Today Lovely Books Shines The Author Spotlight On…
When she isn’t escaping somewhere else in her imagination, Sue Lilley 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 loves getting lost in a page-turning story and because she can never put a good book down, she is compiling the definitive list of perfect excuses for being late for work. She wrote as a hobby for years before publishing her novels – ANOTHER SUMMER and HIGH HOPES. She is the woman talking to herself on the bus, scribbling ideas on scraps of paper with a purple pen. 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.
How long have you been writing? When did you decide to become an author?
After having a few short stories published in womens’ magazines, I moved on to novels as I always wanted to know what happened next to my characters. I’ve now published two – High Hopes and Another Summer. Writing is my therapy and not as expensive as buying shoes.
How do you find inspiration?
I normally start with a scene, a character or a snippet of conversation – it helps being such an eavesdropper! Another Summer was inspired by a holiday in Cornwall soon after severe storms and floods. I saw the remains of an ancient bridge destroyed by the river. There was a shiny motorbike trapped in the debris. I started thinking what if…?
How do you go about writing a book? Do you have any schedule, tricks or tips to share?
I like a brief outline so I know where I’m going. But other than that, the fun is in making it up as I go along. 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.
What kind of books do you read? Who is your favorite author?
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.
What are you currently working on?
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 center of my stories.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’d love to be invisible. I’m such a people-watcher and eavesdropper, it would be great to get in closer without being noticed.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what kind of music?
I love rock music but not when I’m writing. I like a quiet house so I can walk around talking to myself as I work through my scenes.
Who is your favorite villain?
The wicked stepmother from Sleeping Beauty. She has by far the best wardrobe.
If you had to pick between receiving a million dollars today, or $1000 a month for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
I’d like it today please. Delayed gratification is not all it’s cracked up to be. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
If you could take anyone out for coffee, dead, alive, or fictional, who would it be?
Scarlett O’ Hara. And we’d have cocktails not coffee.