Today I’m delighted to feature former journalist turned author Sue Featherstone. Together with long time friend Susan Pape, she has written two journalism text books and two novels, with the third due later this year. With a writing style that is smart and witty, their books focus on the dynamics of female friendships (something they clearly know something about).
Sue Featherstone is a former journalist and public relations practitioner turned academic.
She was born in the Midlands but moved to Yorkshire, aged nine.
Her writing career started in local newspapers (Wakefield Express, Pontefract and Castleford Express, Selby Times) before switching to PR as internal communications manager with a large utility company.
She completed a degree in English Literature as a mature student and subsequently moved into higher education, teaching journalism at Sheffield Hallam University.
At the beginning of 2017, Sue left Sheffield Hallam to focus on her writing.
Together with her friend and writing partner Susan Pape, she has written two journalism text books – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction; and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction.
Their first novel, A Falling Friend, was published by Lakewater Press in 2016 and a sequel, A Forsaken Friend, followed in March 2018. The final book in the series, A Forgiven Friend, will be published in October 2019.
So over to Sue
Which five pieces of music would you include in the soundtrack of your life and why?
Wide Eyed and Legless by Andy Fairweather Low: just listening to the opening bars and Andy’s throaty introduction ‘Wherever I go and whatever I do…’ whisks me straight back to December 1975 and Tiffany’s night club in Wakefield where I first met my husband. The song’s about a bloke bemoaning the fact he’s boozed up all over again – so definitely NOT a romantic number – but it was a big hit that Christmas and it reminds me of being young and falling in love…
The Cod Liver Oil song by Val Doonican: I first remember Granddad in Ireland (as opposed to Granddad in Stratford) singing this when we visited on holiday in the 60s. For years, I thought it was a traditional Irish song, but apparently it derives from Newfoundland where cod liver oil (ugh!) was a traditional remedy. It tells the tale of a young married man, with a sickly wife who ‘does nothin’ all day but to sit there and sigh, Wishin’ and prayin’ she-ee could die’. She’s saved by Doctor John, who proscribes a big bottle of cod liver oil, but as the wife gets stronger, the husband becomes ‘as quiet as a mouse’, eventually fearing that ‘if the kettle should boil, I’d swear it was singing of cod liver oil’. As a child, who loathed our daily, medicinal spoonful of cod liver oil with every bone in my body, I loved the humour of the lyrics – and still do.
Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus: I had just turned nine when my dad’s job took us from the Midlands to live just outside Leeds, which inevitably meant a change of schools. The headteacher at my old school had been a terrifying, authoritarian figure but Edward O’Hara, the head at St Mary’s, Rothwell, ruled his pupils with a rod of kindness. Every morning we marched into assembly to the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah – and listening to it takes me straight back to the first time in my life I wasn’t afraid to go to school.
Ain’t Got No – I Got Life by Nina Simone: Probably the most life-affirming positive song ever written and a lesson in how to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.
This is Me by Keala Settle from The Greatest Showman soundtrack: It’s so important to like yourself and not to allow other people to pigeon-hole you. The combination of powerful words, a soaring musical accompaniment and Keala’s awesome voice sends tingles down the spine.
Highlight five things (apart from family and friends) you would find it hard to live without.
My kindle: My house doesn’t have enough bookshelves for all the books I want to read. My kindle has room for them all.
The Archers: I’ve been listening to the Sunday omnibus since I was a child and, when my daughters were younger, we’d listen to it in the car. They both grumbled – a lot. ‘Must we have that on?’ But the oldest girl is also now an Archers Addict so I must have done something right. Still working on daughter number two…
Saturday morning knit and natter: me and a group of friends get together every Saturday for two hours of knitting, laughing and putting the world to rights. Brexit would have been kicked out of the water a long time ago if we were running the country.
My Nordic Walking Poles: What’s Nordic Walking? Think of it as cross-country skiing but without the skis or the daft clothes. It’s a fantastic all-body outdoor workout – the poles ensure the upper body works as hard as the legs – and a lovely way to get some fresh air and, if like me, you join a Nordic Walking group, talk to some interesting people along the way.
Writing tools: My pc, notebooks and pens.
Can you offer the five pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
This is a tricky one because nothing beats learning through experience. So, the most important things I’ve learned are:
The glass is ALWAYS half full rather than half empty.
Mistakes happen – don’t waste time trying to attribute blame. Deal with them and move on.
Never say something behind someone’s back you wouldn’t say to their face.
Learn to like yourself: you don’t HAVE to live with anyone else, but you can never escape from yourself so like the person you are rather than the person you wish you were.
And, finally, borrowed from an ancient Chinese proverb: A journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you.
I have a unicornate uterus. In other words, part of my womb is missing and I’m incredibly lucky to have two, lovely, healthy daughters.
I’ve had two Caesarean sections – one emergency and one planned.
I have one short-sighted eye and one long-sighted eye.
I was born in the Midlands, although I’ve lived in Yorkshire since I was nine.
I don’t like cheese. Or coffee.
What are the first five things you’d have on your bucket list.
Become a novelist: I’m currently living number one on my bucket list. I’ve dreamed of becoming a novelist since I was nine years old and the dream came true in 2016 when my first novel, A Falling Friend, co-authored with writing partner Susan Pape was published by Lakewater Press. I gave up my ‘proper’ job soon afterwards, and since then, we’ve published a second book, A Forsaken Friend, and our third A Forgiven Friend will be published in October 2019. We’re already well on the way with a fourth novel. Now if one of them could just make the top five of The Sunday Times bestseller list…
See a bit more of the world: I first visited Australia two years ago when my youngest daughter was on a gap year-and-a-bit and I’d love to go back and see more of a wonderful country. New Zealand, the US – west coast and New England in the fall – and Canada are also on the travel itinerary.
Lose some weight before my daughter’s wedding next year: Do-able, but, who’ll eat the biscuits and cake and drink the dry white wine?
Win Masterchef: First, though, I need to learn to cook something more sophisticated than shepherd’s pie and spaghetti bolognaise.
Learn to swim front crawl: I’m a reasonably competent breaststroke swimmer but have never mastered the front crawl. Properly done it’s a beautiful stroke but, like a lot of swimmers, I’m too splashy.
Thanks so much for joining us Sue, it was lovely discovering more about you – I think I can safely say most of us (well certainly me) before today had not heard of a unicornate uterus, but delighted to know it had no detrimental effects. Your choice of Andy Fairweather Lowe made me smile – being of a not dissimilar vintage at the same time I would have been in Tiffany’s nightclub in Hull (though slightly under-aged!). I love your advice to a younger self, very sensible and honest. Your knit and natter group sounds fabulous, there’s nothing beats a couple of hours at putting the world to rights. Combine that with knitting (and hopefully copious tea and biscuits) – heaven! Here’s hoping you get to achieve some of those things on your bucket list. If you discover the secret of losing weight (apart from move more, eat less) – let me know!
There are two sides to every friendship.
After spending her twenties sailing the globe, making love on fine white sand, and thinking only of today, Teri Meyer returns to Yorkshire – and back into the life of childhood friend Lee. Plus, there’s the new job, new man – or three – and the guaranteed lump sum of a bursary for her academic research piece on the way. Life is first-rate.
What could possibly go wrong?
Going out on a limb to get best friend Teri a job at the same university seemed like a great idea. But it doesn’t take long for Lee Harper to notice a pattern. Teri seems to attract trouble, or maybe she creates it, and Lee can see exactly where things are spiralling – downwards. But Teri’s not the sort to heed a warning, so Lee has no choice but to stand by and watch.
And besides, she has her own life to straighten out.
No-one said friendship was easy.
Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.
But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…
It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.
Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.
Click on image for more details and non-affiliated buying link
You can follow Sue via
Both Sue and Susan also write about books over at Book lovers’ booklist