I last spoke to Sue just over a year ago when she published Escape to the Art Cafe, and we talked about her brush with stardom and “Portrait Artist of the Year” now she’s back to talk all things books…
Which book do you wish you’d written.
I thought about this for a long time, and concluded that there wasn’t one. Since I’ve begun to write novels, my reading has altered. I can still read on a straightforward ‘reader’ basis, but my subconscious is now picking up on style and pacing, dissecting how my emotions are being manipulated, how the author handles dialogue and what I can learn from it.
Every author has their own voice, which goes a considerable way towards whether you like their books, and so the same story re-told in a different voice just wouldn’t be the same book!
I could re-phrase this and say that there are writers I wish I could emulate. For example, Kate Atkinson particularly for her Jackson Brodie books, Maeve Binchy for her fabulously chatty novels that draw you in to their worlds, Milly Johnson for the way she can seemingly effortlessly stitch several storylines together – there are so many more I could add! I’m learning from them all.
Which book cover have you looked at and gone that’s amazing.
As a horse mad child, I was a big fan of the Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell, one of which showed the silver brumby rearing magnificently. I was hooked.
In my other life I’m an artist, and I specialise in children playing on beaches. People often comment that my paintings remind them of the jacket desigh for Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers. I’ve been faintly irritated by this – nobody likes to think they’re derivative! But while I was researching for this question, that book cover came up and I realised that my paintings are in fact, very similar!
Which book character/s would you protect from the world?
I think it has to be the characters from my own books, who all have their own vulnerabilities and who are as real to me as a living breathing person.
Which was the last book that broke your heart.
Oh dear, without giving any spoilers away, I think it might have been Jojo Moyes, Me before you. I also cry when I write the heart tugging scenes in my own books.
Which book would you make your child/ren read.
I read everything I could lay my hands on when I was a kid, without censorship. My boys weren’t big readers, but they always got a bedtime story and we plundered the library. One of my favourites to read them was the hilarious and beautifully illustrated Frank Muir series about the afghan hound puppy, ‘What-a-Mess’ that always had me in tears of laughter. They and I loved everything Roald Dahl wrote, and later on, Terry Pratchett’s Diggers, Truckers and Wings. My little stepson loved Captain Underpants, and my 13 yr old granddaughter is, like me, an avid reader with a broad appetite from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games.
Which book would you rewrite in a different genre.
No idea. It’s an interesting concept though. Still thinking about it.
If you could write any genre which one would it be?
I like to make people laugh – and I thought I’d like to give crime a go. I found it much harder to inflict pain on someone than I thought, and so I’ve shelved it for now. I’m sticking to comedy – romance makes the world go round, and I’d like to spread my net a little wider into the relationships and dynamics of friendships. One day.
Which book taught you the largest lesson about life.
All books teach you something about life – even if it’s how not to behave! My own novels taught me patience and determination, and also helped me to make sense of many tragic experiences. Writing, as well as reading, is often a form of therapy.
If you could redesign any book cover which one would you choose?
As an artist in my other life, I’m very lucky that my lovely publisher, ChocLit, allow me to paint my own covers. These are then tweaked by the experienced hands of the in house designers, to add the titles and blurbs, and edge details. I’m inordinately proud to have not only written the words but painted the covers too, and I love it when readers write to tell me they only picked the book up because they liked the cover pictures.
Which three books would you take on holiday in 2021?
I’ll just have a quick look on my Kindle – at the last count, there are almost 100 unread titles! I’ve just started reading Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak stories set in Alaska, I’m a sucker for Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway stories, and anything by Sue Moorcroft. My publisher has a fund of terrific summer reads, and I have many of those stashed away on my TBR pile!
Can “Dozy Rosie” spice up her life and prove she’s not boring?
Rosie Bunting has spent her life caring for others, often at the expense of her own hopes and dreams. But when she overhears somebody describing her as “boring”, she decides it’s time for a change.
Little does she realise that the outdoor pursuits weekend brochure handed to her at the local Art Café will kick start a summer that will see her abseiling down a Welsh cliff face in “eye watering” leggings, rediscovering her artistic side and unexpectedly inheriting an old fire engine. It also involves meeting hunky outdoor instructor, Gareth Merwyn-Jones – although of course he’d never be interested in Dozy Rosie Bunting … would he?
One thing’s for certain: Rosie’s path to achieving her hopes and dreams might not be smooth, but it’s definitely not boring.
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@SueMcDonaghLit Sue McDonagh Writer
All Sue’ other books can be found here.
The Meet the Family post with Sue McDonagh can be found HERE