Hi and welcome to my blog, Suzie. Please make yourself at home and grab a drink from my hunky cabana boys, Zeke and Jake. So tell us a little about yourself.
I’d like to start by saying a big thank you for having me today, Raine… I’m author Suzie Tullett, from Lancashire in the North of England. I’ve been married for 23 years and have two very gorgeous sons; one of whom now lives in China and one who lives just outside London. Prior to writing novels I was a scriptwriter by profession, although in the early days of my writing career I was also lucky enough to have some poetry and short stories published, too.
Q: What genre do you write and for what publisher(s)?
I write contemporary women’s fiction and because I love to make people laugh, it tends to have a very humorous slant.
Saying that, my latest release (published by Mirador) seems to have appealed to a male readership as well – something that came as a bit of a surprise!
Q: Tell us about your latest/upcoming release. What inspired it?
Going Underground explores issues surrounding how people have a tendency to live ‘in’ the past, as opposed to living ‘with’ it. And how doing so can impact not just on their own lives as individuals, but also on everyone else’s around them. Using both comedy and pathos, it’s a very human and poignant tale; one that follows a series of journeys – physical, spiritual and metaphorical, examining relationships on all levels along the way. And not just that of husband and wife either, but friendships old and new.
As far as the book’s setting goes, my husband can take the credit for that. He’s been a part of the scooter scene ever since he was a young teenager and there’s only so many mornings an author can wake up to Paul Weller’s ‘Town Called Malice’ before feeling the need to put it to some other good use! So I suppose my husband can take credit for Going Underground having its very own soundtrack as well.
Q: How do you build characters, their personalities and looks?
Usually characters come from a statement I might hear – something said by a complete stranger and totally out of context with regards to the rest of their conversation. I then use this to conjure up a whole persona, warts and all; right down to something as simple as their favourite colour and why that is, or where they went to school and whether or not they fit in there.
In fact, a lot of what I write when it comes to developing characters doesn’t actually ever reach the page, but it’s all necessary groundwork if I want to write well rounded characters that readers can believe in.
Q: Tell me about some of your heroes/heroines.
In Going Underground, the hero and heroine are Tracey and Jonathan, a couple who’ve spent years trying to get pregnant. And having finally achieved what once seemed the impossible, we’re introduced to them just two weeks before the baby’s due date. Of course, Tracey can’t wait to be a mum, whereas Jonathan is a reluctant father-to-be, leaving Tracey no choice but to turn private investigator in a bid to find out why.
In many ways, these two are opposites – she tends to be very up front, whereas he’s quite reticent – a combination that on the whole has served them well. But when Tracey unwittingly sets off a chain of events that could signal their relationship’s downfall, if they’re to secure any continuing future together at all, they’re going to have to learn to trade places.
Q: What do you do when the muse decides to take a holiday or become really difficult? How do you try to coax them back to the drawing board?
Thankfully, I’ve never had to quite deal with this issue yet. I’ve felt him trying to sneak away the odd couple of times, but so far I’ve been able to drag him back before he’s managed to escape completely.
Q: Do you have any specific things (or rituals) that help you to write or that inspire you?
Nothing major, just silly things like always using a specific kind of pen and notebook. You see, I’m not one of those writers who can sit at a computer for days on end, I have to flit between typing and hand writing – usually taking myself off somewhere different when it comes to the latter, such as a coffee shop. The change of scenery seems to do me some creative good and as strange as it might sound, so does being surrounded by people.
Q: If you could go back to a specific historical event, what one would it be and why?
Now this question I can’t really answer. You’re asking a woman who unfortunately knows very little about history – at school, we never seemed to get past the Vikings.
Q: Does travel play a part in your stories? Have you ever traveled for research purposes for a book?
Travel does feature, yes, in both Going Underground and in the book I’m currently working on…
In Going Underground, the characters go from the North of England to the South coast – not the most glamorous of journeys, I have to admit, especially when one set of travel companions are travelling on scooters, with the other set squashed into a classic, little mini! But I did do the journey, myself, prior to writing the novel, to make sure I got the details of the places along the way just right and that my directions were geographically correct… Although unlike my characters, I also had something of a more comfortable ride when I did it.
Thankfully for me, the book I’m working on at the moment does have a more glamorous journey to it. Lydia, my protagonist, goes from the UK to a Greek island in the Dodecanese. Not that we see how she actually gets there; the story is more about her emotional journey upon arrival, when she finds herself having to deal with one escapade after another. And, of course, this meant I had to spend time there as well – all in the name of research.
Q: Are there any authors who have influenced your work?
I do like the down to earth humour in many of the Marianne Keyes novels, the quirkiness in characters of Australian author, Liane Moriarty (The Last Anniversary) and I found the situation comedy that Karen Quinn brought to her novel The Ivy Chronicles absolutely hilarious – many of her scenes still making me laugh to this day… it would be nice to think I’ve managed to bring just a little bit of each into my own writing.
Q: What comes first for you: Setting? Storyline? Characters? Or a combination of all three?
Definitely character for me. An imaginary person pops into my head ready to be developed into a full blown persona; then I think about what their life is like and what event could possibly turn that life right on its head. And only then do any settings and storylines really come into play.
Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity(s) would you like to star as your main character(s)?
It’s funny you should ask me this; readers are constantly telling me Going Underground would make a great movie adaptation. But then again, that’s probably my scriptwriting experience coming into play throughout all of my writings.
The tone of this book is definitely Brit Flick in novel form, so I guess I should go with British Actors … So for the men I’d probably have Jude Law playing Jonathan, Eddie Webber as Mickey P. and Danny Dyer as The Ace Face. And when it comes to the women, it would be nice to see Sally Hawkins and Andrea Riseborough in the line up.
Q: What do you have coming next? Anything you want to tell us?
At the moment I’m concentrating on writing my next novel. A comedy about a woman who tells a little white lie that then turns into a great big whopper. And as events start to snowball out of her control as a result, before she knows it, she’s in way over her head
Q: If you came with a warning label, what would it say?
It would probably have to be something along the lines of ‘Woman with attitude!’ Although I mean this in the nicest possible way.
Q: What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?
I like to write stories with characters that readers can identify with, often fusing both comedy and tragedy to demonstrate how very often one can stem from the other.
Q: Where can we find you on the web?
Going Underground by Suzie Tullett.
A laugh out loud, feel good novel with Brit Flick flair..
At 8 ¾ months pregnant, Tracey Parkes has everything she wants in life. A nice house, even if it is a bit on the small side, a long awaited baby on the way and a reliable husband to boot… Well, as reliable as a husband can be when he’s keeping a long held secret – a secret she’s desperate to uncover.
But with Jonathan continuing to keep schtum over the whole thing, Tracey is forced to turn to his past for answers. And it’s the unfortunate death of his old friend, Malcolm that provides her with just the opportunity she’s been waiting for – an opportunity she soon wishes she hadn’t taken.
Of course, the last thing Tracey expects is to find both herself and her humongous belly squashed into the back of a classic, little Mini – all in a desperate attempt to catch up with three men on two vintage scooters. But with Jonathan seemingly hell bent on facing up to a past he’s spent years trying to forget, what choice does the mother-to-be have?
“Did you know,” asked Megan. “That the name ‘Louise’ actually means ‘famous battle maid’?”
All very interesting, considered Tracey, at the same time wondering what on earth the girl was going on about. But a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will suffice.
“And everyone knows that grief can make people do things they wouldn’t normally do, don’t they?” she continued.
Yep, now I’m completely lost, the mother-to-be couldn’t help but tell herself – unable to quite connect the two statements in relation to each other, let alone with a request to drive both her and Andrea down to Brighton.
“And should one particular famous battle maid feel the grief stricken need, the last thing I want is my Ace Face in a position where he has no choice but to oblige, isn’t it?”
“Right…” said Tracey and in realising this was all somehow part of Megan’s decision making process, she found herself slowly nodding in agreement – despite not having a clue as to what it was that she was actually agreeing with.
In fact, none of what this young woman was saying was making any sense whatsoever and she began to wonder if this had been such a good idea after all.
She looked to Andrea for some assistance.
“So, does that mean you will drive us to Brighton then?” Andrea duly obliged.
“Yes,” came Megan’s simple reply. “Of course it does.”
Tracey shook her head, by now completely baffled.
“Louise is Malc’s girlfriend,” whispered Andrea, by way of an explanation. “The plan is for her to meet up with the boys when it comes to them scattering his ashes.”
Not that Tracey gave one iota who planned to be present, as long as by then Jonathan wasn’t amongst them.
“You two load your bags up,” Megan instructed, whilst pointing in the general direction of the garage. “I’ll go and let mum and dad know where I’m off and then I’ll grab my toothbrush.”
Tracey watched her happily head off back inside the house, at the same time speculating over whether or not she’d inadvertently entered some sort of twilight zone – a feeling that only got worse when Andrea proceeded to lift the up and over garage doors, revealing what had been hidden within.
She looked from what she saw to Andrea and back again.
“You’ve got to be kidding?” she said. “Someone please tell me this isn’t happening.”
Going Underground is available in all good book stores and on Amazon in both the UK and US, in paperback and many e-reader formats.