Our writer of the week is Susan Batten. Read her debut story, ‘Making A List’, in our Christmas bumper issue.
Can you tell us a little bit about your story ‘Making A List’ and what inspired you to write it?
In writing ‘Making A List’, I wanted to draw a picture of a woman who loves to celebrate the Christmas season and who takes pleasure in passing on this enjoyment to the next generation. She is proud to have a daughter whose heart is in the right place, as opposed to other members of her family who have no Christmas spirit at all.
Christmas is a time for cheer, but it can sometimes bring tough situations like the one Sally finds herself in! How did you find the balance to keep up that feel-good feeling?
I think the daughter, Beth, is sensible and clear-sighted. Sally values her former sister-in-law above her mean-spirited relatives and with the help of Beth’s good sense, Sally determines to stand by Carol to show her appreciation.
Have you always wanted to be a published writer?
At first I wrote short stories for my own entertainment – I like the challenges they pose. Little by little I decided to offer some of them for publication, in the hope that readers would enjoy them too.
What are your writing goals? What do you plan to work on next?
The short story format suits me – I haven’t got the patience for long-term projects such as a book, so I hope to write more short fiction. I’m also interested in short fiction for audio, which is becoming popular these days.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year, and why?
I’m always dipping into favourite reads from the past and I read a lot of magazine articles and stories to keep up to date. I particularly like travel pieces and historical works – this summer I re-read all Jane Austen’s novels back-to-back, so just now my head is full of her regency world and her powers of observation.
Which writer(s) do you admire most, and why?
A modern author I admire is Fred Vargas, a French historian who combines enchanting language with historical settings and strong characters you half expect to meet on your own High Street one day . . .
Then there are the incomparable John Mortimer’s Rumpole stories, which are always guaranteed to cheer me up! Definitely one of my “go-to” books.
Finally, what’s your tip for aspiring “Friend” writers?
I think that life is full of snippets which can be built into a story; the trick is to spot them and start writing. As aspiring “Friend” contributors, we should do our best to give readers a pleasant, satisfying read to help the day along.