An Interview With Sue Eaton

Another author I met recently at an author and blogger gathering is Sue Eaton. If you like horror and/or sci-fi, check out her books as well as her interview:

Q. Your book The woman who was not his wife was published last year. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

A. It began after a chance remark by a relative. She obviously didn’t understand the plight of refugee/asylum seekers and it led me to consider how a first world, white, professional female would cope in such a situation. I set it on a fictional planet as this would be way out of my protagonist’s comfort zone and with no chance of returning home.

I am of the belief that if scientists are looking for a planet that would support life as we know it then the life that evolved there would be as we know it. My female protagonist soon finds that despite being on an alien planet human nature is human nature the universe over and she suffers abuse and discrimination. She has been kidnapped by aliens and is sold as a slave. She is used to far more freedom than is given her in her new environment as soon falls foul of its laws.

She and her owner become lovers which is forbidden and eventually have to run for their lives.

Q. It’s a science fiction book. What do you most enjoy about writing in this genre?

I have always loved watching science fiction, especially the old B movies from the 1950s and I was an avid Dr Who fan from the first episode. I also enjoy reading science fiction preferring an everyday setting with a sci-fi twist.

The only parameters you have are within your own imagination. You can terraform whole new worlds at the stroke of a pen. You can lose yourself within wonderful galaxies and rise above the humdrum of daily life.

Q. You also enjoy writing horror stories. Which do you prefer and why?

A. That is hard to say. A story can be both and my first short story to be published was science fiction with a gruesome ending so fitted both categories. I enjoy stories set in the here-and-now but with a science fiction or horror twist rather than hardcore settings. I like to feel that it could happen to me.

Q. Where do you get your ideas from?

A. I have always found that words and phrases can sometimes resonate. I wrote my first poem when I was seven after hearing the word “o’er”, short for over, in a hymn at school. The word fascinated me.

Sometimes I can hear a phrase and it will become my opening line. My problem isn’t finding new ideas – it’s finishing a story!

Q. Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

A. My journey to publication was remarkably serendipitous. Unable to get out and about at one point in my life I was using Facebook to keep in touch with other writers. A remark from another user encouraged me to submit a short story for a forthcoming anthology. It was accepted and because of the editor’s professional approach I contacted him regarding my novel.

Q. You’ve written a full-length novel and also lots of short stories. Which is easier and which do you prefer?

A. To be honest I didn’t expect my novel to be as long as it was. The ideas just kept coming with characters demanding to be included. A novel involves a lot of background work making sure that the continuity is right, the timelines work, and character development runs true to life. Even a science fiction story takes a remarkable amount of research and planning.

I enjoy writing short stories as snap shots in a character’s life. It’s easier to keep track of details although it can be difficult keeping things tight as everything needs to be pertinent. I still find I do as much research as if I was writing a novel. It’s quite nice to start and finish something reasonably quickly!  

Q. What’s the hardest thing you find about being a writer?

A. Finding dedicated time! You would think that as a retired widow I would have all the time in the world, but I am a daughter, sister, aunt, mother and a grandmother with friendly neighbours. I live in a small village and am a member of the local church. I am kept busy. I think I managed my time more effectively when I was working simply because I had to. I have written leaning against the kitchen sink in the past!

Q. Do you get time to read yourself and if you do, what books do you read?

A. I am an avid reader and will read every day, usually when I go to bed. I am quite eclectic in my reading and enjoy both short stories and novels from Jeffrey Archer through Daphne Du Maurier to Somerset Maughan. My favourites are psychological horror and I love John Wyndham’s style of science fiction. I think you need to read in order to learn. It helps to enhance your own writing.

Q. When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A. I have a huge garden and enjoy pottering about outside. I find it helps me to think and gives me much needed exercise after sitting and staring at a computer screen while writing. I also enjoy going to the theatre and visiting local National Trust venues.

Q. Finally, what piece of advice can you give to writers who are struggling to get that first book written and published?

A. Don’t be in too much of a rush to get your masterpiece out there. Put it away for a few months and work on something else. Read it again with a fresh mind.  Make sure it is polished, proof-read and then polished again.

First impressions are so important. If a publisher or agent is not impressed in the first few pages it will go no further.

Sue Eaton
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