I’m delighted to be welcoming Sue Shepherd back to the blog again. Sue’s second novel, Love Them and Leave Them was published a couple of days ago. Today you can find out why her inspiration for this novel is quite sad plus much more! I hope you find Sue’s answers as interesting as I have. Love Them and Leave Them sounds an intriguing read …
Sue Shepherd writes contemporary romance and enjoys creating novels with heart, laughs and naughtiness. She doesn’t pull any punches when choosing her subjects, but manages to handle her characters’ challenging situations with sensitivity and humour.
Her debut novel ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have A Secret?’ was published by Corazon Books in 2015. It reached the top 10 UK Kindle chart, and also topped the romantic comedy, contemporary romance and humour charts.
Sue lives on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle. Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the sea-side and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!
Connect with Sue Shepherd
Welcome back to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise ‘Love Them and Leave Them’ in 20 words or less.
It’s the story of possibilities. Ed makes a seemingly unimportant decision and his daughter’s life takes two very different turns.
What was the inspiration for your novel?
It’s actually quite sad how the idea came to me. I read about a woman who’d swerved to avoid an animal on the road ahead. Unfortunately, she somehow crashed her car into a telegraph pole and almost died. The article went on to detail how her subsequent paralysis had affected not only her, but also those closest to her. As well as the obvious response of feeling devastated for the family, reading that piece left me pondering how desperately she must wish she could go back and choose not to swerve.
From there, I began to think about the lives of her family and to explore the possibility that that one decision could have many knock on effects. So, Ed was created, and before long his daughter came to life for me. She appeared not only as the daughter who still had her dad and had every opportunity, but also as the daughter who’d sadly lost her dad, and, along with him, her whole future.
Please tell us about the characters in Love Them and Leave Them.
Jessie and Jessica Hastings were once the same person. Then, due to a split-second decision by Ed Hastings, her life took two very different paths.
Jessie has learnt a huge lesson – we don’t always get what we want. Every working day for her is a reminder that she’s lost her way and is not living the life she had planned.
Six years ago, Jessie’s world was ripped apart. Now, she’s in a dead end job and she’s pursuing a relationship with a man who doesn’t deserve her. Jessie knows deep down that Chris isn’t good for her. She knows that allowing someone else to determine your mood for the day is not a great way to live your life, but she hopes that if she keeps on being there for Chris, one day they’ll become a proper couple and she’ll have what her mum and dad had. Jessie is a little lost and a little broken. What she needs is someone or something to give her the confidence to get her life back on track.
Jessica is without doubt a confident woman. Her life thus far has made her so. She’s dreamed of becoming a barrister for years and thanks to a good education, a lot of hard work, and a great deal of support, she’s now realising that dream. With nothing to destroy her world, Jessica’s life has continued on the path of self-assurance. Together with her boyfriend, Nick, she’s been on wonderful holidays and dined at fine restaurants. She’s crazy about him, and 100% sure he’s the man for her. She wants to be his wife and the mother to his children, and she will be, just as soon as he’s ready.
What scene did you most enjoy writing Sue?
I enjoy all aspects of writing a book, for very different reasons. The sad scenes are emotionally draining to write but they’re the most moving. The first time you type the ending is also a wonderful moment, that point when you can finally see how everything ties together is a real buzz. (I say the first time because, as any author will tell you, that final scene will be edited several times.) But, you asked which I enjoyed most, and I think I’d probably say the humorous pieces. In ‘Love Them and Leave Them’ I especially liked writing the scenes which include Jessie and Jessica’s little brother, Tom. I’m lucky to have a thirteen-year-old son to thank for much of his material. Writing his cheeky comments kept me smiling.
Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?
This is probably not a very original answer, but the truth is, dog walking. As soon as I hit a crossroads in my writing I walk our standard poodle, Forrest (when he’s naughty I use his full name – Forrest Gump). Then I simply chat to the characters in my head as we make our way around the woods or along the beach. By the time we’ve had a good walk, the dog is usually nice and sleepy and I know where the story needed to go next. So it’s back to the lounge for a snooze for the dog and some frantic typing for me.
Which authors have influenced your writing Sue?
Like so many other women of my age, my journey into contemporary romance began with Jackie Collins. In my twenties I devoured her books. I loved the mix of humour and drama. I also liked how she managed to include a little bit of naughtiness, without turning her books into sex manuals. Then, I added some Jilly Cooper to my range. Come on now, who doesn’t love a bit of Rupert Campbell-Black? In latter years, I began reading Marian Keyes, I found her books thoroughly enjoyable. I admire the way she can combine genuine comedy with absolute sadness – all on the same page.
A few years ago I attended some creative writing courses which were run by the author, Sophie King. I went on to read all her books and I found them heart-warming and entertaining. After the courses, I decided to tackle a novel of my own. I decided to try telling the story from a few different viewpoints as Sophie King does in hers. I’m delighted to say, that little endeavour resulted in my best-selling, first novel, ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?’
Lastly, I must just say, I adore the book ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. I’ve read it numerous times. It’s kind of like my comfort read. Each time I return to it, I’m determined to try writing a time travel novel myself. Who knows, maybe I will. Maybe I already have … but in the future. That’s the beauty of time travel!
Have you joined any writing groups?
Yes. I’m a member of the Wight Fair Writers and Artists Circle. We get together in a coffee shop once a month and encourage each other to write or work on our art. Some of us are published and some are still working towards that goal. It’s a lovely mix of people. Everyone was genuinely delighted for me when my first book did well. I really would urge any writer to try to find a similar group. We writers are usually quite isolated. We shy away from sharing our work with others because we fear criticism, however, if you just brave it and try exposing just a little piece of your work, you may be very pleasantly surprised to discover how enthusiastic others are to hear about your characters and stories. All the members find that they experience a little flurry of productivity during the days following a meeting.
My final question for you Sue …
what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
I love it when people who’ve read my books indulge me in a good old natter about them. It’s wonderful to be able to create characters and situations that people totally buy in to and believe in. The comments that readers make which show me that they genuinely cared about my characters, that they cried for them at their low points or cheered for them when things finally went well, those comments are the absolute best part of being a writer. A storyteller’s greatest wish is that their stories give pleasure.
Thank you for being my guest today.
Wishing you success with all your creative projects.
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1499 KB
Print Length: 367 pages
Publisher: Corazon Books (27 Sept. 2016)
Love Them and Leave Them : Sometimes you have to leave the one you love … sometimes you’re the one who’s left behind. The new heartwarming and heartbreaking romantic comedy from the No.1 bestselling author of Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?
On his way home, Ed makes a split-second decision that changes the lives of all those who love him.
Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessie, is stuck in a job with no prospects, her dreams never fulfilled. It will take more than her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, and temperamental best friend, Coco, to give her the confidence to get her life back on track.
But what if Ed had made another decision? It could all have been so different …
Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessica, has a successful career, loving boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home. But when new clients, a temperamental Coco, and her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, walk into her life, Jessica’s perfect world soon starts to unravel.
Love Them and Leave Them is a story of love, families, friendship and a world of possibilities. Whichever decision Ed makes, the same people are destined to come into his daughter’s life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the mistakes of the past.