The Writing Life of: Sue Bentley
This week on ‘The Writing Life of:‘ I am thrilled to be interviewing author Sue Bentley. Sue will be sharing with us detail of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘We Other‘, which will be released on 6th June 2018, and answering a few fun questions too.
So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Sue Bentley
Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age. She worked for Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing. She is the author of the worldwide bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years. She also writes for children and adults under various pen names.
A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the everyday. Her books have been translated into around 20 languages. We Other is her first book for Young Adults.
1) As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
An artist or a nurse. I always loved drawing and watching medical dramas.
2) Who were your favourite childhood authors?
Enid Blyton, Arthur Ransome, Kenneth Grahame, Alan Garner, C S Lewis – so many others.
3) At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
When I read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Something clicked with that book. I was never the same afterwards. But I didn’t begin writing until my own children started primary school.
4) How did you go about following that dream?
At first I just read anything and everything – which was part of seeing how a book is created. I absorbed sentence structure, pacing, character building etc – all this somehow seeped in and finally inspired me to start writing. It was a notebook and pencil at first, the text soon became illegible with all the crossings out and inserts. Thank goodness for my desktop PC, which I now type straight onto.
I wrote a lot of very bad fiction and made every mistake in the book, but I kept on. I joined a writers’ group and when that didn’t work for me, I started up my own. There were three of us, all keen to become authors. We supported each other, criticised each other’s work, went on the occasional course and kept on writing through good days and bad. Eventually, we were all published.
5) What is your writing day like? Do you aim for a certain amount of pages or words before you stop for the day?
When hard at work on a book I aim for around 1,000 words, which I then edit the following day before pressing on.
6) Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I have written under a variety of pseudonyms and contributed to existing series for children as Lucy Daniels, Daisy Meadows and Kate Bloom, amongst others.
7) Do you have any strange habits before starting, or whilst in the midst of writing?
Apart from drinking endless cups of tea, nibbling chocolate peanuts and writing in PJs, a fleece, and slipper-boots, not really. I prefer to make notes with cheap plastic propelling pencils. The little eraser on the end is very useful as I’m constantly adding things, rubbing words out or enlarging on a subject.
8) Do you write longhand, typewriter, or on a computer?
I write straight on to my desk top, sometimes onto a laptop, and jot down notes in longhand. I have a bad stationery habit. Can’t resist a handsome notebook or propelling pencil, the brighter and more garish the better.
9) How many books have you written? Do you have any unpublished work?
Over 70 up to now. I’m presently looking for a publisher for my WIP, entitled ‘Second Skin’ which is another dark fantasy, part romance/part thriller. It’s on a huge scale and is totally different to We Other.
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a plotter but usually turn into a pantser during the process. It all comes together in the end, after lots of editing.
11) Do you read all the reviews left for your book(s)?
I do read them. Mostly they’re good but I’ve had a couple of stinkers. The temptation is to respond, but commenting on negative comments is a waste of time and energy. As Anthony Hopkins says, ‘What you think of me (or my work) is none of my business.’ Wise words.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Endeavour Venture
Pages – 560
Release Date – 6th June 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-1911427025
Format – ebook, paperback
Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.
Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.
When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.
12) How long did it take you to get from the idea’s stage to your date of publication?
Far longer than I’d planned! Some books I’ve written quickly, others demanded more ‘birthing’ time. We Other wanted to linger in the warm darkness until I dragged it kicking and screaming into the sunlight!
13) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
Sometimes come out of the blue. Other times I chase them down by looking through lists online, in magazines etc.
14) Can you give us an insight into your main character(s) life?, What makes them tick?
We Other is primarily Jess Morgan’s story. She’s the child of an alcoholic single mum who has emotional baggage and unresolved grief issues. Jess is spiky, awkward and a loner, but has a heart of gold. Caleb Farmer is another main character. He’s trapped by the responsibilities of keeping the failing family business afloat. Although desperate to pursue a career as an artist, he has to contend with a bullying father and a browbeaten mum. Jess and Caleb’s journeys through We Other tests them to their core, while bringing them into dangerous realms of darkness, beauty and peril.
15) Which was your hardest scene to write?
All scenes are hard to write. I’m a perfectionist, so spend a lot of time getting things exactly right. Action scenes flow more smoothly than ‘linking’ parts of the narrative.
16) How did you come up with the title of your book?
We Other, came to me easily. It’s a perfect fit. In the context of this book, ‘Other’ means different or set apart, in the widest sense of the word.
17) Did you get a family member/friend to read your work before sending to the publishers?
Usually members of my writing group. We all read each other’s work. At a later stage, my agent also provides valuable advice.
18) What process did you go through to get your book published?
Approaching publishers is usually via my agent, but I may contact them direct. In my early days I sent off scripts and collected rejections – loads of them. With digital publishers asking for online submissions, it’s easier to submit work. But my agent would manage the business side.
19) What did you do once you had written the final word in your book?
I’d like to say I jump about and punch the air. But I just felt a huge sense of relief with We Other. It took me the longest time to write and I was worn out at the end of it.
20) What’s next for you, writing-wise?
I’ve just finished a first draft of ‘Second Skin’ first of a new series, and I’m about to do some major editing. It’s about what happens when different races collide and asks ‘what shape is love?’ Aledra is a Drakkoni, shape-shifters and conquerors of Esra. Jubal is a Native Esran who has witnessed the slaughter of his people by the hated Drakkoni. Aledra and Jubal go on a journey which will stretch, friendship faith and love to its limits.
I’m also in the planning stages of ‘Scar You’ which will revisit characters from ‘We Other’ and introduce exciting new ones.
1) What’s your favourite food?
Baked potatoes with anything. Avocado and salad. Chocolate peanuts. Anything with lemon or chocolate in it.
2) If you had a box of crayons and you could only choose one, which colour would you choose?
3) What movie could you watch over and over again?
Bladerunner and the latest sequel. And Avatar. All masterpieces.
4) What would be the top song on your playlist?
Waterloo Sunset by the Kinks.
5) If you won millions, what would be your first purchase?
A piece of land with a forest, lake and space to build houses for all my family.
6) A talking duck walks into your room wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, whats the first thing he says to you?
Here are the sunglasses you lost. I ‘borrowed’ them when I was in the queue behind you in Sainsbury’s check-out. (So that’s where they went!) Well you did ask.
You can find out more about Sue Bentley by visiting the website/social media sites below.
I would like to say a big thank you to Sue for sharing with us details of her writing life, and for a wonderful interview.
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