Tuesday Talk welcomes multi-talented Sue Featherstone to chat about her career, writing and a very different collection of dinner party guests…

sue-1Good morning Sue and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

I never really know how to answer that question – who am I?

The short answer is lots of different people. The long answer depends on who’s doing the asking.

My eldest daughter once described me as a swan, paddling serenely along the river of life. I replied that I was more like a duck, frantically paddling to stay afloat, but doing my best to try and make it look easy.

Professionally, I’m a journalist and writer – I worked in local newspapers, before moving into PR and then doing a degree as a mature student at Bretton Hall, University of Leeds. When I started my degree (after taking voluntary redundancy from my PR job), my youngest daughter had just started primary school. She used to tell people that we were both in reception class.

I’m very proud to say that I graduated with a First in English Literature. It was hard work but I loved every minute of it.

More recently, I’ve taught journalism at Sheffield Hallam University – which was probably the best job in the world until I went down with a severe dose of the writing bug, which, at the beginning of this year, forced me to swap academia for a new life as an author.

And that’s where I am right now: first novel, written with my marvellous writing partner Susan Pape, published and second almost finished.

I’m a very lucky woman. And I thank God for my good fortune every single day.

How did your writing journey begin?

I started scribbling stories as a little girl and only stopped when I left school and got my first job as a trainee reporter on a small local newspaper. I guess writing factual news stories and features scratched my writing itch.
I feel lucky to have been able to spend my working life doing the thing I love best – and, as a journalist, and later a PR practitioner, I’ve met lots of really lovely people and been privileged to have been allowed a peep into their lives.

What promoted you to collaborate with Susan Pape to write ‘A Fallen Friend’?

Susan and I have been collaborating for more than a quarter of a century: we were job share partners in the PR department of a former public utility company and worked together for about six years before taking voluntary redundancy.

We kept in touch and both eventually ended up doing degrees in English Literature and then going on to teach journalism – me at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity. Over lunch one day we were both bemoaning the absence of a practical, how-to-write-like-a-journalist text book – and decided to write one ourselves. Both that book, Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction, and its sequel, Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction, are still on the reading lists for university journalism courses throughout the UK.
After the second text book, we thought it would be fun to write a novel. It was fun but it took us eight years of juggling work, home and family responsibilities to finish A Falling Friend, which was published by Lakewater Press in April 2016.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

We’re putting the finishing touches to a sequel to A Falling Friend – we’d planned to do something completely different but so many people asked: ‘What happens next?’ that we decided we needed to find out. We’re hoping it will be published some time during the summer. Perfect reading for the beach.

Beach or City? Where is your favourite chill out destination?

I like to be beside the seaside – there’s something about the wind on your face that makes me really happy. But I couldn’t spend a whole holiday sitting on the beach – I like to walk and swim and cycle too and then come back to our holiday accommodation for a cold glass of dry white wine. Cheers!

And lastly, you’re organising a dinner party. Which four famous people (alive or dead) would you invite as guests and why?

I don’t think I’d want anybody famous as a guest at my house – and certainly not four of them at once. Can you imagine the clash of egos?
Instead, since you’ve kindly said, I can invite people who are now dead, I’m going to plump for four women writers who I hope would be so impressed with modern technology they’d overlook my less than perfect housekeeping.
They are: Mary Wollstencroft, one of the first feminists; Jane Austen, because she’s one of the best writers this country has ever produced; Mrs Beeton – perhaps she’d help with the cooking? And, last, but by no means least, Mrs Gaskell, a working mother, who showed readers that it wasn’t entirely ‘grim up north’.

ABOUT SUE

sfSue Featherstone is a former journalist and public relations practitioner turned academic.
Her career started in local newspapers before switching to PR to become internal communications manager with a large utility company.
She completed a degree in English Literature as a mature student and subsequently moved into higher education, teaching journalism to undergraduate students at Sheffield Hallam University.
At the beginning of 2017, Sue left Sheffield Hallam to focus on her writing.

 

Together with her friend and writing partner Susan Pape, she has written two successful journalism text books – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction; and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction.

Their first novel, A Falling Friend, was published by Lakewater Press in 2016 and a sequel will follow in spring 2017.
They now write about books at bookloversbooklist.
Sue is on twitter @SueF_Writer
https://bookloversbooklist.wordpress.com/
@SueF_Writer

A FALLING FRIEND

Whatever Teri says, whatever she does, it’s all leading her toward disaster. But she’s not a-falling-friend-coverone to heed a warning. What more can best mate Lee do? Besides, Lee’s got her own life to sort out.

A Falling Friend is the tale of two friends – one who always seems to make the wrong choices, and the other who’s always there to catch her.

After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire—and to studying. That’s when she discovers John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester, and poet of all things depraved. What she doesn’t realise is even beyond his grave, his influence over her is extraordinary. To hell with the consequences.

Having gone out on a limb to get old friend Teri a job at the university at which she teaches, it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to recognise a pattern. Wherever Teri goes, whatever she does, every selfish choice she makes, it’s all setting her up for a nasty fall. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch. And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.

A clever, raw and hilarious character-driven masterpiece that follows the lives of two friends with the same ambitions, but who have vastly different ways of achieving them.
Purchase link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Falling-Friend-Sue-Featherstone-ebook/dp/B01CADXSTO

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