Friday, June 8, 2012

TBR welcomes Sue Moorcroft

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Sue Moorcroft. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Sue: I don’t know where I come from. Or, at least, I never know how to answer the question, ‘Where are you from?’ because I was born into an army family in Germany, left at six weeks old, went to Cyprus, Malta, England and Malta again before returning to England at the age of eight. But then I settled in England and have been boringly here ever since.

I’m a writer and a creative writing tutor. My first love is writing novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes, but I also write short stories, serials, articles, courses and writing ‘how to’. I’m the head judge for a UK writing magazine called Writers’ Forum and write two of their columns.

I love Formula 1 racing and have a column at I have some magical memories of scuba diving but haven’t felt the urge to dive for a while; I’m learning to play the piano in a desultory way. My exercise passions are yoga and zumba.

TBR: Tell us about Love & Freedom and where it's available.
Sue: My latest book is Love & Freedom and you can buy it here or wherever you usually buy your fiction.

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt
Sue:  Honor Sontag leaves her home in west Connecticut and travels to Brighton, on the south coast of England, to search for the mother who left her as a baby. She falls in love with a village, Eastingdean, near Brighton, where she rents a bungalow from Clarissa Mayfair. Clarissa’s “little” brother is 6’4” mysterious Martyn Mayfair. He doesn’t seem to have a proper job but does have a stalker. Honor goes to work for the stalker, which is unfortunate, and finds herself drawn into several eccentric English lives, including that of Ru, the stalker’s fourteen-year-old son, and Frog, Ru’s bully. Ru really needs somebody, so I’m glad it’s Honor, because she’s lion-hearted.

Martyn Mayfair is fascinated by Honor – but she’s exactly the kind of woman he’s sworn off. So he has to find a way past that.
The action travels back to Connecticut because when people get in trouble, they go home. And Honor gets in trouble …

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Sue: They begin to drift into my head and I have a hazy vision of them. I let them hang out there for a while, usually whilst I’m working on the previous book. When I really want to get to know them, I begin to write about them in longhand. Writing in longhand seems to open up a special channel to my imagination. I begin with a biography, thinking a lot about the character’s past and what made them who they are. It’s haphazard; just getting thoughts down. At some time in this process, I find I’m writing first person instead of third, ie I’ve ‘become’ the character, like a method actor. When that happens, I’m getting somewhere.

I research anything major connected with the character, too. For example, in Love & Freedom Martyn’s real job is a plot point (so I’m not going to tell you what it is!) and I had to interview someone who did the same thing. When you find out what that is, you’re going to be jealous.

I also like to write about the major characters from the point of view of other important people in their lives because, for instance, Martyn’s big sister, Clarissa, who is really his natural mother, has a different view of him than Honor or his friend Ace does.

TBR: Do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?
Sue:  Mickey Spillane - “The best inspiration is an empty bank account.”

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Sue: How much fun it can be to share research. I’m a bit of a research junkie and try hard to get under the skin of my subject – but I usually do it alone. But I shared the experience in Connecticut with members of my family, who happily drove me up and down Route 7 to find a place that only exists in my imagination. And my son is at university in Brighton, about three hours from my home, so I’d go down for a few days at a time to take hundreds of photos, gather information and chat to myself on the voice recorder of my phone. (Nobody thinks you’re mad if you’re talking into a phone, nor thinks that you’re talking about figments of your imagination.)

One day, I hooked up with my son, and though he had a hangover, he walked all Honor’s walks with me, and took her bus rides. She also had to go on the roller coaster, but I let my son off that duty, as I’m sure roller coasters and hangovers are a bad mix. But it’s a day that sticks in my memory, not just for the pleasure of his company, but it getting another person’s perspective on what I was doing.

And when I was back at home and had supplementary questions, he got me the answers, or sent me explanatory photos. One day, I sent him a text asking whether Honor would be able to see the ruined West Pier from the entrance of the Palace Pier and he rang and said, ‘Is she seventeen feet tall? Then, no.’

TBR: What's next for you?
Sue:  Dream a Little Dream, which comes out in the US in November.

It’s about Liza, who readers might have met before, as she’s the younger sister of Cleo from All That Mullarkey. Liza is way too naughty and fun to be condemned forever to secondary characterland so, although I left her safely loved up with Adam at the end of All That Mullarkey, between the two books I’ve arranged for her to have messed that up. She’s making a new life, but clashing with Dominic Christy, who has to make a new life of his own, having had to leave his job as an air traffic controller after developing the rare sleep disorder, narcolepsy. (If I’d realised the complexities of narcolepsy, I probably would have chosen something easier to write about. But my inner research junkie has taken over, and I’ve been fortunate to receive a huge amount of help from a lovely guy, coincidentally also called Dominic, who has the condition.)

TBR: Any other published works?
Sue: My first published book was Uphill All the Way (Transita) but I’d written Starting Over and All That Mullarkey before Uphill. The market didn’t seem quite right for them at the time, although they went into acquisition meetings (ie fell at the final hurdle). But then I found Choc Lit and they publish exactly what I love to write most, and they wanted Starting Over and All That Mullarkey. A book called Family Matters had gone to Robert Hale, meantime, but only in hardback, so I rewrote it as Want to Know a Secret? for Choc Lit.

I’ve also written a writing ‘how to’ book for Accent Press, it’s called Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction and brings together my experience in writing romantic fiction, my skills as a tutor and my contacts through being a long-term member of the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association.

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Sue: A lovely thing happened to me at a booksigning, recently. I’d given a lady one of my bookmarks and she stopped politely to half-listen to my spiel about being in the store to promote my books. Then she suddenly pounced on All That Mullarkey and said, ‘Oh, THIS book! I’m reading this right now and I absolutely love it. Do you write anything like her?’ And I was able to say, ‘Yes. I am her.’ It turned out that she was recovering from serious illness and reading a lot, so she bought all my other books, except for Want to Know a Secret? because it has a hospital in it and she had had enough of those.

It made my day.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Sue: My website is at, my blog at and the Choc Lit Authors blog is at

TBR: Readers, Sue will give away a paperback copy of Love & Freedom to one lucky commenter. She'll pick a winner on 15th June 2012 and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so she can contact you.

Thanks for visiting TBR, Sue. All the best to you.


  1. Welcome to TBR, Sue. I absolutely love that cover.

  2. Thank you! Lovely to be here. Pretty, isn't it? I love it.


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