20-20 Sue Eaton

Today’s 20-20 guest is Sci-Fi/Horror writer Sue Eaton from Madeley.

What name do you write under? I write under my own name. I have considered a pseudonym in the past, but my husband said I should be proud of my work and not hide behind another name. Be proud and flaunt it!

Where are you from, live or work? I was born and brought up in Northamptonshire, a small market town called Higham Ferrers which boasts all manner of historical interest. I met my husband while at college in Dudley and settled in Stoke-on-Trent, his home town. I taught for 30 years in the classroom and then moved sideways in advisory for another 10 years. I am now happily retired. We moved out to Madeley on the Staffordshire/Cheshire border when the children were little where I now live in an ivy-covered cottage and peaceful tranquillity. 

Tell me two things that people may not know about you. I am a marmite lover. I was brought up on the stuff.

I dislike shopping intensely. Any sort of shopping.

Do you have any hobbies? Aside from reading and writing I enjoy gardening. I have a large garden, roughly ½ an acre and it takes some keeping! I also like needlework although I’m not very good. I did make all the children’s clothes when they were little. I couldn’t get away with it now. I also do a bit of voluntary work in the village but not as much as I used to.

What is your favourite book(s) and why? I do love ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and have read it a number of times. It says everything you need to say about human nature.

I also love Dickens for his characterisation. His observation of human nature is excellent.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I can’t really say what specific incident or person inspired me to write. I just know I have wanted to write stories and poems since I can remember. I wrote my first poem when I was still in the Infant school – Key Stage 1 now. I suspect I was 7.

Sue Eaton

What type of books/genre do you write? I have written horror and sci-fi as well as gentle ghost stories. I do have a novel under my belt, ‘The Woman Who Was Not His Wife’, which is sci-fi/fantasy. Lately I find I am writing short stories with a couple of novella length pieces. I like to read psychological thrillers and am exploring this genre at the moment.

How would you describe your writing style? I am mainly a writer of narrative as I enjoy telling a story. That doesn’t mean I can’t be a little persuasive. I don’t do this intentionally but find when I read back over what I’ve written I’ve added something that is on my mind. I don’t like to preach though.

What comes first for you – character, plot or setting? Usually it’s the characters. I find I am inspired by a name and then that person appears. I have been considering a children’s book for a while but didn’t really know how to start until my daughter, a chef, brought home a ready meal, it being her turn to cook. It was a chicken pasta bake with a basil crumb. Basil Crumb became my inspiration and is now in the story!

Do you have a writing routine? I try to! I do find that by starting the day with physical tasks that require little thought allows me to consider my WIP. My joints are pretty shot so I try to manage my time by doing an hour gardening while I think about the next project/chapter/page or even word and then an hour writing then back to gardening. It obviously depends on many things such as phone calls, pets, children, weather and dare I say it, inclination.

Do you become a ‘method’ writer? To a point I do. I identify strongly with my characters and there have been times when, if disturbed, I have no idea where I am. 

What are you currently working on? A children’s sci-fi book. The original characters appeared in a short story I wrote for adults which I took to Renegade Writers’. It was suggested that it might make a better children’s story with tweaks. I’ve been thinking about it on and off since, but it wasn’t until Basil Crumb arrived on the scene that ideas started to flow. It has a working title – ‘Toby, Captain Jellibean and the Alien’ but that will change.

I don’t work on one piece at a time though and there are a couple of other stories, 1 novella and 1 short story that are resting and brewing, waiting for a re-read in the near future.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your writing career? Having a piece accepted by BBC Radio 4 as part of their Chalkface Love Songs programme. I had to go to Bush House and record it. It was the most exciting experience. I was working in special education at the time and the silence in the recording studio was unnatural. I was in the Radio Times – twice!!! As you can see I’m still excited.

Sue reading her story Harry’s Mid-Morning Adventure at the 6×6 Reading Cafe (click to view)

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? Develop your own style. It’s okay to learn from other authors but don’t carbon copy the way they write.

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to become a writer? Read, read, and then read some more but be careful of copying other authors’ styles. Be yourself when writing.

What have you published recently? Most of my work over the last couple of years has been published by Corona Books. As you can imagine the coronavirus pandemic has caused untold problems. The Fourth Corona Book of Horror Stories that was due to be published earlier this year has been put on hold as have other projects that were still at the discussion stage.

I have started to send out work to other companies and magazines but it’s still early days.

Do you think there’s still some snobbery between commercial and self-publishing? I have heard disparaging remarks about self-publishing, although I do think that people get mixed up with self-publishing and vanity publishing. Unfortunately, there have been some badly presented books, and this has coloured things for everyone. There’s some good stuff out there, look at ‘The Martian’, it’s brilliant! Many successful books have been passed over by commercial publishers.

How do you market your writing?

I’m fairly new to the level of writing I’m doing at the moment. I have a profile on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter as well as my own web page. I had a number of ComicCon events lined up for this year where I would have been able to market my books but due to covid they have been postponed.

At the moment I am considering different options.

Where can people find your work?

I have just been lucky enough to have been included in the 6×6 Reading Café blog on YouTube.

Most of my published work is in printed anthologies by Corona Books and is available from Amazon. You can also access my author page there.

Where can people find you on social media and online?

Corona Books – www.coronabooks.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/havepencanwrite

Blog – https://susanjeaton.com

Amazon author page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B07L16MWZD

Twitter – @SueJayEaton

Thanks to Sue, who’s cottage I am very envious of.

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