Thursday, November 19, 2020

Susan Lewis

Susan Lewis is the bestselling author of My Lies, Your Lies and over forty more books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. Following periods of living in Los Angeles and the South of France, she currently lives in Gloucestershire with her husband James, stepsons Michael and Luke, and mischievous dogs Coco and Lulu.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I sometimes feel that getting the right title can be almost as difficult as deciding what the book is going to be about. I think titles can matter a lot, especially for less well-known authors as their names won’t be strong enough on their own to pull readers in. In the case of My Lies, Your Lies I knew I had to come up with something fast, as my publisher was keen to go with a title I simply didn’t feel was right. Their suggestion was Forgive Me which didn’t cover it at all. (It is now the title for my next book.) Luckily, everyone went for My Lies, Your Lies as it does go some way towards telling you what the book is about.

What's in a name?

Names are always important to me. It helps me to see the character, to understand something of their personality and to portray the right image of them to a reader. In My Lies, Your Lies I chose the name Joely for the lead protagonist because of its gentleness, elegance and relevance to age (early forties). There is also, I feel, a determination and intelligence to it. As for Freda, the other main character, I chose that because, in my view, it’s strong, not very feminine and has an older and even slightly feisty resonance to it. She’s a difficult woman with all sorts of issues, and for some reason that name just suited her.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

Shocked beyond words! This is my forty-eighth bestseller (in the UK) so my teenage self would be utterly shocked by that too. My Lies, Your Lies is something of a departure novel for me with so many mind games and the highly controversial storyline that’s set in the Sixties. So even at my age today, I’m a little shocked by it.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I think endings are more difficult. I actually love writing beginnings; this is when I start to make new friends, settling into the company of strangers who will become as close and troublesome as family in the following months. In My Lies, Your Lies I didn’t know for quite a while how I’d end it, but when I finally hit on the right way it was one of those YES moments. The sudden twist of it has invited much contact and comment from readers, although I won’t say in what sense as I don’t want to spoil it. I’ve no idea which I end up changing more, the beginning or the end. Probably the nuance of the ending rather than the actual ending itself.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Having written so many books I could never say I see myself in all the characters – I’d be pretty weird if I could! However, they will often – not always – have similar views, aspirations and even politics to mine. I would find it very difficult to write a lead character with opposing opinions or life-values to my own, at least in a sympathetic sense. I save that for the antagonists – always a great way to get myself worked up into a frenzy of outrage. I find it almost impossible to write someone who is wholly bad, they keep presenting me with redeeming features and I just have to go with them.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Most of my inspirations are non-literary. I am regularly deeply moved and/or fascinated by other people’s lives and the experiences they endure and battle to overcome. This can range from the agonising and terrifying wait for a new heart; to the horrendous threat of homelessness; to the tragedy of dementia, to date-rape, to murder, to cancer; to falling victim to a crazy stranger’s vendetta (as in My Lies, Your Lies.) This makes the subjects seem very downbeat, but I promise they don’t read that way. There is humour in everything, even if it’s black, and all kinds of romance. I see it as my job to engage a reader in a way that will uplift, inform and most of all make them care.
Visit Susan Lewis's website.

My Book, The Movie: My Lies, Your Lies.

--Marshal Zeringue