Following an eventful career as a public relations consultant, specialising in business and travel, Suzanne Goldring turned to writing the kind of novels she likes to read, about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. She writes in a thatched cottage in Hampshire and a cottage by the sea in North Cornwall. MY NAME IS EVA was inspired by visiting elderly ladies in care homes and an aunt’s touching wartime letters saved from the flames. BURNING ISLAND is a tribute to the lost people of Corfu, with a warning that the potential for cruelty lies within many characters even today.
1) When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most?
I tried to write my first novel when I was only 13, but academic work, a career in corporate public relations and family responsibilities diverted me for a number of years. I eventually returned to writing fiction when I realized that it was burning inside me and that if I didn’t start I’d never find out if I could really do it.
My career involved factual writing of magazine and newspaper articles, press releases, corporate brochures and speeches, so it has been a joy to develop my creative skills and use my imagination in the writing of fiction.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
All my books are listed on Amazon and there is more information on firstname.lastname@example.org and on my Facebook page. The first book published by Bookouture was MY NAME IS EVA , which has become a best seller in the US and UK and will be translated into Russian and Rumanian. It deals with an elderly lady trying hard to keep her long-held secrets hidden. I aimed to focus on the right of the elderly to maintain their dignity and control over their destiny right to the end.
My second book, BURNING ISLAND, which only came out in late January this year is about greed, envy and distrust both in the present and during WW2 on the Greek island of Corfu. Prior to these books I self-published POWERLESS – THE YEAR THE LIGHTS WENT OUT, a blog-style account of a how one family copes when the UK is plunged into an unexplained long-term power cut. It feels somewhat portentous in the present crisis as I intended it as an anti-apocalyptic novel.
3) What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on the third book in my contract, which deals with themes of childhood trauma impacting on relationships in adult life. Again, it involves dual timeline, stemming back to 1939, 1952 and then the present century and is set in the UK and in Palestine.
4) 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?
I think my most significant achievement has been persevering with my writing in spite of rejection. This deals with your next question I think as I just kept on writing and MY NAME IS EVA is the seventh full length novel I have written, BURNING ISLAND was completed the year before that and was my sixth novel. My fourth book will be one ‘I wrote earlier’ from the back of the drawer. I have already discussed ideas for future books with my editor, so I hope that in five years time I will have another four books published and climbing the best seller charts.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
With perseverance and determination largely. Also networking with other writers and listening to feedback.
6) 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?
I don’t have a set schedule, but I prefer to write in the morning and afternoon with breaks for walks and gardening. Writing doesn’t just happen when sitting in front of a laptop; once I’m into the characters lives, they continue in my head when I am doing other things. I generally like to have a year to write a novel, but that means getting it to a fairly polished state. As I do prefer to outline the plot and sketch out characters in advance, so I know the key scenes and the development of the plot, I can usually have a rough first draft in five to six months.
7) 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?
If your writing hits the spot and is considered to meet the needs of the market, it’s never too late. MY NAME IS EVA published only a short while before my 70th birthday. So if you really want to do and really believe you have something to say, you should go for it.
8) What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
David Nicholls One Day is the only book that has ever made me cry. I love his books, but my favorite authors are Kate Atkinson, William Boyd and John Le Carre. The only genres I don’t read are chick lit and generally not historical. I am currently reading a pre-pub proof copy of a novel for another publisher, but after that I will read Late in the Day by Tess Hadley, a novel about bereavement and complex adult relationships.
9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work? Do you ever just sit down and curl up with your own book?
I don’t hate reading my own work – if I did, why should I expect other readers to like it? But if I do read it – by chance, but my husband is reading one of my books at present and I can’t resist checking to see how far he’s got – I worry I might want to change something! And there are too many good books out there that I have to read. All writers should read, read and read refine their critical faculties.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry is drastically changing?
It’s good. It’s creating opportunities for writers like me who had tried over a long period of time to get their work accepted by traditional publishers. Digital publishing requires minimal investment from the publisher, so they can risk taking on new authors.
11) 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?
I write to tell stories that have to be told. I research thoroughly and then explore my characters within that context. I hope this offers insight into how people think and behave and explains motives for action.