‘My next book’ – all three of them

Question: which of these statements is true?

Answer: they all are.

How can that be? Because what constitutes ‘my next book’ depends upon the context of the conversation.

  • Just for the Holidays – ‘is my next book to be published’. (18 May 2017 in ebook, paperback and audio, if you’re interested. And you can order it here.) This is also the next book to be promoted, which will involve me in writing blog posts, social media, radio interviews etc.
  • Give Me Till Christmas – ‘I’ve just sent my next book to my editor’. (9 October 2017 in ebook, 2 November paperback, audio tba. I was a little shocked to be told last week that you can order this, too.) This will be the next book to be edited. Structural edits first (ironing out all the plot lines that aren’t quite working etc.); next come line edits (minutiae and punctuation etc.); finally the proofreading.
  • The Summer of Finding Out – ‘I’m just about to begin researching and planning my next book.’ (Scheduled for Summer 2018) This will be the next book to be written, in between the promo of Just for the Holidays and the editing of Give Me Till Christmas.

In case you’re wondering, I am no special case. Many novelists work in this way. Personally, I love it. I choose to see it not as a pressure but as an affirmation that I’m a commercially published author. I don’t groan when I’m asked to do promo because whoever has asked me is helping me to sell my books. I don’t go into a huff when I receive my editorial notes, line edits or proofreading because we’re all working to produce the best book I can. (That sentence is grammatically incorrect on purpose – a team works to produce my book. How cool is that?)

Lest you think I’m polishing my halo, there are things I don’t react well to – spurious interruptions, people wasting my time unnecessarily, unreasonable people etc. etc. Here’s a recent example:

Phone rings. I answer. It’s the bank, asking to speak to another member of my household, one who is out of the house during the working day. This is the fifth time in two days that they’ve called with the same request. The first four times, I pointed out politely that the person is not here because he doesn’t work here but I do. Please, could the bank stop these calls? They’re interrupting me. On the fifth occasion, I’m half way through a difficult scene and my temper snaps along with the thread of what I’m trying to write. I find myself rising vertically from my chair. ‘Look! I keep telling you that he doesn’t work here! I DO! Look in your records for his daytime number and RING HIM THERE! It’s DAYTIME! I’ve told you and told you and told you this and you persist in interrupting me! I’m self-employed and I’m TRYING TO DO MY JOB! Why don’t you GO AWAY AND DO YOURS? And if you’re stupid enough to ring here again with the same request I’m going to take all my money out of your bank and put it somewhere else. Plus, I’m going to speak to your supervisor and tell him or her that you’re stupid! Right?’

And, you know what, she didn’t ring back and I was able to get on with my next book.

Head to Head with Sue Moorcroft

Jenny Harper - TFA

Jenny: the interviewer

Today on Take Five Authors I’m seizing the chance to interview one of our own members, Sue Moorcroft. Such a treat!

Sue Moorcroft - TFA

Sue: the interviewee

Tell us about The Wedding Proposal, Sue.

It’s set on Malta. I’d always wanted to write a reunion book, as I love reading them. Had I realised how much plotting of the backstory I’d have to carry out in order to make the front story work, I might have thought twice! I was brought up for several years in Malta and a part of my heart will always be there so, periodically, I send characters out to the island. I put Elle and Lucas on a small boat together in a yacht marina we used to be able to see from our balcony, when I was a child. Then I sat back and waited for fireworks … because Lucas hates secrets, and Elle has a lot.

Now we’re seeing a bit of a shift, aren’t we? What are you working on now?

Yes – I have another book out in the autumn! It’s called The Christmas Promise. I’ve been excited about this book for ages. It’s about Ava, who hates Christmas, has to admit that her couture millinery business has run into trouble, and is being threatened with revenge porn; and what happens to Sam who’s giving his mum Christmas because she’s between surgery and chemotherapy. The cover will be revealed soon – and I can’t wait to share it!

I’m curious, Sue – do you have writing buddies, or use beta readers?

I have two kinds of beta readers. The kind who read the book at second or third draft stage and tell me where the plot isn’t working or when characters have been off-stage too long. They’re both men, so they comment heavily on the segments of my novels that are written through the hero’s eyes, heavy on the humour and sarcasm. The second category of beta readers change book to book. They are people who have been so kind as to help me with research and I ask them to read the manuscript to tell me where I’ve gone wrong. Both kinds of beta readers are invaluable. (Thank you, guys!)

Can you work with the tv on? Or music? Or do you like to squirrel yourself away?

I like to write in my study at home, where everything is to hand. That’s not to say that I don’t write in trains, planes, coffee shops, hotels etc, when necessary! I do often have music on but I choose carefully. If I’m writing a first draft (the difficult bit, for me) then I’ll often play orchestral stuff so I don’t get distracted by lyrics (which always seem better than what I’m writing …). I prefer not to have people around me when I write.

I know you’re a busy lady – you don’t just write novels, you also write short stories and teach creative writing. I’m guessing you don’t have much time for anything else?

Well … I’m learning the piano (slowly), I do yoga, Zumba and FitStep, I like to hang out with friends. I’m a Formula 1 obsessive. I actually gave up a Formula 1 column because writing it was spoiling my enjoyment of the races. As soon as the year’s calendar is available I put race weekends in my diary and try to be home for every race and as many practice and qualifying sessions as I can. I like to watch Formula 1 in silence. Alone.

Gosh. I’m feeling weak at the thought of all of that! One final question – what are your top writing tips?

Educate yourself, learn about publishing as well as writing, and persist.

Thanks for taking time to talk to me, Sue! You’ll find all Sue’s contact details on her page on this blog (see top).