“Friend” favourite Suzanne Ross Jones has a heart-warming story in our current Special.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your story “What Would Hayley Do?”
This story began many years ago with advice from a friend. Mr RJ and I were planning a low-key wedding with just us – no guests. In fact, apart from our witnesses, we only told three other people about it. Inexplicably for such a low-key ceremony I took to the idea I wanted to carry flowers – which would no doubt draw attention as I made my way to the City Chambers.
I confided this to a trusted friend, and her advice was that I should ask myself what would Doris Day do? We agreed the wonderful Doris Day would most likely have had the flowers. In the end I did, too.
Long after the wedding the question still nagged at me. What Would Doris Do? I knew there had to be a story in there somewhere. It took two years for the characters to arrive. Then another two years to write the story. Then I held on to it – unsure if the direction the story had taken would be right for “The People’s Friend2.
I tried rewriting, but the characters wouldn’t have it. They demanded their story was told the way they had presented it. Still I tweaked. Redrafted.
And, after another couple of years, I submitted pretty much my first draft for consideration. It took just short of seven years from the first hint of an idea to publication. Thankfully most of my stories don’t take quite that long.
How long have you been writing fiction?
A very, very, very long time. As long as I’ve been able to write. But it took until 31st July 2009 before I received an acceptance from “The People’s Friend”. That was a brilliant day.
What’s the magic ingredient that makes a “Friend” story?
Aw, that’s a lovely question – “The Friend” stories are magic. Not sure I know the answer as to what makes them so, but I suspect it might have to do with the characters. At least for me the characters are the most important ingredient when I’m reading. And when I’m writing I try to write about lovely, decent people. Also my own stories are almost entirely written from some mystic happy place in my brain. I’m not entirely sure how that happens. In real life I’m pretty grumpy and very much doubt anyone would enjoy reading stories from there.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I’m glad you said ‘some’ or I could be here all day! It’s difficult to narrow the list down, but recent books I’ve read and enjoyed have been by Maggie O’Farrell, Daphne du Maurier, and Maeve Binchy. And I love a good re-read of a Catherine Cookson on a rainy afternoon. Also I adore Marian Keyes and have pounced on each new book ever since “Watermelon”.
What are you working on at the moment?
I usually work on more than one thing at a time. My work in progress file is bursting with all sorts of projects. I have ideas and plans for serials, and for pocket novels, and more short stories. There are so many things I want to write that I barely know where to start.
Thank you, Suzanne!