I’ve tweeted with Sue Moorcroft since my early days of blogging in 2011, not only enjoying the stories she crafts but enjoying reading about her research and other writerly things she shares on her blog. So I’m feeling honoured to be hosting Sue today, chatting about her latest release The Christmas Promise. You’ll be able to grab the paperback on 1st December.
Award-winning author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. A past vice chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies, Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor. She’s won a Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award and the Katie Fforde Bursary.
Sue’s latest book is The Christmas Promise (Avon Books UK, HarperCollins)
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise The Christmas Promise in 20 words or less.
Ava Bliss crafts gorgeous handmade hats. When Sam commissions a special gift, Ava makes a promise that’s hard to keep.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
I hadn’t written a Christmas novel and decided it would be a good idea. Then I got a bit Christmassed-out because I had to write a Christmas serial at the same time and so I made Ava no fan of the Season. I wanted to shine a light on the fact that not everybody does love Christmas, for which there can be many reasons. As I’d met a couture milliner (somebody who makes hats by hand) and was madly attracted to the beauty and skill involved in that profession, Ava came to me as highly creative … but with her business not going too well. To pile conflict upon conflict, her ex-boyfriend’s trying to control her with threats. Sam’s conflict, that his mum’s spending Christmas between major surgery and chemotherapy, let me explore his vulnerabilities and strengths.
If you could choose to be one of your characters Sue who would you be? and why?
Ava because, y’know … Sam.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be …?
I’d tell Ava that she doesn’t have to be alone and Sam that he can’t always be in charge. I’m glad I didn’t have the opportunity to tell them these things or I’d have a very short book.
How do your characters come into existence Sue? Do they have a bio?
Writing extensive character bios is pretty much my starting point when planning a novel. I like to really get to know them, especially in the context of my premise (the underlying story). For some reason I like to do this with pen and paper. As well as basic facts, likes, dislikes, appearance and career I like to look at each character through the eyes of other characters. To take Ava as an example, I would take Sam’s viewpoint and see what he thought of her, what her best friend Izz thinks of her, how her parents see her, as well as her view of herself and what she thinks of other characters. I’m very big on having a lot of backstory for each character, too, so that I’ll know how they react to situations – and this often provides plot points in the frontstory, too. I feel my technique creates many-faceted characters. I always have pictures in my mind of the central characters and these may be pastiches of real people or a picture I saw in a magazine. Sam came into being because I saw a man in a pub and I liked the way his hair lay.
Do you think movie adaptations do books justice? Do you have a favourite?
I don’t watch many films or much TV either (all and any Formula 1 coverage is an exception to this) so it’s not a surprise that as a general rule I would prefer the book version. I like knowing what goes on in characters’ heads as well as just what they say and do, or what other characters say about them or do to them. I am interested in how the two forms differ, what works best for each, and if I do watch a movie I often see things coming that others say they don’t because I understand enough about storytelling to know that things happen in a story for a reason.
I’d love to have my books made into a film or mini-series and would try to be very grown up about the conversion to movie format but would probably have to watch the screening through my fingers.
What are you reading now Sue? Opinion?
I’m reading Jo Thomas’s Late Summer in the Vineyard, which I’m thoroughly enjoying, not just for the characters and the pronounced how’s-Emmy-going-to-resolve-this element but because I know Jo and have been in the Dordogne region of France with her, so I’m enjoying the way she portrays it.
Have you done any creative writing courses that you would recommend to others?
I am a creative writing tutor so I will recommend my courses (found on my events page).
Does your book tackle a social barrier Sue?
The Christmas Promise, like several of my books, does tackle an ‘issue’, in this case the crime of sharing explicit images of someone without permission and with intent to cause distress. It’s so often an ex that does the sharing that this has been coined ‘revenge porn’ and it’s a heinous crime that’s grown out of the existence of social media and of websites that depend upon salacious content in order to sell advertising. Ava’s being secretly threatened with revenge porn by her ex-boyfriend and it makes her make decisions and act in ways that confuse others, so it wrote itself into the story.
Sam’s issue, fear of losing a loved one, is equally as impactful to his story but it’s not hidden from others so the consequences are different.
Finally Sue, can you share what you’re working on now?
I sort of have two WIPs as I’m editing Just for the Holidays (Avon May 2017) and planning another book, which is currently called My Next Book.
Just for the Holidays is about Leah, who has made conscious choices not to have a husband or children, ending up looking after her sister’s husband and children on holiday in France. A friend told me a holiday-from-hell story and I asked if I could steal the premise. (She said yes, by the way.)
Thanks for inviting me onto your blog!
Thank you for being my guest 🙂
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Avon (1 Dec. 2016)
For Ava Bliss, it’s going to be a Christmas to remember …
On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.
Times are tough for Ava she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.
So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet.