This week’s Writer of the Week is Sue Cook!
Sue chats to our fiction journalist Tracey Steel, about her serial in The People’s Friend, “To St Peter’s Fields”
What inspired your serial, “To St Peter’s Fields”?
I live in an old weaving village which has retained a lot of its character and charm. Often as I’m wandering through it I peer at the old houses and wonder what went on there all those years ago when they were new. I had an idea about a shopkeeper in one of the old shops. She would befriend a small boy who was outcast because of his mother’s… how shall I put it?… immoral? activities. I thought it might make a novel but never quite worked out where it was going. When the People’s Friend serial competition came along I realised I had the perfect characters already, although I’d need to give the mother a more socially acceptable lifestyle. As I plotted, it became a romance for which the Peterloo Massacre provided a perfect source of conflict.
How long have you been writing fiction?
I started writing poems about rugby when I was at school, many decades ago. I turned to short stories for my own pleasure perhaps in my late 20s but then came a long gap called ‘bringing up the children’.
Serials or short stories? Which do you prefer?
I find with short stories there is so much more I want to tell. I am constantly torn between these or novels which take so much more time and energy. So far, I’ve only attempted one serial, but it might be a suitable half-way house. I just need some ideas…
What do you find the hardest part about writing a short story? Having the idea, getting the characters just right…?
My hardest problem is developing ideas. I know other writers say you don’t need imagination, but if you haven’t got any then plotting can be very difficult. I have no end of promising story beginnings with nowhere to go.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
PC in my study. Or if I can’t sleep, on my mother-in-law’s ancient notebook. I tend to be more productive on the latter as it doesn’t connect to the internet. My work desk faces a blank wall, but the monitor has all sorts of distractions on it – Facebook, the news, emails from fellow writers… But there’s absolutely no music – I can’t work with noise.
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