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Interview at Marbella Golf and Country Club

Sue was interviewed at the Marbella Golf and Country Club by Margaret Dawson of the Costa Ladies' Club. Around fifty-five ladies attended and the interview was followed by lunch. Here are some of the questions asked:

Q. How did you get into the business of writing?

A. It was almost by mistake! I joined the U3A to renew my interest in painting but when I got to the desk I was told that the class was full. I looked around to see what was on offer and spotting 'Writing.' It was with some trepidation that I approached the desk and asked if there was a space. The lady behind the desk responded, "There's once space left and it's for you!" So, I joined and wrote my first book: a memoir. Memories of my first day at school flooded back and once I started to write, it just flowed - I was in my element.

Q. You were in the beauty business for a long time and eventually had your own skincare company. How did that start?

A. It started in a small way in Hong Kong, where I lived for ten years. I had a young family and so worked part time as a mobile beauty therapist. Upon returning to the UK, I opened a salon. This led me to start mixing my own aromatherapy oils for use in the salon. Clients loved them and so I began to sell them for home use. About a year into this I met a cosmetic chemist who formulated a range for me using natural ingredients and essential oils. Eventually I became so busy that my husband gave up his job as a surveyor and we worked together. Although we sold the business after several decades, it is still going strong.

Q. How did you go about writing your first novel?

A. I met Fay Weldon at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and we got talking. She gave me her e-mail address and said to send her some of my work. I was overwhelmed and undecided as to what to send her. In the end I e-mailed her a chapter of my memoir. She responded and asked me to phone her, which I did. What an amazing lady to take the time to do this! Of course, I phoned her and she said that I wrote well but that I should give up the idea of a memoir and write a novel. I decided to take her advice but didn't know where to start.

Q. So, how did you start?

A. I attended a writing group and, as a prompt, the leader of the group produced a copy of a Jack Vettriano painting. It depicted two young women standing outside in the dark. We were told to write 1,000 words about the picture. When I got home, I had a clear idea what to write. The following week, we were given a different Vettriano painting, this time of a man and woman who looked as if they were arguing. I decided to continue where I left off the previous week and this became the first chapter of Tea at Sam's.

Q. Have you used your experiences both of travel and the beauty business in your books?

A. Yes! My slogan is, 'Write what you know and embroider the rest.' Before living in Hong Kong, I lived in Mauritius for two years and have drawn on my experience there in Tea at Sam's. I also spent some time in Australia and have written about this. In the sequel, Making Scents, I used my knowledge of the beauty industry and weaved it into a novel, using the same characters.

Q. Do you write every day?

A. No, but when I was writing the novels, I was living in a parallel world and felt compelled to write every day. It sounds strange but it was as if the characters had a life of their own and were dictating what would happen next.

Q. Have you ever suffered from writers' block?

A. Yes, many times but I find the only way to get over it is to start writing.

Q. What is your advice to any budding author?

A. Just start writing and, if possible, join a writing group. I have found this to be invaluable. The assignments keep the creative juices flowing and the constructive criticism is very useful. It's also fun to mix with like-minded people.

Radio RTV Marbella

Listen to Sue being interviewed on Marbella Radio. Please click on Start arrow to listen..