I always struggle with this question! I’ve only really been writing with the intent of making a career out of it for about 4 years. I’d always dabbled here and there, but never anything big and I don’t think I ever really completed anything I started! After my brother was killed in a workplace accident I started writing more and more as a means of distraction and, I guess in my own way, coping. Once I was writing consistently, I found that I really enjoyed it and it became a much bigger part of my life. The turning point was when I attended a weekend Masterclass with the amazing author, Fiona McIntosh, who not only inspired me, but gave me the confidence and courage to really make a go of it.
In my day to day life I’m a marriage and funeral celebrant so that of course gave me plenty of great fodder for stories filled with romance and hilarious and cringe-worthy moments! I’m also a Mum to three fabulous kids - more great fodder. When I’m not writing I’m usually standing on the edge of a cliff, on a P&O cruise ship or even getting blown away on a beach somewhere while officiating a couples wedding ceremony. I also spent 3 months at the SA Writers Centre as their Writer in Residence which I loved. That’s me in a nutshell.
What is the hardest part of being an author?
Finishing! The hardest part is pushing through all of the points at which you get stuck or fed up or just think it’s all rubbish, so that you can finally write ‘The End’. The isolation of writing can also be hard. I sometimes sit in my little office and bang away at my keyboard for hours without talking to another living person and that can be difficult. It’s great to have a writing group or like-minded friends to chat to about your writing and to bounce ideas off. I’ve recently decided to seek out a critique partner, so I’ll let you know how that goes.
What do you enjoy most about being an author?
Finishing! Haha, I hate to repeat myself, but it’s the truth. I have never felt prouder than I did the moment I finished writing my first book. (That was until the edits came back!) I remember that the day I finished it I felt as if I had just been let out of prison after a long stint. That sounds bad, but it wasn’t. My head had been in this story for so long, constantly re-working the characters, their lives and their stories. I’d ride the bus thinking about them, cook dinner with them talking to each other in my head, I was like a zoned out potato. I’ve learnt now how to turn it on and off rather than have it constantly consuming my thoughts, but when I finished the first manuscript it was like being set free for the first time in months. It felt amazing!
What authors/books have had an influence on your writing?
Soooo many, but I’d have to say that it was most definitely Kathy Lette’s ‘How to Kill Your Husband and Other Handy Household Hints’, that pulled me from crime and murder to Women’s Fiction. I was given the book as a gift and scoffed at it because I’d only ever read books like Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series, but once I started reading it I was hooked and I’ve never looked back. I love Bridget Jones and of course the more historical romances by Fiona McIntosh.
Do you ever get Writer’s Block? If so, how do you deal with it? Do you believe there is such a thing?
I have to say that I don’t really get writer’s block, at least not yet anyway! I see many posts on social media about people sitting in front of empty pages and not having any inspiration, but I see stories in EVERYTHING. In fact my list of story ideas is about 8 pages long. Not sure I’ll ever have the time to write them all, but I’m trying.
Do you have a particular place that you like to write?
I will write pretty much anywhere. With the life that I lead, if I waited until I was seated in my office, in front of my desk, I’d never get the chance to write anything! I’ll write on the bus, while waiting in the car at soccer training, in my lunch break at work and anywhere else I can manage, but what I do like is somewhere that I can see people. I am a massive people watcher and I love to watch their mannerisms and interactions. Sometimes you also have to check out places to include in your story, I’ve ended up in places I would never have imagined, like an adult entertainment shop!
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
I write whenever I can, but if I had the luxury of choice, I would choose to write in the morning. I’m usually fresh and full of ideas in the morning, but the reality is that a lot if the time I end up writing in the middle of the night when I’m tired, cranky and feeding my face with wine and chocolate!
How do you like to reach your readers?
I communicate mostly via my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/susanmurphyauthor and my website/blog at: http://www.susanmurphyauthor.com/
I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn and I often get spots on book blogger posts etc. Goodreads is also a great place to connect with other writers and readers. I love it when people leave messages about how they enjoyed the book or just jump on Facebook and join in with whatever is going on at the time.
Can you tell us about your latest book?
I actually have 2 books on the go at the moment.
The first is ChickLit, similar to my first 2 books in the Confetti Confidential series, but this one is stand alone and has all new characters. It is complete and currently with the publisher, so fingers crossed!
The working title is ‘Never Let You Go’ and it is set in beautiful Hawaii.
Here is the blurb:
According to the poets ‘True love comes but once’, but what if you missed it?
Jennifer Bell knows she missed her chance when she was forced to let go of the love of her life more than 20 years ago. Heartbroken and alone, she fell into the arms of a charming guy and into his violent hold. Barely escaping with her life and bearing scars that would likely never heal, she vowed never to let herself fall in love again.
Throwing herself into her work as a marriage celebrant to escape her own life, she spends her time helping others achieve their fairy tale ending. But what if the chance for love found its way back to her?
While on a working holiday to Hawaii, with her crazy best friend, Anna, an encounter with the man she lost all those years ago could change everything.
Will she have the courage to fight for what she wants? Or will she discover that the poets were right after all and love comes but once for each of us.
‘Never Let You Go’ is a story of love and friendship that knows no bounds. It is a story of finding yourself through the toughest of experiences and learning how to not only love again, but how to love yourself.
The second is a bit of a leap for me into historical Fiction and is based loosely on a true story. It is set in the late 1930s through the to the 1940s and goes back and for the between then and the present through a box full of old letters. I’m really excited about this project and early feedback on the first few chapters has been wonderful. There’s a post about the story and the research on my website at: http://www.susanmurphyauthor.com/#!Writing-Historical-Fiction/c1q8z/577ce68e0cf25c6b0c157be4
How long did it take you to write the book?
‘Never Let You Go’ took me about 4 months to write, as did my previous 2 books. I tend to write quite fast and lean and then add content on edit rather than remove it like most writers do. I’m strange like that! The historical fiction story is proving a little more challenging and I suspect will take me a lot longer. This is the first time I’ve really had to research and try to write about a time that I did not experience myself and that is not easy.
Do you have a favourite character/topic in your work?
As I mentioned I’m a marriage celebrant and have been for over ten years. I think that this really gave me a great topic to write about and a wealth of stories. I also have three sisters, so there is definitely some true life in some of my books. The crazy antics and cringe-worthy scenes are exaggerated or made up of course, but it was a great to have a base from which to write. My sisters, like me, are all quite mad. I’ve also worked with lots of couples, dealt with all kinds of personalities and experienced a lot of interesting things, as well as travelled to lots of locations, so it’s all great for story telling.
What was your process? Did you plot out the entire book, or just let the storyline flow? Do you write in chronological order?
I generally tend to mull over an idea in my head for a while and then just sit down and write. I don’t plan too much, but I do write in chronological order and I print out a calendar of the timeframe I am covering and make sure that I’m keeping to that truthfully. It’s amazing though what a good editor picks up and I was reminded numerous times during edits on both my books that I had skipped to the wrong day/date etc. Thank goodness for editors!
Once I have my timeframe I like to just let the story flow. When I used to write I would get so caught up in the planning that I wouldn’t get around to the writing, and when I did start, I would find that I felt constricted by my plans. Once I just let go and allowed the story to take me wherever it wanted to, I found my stories were so much more fun, interesting and engaging. Since then I’ve stuck with that method and it’s always a surprise!
Do you have plans for further instalments?
One day I might do another in the Confetti Confidential series. Those sisters were so crazy and hilarious that there are plenty more antics they could get up to. For now, I’m really enjoying the jump to historical fiction so I’ll see how that goes for a while.
Do you have a plan for your next book?
After the historical fiction, I’d love to write another ChickLit and make yet another jump to a suspense. Not sure I can pull that off, but I’ll give it ago. I love a challenge!
Ebooks vs Physical books? Do you have a preference when reading?
Oooooh, hard one! I’ve always been a book person. I like the feel of a book and turning the pages, but after getting my first Kindle for Christmas, I have to admit, it’s pretty damn awesome. I jump around a lot with my reading so being able to take a Kindle loaded with different genres when I’m travelling or trying to ignore my family,is fantastic. I gave myself a neck injury from carrying a bag stuffed with a Fiona McIntosh novel in it once. Those things way a tonne (but are so worth the injury!)
Self-publishing vs traditional publishing? What are your thoughts? Do you feel that the industry is changing?
I respect both 100% Traditional publishing isn’t for everyone and neither is Indie. I think that writer’s need to do what feels right for them and their work and if they feel they want or need a traditional publisher then great, but if not then Indie is a fabulous way to get their work out there and read by the masses. When I look for books I go by what appeals to me about it, not by who published it.
And finally, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?
The best advice I could give to aspiring authors is to write. Just write and get on with it. Don’t go back over it, don’t question and re-read and agonise. Write it then give it a once over and seek only 1 or 2 people to look it over for you and give you some honest feedback. When I’m writing I’m thinking that it’s complete and utter crap the entire time and wondering who the hell would read this? But I push those thoughts aside and keep going and for some reason, still unknown to me, others enjoy it and so did a publisher.
How can readers contact you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com.au/Confetti-Confidential-Annabels-Wedding-ebook/dp/B00RKU7UU6/
Thank you so much for dropping in today Susan. Good luck with the new book!
If you'd like to be interviewed for this blog or have a great story you'd like to share, please drop me a line.
Until next week my loves,