We loved hosting Susan Lewis, international best-selling author of more than 30 novels.
Susan was in South Africa to promote her latest novel, Never Say Goodbye. She charmed the audience with her stories and her sense of humour, mentioning moments from when she dated one of the FBI’s most wanted men to a quip from her therapist who told her that, even though she might be going through the valley of the shadow of death, she didn’t have to pitch a tent.
Date of Birth: 10 August 1956
Date of Interview: 18 June 2014
Place: The Space, Ten Bompas Road, Dunkeld, Johannesburg
The Book: Never Say Goodbye
1. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
It sounds like such a cliché, but it has to be Darcy.
2. What is your most treasured possession?
My engagement ring from my husband of one year, James.
3. Which living person do you most dislike?
Probably Robert Mugabe.
4. What is your greatest fear?
Being imprisoned for something I didn’t do.
5. Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?
Writing, and my husband, James.
6. What is your greatest regret?
That I did not go for a University education. I feel it would have been a good foundation, and I may have turned out very differently.
7. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
Emma from Emma by Jane Austen.
8. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky. The title came from a planned sequence of five novels by the French writer of Ukrainian Jewish origin. She only wrote two of the books before the Nazis interrupted her Symphony.
9. What is your favourite journey?
I love flying. The overnight flight to Johannesburg is a great flight. There’s no jet lag.
10. What is your favourite quotation?
‘There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.’ ~W. Somerset Maugham
11. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
Dogs. I have two Coton de Tuléars named Coco and Lulabelle.
12. What do you most value in a friend?
13. What quality do you most admire in a woman?
The courage to be yourself. Most women give so much of their lives and time to other people.
14. Which book that you’ve written is your favourite?
No child of mine and Don’t let me go are two books but they both made a huge impact. Child abuse is spoken about more now than it was, but these are important to me still. I think Never Say Goodbye is also a favourite.
15. What are your favourite names?
- Luke – I like classic names for men. I think these new names tend to emasculate boys before they even have a chance.
16. What do you do as a hobby?
I like shopping. I don’t have much time for a hobby, but we do spend time relaxing with friends. I’ve committed to writing two books a year, and it doesn’t leave much time for other things.
17. Which are your three favourite books?
- King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett
- Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky
- Just One More Day – my memoir about my mother. She died when I was nine-years-old and I feel as if I have her back there with me every time I open the book and read it.
18. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
From the news. I take an issue, such as child abuse, bullying, or breast cancer, and work from there .
19. What is your Writing Routine?
I write in my study at home. I start writing at 09:00 or 10:00 and finish at 18:00 every day. Then I reward myself with a glass of wine, and socialise with the characters. Sometimes, I almost want to gossip about them with other people.
20. What are your Top Five Writing Tips?
- Get to know your characters. Don’t be afraid to listen to them. In fact, if they aren’t talking to you, you’ve got a problem.
- Have fun with an opening line. You don’t have to use it in the final draft, but it’s a good way to start.
- Don’t be intimidated by the writing process. Just do it.
- I always start with an idea but I like to keep an open mind.
- If you really want to write, you will find time to do it.
Follow this link for more photographs from the dinner with Susan Lewis.
Interviewer: Amanda Patterson