Tuesday, 3 April 2018
Can't Get You Out Of My Head by Sue Shepherd - Q&A
Happy publication day to Sue Shepherd for her book "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" you can get your hands on the ebook for only 99p, click here
I was lucky to get an advance copy of this book, you can read my review HERE.
Welcome Sue and thanks so much for stopping by for a wee Q&A with me.
1. What was the inspiration for the story?
I’ve always wanted to write about twins, they fascinate me. I don’t plan or plot my stories in advance. I like to place my characters into a situation and wait to see who will join them, and where they’ll go. I began writing about a set of twins and put them in a memory from my own past. I was born in August 1966, meaning my 10th birthday took place during what became known as ‘the long hot summer of ’76.’ My dad made a home-made paddling pool that summer. There was a hose pipe ban, and, my dad, being much like the twin’s dad, was far too considerate to fill the pool more than a few inches. I still have vivid memories of the green, flowery swimsuit I wore, and how it felt to jump into the cold, shallow water. So, I started with a similar incident, and waited to see what would happen. The only difference being that the twins are younger than me, their 10th birthday party took place long after ’76. Things are not as they first appear in the book, and, once I realised the twist, the story took off from there.
2. What research did you do for the book?
It always amazes me the things that an author needs to check as she or he writes a novel. It’s difficult for me to list all the things I had to look at on Google without giving away the secrets from the book. But I’ll try to give you a few rather random examples - What motorway runs closest to Bolton? At what stage in a pregnancy does the foetus develop arms and legs? Is alcohol banned from Bondi beach on Christmas Day? When were chip and pin cards first used? There was also a bit of medical research, which I can’t divulge for fear of spoilers. Lastly, you may remember, Lainy – once it became clear to me that Beth and Lisa’s paternal grandfather was Scottish, there were a few messages back and forth with yourself to confirm some Scottish dialogue. Thank you once again for that.
3. I found myself liking and disliking both Beth and Lisa at different times, was this deliberate?
I think all our friends and family have traits that we like, and often a side to them that we are not so keen on. In a way, I’m rather pleased to hear that you liked the twins some of the time and disliked them at others. I would agree with you. Sometimes, Lisa’s sarcasm and lack of support for her sister made me very angry with her. But anyone who’s read the book will know that Lisa doesn’t have it easy, and there were often times when I felt immensely sorry for her predicament and I totally understood her frustrations. Equally, Beth was a warm, kind person, but she allowed guilt to drag her down, and on occasion she was just too weak, and I wanted to shake her. I think the book is a real journey for her, and I hope that by the end of it, you joined me in feeling that she’d gained a bit of gumption. But, did I deliberately set out to make you like and dislike them in turn? No. The story just grew organically, and, as sometimes happens in real life, our feelings for people simply ebb and flow.
4. Relationships is a strong and constant theme throughout the book, how important was relationships to you when penning it?
Hugely important. As I see it, relationships are what makes the world go around. In all three of my novels, the most important element has been relationships. Between family, between lovers, and between friends. For me, even more important than where my characters find themselves or the things that they achieve, is the way they relate to each other, and the sacrifices they’re prepared to make for the people they care about.
5. Location, location, location especially Australia did you draw from personal experience or was this research?
The parts of the story that are set in Australia are loosely based on my own travels. When I was young, free and single I spent a year backpacking around Australia, New Zealand and America. It was an amazing overseas experience. I look back in awe, at the brave person I was, and at the bold things I did :- bungee jumping, white water rafting, sleeping under the stars, to name just a few. Some of the things that happened to the twins in Australia did actually happen to me – but I can’t say which!
6. Are any of your characters based on people you know?
Like all authors, I think I draw my inspiration from a number of people. My characters are perhaps an amalgamation of friends and strangers, a hair flick from one, a way of speaking from another. But one character who is very much based on a real person, is that of Beth and Lisa’s Nanna. She definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to my mother-in-law. Just like Nanna, my mother-in-law is feisty and petite. The fact that Nanna played out with the neighbourhood kids was also based on her. When my two sons were small, she used to play football with them in the garden. They even used to make her go in goal!
7. Who are your author crushes and what is your all time favourite read?
Let me have a little think about the authors who’ve influenced me and who made me want to be a writer in the first place. Well, in my twenties, I read Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper. I say I read them, I think ‘devoured’ is a more appropriate term. I loved them. Later, I read Marian Keyes and I adored how she could make me laugh and cry, all on the same page. A few years ago, I took creative writing classes with the author, Sophie King, and I really enjoyed her books. It was her writing that showed me how flexible and how interesting it can be to write from several character’s points of view. I must also mention Kate Atkinson’s - Life after Life. I found that book captivating. It taught me that it’s OK to be brave and mix a fantasy element with romance. But the book that I’ve returned to more times than any other is ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. The first time that Clare meets Henry is not the first time that Henry meets Clare. How mind-bending is that?
8. What is next for Sue Shepherd?
I’m currently writing my fourth novel. I found that the thing I liked most about writing was all the twists and turns and the revelations from the character’s pasts. So, this time around, I’m trying something a little different. It’s more of a psychological thriller. It does feel odd not including humour and romance, but I’m enjoying the challenge. Who knows though, it could still morph into a Sue Shepherd Romcom!
9. Where can fans find you?
If anyone wants to hear more from me, they can find me on my website http://www.sueshepherdwrites.co.uk/ or on Twitter, where I go by the name of @thatsueshepherd, or on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SueShepherdWrites/
10. Anything you want to answer that I forgot to ask?
I really would like to thank Ian at Corazon Books. He’s not only my publisher, but my editor too. We’ve worked together on three books now, and I honestly can’t imagine the whole process without his support and input. He manages to tell me when things need to be changed, without offending my sensitive creative side. The publication of Can’t Get You Out of My Head is as much a celebration for him, as it is for me. Thank you, Lainy, for having me on your blog today. I’ve really enjoyed these questions. Thanks also for your continuing support.
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