Today’s guest is a fellow Brit and member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association (RNA). Meet Sue Moorcroft who writes novels, short stories, writing instruction books and teaches writing too. Here she tell us about her work, her recent releases and what’s next for her. Visit her Web site at www.suemoorcroft.com
Susan Palmquist (SP)-How would you describe the types of book you write, romance or women’s fiction?
Sue Moorcroft (SM)-I’d describe them as romantic fiction. Romance means that the story is all about ‘their story’ but in romantic fiction the romance is not all of the story, it’s a part. A big part!
SP-Tell us about your latest novels, Starting Over, All That Mullarkey and Want to Know a Secret? How did the ideas come about?
SM-Starting Over is the easiest to analyse because the title is thematic. It was once mentioned to me that I was too prepared to throw something out and begin again, rather than working on whatever had gone wrong the first time. I began to think about Tess, a character who takes this to extremes. What would happen when she finally found a reason to keep something that was less than perfect and make it work? Is starting over really that simple, anyway? (The answer is ‘No’ because, otherwise, it would be a short book.)
All That Mullarkey didn’t end up to be the book it began as. It has ended up by being about love and revenge because that’s the way the characters took it. But it started out being about making your marriage work! Honestly! I like the way it turned out, though. What people will do when they’re spurned is ve-ry in-ter-est-ing. And that other characters will hang on in there to get the person they want is downright fascinating.
Want to Know a Secret? comes out on 1 November 2010. It has a clear theme of which is most important: family or money? This came from something that happened in my own family, where two people who were brought up pretty much together stopped speaking over a will. And I thought, ‘I’d rather have the person than the money.’ But not everybody in the book agreed with me.
SP-You’re a prolific short story writer too. Many of us love writing them in between novels but sadly the market seems to be shrinking. Any markets you can recommend?
SM-The magazine market is shrinking, I agree, although there are still some stalwarts such as the People’s Friend, Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break with voracious appetites for the right story. I don’t have any secret source of wealth for short story writers, sadly …
SP-As well as writing, you also teach writing and pen how to books for writers. If you could offer three tips to writers what would they be?
SM-Keep writing. If you stop, you’re unlikely to achieve success. I truly believe that saying that the name for a writer who doesn’t give up is ‘published’.
Educate yourself. Don’t fall for this ‘writers are made, not born’ stuff. Writing is like any other art – drawing, dancing, acting – you need to learn the craft and to think that you don’t is to diminish the art. And you need to study the market and network, keeping your ear to the ground for knowledge and opportunities.
Write with focus. You might not be a planner (although I don’t see why you don’t just try it to see if it makes things easier) but if you have the end in mind and know what the main thrust of the story is, you’ll write with focus.
SP-Have you ever learned anything new about writing while you’ve been tutoring? If so, what and did it change your own style of writing?
SM-Yes, I learn all the time. I try and analyse what’s wrong with a piece of writing and then think, ‘Duh! You’ve done that yourself!’ I think appraising has heightened my critical skills and made me less inclined to ramble and let my work go saggy in the middle.
SP-What are you working on right now and what’s the story behind it?
SM-I’m writing the first draft of a book called Love and Freedom, which is due to be published in June 2011. I like to give my heroine a mission (which also gives a book focus) and so have made Honor an American woman who is in England to look for her mother. There’s a story behind the story, as there so often is, but looking for her mother is her quest. She meets Martyn Mayfair, who isn’t what she first assumes him to be, and forms an unexpected bond with a teenage boy called Ru. This book has sprung some surprises on me, not least why Ru is as he is and where Honor’s husband is while she’s away on her odyssey. I meant to set the book in Brighton but it’s stubbornly intent on being set mainly in Eastdean. Which is one of the many places that exists only in my head, but it’s just outside Brighton.
SP-Do you have an agent? Do you think all writers eventually need one?
SM-I used to have an agent but left her when bereavement made me rethink my writing career. I didn’t feel able to write novels anymore and was writing my non-fiction book, Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction, short stories, articles and serials, none of which involved her. Within months I hooked up with Choc Lit, just by happenstance, and it turns out that I can still write novels after all. I think the door is still open with my last agent; we are still friendly, but I don’t need her right now.
I certainly haven’t closed my mind to the idea of having an agent in the future – I’ll have to go with the flow and assess opportunities as they arise. But I have recently been approached by one, which was a landmark moment.
I don’t think that all writers need agents but I think that a lot of them do, a lot of the time. In some ways I miss mine but, in others, I’m enjoying having control instead of being part of a partnership.
SP-Any genre you’d like to try in the future?
SM-Not really. I love doing what I’m doing. I like writing romantic novels. Happily, Choc Lit like what I write.