15 March 2012
Author Interview: Sue Welfare
Q1. Please tell me about your new book One Night Only.
It's about what it's like to come home after years and years of being away - all those memories and might have beens - the old friends and old lovers and the places you used to go.
Helen, the book's main character, is an actress doing a guest appearance on a TV show looking back at her roots. She uncovers all kinds of ghosts from the past along the way.
The idea came from a friend who I met who had come home for a funeral and hadn't been back for years ( live in the town where I grew up)
Q2. Helen is such a likeable character - in fact, the thing I've noticed about your characters, from both this book and The Surprise Party is that they're all so likeable and believable. Is it important to you that you write characters people can relate to and believe in?
Oh yes. For me creating the characters is the best bit of writing a book. I try to create complex rounded ' real' people to explore my stories; people who you would easily recognise and understand - if not always sympathise with - their motives. People are seldom all good or all bad, but a blend of both, so I hope that emotionally my characters make sense to people.
Q3. I take it "Roots" is based on programmes such as "Who Do You Think You Are?" on television. What inspired you to use a TV show for the basis of this story, and how much research did you have to put into what goes into making a show like this?
I used to love This is Your Life and have also watched a few episodes of Who Do You Think You Are - so yes it is based loosely on that format but the twist with Roots is that they aren't adverse to using more current stories rather than digging back a long way into the past. Also I suspect the WDYTYA researchers are way better than the Roots team!
I have done some filming so used that experience as the basis for the bits about filming the show. It was great fun and I learnt very quickly how all the power is in the editing - Although I imagine it will make anyone who who works in the industry groan with horror.
Q4. You've published books under 2 different pen-names - Gemma Fox and Kate Lawson. Why have you used pen-names, and how do you actually go about choosing a pen-name?!
My publisher decided that ' Welfare' sounded odd and also any author's name beginning with W sits low down on the bookshelves. So they asked me to come up with another name. We tried all sorts of things. I came up with Molly Fox but the publishers - while liking Fox - thought Molly made me sound like a Saga writer , so my then editor came up with Gemma. Some of my favourite books were written as Gemma!
Unfortunately at the same time as we launched Gemma a singer by the same name launched her music career - causing Googling Chaos!
Kate Lawson came about because of that. It's my favourite name.
I have some great friends called Kate and it was the name I was going to call my first baby if it had been a girl
( He wasn't! I ended up with 4 sons so no chance to use any of my girls names! )
Lawson came from a shortlist of names that we liked that were already famous and rung a bell with the reading public.
I was very nearly Kate McEwan!
Q5. You can't help but notice that your covers for One Night Only and The Surprise Party are very similar - how do you feel about these covers and their similarites?
The publisher decided they would go for a certain look - i have quite a few reservations about how similar they are - not least because I'm worried people will think it's the same book - but generally i like the style. We'll see how it works out!!
Q6. How do you feel about the term "chick lit" and the idea that it is dying out? Do you mind your books being classified as such?
Lol - I think of my work more as cellulite lit! The media are always looking of easy ways of labelling things - I'm not offended by the term, just saddened that a lot of the books lumped under it contain very powerful, clever, well crafted writing, tackling big themes - the expression trivialises that work and that talent.
Q7. What do you do when you aren't writing?
Loads of things! I sing in an acapella choir and a quartet called Tenor Ladies, make rag rugs and teach other people how to make them too, cook, garden and am always making something - currently papier mache bowls - oh and I love photography and I teach creative writing - so I'm not usually at a loss for something to do! If anyone wants to find out more I'm on Facebook as Sue Welfare.
Q8. Can you tell me your top three books of all time? What sort of books do you enjoy reading yourself?
Impossible! I love books for different reasons.
My Current top three are different from those i would have chosen last week, but here we go:
Eats Shoot and Leaves - Lynne Truss - brilliant and funny and invaluable.
Before I go to Sleep SJ Watson - one of the best books I've read in years
The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe - made me begin to be aware of the ' what's going on behind the story/ what is the bigger picture ' aspect of story telling.
I read thrillers and crime for pleasure: Lee Child, Karin Slaughter, Kathy Reichs & Carol O' Connell being some of my favourites.
Q9. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given about writing?
Don't get it write, get it written! It's a mantra I pass on every chance I can. Get it down on the page and then you have something to work with an edit and improve on.
Q10. Are you working on your next book yet? If so, can you tell me anything about it?
Oh yes - it's called 'Cooking up a storm' and it's about a TV chef - and is proving huge fun to write - oh and there are recipes in it too!
Great to chat to you as always, Chloe xx
You can buy One Night Only as a paperback or an eBook now!