can fit it in.
  • : I tend to write in scenes which are mostly dialogue. In my next draft, I add in the setting and necessary explanation of what’s going on. I then formulate it all into chapters with enticing breaks to keep the reader hooked. My primary aim is entertainment and escapism. I think of myself as writing “commuter fiction” – short chapters that can be read whenever the reader has ten minutes to spare. I try hard to make my characters realistic. I want them to have human dilemmas and to make mistakes. The situations I write about are also real-life but hopefully without the boring bits.
  • : If I was ever stranded on a desert island, I’d want Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Scruples by Judith Krantz and something to get my teeth into, like any of the big and fabulous dramas from Penny Vincenci. My all-time favourite novel is The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher. I had it in hardback and read it so many times over the years, it fell to bits and I had to buy another copy. Obviously before the days of the Kindle. I love everything about it – the wonderful characters, the sense of family history, the vivid setting. I suspect her writing inspired my lasting love of Cornwall, which features in both of my own novels.
  • : I’ve mostly had office jobs – hotbeds of intrigue for romantic dramas! I currently work for an organisation who awards lottery funding to good causes. It’s a nice reason to get out of bed but turning people down can be difficult as there’s never enough money to go round.
  • : I was a late convert but I chose the Kindle Paperwhite.
  • : I buy pre-made covers which have the same feel as my story. I make sure the branding is consistent when it comes to colour and font. I did change the hair colour of my character in Painting Rainbows as I liked the cover so much.
  • : I like a brief outline so I know where I’m going and why I’m going there. But other than that, the fun is in making it up as I go along. My problem is knowing when to stop! I love everything about writing and editing. I always want to polish and tweak until I drive myself mad. When I start waking up in the middle of the night because I’ve dreamed about one perfect word, I know it’s time to let it go.
  • : I write what I love because if I don’t love it, who else will? Writing is my therapy and not as expensive as buying shoes.
  • : They’re all available from Amazon. My website has all the details:
  • : I write contemporary romantic dramas with some grit and a fair bit of steam. I’m confident my novels are well-written and entertaining reads. I’ve always believed a writer is what you are, not what you become.
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