Today is my part in the blog tour for Love Them and Leave Them by Sue Shepherd. Today I am interviewing her!
Description of Love Them and Leave Them:
Sometimes you have to leave the one you love … sometimes you’re the one who’s left behind. The new heart-warming and heart-breaking romantic comedy from the No.1 bestselling author of Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?
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.
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.
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?
Sue: Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer. I doubt it’s the first book I read by myself, but it’s certainly the first one that really had an impact on me. Charlotte goes to bed in a new boarding school and wakes up 40 years in the past. She then switches back and forth through time with a girl called Clare. The book is a product of the sixties, like me! Reading it sparked my life-long obsession with all things time-travel. I remember pondering the paradoxes and trying to work it all out. It’s a beautifully written piece of work, which not only gave me the interest in time-travel but also moved me. The relationship between Charlotte and Clare’s sister, Emily, who Charlotte spends a lot of time with, is incredibly touching. I still read it every few years and I always feel the same excitement and see the same images in my head.
JRR: That sounds interesting! If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?
Sue: Well now, given my answer to the first question, it won’t surprise you to hear that I’d choose the novel ‘The Time Traveler’s wWife’ by Audrey Niffenegger. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it. For me, the fact that the first time Clare meets Henry is not the first time Henry meets Clare is wonderfully enticing. Yes, I still need to keep checking, where are we? Who are we? What’s going on? But I love it.
JRR: I’m not surprised with that answer. What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Sue: I’d say that was a tip I received during a Creative Writing Course – ‘End every chapter at a point where your reader is unable to put the book down.’ It’s very tempting when you’re writing, to tie everything up nicely at the end of a chapter, and then move onto the next part of the story. But, seeing it from the reader’s viewpoint, that becomes a brilliant place to put the book down and turn off the light. As a writer one of the best compliments I can receive is ‘I couldn’t put it down. I just had to know what was going to happen next.’ This feeling of desperation to read on is not created by nicely rounded off chapters. For me, one of the fun parts during the editing stage is to go through the book deciding where a chapter might end. As I add a page break, I can hear my friends saying. ‘Oh, for goodness sake, what a place to stop!’
JRR: Oh yes! I love books where you don’t ever want to put them down! I’m a slower reader and I also like short chapters. Those make me feel like I’m reading faster. Shorter chapters also make it harder to put a book down. “Oh the next chapter is just four pages. I’ll keep going!”
Now for the opposite of the last question: What’s the worst advice you have ever received?
Sue: This would have to be the advice I receive from my husband every time we go on the Isle of Wight ferry. “You can drink that coffee now, it’s not too hot.” I fall for this advice every time, and I am here to tell you, those lattes are damn near nuclear. Each trip to the mainland starts with a burnt lip. I never learn!
JRR: Shame on your husband! Now, who would you like to star in the film of your life?
Sue: This is an amusing question because I cannot for one minute imagine anyone wanting to watch a film of my life. I mean, yes, it’s been fun so far, and there have been many high points. Travelling around Australia in my youth, having babies, getting married, seeing my books published – they’re all wonderful things. But, jeez, what a boring film! However, I will answer the question because you asked so nicely. What I will say here is that I am incredibly clumsy. I have fallen over whilst walking the dog on many, many occasions and I break everything I touch. Therefore, whoever plays me would absolutely have to be a comedy actress. I’m going to say someone like Jessica Hynes . I think she’d make a good job of the comedy falls. She’ll need a bit of help from the make-up department to do the more recent scenes though, because she’s younger than me.
JRR: She has a great name! 😉 If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
Sue: I asked this question at a blog party recently and I was given the answer that the person would watch her son at school, to see how he gets on. I think I would have to agree with that answer. My youngest son is thirteen and I can say, without bias, that he’s an amazing mimic. He makes us laugh with his accents and comedy sketches. He provides me with lots of material for the young male characters I write about. So, if I was invisible, I’d like to watch him at one of his drama classes. Sometimes he comes home and tells me about a bit of improvisation they’ve done and I really wish I could’ve see it.
JRR: Good choice! If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?
Sue: Well it would be a Sunday for a start. We’d kick off with a lovely full English breakfast, with plenty of tea and toast at the end. My husband and I refer to those meals as ‘Agatha Christie breakfasts’, because many of her characters lived in beautiful country houses and enjoyed elaborate breakfasts. Then, we’d walk the dog on the local beach. His name is Forrest and he’s a two-year-old standard poodle. We keep him cut short, no fancy pom-poms for Forrest, they wouldn’t suit his nutty nature. Next, I’d rather like to spend a couple of hours working on my latest novel. I try to write every day, but don’t always manage it. But, seeing as this is my perfect day, there will definitely be time. After I’ve effortlessly written a couple of thousand words, we’ll have a late lunch in a lovely old pub. I’d choose the roast, of course. There’s something about a roast dinner that says comfort. Lastly, we’ll all head home and choose a film to watch together. Sadly, as our boys are now teenagers, the chances of finding a film that we’d all like are slim. But we might just manage to find a good comedy. By the way, there may be a glass or two of wine with the film.
JRR: That sounds good! I’m from America so I would enjoy a little bit of the ‘English experience’ you could give me! What do you think is the best thing about social media?
Sue: As a writer who’s on her own all day, social media is kind of like my work colleagues. I can check in with other authors, bloggers and my friends, whenever I need to. People ask me, ‘Don’t you get bored on your own all day?’ But I honestly don’t feel alone. I have Forrest for physical company and, thanks to social media, I have a world of people to chat to, as and when I choose.
JRR: And the worst…?
Sue: I hate it when I get caught up watching videos. Someone will have shared one video which is funny and I’ll enjoy it, but then Facebook will start to play me another, and then another. Time runs away with you when you’re watching those short clips and before you know it the family are home and you have to put the laptop away. The other thing I cannot abide about social media is the individuals who use other people’s photographs to get likes or comments. Sharing photographs of a poorly child you’ve never met and asking people to type amen ought to be a crime. It’s sadly one of the things that Facebook don’t seem to be able, or willing, to crack down on. Obviously, I don’t follow those kind of accounts, but they still manage to pop up on my newsfeed occasionally.
JRR: Yes those can be some of the negatives with social media. And also the ‘trolls’ that are out there.
**Thank you Sue for your time! I enjoyed getting to know you through this interview!**
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 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!
Today I am taking part in a blog tour for Isolation Junction written by Jennifer Gilmour. Although I have not had the chance to read it yet, I plan to read it soon! Today, Jennifer will be discussing what publication day for Isolation Junction was like for her.
Description of Isolation Junction:
Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.
She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.
It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.
After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?
Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change?
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): What did you do the night before publication?
Jennifer: I spent the evening preparing for publication day, but despite doing this I simply did not sleep that night due to a mixture of nervousness and excitement. I needed to be organised especially as publication day was a Saturday with all its inherent difficulties for a parent i.e. children off school and weekend classes and activities to attend.
I didn’t feel as nervous I thought I would be, I was more excited that the day was finally approaching and that an important message was about to be launched to the world. I did have anxious thoughts about the response I may get from my abuser as I knew it would open a door so to speak and allow him to comment. This has indeed happened. I do not think that at the time I had anticipated that the comments would not focus on the contents of my story but would form a personal attack and that I would not only have to be ready for this but prepared and able to defend myself.
JRR: That definitely gives you something to think about. I can imagine the nervousness you faced knowing that your abuser may and actually did comment. That can be a scary thing. Now, what did you spend publication day doing?
Jennifer: The actual publication day was all virtual and as I had run a successful Kickstarter Campaign and crowd funded my campaign, I wanted to give something back to my followers. The day had a unique event which I ran from my Facebook page. Throughout the day I posted the all important links about where to buy the paperback version (as the Kindle version was released a week later). There were links to information on domestic abuse and even help lines, personal posts and I also decided to do a live video chat to thank everyone for their support. I didn’t know what to expect as a response but those who had supported the Kickstarter campaign had started to receive their copies of Isolation Junction and rewards from the campaign on the day of publication (I sent them out the day before). People were so supportive and started taking selfies of themselves with the book and posting them on Facebook and it became obvious as the day progressed that people were starting to read the book.
I didn’t spend all day online online though. I delivered copies of the book to local supporters myself and handed over their rewards in person. I have to admit I had fun doing it and I had my husband and 3 children in the car as well so it was quite a family occasion.
In the evening, my husband and I decided to do a Facebook Live video on my personal profile (which is just for family and friends). I was super excited and I convinced my husband to join in. Finally we popped open a bottle of champagne and virtually shared bubbly with everyone. A few family and friends posted photos of themselves having a glass of champagne as well so even though we didn’t have a venue the launch was well supported, attended and talked about virtually. It didn’t feel as if we were alone at all. Certainly I believe this is a modern way of launching a publication.
I have to admit the level of support and the positive comments made me feel emotional and I admit that I shed a few ‘happy tears’. I felt a great sense of achievement and satisfaction that I had achieved what I had set out to do.
JRR: That sounds like a fabulous publication day! I love how you delivered copies of Isolation Junction and the rewards to those that were local to you and helped with your Kickstarter campaign!
What was the morning of publication day like for you?
Jennifer: The morning was very busy and in some ways a mad rush. I was so keen to get started and the internet felt so slow (unless that’s what it’s normally like and on that day it felt like it was worse). I hadn’t changed the morning routine with the family and so we all ventured down to the swimming baths so that our elder 2 children could have their swimming lesson. Thankfully the lesson is early in the morning so it wasn’t too crazy trying to juggle social media and getting them ready. It was also nice to have that routine and normality in the day. I was so busy it stopped me from worrying.
JRR: A little bit of normalcy for that day must have been a little relaxing. Who were you with the rest of the day?
Jennifer: I was with my husband and three children for the day. My husband was very supportive of the day and we all celebrated with pretend fizz for the children and champagne for us.
JRR: Is publication day 1 the same as publication day 2? And so on?
Jennifer: I had another day launch for the Kindle version of Isolation Junction a week later. I didn’t push this as heavily as the official launch as to some extent I had marketed this as part of the original launch. It still got some great feedback and coverage though. It was worth the time spent on preparing and getting everything as right as possible beforehand.
You certainly have to carry on marketing the book and can’t expect to simply get sales because it’s on Amazon or for sale in other places. These things simply don’t just sell themselves and the ongoing attention needed to keep a publication in the public eye is almost more time consuming than actually writing the book itself! There are different ways in which you can market your book and exploring what works for the topic/theme of your book is part of the research you need to do. I am happy with the results it has gained so far and the impact it has made. Having people talk about it and spread the word certainly makes the effort worthwhile. I appreciate anyone spending the time to read the book and then writing a review, as well as bloggers who spend time writing a critique opinion or putting you in their schedule, to fit you in for a question and answer session or to guest post.
However, it is probably worth mentioning that you have to be prepared for the negative as well as the positive. When you write a book, whether it be fiction or non fiction, not everyone will agree with you and you have to be prepared for this and prepared to defend your point of view.
JRR: These are all very good points that not every author thinks about.
**Thank you so much for your time Jennifer!
WIN Isolation Junction![Top]
Courtesy of Meredith Russo
A transgender woman who wrote her book for transgender teens, but would like everyone to read it, Meredith Russo discussed some various topics with me. I learned some things through this interview. Thank you for that Meredith!
My Review of If I Was Your Girl can be read here.
Purchase If I was Your Girl on Amazon
**In this interview you will see the term ‘cis gender’. The term cis gender refers to a person whose gender identity matches their biological sex.
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us about yourself.
Meredith: Um! I’m an Aries and an ENFP, I play a lot of video games and D&D, and my favorite color is red. I’m a novelist from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I’ve lived my entire life except for a short stretch in Massachusetts. I’m a trans woman, and a mom, and I own a cat who doesn’t like me very much. My book, If I Was Your Girl, just won a Stonewall, and I have no idea how to process that yet.
JRR: Congratulations! That is quite the achievement. Hopefully the awards will keep coming. Now, did you always want to become an author?
Meredith: No. For the first seventeen years of my life I thought I wanted to be either a classical musician or an artist, preferably drawing graphic novels. I didn’t have the dedication to practice either of those though so they went fallow, and meanwhile I was writing fanfiction with my friends all the time, so in college I just sort of accidentally sidled into writing.
JRR: And now you have written this great book! What inspired you to write If I Was Your Girl?
Meredith: I wanted to write the book I needed when I was younger. I wanted to write a book where transitioning isn’t the event horizon of the character’s life, where good things happen to a trans character, and where the bittersweetness of any book’s ending is tuned more to sweet than bitter, because this is something that hasn’t really existed for young trans people until now.
JRR: If I Was Your Girl is a Young Adult novel. Whom do you want to read it? Teenagers, adults, cisreaders, transreaders, or everyone?
Meredith: I want everyone to read it, of course, but it’s for young trans people. I address in the author’s note that I made some changes and concessions because I knew cis people would read it as well, but my original, intended audience was young trans people. I’m grateful to anyone who picks it up and reads it though.
JRR: To those that will read the book, I can definitely say to read the author’s note. It answers some questions you may have and questions you may not even realize you have!
Was your journey to becoming published a long/tough journey?
Meredith: Yes and no. I’ve worked some terrible jobs in the process of paying my dues, and I’ve written some things I hope never see the light of day, but at the end of the day I got a pretty well received debut novel published when I was 28 years old, which seems pretty young. So I would say things have been difficult in some ways and easy in others.
JRR: Congrats on being published that young! That is an accomplishment that I am sure many want, but never reach. In your opinion, what may be the biggest misconception that cisgender have about transgender people?
Meredith: Not biggest as in most common but biggest as in most damaging is, I think, the idea of autogynephilia. If you don’t know, autogynephilia is a pseudoscientific idea claiming that bisexual and lesbian trans women aren’t women at all, but rather men with a fetish for the idea of being women. Cis women are allowed to call this “feeling sexy” and move on with their lives, but trans women are told we’re perverts at one of the most delicate, vulnerable points in our lives, and the damage is often profound.
JRR: I had never heard of autogymphilia. Thank you for informing us. While reading If I Was Your Girl I couldn’t help but become attached to Amanda and root for her in. I was worried about there being a bad ending for her. I won’t give away the ending, but why do you feel that most books and movies about transgender people tend to have a negative ending?
Meredith: For a lot of intersecting, complicated reasons. I think a lot of writers (specifically cis writers) observe our lives from the outside and notice the tragedy before they notice the nuance and beauty, and so that’s what tends to get foregrounded in their work. I think it’s also easier to relate to a corpse or a heartbroken character shuffled off screen than it is to a living, breathing person or character. But maybe both of those are cynical.
JRR: What are your passions? Are there any organizations you work with that you would like to mention?
Meredith: The ACLU is doing amazing work with civil rights in general and trans rights specifically right now, and their work has never been more important. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project ensures that trans people who have been imprisoned are treated humanely, which I think is important. I’m a huge supporter of NODAPL, and any support you can give them would be wonderful– there are so many ways to contribute that it’s best to just do a search.
JRR: Links for both The Sylvia Rivera Law Project and NOPAPL will be provided at the end of this post. Is there anything you want to address with the “bathroom issue” for transgender people?
Meredith: I wrote a New York Times piece on the issue that you can find here and I’m not sure I have much more to add, partially because I think my argument there is complete but mostly because the last time I ventured into this issue the backlash was a nightmare.
JRR: That was a powerful article. It does give cis people your perspective as a transwoman on the bathroom issue. Personally, I have no problem with you using the same restroom as I do. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I have been in a restroom with a member of the transgender community.
Now, can you tell us about your writing process?
Meredith: When I have my son I promise myself I’ll write in fits and starts while he’s busy playing or taking a nap, but then I end up doing chores, winding down on social media, or going to sleep while Netflix plays. When I don’t have my son I wake up at eleven, do chores and errands for a few hours, and generally work for eight hours, from four to two in the morning. My writing process itself is pretty chaotic– I get bored if I focus on one thing for too long, so I bounce from scene to scene and project to project.
JRR: Who is your favorite author as an adult?
Meredith: Margaret Atwood, I think, but I’m not very good at favorites or listing so that could change five minutes from now.
JRR: I recently bought The Handmaid’s Tale. With the series coming out on Hulu, it seemed like the right time to get it. I hope to read it soon.
If you could have dinner with three people(living or dead) who would they be?
Meredith: Rosa Luxemborg, Sappho, and Emma Goldman
JRR: What would you like to say to someone who is transgender who has not started their transition process?
Meredith: I know transitioning seems scarier than ever in a post-Trump world, but we need you more than ever. Please don’t stay silent. Please join your voice with ours.
JRR: Are there any books about transgender people that you recommend? I read Becoming Nicole at the end of 2015. It was a very powerful book about a transgender girl dealing with her transitioning, her twin brother, and their family and her fight for equality.
Meredith: A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett, Nevada by Imogen Binnie, George by Alex Gino, and Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark.
JRR: Do you have plans to write another book anytime soon? If so, can you tell us anything about it?
Meredith: Of course! I’m working on a book right now called Birthday about a nonbinary teen and a cis boy who are born at the exact same time, meet on their thirteenth birthday, and slowly fall in love over the course of their next seven birthdays.
JRR: That sounds intriguing! I will have to look into it when it comes out!
**Thank you so much for your time with this interview Meredith!