Today we are joined by Susanna Beard as we travel to Marlow in the UK where we learn how dogs, swimming, Margaret Atwood, and falling down a crevasse fit together in Susanna’s life. Grab your swimsuit and let’s go …
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hello! I’m Susanna Beard, and I live and work in Marlow, a beautiful town on the river Thames, not far from London, UK. I have a background in PR and marketing and started writing fiction around five years ago – I’m now writing almost full time. I have two little dogs, who get me up and out in the morning and keep me company while I’m slogging away and two grown-up sons, one in London and one nearby in Henley-on-Thames. I love tennis, skiing, my family, my dogs and my garden. I once fell down a crevasse!
In which genre do you write?
I write psychological thrillers.
How many published books do you have?
To date I have two published: Dare to Remember (2017) and The Truth Waits (2018). There are two more in the offing! (Watch my space)
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
When I was seventeen, I told my father I wanted to write a novel. He said: “You can’t write a novel – it’s far too hard. You have to do tons of research, and it’s much more difficult than you think.” I wasn’t hurt, because I know he had great respect for novelists; he just thought people like us didn’t do that. But it stayed in my head, and throughout a successful career in PR, I always knew that one day I’d give it a go. I suppose I don’t like being told I can’t do something!
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I swim regularly for fitness, and as long as I can get a lane on my own and get into a rhythm, I work out my plot issues as I plough up and down. I don’t know if that’s a quirk, but it works for me!
What does your ideal writing space look like?
It looks like where I’m sitting now – my office! It has loads of natural light, white walls, pictures of my boys, books and magazines, and two little dogs snoozing in their beds. My desktop is at exactly the right height, I have a proper back-supporting chair, a cup of tea always on the go and in the winter it’s warm as it’s right next to the airing cupboard.
I sometimes crave a beautiful view, like the sea, or a wonderful wild countryside scene, but then I think I’ll just sit and look at it and not get on with the writing. Though last summer, when the weather was beautiful for days on end, I took everything into the garden and wrote and wrote. Being outside (in good weather) is the best!
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Days Without End by Sebastian Barry. Brilliant.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I walk my dogs, twice a day, by the river or on the common, or anywhere in the countryside. I swim, play tennis, socialise and have as many holidays as I can possibly afford! Oh, and I read lots of other people’s books, usually ones that are much better than mine, because they give me something to aspire to.
If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?
It would have to be Margaret Atwood. I think she’s fascinating, and she has a lovely sense of humour. I’d love to hear what she thinks about what’s going on in the world today, and where she thinks it might take us. I think she’s very prescient.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through writing?
I’ve learned that I can actually stand up in front of people and talk confidently – something I would have run miles from before I wrote my first book. I actually like it now! I would never, ever, have thought I would.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve done or experienced to help create a scene or plot?
This weekend I’m going to an event called Crime Scene Live at the Natural History Museum. You become a detective for the night and work with actual forensic scientists to solve a murder mystery! I’m so nervous, and so looking forward to it! (I’m taking my son, who’s cleverer than me, and will undoubtedly show up my agedness). I’m hoping to get inspiration and some practical understanding too!
Do you journal write or keep a personal diary? Has this helped with your published writings? If so, how?
No – I do neither. I had a diary at school but was hopeless at putting interesting things into it (it was a good record of the weather in certain years though). I’m much better at writing novels!
What is the most amusing, crazy or inspiring thing that has ever happened to you?
Apart from falling down a crevasse? I went to Australia and swam with whale sharks (they’re humungous, bigger than my sitting room and the biggest fish in the world), and also with manta rays and wild dolphins. It was the most fantastic experience; I’ll never forget it.
You are about to speak publicly to a group and read from your latest book. What song do you listen to before speaking? Or, what do you do to prepare yourself?
I listen to Moondance by Van Morrison. It always lifts my heart, and makes me dance around the kitchen.
What do you miss about being a kid?
Not much – I’m just a big kid myself!
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
Ooh Tom and Jerry – all that dashing about and finding ingenious ways to confound Tom.
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
I saw The Favourite with one of my favourite actors, Olivia Colman. I thought it was brilliant, and I loved her portrayal of the mercurial Queen Anne.
A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?
“Hola conchita! Would you like a fajita?” (He’s going door-to-door selling Mexican food).
If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?
What IS it about fox poo that you find attractive?
Why oh why do you scratch holes in my carpets?
Why do you have to roll in the dirtiest, smelliest places you can find?
Which of your personality traits has been most useful and why?
Determination, without a doubt. I think there are many wonderful writers, better than me, who are deterred by the many unexpected challenges of writing and publishing. You need resilience and determination in spades.
What’s your favorite place to visit in your country and why?
Cornwall (a western county in the UK) – it’s so full of wonderful things: The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Fowey, St Ives, Pastow, Tintagel, Roseland, Philleigh, I could go on! (Don’t go in high summer though, go in spring or autumn when it’s quieter).
Describe the perfect solo date you’d take yourself on … where, time of day, weather, place, etc.
I would go and sit somewhere (safe) on an African reserve, in the shade by a waterhole a couple of hours before sunset, and watch as the animals come and go. It would be warm and sunny, with a light breeze, and I would have a hat, plenty of water, binoculars, mosquito spray, and a comfortable seat on a Land Rover (to make a quick escape if necessary). I would hope to see all sorts: lions, giraffes, hippos, warthogs, jackals…and…and…
Tell us about your most recent book.
The Truth Waits is a psychological thriller partly set in Lithuania. It follows Anna, a successful businesswoman who finds the body of a young girl on a deserted beach in Lithuania. She is compelled to uncover the story behind the tragedy, despite concern from her partner, Will. Everything points towards sex trafficking, but as she searches, her own deepest secrets start to surface.
Because it has the most beautiful, unspoilt, mysterious beach on the Baltic coast (on the Kuronian Spit). It’s miles and miles of sand, swept into strange patterns by the wind, without cafes or bins or rubbish or people, with a dark, lowering sky and a horizon that goes on for ever. The perfect place to put a dead body!
Thanks Susan for joining us on Meeting the Authors. It was wonderful learning more about you. I’m a huge Van Morrison fan too! And, now I’m left wondering about this whole falling down a crevasse incident!! It seems as if it all turned out okay! –Camilla
Anna has everything worked out – a successful company, all the comforts she needs and no ties. But when she stumbles across the body of a young girl on a deserted beach in Lithuania, everything changes.
Anna is compelled to uncover the story behind the tragedy, despite concern from her partner, Will. Everything points towards sex trafficking, but as she searches, her own deepest secrets start to surface.
When Will disappears without a trace, Anna is pulled further into the murky world of organised crime. Time is running out for them all, and there’s a killer out there who will stop at nothing.
Where to buy:
The Truth Waits is in all good bookshops and on:
UK Amazon: https://amzn.to/2J0NnCH
US Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IZyIrm
Connect with Susanna:
email: [email protected]
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And if it feels the thing to do and you are inspired to do so, I would be deeply grateful if you’d like to “Buy Me a Coffee” … Camilla – Host of Meeting the Authors …