From WWII London to climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, what an Inspiring Life…
I frequently wonder what inspired someone to write from a certain local, or how they were able to create an ingenious and creative plot device. I’ve come to find the answer lies in the wonderful experiences authors have had that shaped their lives. Many times, these stories are just as engaging to the reader as the author’s books. With this in mind, I started the author spotlight. This month’s spotlight author is Carole Sutton. Enjoy!
TMBOA: Ferryman’s setting is Cornwall England and sailing the English Channel. You currently reside in Australia. Tell us a little about where you’ve lived, why you choose Cornwall as the books setting, and how you’ve landed in Australia.
Sutton: Born in London in 1938 and evacuated to Exeter at the start of WWII, my earliest memory is the wail of sirens during the Exeter blitz in 1942. After the war, I remained in Exeter. In 1960, I married Bill, a man I had known for many years. His job took us to Cornwall. We lived in a small village near Falmouth where we raised our three children. I’ve always loved Cornwall.
They say ‘write what you know’ and after twenty years of working, sailing and living in the area, Cornwall seemed a natural setting for my first published book.
My parents and siblings had all migrated to Australia over the years. High unemployment and low payment rates in Cornwall was a worry, and thinking of our children’s future, we too applied for residency in Australia. But, by then Australia had closed its borders to migrants and it took us five attempts before they finally accepted us in 1981. We bought a retail business, a post office and news-agency, and ran it as a family with our now adult children. No time for writing in those days!
TMBOA: Competitive sailing is one of the major backdrops for your murder mystery. From the detailed descriptions in the book, it appears you have quite a passion for this sport. When did you take up sailing and what first interested you in this sport?
Sutton: In the late 1950s I was lured into sailing by Bill, who was trying hard to woo me at the time. He’d joined a club and bought a sailing dinghy. It was a 12’ National, badly in need of repair. This we did together and once out in the water, I was hooked. Bill’s next dinghy was a Hornet, a slim racy boat. We joined the clubs’ racing programs in the River Exe.
After we were married and moved to Cornwall, the years sped by, our boats grew bigger to accommodate our growing family. Eventually, unable to pay big prices for new boats we bought ours in kit form, and built them ourselves. The first was a four berth 27ft Cutlass, we followed that a few years later with a six berth 32ft Rival. (This boat was the model for Touché, Pengelly’s boat in ‘Ferryman’.) I went to night school and learned coastal navigation before we started cruising with the family. Our sailing trips extended to the Channel Islands, Brittany and down to Bay of Biscay. The only racing we did was the annual cross Channel race from Falmouth to L’Aberwrache, and that was more for fun than any idea of winning.
TMBOA: The book’s protagonist has an ingenious way of parading his prisoners about in public without anyone being the wiser. Without giving too much of the plot away, how did you come up with such an original idea?
Sutton: In the early 1960s, I attended a well planned Elizabethan Pageant. It was magic. At the time I was into photography. I still have a hundred, or so, 9’x 6’ b/w photographs I’d taken that day of men, women and children posing in Elizabethan costumes, of horses and jousting, and prisoners in stocks. It was obvious to me that people enjoyed acting out their roles. I remembered this when writing the Ferryman scenes. I could see that people had suspended their disbelief, and accepted as part of the show whatever was going on. I realised in that atmosphere my antagonist would be able to get away with something that, in a normal situation, would have been questionable.
TMBOA: What do you want readers to feel, think, and say after reading your work?
Sutton: I’d like them to feel satisfied, dwell a few moments on the bits they liked best, close the book with a grunt and say, “Well, that was a good yarn – when’s her next one coming out?”
TMBOA: Have you had any formal tuition in writing, if not have you had help from another source?
Sutton: No formal training, but I have attended a creative writing course, joined a writers’ workshop, where a group of us met in a local pub. We’d sit in a quiet corner to read and discuss our chapters. Great fun, especially when it came to the sexy bits and we had to read quietly so as not to alert other customers!
I joined the Internet Writing Workshop. From the Novels-L section, I learned almost everything I know about writing, both how to, and how NOT to. On this site you submit chapters to your peers and critique theirs in return. See them at: http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/.
I also joined YouWriteOn.com back when it first started. My books reached the Top Ten through peer reviewing and two of them were awarded professional critiques. Again, it’s a free site for writers. http://www.youwriteon.com
Currently, I meet fortnightly with two other professional writers where we drink tea, and ruthlessly edit each other’s chapters. We find it very helpful to have other eyes peruse our work.
TMBOA: Finally, what’s next for you? Do you have a new novel in the works and if so what can you tell us about it?
Sutton: My next book, ‘And the Devil Laughed’ has been released this week, June 2009. Set in Australia on the banks of the Parramatta River, ‘And the Devil Laughed’ was short-listed for New Holland Publishers Genre Fiction Award 2007.
Briefly: Undercover cop, Hannah Ford, is eager to return to work after trauma leave. She takes on a drug surveillance job in Draper’s Wharf. But when she arrives there, the town is in shock after the rape and murder of its local barmaid. Hannah, a rape victim with a career to salvage, needs to prove to herself and her boss that she can hack it.
Down the track, book #3 is on its way. We are back in Cornwall, though not with the Ferryman characters. It’s a cracking story and if you liked Ferryman, you’ll love this one. You can see more detail on both these books on my web: http://casutton.tripod.com/
How many other books . . . who knows?
As my daughter once said: “You flew a plane on your 50th birthday, you climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge on your 60th, saw your first novel published for your 70th . . . What will you do for your 80th?”
Ah, that’s anyone’s guess!
You can read my TMBOA recommended review of Ferryman here. I encourage everyone to pick up a copy!