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Sue Walker

By Sarah Hutchings

Sue Walker

This interview with Shoreham based crime writer Sue Walker was first published on The Deckchair on 23/07/2007.

How did you get your first break?
I was taken on by a respected agent and she put my first book, 'The Reunion', up for auction to major publishing houses here and in the US. It was a tremendously exciting time. It was the kind of experience I had read about that happened to others and seemed almost unbelievable that, after many years of writing and hoping to become a published author, it was happening to me

Could you describe your working day.
I have always been highly disciplined in my writing. I begin by polishing the work from the previous day to ease my way in. After that, I sketch out the next chapter plan and then get writing. I write to a daily word count and when that's done, I usually do plotting, planning or research. Thankfully, I have never, as yet, suffered from writer's block, but if the day feels like it is going to be a 'slow' writing day, I go easy on myself and write what I can. Then I do research, plotting, etc

How does an idea become a novel?
I don't actually know. It's a baffling process. My ideas are usually sparked by a location. Location is key to me and it is this that catches my imagination before I have even created a single character or conceived of a plot. I become very attached to places and I suppose it's then that they take on a life of their own and 'lead' me into wanting to write about them. Both 'The Reckoning' and my new novel, 'The Dead Pool' are set around locations I have known intimately since childhood. I just had to use them. 'The Reckoning' is set on the east coast of Scotland, in particular on the little island of Fidra. I used to take childhood holidays around there and have always re-visited the area when I can. 'The Dead Pool' is set around the river that runs through Edinburgh, the Water of Leith. I was brought up near to where the novel is set. In both cases, the locations are 'living' characters for me, as much as the human ones.

Which book do you wish you'd written?
That's easy. 'Deep Water' by Patricia Highsmith. Breathtaking. A remarkable observation of psychological disintegration encased in a tale of apparently everyday, 'comfortable', affluent living.

As a reader, do you always finish a book you've started?
No, if it doesn't keep my attention and enthusiasm, it goes.

If you weren't a writer, what job would you like to have done?
Not sure but definitely something to do with swimming, boats and the sea.

Describe your perfect day.
A really eureka day when there's been a plot breakthrough, or one of my characters does something unexpected. I know it's happening because I can feel my heart rate rising and my fingers flying across the keyboard. On days like that I feel like the novel's writing itself!

What keeps you awake at night?
Million's of things. Quite often thoughts about the novel I'm writing at that time. That's why I keep a pen, notebook and torch by the side of my bed at all times.

Why did you choose to live in Sussex and what keeps you here?
I lived in London for 22 years until last summer. Then I moved to Shoreham after many, many years of visiting. It just fits with what I am, what I do. Every day here feels like being on holiday.

How does living here inspire your work?
There's a lot of nature around here. I find nature and the natural world very, very nourishing. I cycle every day by the River Adur or down to the sea. These are very precious times to me. I also adore the changeable weather. I love weather and its various moods - it's one of the reasons that I love living in Britain. And here on the Sussex coast, you can get every variety of weather in one day. I also adore swimming and the water, so I'm perfectly placed for that. Also, at certain points in my writing routine, I like to get out, away from my usual working environment and read through a few thousand words. It's amazing what a changed perspective being away from my office can bring when I'm reading my own work. So, I often sit in the lovely churchyard of the St Mary de Haura Church in Shoreham town centre. It's a wonderfully peaceful spot.

Visit Sue's website.

This page was amended on 03/02/2012
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