I'm thrilled to introduce you to a fabulous author from my neck of the woods today, or at least from this side of the world anyway.
Here we go...
Sue Copsey writes middle-grade fiction, and also adult fiction under the pseudonym Olivia Hayfield. Her children’s ghost story The Ghosts of Tarawera was a Storylines Children’s Literature Trust Notable Book, and The Ghosts of Moonlight Creek was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Award in the best YA novel category. In 2019, Sue won the New Zealand Society of Authors/High Spot Literary Pitch Perfect competition with her adult fiction Wife After Wife, a contemporary retelling of the story of Henry VIII and his six wives. High Spot secured a two-book deal with Little Brown UK, and Wife After Wife was also picked up by Penguin Random House in New York. Originally from England, Sue is now based in Auckland, where she works as a book editor. She is married with two children.
***Glamour, infidelity, murder***
Divorced, murdered, died, divorced, suicide, survived...
Wealthy, devilishly handsome businessman Harry Rose is head of Rose Corporation, No. 18 on the Forbes rich list, and recently married to wife number six. But now, with business in the spotlight and his love life under scrutiny, Harry's perfect world has the potential to come crashing to the ground.
From eighties young gun to noughties ginger billionaire, there's a reason why Harry's many wives have found him impossible to resist. But behind the money, sex and glamour lies a truer tale of infidelity, conspiracy and lies - and Harry's ex-wives want him to pay...
Loosely based on the trials and tribulations of the most infamous historical playboy of them all, this tale of glamour and serial monogamy will leave you deliciously entertained.
'A delicious read for anyone looking to sink into a big juicy story about love, lust, betrayal and other unfortunate consequences of the heart' Renee Rosen, bestselling author of PARK AVENUE SUMMER
Who are you and what do you write?
I’m Sue Copsey, book editor and author of ghostly adventure stories for kids.
But! I’m also Olivia Hayfield, (younger, far more glamorous) author of Wife After Wife, a modern retelling of the story of King Henry VIII and his six wives.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
Where – England. I moved to New Zealand in 1995. When – as soon as I could hold a pencil. My imagination was ridiculous – it still is. I lived mostly in my head; my bike was my pony, my walk to school was through an enchanted forest, my toys came to life at midnight. Now, as I go on my morning run down at Auckland Harbour, my head is full of the likes of Henry VIII and William Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth 1st, wondering what they’d be like if they lived today, holding imaginary conversations with them.
When I was nine, my teacher sent one of my poems to Warwickshire Country Life magazine, and my life as a published author began … but there was quite a gap before I was to resurface. I always wanted to be a writer, but my parents sensibly told me to get a proper job and think about that later. Turned out to be sound advice. However, I found jobs that allowed me to write. I was a press officer at London Zoo, and then moved into publishing, firstly for Dorling Kindersley in London, and more recently as a freelancer in New Zealand. Along the way I’ve written several children’s books, sometimes for publishers I’ve been working for, sometimes for myself.
Recently I turned my hand to writing adult fiction, and incredibly found myself with a two-book deal with Little Brown UK, and an offer from Penguin Random House in the US. All quite astonishing and ridiculously exciting.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
Ups and downs, like a rollercoaster. Cliché but true. I’d been writing children’s non-fiction for a while as part of my job as an editor, but had always wanted to write stories too. Having worked in publishing for a while my expectations were realistic! So I was thrilled when my first kids’ novel was picked up by a new publisher … which quickly went under. I retrieved the unsold copies, and had to learn quickly about marketing and distribution. This in fact turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I was able to pass on this knowledge to my author clients who were thinking of self-publishing. I went on to self-publish the second and third in the series, and one of those won a Storylines Notable Book award which was a wonderful moment for me. Then … see next question!
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far?
I wrote a middle-grade book which I think was my best yetl. It sat around on various publishers’ desks for two years and is still languishing. I love that book, and I’ll get round to publishing it myself one day, if I have to. The up side was that I was so disheartened by the whole experience I swore off writing any more kids’ books, wrote an adult one, and am now an internationally published adult fiction author!
And the most enjoyable?
I’ll never forget the phonecall from my agent telling me we’d had an offer for Wife After Wife from Penguin Random House in New York. I may have screamed. But the most sublime moment of all was finishing the sequel, Sister to Sister. I’d been stuck, I didn’t know how to end it. I tried ending after ending, but nothing felt right. It has to feel right. And then it came to me in a dream - it was like watching a scene from a movie. It was incredible, magical, perfect! I have no idea how that happened. When I wrote what I’d dreamed, I cried. A strange kind of ‘enjoyment’, maybe, but other authors will relate.
Would you go back and change anything?
I’d take English at uni instead of following my dad’s advice and studying business. But otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing – I’m always aware that I’m very lucky to have a working life that revolves round books, my own and other people’s.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
Now that I’ve finished the sequel to Wife After Wife, there’s a definite ‘where to next’ thing going on. I’m hoping I’ll be able to carry on writing my modern retellings of history, as I’m a complete history nerd and there are so many fascinating characters who I’d like to drop into modern day and see how their lives would play out. It depends if my publisher wants more … fingers crossed. We’ve had interest from film and TV in both books, so I’d quite like that to happen!
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
Most of us look back at our early stuff and wince, because we hadn’t yet mastered the craft of writing. As an editor, time and time again I see the same issues with first-time authors: wordiness, repetition, clunky sentences, information dumps, dialogue that doesn’t sound natural. It’s basic stuff, and the good news is, most of it is easy to rectify. So take a creative writing course, find a mentor – get quality feedback. Learn how to punctuate dialogue, how to write a killer opening paragraph, how much backstory to put in your first chapters; learn about point of view. Follow the rules until you’re good enough to break one or two with confidence. Read lots, in your preferred writing genre. Work out why a book is great, note how and why an author keeps you turning those pages, how they make you care about a character, how they get in that emotion, make your heart race, move you to tears. Don’t despair if your first book is rejected by all and sundry – write another one!
Oh, you said one piece of advice. Sorry.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Mayo
Night or Day? - Night
Inside or Outside? - Outside
Dogs or Cats? - Cats
Twitter or Facebook? - Facebook
Ebook or Paperback? - Paperback
Sun or Rain? - Sun
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Pencil and notebook
Comedy or Drama? - Drama
Chips or Chocolate? - Chocolate
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!