Sue Moorcroft - Frequently Asked Questions
- Where do you get your inspiration? Is it like a light bulb moment or is it carefully planned in advance?
It's more of a 'brewing' process. I hear about things that interest me; I need a commercial slant; I want a hero and heroine who will be attracted to each other but also have things keeping them apart; I need them to have goals and conflicts. So I suppose the initial spark comes from somewhere and then I do a lot of thinking - and, yes, a lot of planning. I'm not a writer who just gets a vague idea, starts on page 1 and writes into the mist. Neither are my characters born on page 1. I like to know a lot about their lives so far as well as where I'm going to take them.
- Of all your books do you have a favourite or a specific character within one that you really love?
I've never fallen out of love with Ratty, from Starting Over. I count him as my most popular hero as he's the only one who has received his own fan mail. He's done his own interviews, too. I couldn't shelve him, so he appeared in All That Mullarkey, too, as Cleo's landlord. I was asked to write him into Dream a Little Dream but he wouldn't come 'on stage'. I think he thought he'd be there just for the sake of making an appearance rather than having a purpose in the story. I agreed with him.
- What lengths do you go to in order to research specific topics incorporated within your books?
I take my research seriously. Some subjects are straightforward but the subject that really tested me was narcolepsy, which is a neurological condition that causes uncontrolled sleep. I wanted the hero of Dream a Little Dream, Dominic, to have an unusual condition and hit on that one. Had I known what a fantastical and unusual condition narcolepsy is, I might have picked something easier. However, I became involved with Narcolepsy UK and with one particular person who gave up a considerable amount of time to helping me understand. I also read a lot, hung out on the Narcolepsy UK and other message boards, attended conferences and consulted medical professionals.
- When did you first realise that you wanted (or had) to be a writer?
Quite young. I began my first book when I was 8 or 9 (never finished it) but I was 10 when a teacher said to me, 'One day there will be books on the shelf with "Sue Moorcroft" on the spine.' The teacher wasn't a nice guy but somehow I wish he was around so that I could say, 'You were right.' I did think I'd be a journalist, but I didn't have the push at the right time to make that happen. I always wrote but I didn't begin trying to get published until the early 90s. My first story sold to a national newsstand magazine in 1996. (The letter arrived on April 1st. I thought it might be a joke ...)
- What do you do in your leisure time?
My great passions are reading fantastic novels that carry me away in my imagination, and watching Formula 1 racing. In fact, I don't just watch the races - I watch every practice or qualifying session, F1 report or documentary I can. I love to hang out with friends. I also like Zumba, FitStep and yoga and I'm learning the piano in a desultory way.
- Do you always write about places you know well and have been to, or do you sometimes use pictures from the internet to help you describe locations for your stories?
Large chunks of my settings come out of my imagination (I draw maps to help me) but I position them near to a real place. I visit the real places and I take copious photos with my phone or digital camera. They upload to my computer in the same order as I took them, which is really useful. (Tip: if you try this, take a picture of the street sign where you've left your car so that you can find it again.) I also make notes on the voice recorder of my phone.
I do use the Internet, too, to augment my visits, or if the location is a long way away and my characters are visiting only briefly.
- What advice would you give to new writers, or writers setting out on the first steps of their career?
- Educate yourself - courses, seminars, forums, magazines, 'how to' books, talks, writing groups, classes, blogs; whatever suits you best. Learn about publishing as well as writing.
- Persist. I truly believe that the name for a writer who doesn't give up is 'published'.
- Don't make enemies.
Thanks to the readers, members of Team Sue Moorcroft and social media friends who contributed these questions.