Today I am very lucky to have the lovely Sue Watson, author of Love, Lies and Lemon Cake, taking part in an author interview and talking about writing, men and of course, cake!
1. Hi Sue, welcome to Sheli Reads. I loved your latest book Love, Lies and Lemon Cake. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Thank you for having me. I hope there’s cake?
Love, Lies and Lemon Cake is a book that has been in my mind for a long time. It was actually a chapter title in my first book Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes and so I started with the title and worked from that, which I have never done before. Faye, the heroine of the novel is flawed, funny, unsophisticated and a bit of a dreamer. She’s married to a man she doesn’t love, in a job she’s bored with and her daughter’s growing up, so when she discovers a ‘living list’ of things she’d planned to do when she was 18 she’s taken back to those heady days of her youth when anything was possible. Riding through Italy on a pistachio-green Vespa, throwing coins in the Trevi fountain, flying to Paris for dinner and having sex under the stars are just a few of the things on the list. But at 42, she is horrified to discover she only ticked two things off that list – getting married and having a baby. So being a dreamer, Faye decides to do something about it – and plans to take her life back, before it’s too late… but what will she have to sacrifice to get that life?
2. When you were planning the book, was Dan always going to be so lovely or did he just turn out that way?
I have to admit, I fell a little bit in love with Dan. I took my unbridled passion for Ryan Gosling and added the sexy Australian accent and came up with a rather delicious recipe for a man. And no I never imagined he’d be so yummy, which makes me think he must exist because he appeared from nowhere and just took over. I have to keep reminding myself he’s not real and the other day I was in the supermarket (buying Serrano ham and queen green olives obviously) and I heard an Australian accent. It was so funny – for a split second I wondered if it was him! Later I decided to up my medication so I was fine, but it really got to me. As for Dan’s physicality – anyone who saw Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love, will know what I mean – enough said ladies! Ryan won’t mind me using his body for my art – I know we are soul mates – he just hasn’t met me yet.
3. Who was your favourite character to write about?
I loved all the characters – I always do – and by the end of writing a book, most authors will tell you they really miss their characters. But I always enjoy writing the dialogue for quirky characters and Sue (Faye’s friend and boss at the hairdresser’s where she works) was great fun. Sue is a lovely lady but she has delusions of grandeur and uses long words, but they are never the right words. Her husband left her for a red-headed air hostess, and she’s had to embrace the online dating world with gusto – which brings with it plenty of opportunities for humour. I also loved writing lines for Mandy, the tattooed beauty therapist with the looks of a European Princess and the mouth of a docker… these characters write themselves.
4. Reading Love, Lies and Lemon Cake made me extremely hungry – I had to make a goats cheese, Serrano ham and sundried tomato sandwich! Did you snack on anything in particular when you were writing the book?
I only eat ham if it’s been dried in the mountains of Serrano – or the cooked meat aisle in Tesco! J Actually I am always, always dieting – (and always, always overweight) so I have a sensible low calorie breakfast, start writing and by mid-morning I’m starving and end up looking through cupboards for something sweet. If that fails I either head for the nearest shop and buy whatever I’m writing about – or I bake a cake.
5. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’d always wanted to be an actress and it isn’t an obvious alternative career but I love to get inside the minds of people and imagine myself doing and feeling what my characters do… I suppose in that way I’m doing a similar job to that of an actress. I was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers, then I became a TV Producer with the BBC – so my job has always been predominantly about writing. However, the big difference is that with fiction you can just make it up – after the facts and figures of TV and journalism this was a revelation and a very liberating thing.
6. Which other writers in your genre do you admire most?
I try not to read too much in my own genre because much of it is so good I am worried I will read it and feel completely inadequate. I love Marian Keyes and have been knocked out by some of the newer voices coming through like Renita D’Silva, Kelly Rimmer and Jenny Hale. My favourite genre though is psychological thrillers – I suppose it feels like a break from my day job but I love writers like Gillian Flynn, Tamar Cohen and Helen Fitzgerald – all amazing, intelligent writers with huge talent.
7. Who would be your dream dinner party guests – alive or dead?
Ryan Gosling so I can tell him about the soul mate thing and how we are meant to be together. He could tell me how he loves slightly older women – especially curvy ones originating from Manchester. We’d eat fish, chips, mushy peas and lemon cake.
8. Lastly, what can we expect from you next? Do you have anything else in the pipeline?
I’m currently writing my next book – it’s almost finished. It’s about two sisters who are very different, and live very different lives. When stuff happens to both of them they have to re-evaluate their relationship and where their lives are now taking them. It involves a bakery and the ingredients are cakes, humour, tears … and a scrumptious sprinkling of sex.
Thank you so much for having me Sheli… did someone say there’d be cake?
A huge thank you to Sue for answering my questions, and to Kim at Bookouture for arranging this interview. You can follow Sue on Twitter at @suewatsonwriter