It’s a while since I had a guest on the blog and it’s lovely to be joined today by my friend, Sue Hepworth. Sue’s new book EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW YOU was published in May. It’s full of acutely observed detail, thoughtful, touching, funny and poignant. It’s been described by one reader on Amazon as “Celebrating friendship, nature, love and lust for the over 50s.”
I asked Sue to tell us :
What is the book about?
On the face of it, it’s about a woman grieving over the death of her best friend and trying to find solace through her other friends, a relationship with a man she meets, and through paying close attention to nature and the changing seasons. But there are other themes, one of which is an exploration of how much of our history we need to share with others with whom we have meaningful relationships.
How much of the book is based on your own experience?
The book is set on and around the Monsal Trail in the Derbyshire Peak District, and the Trail is just half a mile from my home. Just like Jane, the main character, I walk or cycle on the Trail several times a week, and I notice the changes in the trees and vegetation as the seasons turn. The other crossover with my own life is that my closest friend died four years ago, and I have mined my experience of that to use in the book.
What is your comfort reading?
If I’m very upset I turn to poetry, often to Lifesaving Poems, published by Bloodaxe. When I have the winter blues I read The Secret Garden, or The Enchanted April. When I’m ill I read 84 Charing Cross Road or Mary Wesley’s Part of the Furniture. But the book that lives on my bedtime table and provides comfort in every circumstance is Garrison Keillor’s Leaving Home. This is quite a list, isn’t it? I find the world a dark and desperate place right now.
What is the book you first remember reading on your own?
A picture book called Tell Me A Story.
And the first ‘chapter’ book I read was an Enid Blyton Secret Seven book.
What single thing would improve your writing life?
For my retired husband to be out of the house from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Describe the room where you write.
The room is filled with light. There is a window facing north over fields and a limestone edge beyond, and a south facing window, which looks over the front garden and then to pastures. The walls are painted pale turquoise and the wall above my desk is filled with paintings and prints of Wensleydale. Behind me are the bookshelves. There are photographs of my family everywhere. My husband makes stained glass, and a beautiful panel he made for me rests against the back window. My desk is usually littered with papers, and is only tidy when I have just finished writing a book.
Sue writes an entertaining blog at Suehepworth.com. Do check it out.
Last September I posted a photo of my desk all clean and tidy in preparation for beginning to write a novel. Well, I’ve done it and this is a photo of my desk last week just after I sent off the final draft to my editor. After I’d pressed send, I danced around the house. Note writer’s companion cat asleep on the shelf on the left and celebratory glass of wine in the centre. I thought of my husband and wished he were here. It’s the first novel that I have written without him at my back. Still, it was a sweet moment and I raised a glass for us both.