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.
Sunday, 9 April 2017
#AuthorInterview #SueShepherd #LoveThemAndLeaveThem
Today I am thrilled to be joined by Sue Shepherd, author of Love Them and Leave Them! Before we talk to Sue, here's a bit of information about her second novel.
What's the book about?
Sometimes you have to leave the one you love … sometimes you’re the one who’s left behind.
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.
To read my full review of Love Them and Leave Them please click on the link below:
To buy a copy of Love Them and Leave Them please click on the link below:
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: SUE SHEPHERD
And now it's time to hand over to Sue! Thanks so much for coming on my blog today Sue!
Can you sum up the story for Love Them and Leave Them in one sentence?
What difference could it possibly make? A man is forced into a split-second decision. Six years later we see two alternative lives of his twenty-something daughter. (Not quite one sentence, but close.)
What three words would you use to describe the novel?
Thought provoking. Emotional. Intriguing.
Which genre would you describe your novel as?
I always find this a tricky question. I guess technically it’s a RomCom because there is romance. Although, as one reviewer said, “Yes, there is romance- but it's so far from sickly-sweet, it kind of creeps up on you!” Plus of course, there is also comedy. But, it’s not your classic RomCom, there are also elements of suspense and drama. Ultimately, it’s a story about love, loss and possibilities.
Love Them and Leave Them is a ‘sliding doors’ kind of story where a split decision changes the course of the future for all the characters. The novel follows two outcomes for the characters based on the two different decisions Ed makes in the opening pages. What appealed to you about writing a story with two storylines? What were you hoping to achieve or explore with this story?
I must confess I am a terrible ‘what if’ person. If I decide to take a different route home I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if I’d gone the other way. I met my husband in such a chance way and it could so easily have gone the opposite way, and I find it amazing to think that if it were not for that encounter, my children wouldn’t exist and I would be living somewhere different. I really enjoyed writing Love Them and Leave Them, I was fascinated to explore the tiniest differences as well as the life changing ones. I hope readers were left thinking about what could be different in their own lives, if they did this or that.
So far, the reviews seem to suggest that many people have been left wondering what if? which is great. A writer can ask no more than that her readers are still thinking about the book after they’ve finished reading it.
Because of the nature of the plot, how did you go about planning and writing this novel? Where there any challenges you weren’t prepared for or obstacles you faced while writing?
I do very little planning in advance. It’s just not my way. I prefer to put my characters into a situation and then wait and see what happens. For example, there was a certain crime that one of my characters was accused of committing in both parallels. For some time, I wasn’t even sure if that character had committed the crime in either of the versions. Then, one day, when I was out walking the dog, the character just popped into my head and explained everything to me.
It was a complicated storyline, and quite tricky to hold in my head. But, because the characters became so real to me I just kept talking to them and checking where they all were. Rather than plotting in advance, I prefer to do a timeline after the first draft and check everything makes sense and look for holes. I also owe my editor a big thank you, because, by the time he became involved, he knew the storyline as well as I did, and we were able to have detailed discussions to ensure both parallels worked.
The main character in the story is Jessica. Obviously, there are two different Jessicas! Did you have a favourite version or one version that was easier to write? What characteristics did you want Jessica to retain in both her story lines?
Interesting question. Ultimately, I had to remind myself that they are the same person, so certain characteristics would be so ingrained that they wouldn’t change. Most readers have told me that they preferred Jessie at the start, but, over time they came to like Jessica as well. And I think I’d agree. I enjoyed highlighting their similarities, for example they both like their toast cold. But, equally interesting was writing about their differences. As the reader meets Jessie she’s still dealing with the after-shocks of the incident which occurred six years before, so I definitely wrote her as a more vulnerable person. Whereas Jessica leads a somewhat charmed life and this is reflected in her self-assurance. My editor and I had many discussions about the two women and we both agreed that even the way they speak is slightly different. I took the time to ensure that Jessie’s language choices are slightly less bold than Jessica’s. It was honestly a fascinating exercise to think about the differences between them.
What techniques did you use for helping you to keep track of the characters and their roles / actions / behaviour in both story lines?
As I said before, I don’t do a lot of planning. I do however make mad notes at odd hours of the day and night. So, in my notebook you’d find sentences such as –
Frankie – best friends with Jessie. Never meets Jessica.
Jessica’s Tom is allowed to walk home from the bus, but Jessie’s isn’t.
Tracy the school friend still doesn’t like Jessica but feels sorry for Jessie.
I realise that unless you’ve read the book, these notes will make absolutely no sense whatsoever to you. For that, I apologise. 😊
Does the novel have any messages for the readers?
I’d like it if people were left feeling uplifted and re-assured that time can heal. Also, that dreams may be delayed, but they are still achievable. I’d be especially pleased if it helped anyone to deal with a loss. I suppose the ultimate message is - nothing is set in stone. Every day has the possibility to take us down a different path. Quite an exciting thought.
This is your second novel. How did the experience of writing your second novel differ from your debut?
Well, for a start it was quicker. My first book took years to write. I had two small children and my debut novel was written purely as a hobby. I put it down for months on end before finally picking it up again. Book two was quite different, as I was writing it, my first book became a best seller, which was amazing. So, then I knew that I was capable of writing a book that people enjoyed, which, on the one hand, is very comforting to know. On the other hand though, it certainly puts the pressure on for book two! I think I learnt so much during the editing process for book one that writing book two was easier. I knew what needed to be done and I got on and did it.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m on the second draft of book three. As I said about book two, I think it gets easier with each book you write. The writing gets tighter, and I found there was slightly less editing to do each time. I was better able to recognised when I was slipping into bad habits, like using a word or phrase too much.
Very soon, I’ll be sending book three to my editor for his opinion and then we’ll be working together to make sure it’s the best it can be. I can’t say what it’s about at the moment, I’m afraid, but, as with my first two books, which focused on guardian angels and parallel lives, book three does have a slight supernatural element to it.
Is there one decision in your life you wish you could go back and change? Is there a parallel universe with another Sue Shepherd in and if so where is she and what is she doing?!
It’s tricky, isn’t it? There are things I wish I’d done. I always wanted to go to University. I would have loved to have studied Performing Arts and I wish I’d travelled a bit more. But, the fact is that doing any of those things would’ve changed my chance meeting with my husband, and would ultimately lead to the nonexistence of my sons! Of course, I would never know, but still, I simply can’t imagine a world without my family in it.
On a slightly more frivolous note, I am annoyed at myself for not looking after my figure a little better, and not exercising more. So, perhaps there’s a parallel world somewhere where Sue Shepherd doesn’t have bingo wings and a rounded tum!
I'm sure we all have frivolous regrets like that Sue!
Thank you so much for coming on my blog today and answering all my questions in such detail. It's always fascinating to hear more about the story and author behind the book! I'm looking forward to Book 3 already! Thanks again for a great interview!
Thank you so much for having me, Katherine. I’ve really enjoyed your questions.
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 March 2015. It reached the top 10 UK Kindle chart, and also topped the romantic comedy, contemporary romance and humour charts. It became available in paperback on Amazon.UK in November 2015.
Sue’s second novel ‘Love Them and Leave Them’ was published in September 2016.
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!
Facebook - www.facebook.com/SueShepherdWrites
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