Sue Fitzmaurice has been a nurse, business owner, management consultant and CEO. She has a lifetime’s interest in international politics, philosophy, the quantum and all religions, and has degrees in philosophy & political science, international relations & international law, and business. A native of Wellington, New Zealand, she now travels the world and writes. ‘Angels in the Architecture’ is her first novel. Sue is writing her second novel, tentatively titled ‘In the Company of Angels’. She has released two titles on the topic of Purpose, and two travelogues.
1) First I want to take the time to thank you for doing this email interview with us! I see that you’ve worn a lot of different hats over the course of your life, nurse, managing consultant, and even as a business owner yourself so when did you decide that writing was something that you were interested in doing? What is it that you enjoy most about being a writer? Do you think that you’re different interests in politics, philosophy, and different religions have enriched your writing in a unique way?
I have had a lot of hats, yes! I think it’s a bit of a Kiwi thing that everyone likes to think they have a book in them, and that was certainly me. It was all a bit of an accident in the end though. I actually met another mother on one of my kids’ school camps and she was just forming a writers group in the suburb where we lived and I knew some of the other women in the group, and I just mentioned that I’d always wanted to write, and she just invited me to join. Three of the other four women in the group had completed the very prestigious Masters in Letters at Victoria University in Wellington (in New Zealand), and three had published already, and it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, so I was all in! But of course I then had to think of what to write. And that came to me one day – a whole story from beginning to end – as I was driving round the harbour in Wellington on a very beautiful day. And so ‘Angels in the Architecture’ was born. It was a real labor of love for me, and an amazing journey. I was so lucky to have the support and feedback of these other very experienced writers. We’d meet fortnightly and review someone’s work. I really learned so much of how to write in that group. Having said that, I’d always written in a way – it was just that it was always business or academic writing, but that really stood me in good stead too because structure is so important in business and academic writing and it gets missed out in its level of importance in fiction writing, but it’s vital. After that, I started writing my next novel, ‘In the Company of Angels’, but that’s still on the drawing board, and I’m very keen to get back to it!
It’s really only been in the last 2-3 years that I’ve really confirmed for myself that writing is what I want to do all the time, that I am a writer. And it’s only been in the last year that I’ve developed the discipline of writing all the time – not just when I feel like it. I write every day now, and I write for hours. And so now I get to see the work I’ve produced from that effort, and that’s the thing I love the most – seeing the results. But, you know, you write a really, really good few paragraphs or pages, and it feels so good! I’m someone who makes sense of the world by writing, and so writing is also a voyage of discovery for me.
Definitely my interest in politics and philosophy and religion and spirituality are an influence. For a start I’ve read really broadly. And I also have a very broad view of the world, especially from a written point of view – I can develop a huge swathe of diverse characters and give them all very different personalities and motives. And all of my writing – fiction or non-fiction – has elements of all these things at the core – again, I suppose it’s all about making sense of the world through my writing.
2) Can you tell our readers a little more about you and your books and where they can find them?
All my books are on Amazon. I’ve written one novel, two books about the topic of purpose (ie. finding it and making it alive in your life), and two travelogues. There are several more novels on the drawing board, probably one more book about purpose, two more travelogues, and a collection of personal stories from women about their spiritual journeys through the divine feminine, or the Feminine Divine. The purpose books are incredibly helpful and very accessible reads and everyone’s really enjoyed them, so if this is where anyone is at I really recommend these. They’re very straightforward and practical but they’re also very real – no nonsense about the 3 questions you need to answer to find your purpose, or anything so simple that it can fit on a meme. Purpose isn’t like that and we do need to be prepared to go a little deeper to find the answers to these big questions in life. My favorite book at the moment is ‘The Accidental Mary Pilgrimage’, which was an amazing journey I want on last year through various spiritual centers in France, Spain and England. It was as much an inner journey as an outer one and it was very sweet. And it changed my life! Massively! It was very unexpected, and I think those are sometimes the best journeys. I’m writing a follow-on from that, ‘The Deliberate Mary Pilgrimage’ which was bigger and longer and even more earth-shattering really. The Accidental Mary Pilgrimage is a very sweet read – you’ll really feel like you’re along for the ride.
3) What inspires the stories and characters that you create in your fiction books? Does your experiences traveling help to enhance your creativity?
My first novel was inspired by my severely autistic nephew. He’s a very sweet boy, and when he was little we always felt – well, I definitely always felt – that he was talking to the angels. Literally. He would sit and chat and laugh away to something none of the rest of us could see. And so I’ve always thought there was much more going on in his head than most people would think. Amazingly, this is now being seen to be the case as a lot of intense therapies are teaching these children to communicate via computer writing, and some of the stories that are emerging are deeply profound. This has recently happened with my nephew, who’s now 16, and he has ‘talked’ about a very deep spiritual connection with the world and with a spiritual realm that we can’t see. And he’s never had any religious or spiritual input in his life at all, so it’s been amazing.
My second novel is also an historical fiction set in Scotland and very much influenced by my travels there. I have a great love of Scotland. I’ve been there several times and traveled round many, many parts of it. Of course, Scotland’s pretty popular in fiction these days, what with the success of things like ‘Outlander’.
4) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel? What projects are you currently working on?
I have a rough schedule. I’m usually working on at least two books at once. I find I can get so intensely engaged in one book that I can’t ‘see’ it anymore, so I have to step away and go write something else. Right now I’m working on ‘The Deliberate Mary Pilgrimage’, and another non-fiction that I’m not going to tell you the name of because it’s very flippant and I want to keep it a secret, but it’s to do with being real and realistic in one’s spiritual practice and not being an idiot. I’ve had a 4th travelogue I should have finished two years ago about my time in the Himalayas but I’m going back there soon and will finish it there. And my second novel is really clawing at me, so that’s on my mind at lot.
I definitely outline things. I don’t believe in just writing and seeing where it takes you – well, not without an outline first. I do sometimes find myself writing things I didn’t expect to write, and I love it when that happens. It’s a part of the creative process and it happens when you’re in a flow and it’s great. But there’s always an outline. When I’m writing non-fiction, I have a draft Table of Contents always. It changes a lot but it’s always there. When I wrote ‘Angels in the Architecture’, I got to the end of the book in 4 months, but it wasn’t finished. And actually at that point I put it on the shelf for a couple of years because I got busy with something else. When I took it down off the shelf to finish it, it was probably about another 4 months to fill out the characters and the story, to complete it properly.
5) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Definitely my novel is still the biggest piece of work and creativity. It was huge for me. I think novels are huge. It’s much harder to write fiction than non-fiction, even though I love both. Other than that, I think just having made the decision that I am a writer, and that’s what I do now – that was a pretty big change too.
In 5 years? Well, I wrote 3 books last year, so at that rate there’ll be a lot more in 5 years time. But I want to have at least another 3 or 4 novels among them. And I really want to be making a proper living from this!
6) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? What book are you currently reading?
Crikey! I’m not sure I could tell you what the first one was – I’m not sure I remember. But I’ll tell you this, that my two most favorite novels of all time are ‘The Bone People’ by Kerri Hulme, and ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. They’re both so stunningly written and I love everything about them.
Right now I’m reading ‘Everything Happens for a Reason – and other lies I’ve loved’ by Kate Bowler. Plus I’ve been reading ‘Shameless’ by Nadia Bolz-Weber. And I just finished a very sweet collection of poetry called ‘Beach Stones’ by Detta Darnell.
7) What are your thoughts on about how the publishing industry has changed over the years in terms of traditional and self-publishing? How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? Do you think that the over saturation of technology has hurt the publishing industry in any way?
I love that publishing has become so much easier. I hate that there are a lot of charlatans out there taking money off people to publish their book – they generally do very poor editing and they promise the earth to people. I don’t have a problem with rejection. I think it’s just as hard to be successful at publishing these days as it is to be a writer. It just means you have to get better and keep trying. There are a lot of publishers out there and if your work is good then you’ll find the right one for you.
And I love technology! I travel, so I can’t take a lot of books with me. If any. So I have hundreds of books in my phone. I also have extra portable chargers, and anyway these days you can charge just about anywhere.
8) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
Absolutely not! Louise Hay published her first book at 59. Which is also when she started Hay House Publishers. If you want to write, write. If you want to be a good writer, write a lot.
9) You also have two books that focus on purpose and it would seem that you have helped a lot of others discover what their purpose is through your coaching so what is it that intrigues you in particular about this topic? Do you believe one can have multiple purposes that intersect one another and come together to form one grand overall purpose? What would the navigation of that journey look like?
I think I’ve always believed I had a purpose, and that I was here for a reason. I’ve certainly always had a spiritual view of life, since I was a child. All of those things – my purpose, my spirituality, my beliefs – they’re very dynamic and they’ve changed many times. And I think that’s absolutely correct, that we have multiple purposes and one overall purpose. You’ll have to read the books for more!
10) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
Oh wow! That’s such a big question! I’m not sure there’s a short answer to that. On the other hand, I’m not sure there’s any answer. Haha! One way to put it would be to say that I’m a seeker. But I’m also a finder. I’m constantly looking for what’s real, what’s important, how to grow, how to be a better person, a better human, and as I find things out I write about them. But I also find them out by writing about them. And that is my purpose – to be a better human – that’s my overall purpose, I suppose. Within that there are several others… right now I want to help other women tell their stories and that feels really powerful, so I’ve started my own editing and publishing company to do that. And it’s already been so rewarding. I’m loving the experience of helping other women draw out their stories, and watching them go through that process too, of discovering their truth through writing. And to do my own writing. I’m very committed to that. I love it. I love being a writer.
Angels in the Architecture: https://amzn.to/2Eak8us
Purpose 1: https://amzn.to/2GrJbMc
Purpose 2: https://amzn.to/2UX6e4H
The Accidental Mary Pilgrimage: https://amzn.to/2X33ip2
Billow & Breeze: https://amzn.to/2TKlQIu
Billow & Breeze (Limited Edition): https://amzn.to/2E9CEmN