Suzsi Mandeville Interview Published on: 21, Sep 2022

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Somerset, England and I moved to Australia when I was 22. I fell in love with the country and will never leave. After my mother divorced, she followed me here and now we live together.

What has been your most valuable out-of-school learning experiences?

Having a child. You get a whole new perspective on life.

When and how did you first get your "calling" to write?

When I started reading children's stories and thought 'These are awful! I can do better' So my early years were children's stories, plays and poetry.

As a person who loves fishing, what are some of your favorite spots to go fishing?

I am lucky enough to own a 'tinnie' and I set off coast hugging to anywhere that the wind isn't! I don't like speedcraft, I prefer to be up close and personal with the sea. Most of the fish I catch are tossed back. It's the experience that matters.

In what ways would you say your family has helped you with your writing?

My family did not encourage me one little bit. I was told: 'What makes you think that you'll be any good?' and 'Pigs might fly!' So when I started my first writing group, I called it 'The Flying Pigs'. I was in a difficult marriage and when I began writing, there were no laptops. Some evenings I would shut myself in the bathroom and write, balancing a notebook on my lap until the door knocked and I was asked what I was doing in there all this time! LOL!

How would you describe the genre 'Historical Fiction'? How does it differ from normal fiction and what is it about this genre that you love?

Oh! Good Question! Historical Fiction is so simple because it has already happened. The story is there, I just have to flesh it out with fictional characters to push the story into a narrative. History is made by ordinary people, not kings.

Did you research 1922 Egypt to set your story in the book, Escape from the Valley of the Kings?

Yes, I research very heavily and in depth. I read autobiographies, maps, old photos, portraits. If I don't do my research, I lose my credibility and also, I am portraying the stories of real people. I have to do them justice and understand what makes them who they are. That is very important and once done, I can weave my story around them. I have since published 'Escape from the King's Company', set in London 1666 with King Charles II and the Great Fire of London, and 'Escape from the King's Island Prison', set in Tasmania, 1839 which visits the early penal settlement and the history of the colonisation. In each novel, Tiffany, is a year older and, hopefully, wiser.

Who was your inspiration for Tiffany?

Actually, if there was a role-model for Tiffany, I'd say it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Why? Because they are both ordinary middle-class suburban girls going to school, dealing with teen angst and thrust into situations that they could never have dreamed of (nightmared of?) and they learned to adapt and cope. Also, I love humour and both Tiffany and Buffy have plenty of opportunities for dis-jointed humour. My favourite author is Terry Pratchett.

Has your writing style changed in any way over the years?

I hope it has improved! I've learned to trust myself and just write. Sometimes, I feel I'm taking dictation, everything flows so fast! Get the ideas down and edit later.

Do you think it is important for an author to be consistent and stick to one method of doing things, or be able to roll with the tide and changing trends?

I don't know about Trends. I am not a trendy writer by any means. But, do I believe that a writer should push the boundaries of what they write about and their styles? Yes. Absolutely. I also write one and 2 act plays that have been well received. I still write poetry. I love short stories and I teach autobiographical writing. My short stories are free to read on my website, and are about to be published on Amazon under the heading 'Some of My Shorts'.

Do you think your stories have a chance of being successful?

I hope so. I write stories that are easy to read, with good plots and character arcs. I am always determined to make my plots as water-tight as possible. I am lucky that this, my first published novel, has been selected for a Treatment for presentation to film studios. They've finished the treatment, and now they are starting the script. There's a 99.9% chance that this will go nowhere but - fingers crossed!

What's the lowest you've ever been as an author? How did you pick yourself up and what did you learn from it?

Everybody gets rejected. Even JK Rowling got rejected and we all know what happened with Harry Potter. I just say: 'It's not to everyone's taste'. Take critisim seriously and change, change, change - until you get it right. Escape from the Valley of the Kings had well over 100 re-writes before it got to the place it is now.

Do you have a certain writing routine you adhere to daily?

Almost. I'm a carer for my mum and have daily tasks that must come first. Writing is my reward to myself for getting those jobs done. I gave up watching TV about five years ago and it has freed me up immensly. Writing is much more fun!

Do you think the AllAuthor platform has been helpful to you in marketing and promoting your books? How did you first come to know about this website?

AllAuthor has been my #1 helpful website. I first found it when another author asked me to vote for her cover. I took the opportunity to fossick all over the website and was astounded at the resources on offer, so joined immediately. I'd recommend it to anyone who is serious about writing and marketing their book.

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