Friday, 20 March 2015

UNCOVERED INTERVIEWS: Sue Shepherd

This week we're joined by Sue Shepherd, author of newly-released romantic comedy Doesn't Everyone Have a Secret? in which the lives of three people are about to collide. Not only are all three keeping secrets, but they're also being watched over by guardian angels who are trying to steer them in the right direction! The novel is available now, and after finding about the book we just had to ask Sue more about it...

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Three people with a secret to keep and the angels tasked with caring for them.

What inspired you to write Doesn't Everyone have a Secret?
The idea for the book came about a good few years ago actually. When my children were younger I did a couple of creative writing courses with the author Sophie King. I really enjoyed the courses, those two hours on a Thursday night were very precious to me; they were a chance for me to simply be ‘Sue’ for a while. One night I left my house late, as I so often do, and, because I didn’t want to miss anything I drove a bit too fast through dark country lanes. Fortunately I still arrived safely. We started the class with our usual piece of flash fiction; this is where you simply take ten minutes to write whatever pops into your head. I decided to write a rather irreverent piece about an angel who had been assigned ‘Sue Shepherd’ to watch over for the day. I named the angel Angela and in my short piece of fiction she was complaining that ‘Sue’ was a nightmare to look after. It was just a short jokey piece but the rest of the group liked it and they encouraged me to try expanding on the idea and thus, ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?’ was born. The more I wrote, the more I found that the human characters wanted to tell their own secrets and the angels gradually gave the story over to them, but the original idea is still very evident and the angels are an integral part of the book.


Where do you do most of your writing?
I like to write in the lounge. I’m happiest when everyone else is out and I have a silent house and a permanently refilled cup of tea.

What is your favourite book?
I think I’d have to say, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I have always adored time travel films and books.  I’m a great lover of a paradox and the fact that the first time Clare meets Henry is not the first time Henry meets Clare is a delightful concept.

Which part of Doesn't Everyone have a Secret did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the funny sections, especially the family humour. However, who wouldn’t enjoy the risky bits? Living dangerously through Steph was great fun.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
I’m not entirely sure she can be classed as a heroine, but my favourite fictional female is most definitely Charlotte from "Charlotte Sometimes" by Penelope Farmer. Charlotte time travels back more than forty years and finds herself in the shoes of Clare. I remember reading this novel as a child and feeling both scared for Charlotte and a little excited at the same time. This novel most definitely ignited my love of ‘all things time travel’ and I’ve read it on many occasions as an adult since.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Don’t be afraid to show your work and take criticism on board. Ask friends to read your draft. If possible join a writing group. Feedback is invaluable. You can hide away and write forever but ultimately you need to stick your head out from under the parapet and take a chance. I was incredibly nervous when Corazon Books read my first draft but ultimately it was the best thing I could have done. By sharing it I was able to get suggestions of ways to improve it that I would never have thought of. If someone gives you advice take it with an open mind and be prepared to make changes.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
Yes, I have already begun work on my next book. As my children are older now I have a lot more time to write so I’m hopeful that my second novel will be finished considerably quicker than the first. I’m often asked if the second book is a follow on from ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have A Secret?’ But, I can confirm it’s a completely different story based on a totally different idea. This one is about parallel worlds - a subject I love almost as much as time travel. I’m currently about a third of the way through. A couple of friends have had a look at my ‘work in progress’ and they really like it; they say it’s a very similar mix of humour and grit. I’m really enjoying getting to know my new characters; I just have to keep alert and not confuse my two worlds!

You can find out more about Sue Shepherd at her website.

Doesn't Everyone Have a Secret? by Sue Shepherd
Doesn't Everyone Have a Secret? is a romantic comedy about three very different people, each with a secret, whose lives collide in unexpected ways. 

Steph is a harassed mum who's considering an affair with her children's sexy headmaster. Penny is trying to deal with a crush on her boss, OCD and a sad secret from her childhood. And Mike is a vicar who is being blackmailed for his secret, although it's not all that it seems! 

Meanwhile, all three are being watched over by their own guardian angels, who try to push them in the right direction and help move their lives along - but not always successfully... 

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