Monday, 2 May 2011
STEPH: I don't know about Blitz. What's it about?
SUE: Love that bloomed before the war and how the war affected that love. Couples meet, fall in love and plan their future together. What happens when that future is blown apart by events of the world? War affects not just those fighting, but those left behind to carry on as best they can. Individual lives are thrown into chaos and the best laid plans disintegrate in the face of two forces opposing each other. Love has a tough time surviving under these circumstances. Velma and Jack’s story is only one of many heartbreaking romances that had to come to terms with this disastrous environment and try to make the best of hard times.
STEPH: Where did the inspiration come for the story?
SUE: Blitz was inspired by my parents own romance. They fell in love but war came and they had to cancel their white wedding and rush through a registry office wedding instead. By the time they left this life they’d been married nearly 60 years so I know their love was the real thing. Blitz is fiction inspired by their personal experiences and the stories they told of their families and how they survived. Neither of them spoke much about their actual duties during the war. I realise they wanted to put their horrible experiences in the past and look to the future.
STEPH: How did you come up with the title to the story?
SUE: My mother survived the bombing of Plymouth in Devon. She was a member of the WRENS (Women’s Royal Navy Service) and they transferred her to Liverpool. She’d no sooner got there than this city was also bombed. These extreme bombing raids were called the blitz, hence the name. Mum always reckoned Mr Hitler was after her personally and that he followed her wherever she went.
STEPH: How long did it take you to write?
SUE: About four to six months. Unlike my fantasy stories I had to do a lot of research. I had to make sure things I knew as a child were there before and during the war. Also I hsf yo track where I wanted the hero Jack to go. This meant researching which battles took place and when. Then there were the spoken words. Some words came into England with the American GIs during the war. For instance “Okay” was not in popular use until after World War II. Even during the final edits I found the odd word that needed replacing.
STEPH: If you could cast the movie, who would be leads?
SUE: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. I’m not really a fan of theirs but recent movies have shown how versatile they are and I think they’d be perfect for the plot. They’re big superstars who would make the film famous. The faces I see when I think of Jack and Velma are my parents. To me they were mum and dad who looked after my sister and I and brought us up to be responsible adults. Children never think of when their parents were young and what they had to go through. Writing this book has made me think more about their youth and survival.
STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?
SUE: If you’d asked me this a month ago I would have said no. New Zealand is a bit behind the rest of the world. The only reader available was the Kobo. Amazon has now decided it will sell its digital devices to us via Amazon.com so I’ve downloaded the Kindle app for Mac. I’m visiting my children and other members of my family in England at the moment and have to admit I’ve treated myself to a Sony Ereader complete with cover and light. It is so brilliant. Some books I’ve had on my computer for ages and not gotten round to reading have now been read in an amazingly short time. Wonderful investment.
STEPH: Tell us about the place you live.
SUE: New Zealand? It’s the most beautiful place in the world. I know I’m biased, but honestly that’s the comment of most visitors to our wonderful country. We have everything from tropical to snowy mountains. Geysers to rain forests. The sky is a beautiful shade of blue which makes English skies look pale and washed out. I live at the top of the South Island near the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Only 500 metres from the sea, our 3 acre block looks out on wetlands. My husband has planted all sorts of trees and shrubs. Most relaxing place to live. I love visiting my children in England but I also long to go back home.
STEPH: What's your writing space like?
SUE: You’re going to laugh at this one. I have an office but I never use it. My husband bought me a Stressless chair complete with footrest. Along with this I have a computer table which slides in front of me and my laptop fits on there and off I go. As I’d have to deprive my husband of computer time if I worked on the main computer, it works out well. I toddle off to get the dictionary occasionally, but for actual writing when I lose myself to my surroundings, then my Stressless chair is where you’ll find me.
STEPH: For fun: What country would you like to visit that you haven't yet?
SUE: Does it have to be a country? I would really love to visit New Orleans, but I’ve already been to America. As a young mother I read a lot of Frances Parkinson Keyes books on the plantations and river boats of the late 19th century. Ever since then I’ve wanted to go and see what it’s like. If it has to be somewhere I’ve never been then Australia’s Murray River. Although New Zealand is close to Australia, I’ve never been there. Maybe someday soon.
STEPH: What's the last book you read?
SUE: That’s a difficult one. I’m trying to remember the last book I had beside my bed but it won’t come to mind. How about the one I’m currently reading? This is J. Morgan’s “Were Love Blooms” the first in his Southern Werewolf Chronicles. Once again he has brought humor into what is normally a horror situation. A modern southern belle falls for a gorgeous man. The result is that from that time forward Maddy takes a hairy form at the height of the moon. A year later her Romeo in hidden wolf’s clothing returns to her life to put money in her father’s failing business. Unfortunately he’s followed by werewolf hunters who are determined to wipe werewolves off the face of the earth. Well written and fun to read. I’m enjoying every minute of it.