October 2013


Sue Fortin’s debut novel United States of Love was published by Harper Impulse this month. She lives in West Sussex and blogs at (Interview by Jade Craddock)

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  1. 1. Describe United States of Love in ten words or less?

    Evolving family relationships, atoning and accepting the past, moving on.

  2. 2. Where did you get the idea for the novel?

    No one particular idea, just different ideas that have been absorbed over time through various media, talking and chatting to friends and family. I’m not sure where it came from but I had in my mind a scene of a woman with her lover, bumping into her estranged husband and the ramifications of this chance meeting.

  3. 3. What inspired you to write this story?

    There was so much potential as to why this woman was with her lover when she was still married. It posed so many questions. Was she having an affair? Was she already divorced or separated? How did this meeting impact on her new relationship? Did her lover know she was married? Did he feel threatened by the old love? What did her friends and family think? The answers were endless and could take the novel off in so many directions. It was great fun coming up with all the answers.

  4. 4. Did you relate to Anna’s story in any way?

    Most definitely, particularly, being a parent myself with teenagers. How she related to her son was very much a reflection of my own relationship with my children.

  5. 5. Tex and Mark are very different characters - did you find one easier to write than the other?

    I wouldn’t say I found one easier than the other, I enjoyed writing both of them for different reasons. I quite liked getting into Mark’s head, being charming, yet devious and although Tex was very different, he also had an edge to him which made him a good match for Mark. I have to admit I did rather enjoy writing the tender side of Tex - after all, I was and still am very much in love with him.

  6. 6. As a reviewer yourself how does it feel getting your own novel reviewed?

    When I know someone is reading my novel, it does make me go ‘Eeeek!’ as reading is very personal and subjective. I just keep my fingers crossed that above everything, they enjoy it.

  7. 7. Did your experiences as a reviewer help your writing in any way?

    To a certain extent. From reading a wide selection of books, I knew what I liked and didn’t like. I think it’s a natural process to take those thoughts through into your writing. As a reviewer I found that I was perhaps questioning things more and this certainly made me think more about the detail in my writing.

  8. 8. When you’re reviewing a book what do you look for?

    Something that grabs me straight away, I’m quite an impatient reader and I like fast-paced novels but that is just a personal choice. When I’m reading to review, I look for good solid plot, realistic dialogue and being able to feel a connection with the characters. I tend to work on the basis that if it hasn’t captured me by the fifth chapter then it’s probably never going to.

  9. 9. What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

    I’m going to cheat here slightly, as I’ve very nearly finished reading it. Sister by Rosamund Lupton. I love all the intrigue, twists and thriller feel to it.

  10. 10. How did you get into writing?

    It started way back as a child. Being a massive bookworm, I just loved the written word and so it was, for me, a natural progression to move onto writing. I was always writing stories as a youngster and this love of creating ‘life on paper’ stayed with me.

  11. 11. How long did it take you to write United States of Love?

    From the first stroke of my pen to being taken on by Harper Impulse and ready for publication, has been three years. Although I haven’t worked solely on it over that time, but during the course of those three years, it has been rewritten twice, tweaked numerous times and finally edited and polished.

  12. 12. Has having a book published lived up to your expectations?

    Definitely. It’s been very exciting and I’ve been so impressed with the teamwork that goes on behind the scenes, not to mention grateful too. It’s lovely to be part of Harper Impulse, they are very proactive and forward thinking – it’s great!

  13. 13. What do you think is the biggest challenge to the newly published writer?

    Getting yourself known, not just in the industry but to your future market as well. Establishing an online presence long before you are even published is a good way to build up your profile. Then, of course, once you’ve done this, you have to maintain it. That can be equally challenging.

  14. 14. What one thing should aspiring authors know about the publishing industry?

    That, as a rule, patience and tenacity pays off. Also, be gracious and polite, even when you don’t feel like it, the publishing world can actually be quite a small place at times. Okay, that was two things but it was too difficult to choose the ‘one’ thing.

  15. 15. How have other authors inspired you?

    Probably, work ethics and work rates – I get a tremendous amount of support and encouragement (sometimes more gentle than others), not to mention sound advice, from my online writing group The Romaniacs. I’ve also had massive support from members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association too – everyone is very generous with their time and words of wisdom.

  16. 16. What do you think of the current state of women’s fiction?

    Very buoyant. There’s such a wide choice out there, not only of genres and sub-genres but in format too. With the way digital has taken off, there’s much more scope for short stories and novellas – they sit happily there with the full-length novel. We, as readers, are really very spoilt for choice.

  17. 17. And finally what’s next for you?

    I’m just finishing off the first draft of my second novel to be published by Harper Impulse. It is, of course, romance but it has a bit more of a suspense feel to it this time. It has the working title of Closing In.

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