Wednesday Windback with Sue Featherstone @SueFWriter

Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Sue Featherstone which was first posted in August 2019. It’s been brought up to date to include Sue’s latest book which she writes with her long time friend Susan Pape. In addition to two journalism text books, their three novels 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.

Over to Sue:

Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to 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.

What five things (apart from family and friends) would you 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.

Give five pieces of advice 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.

Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.

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.

Sue’s Books

(NB This post features Affiliate links from which I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases)

A Falling Friend

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.

A Forsaken Friend

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 isn’t such a grand idea.

A Forgiven Friend

There’s only one way out from rock bottom and that’s up, and Teri Meyer is finally crawling out from the worst time of her life – no thanks to her best friend Lee. But no matter, she’s finally found love – real love with a real man, a successful man, a man who accepts all her flaws. Teri’s never felt like this before, and yet it’s changing her in ways she doesn’t understand.
And there’s only one person who can help, one person who truly understands Teri.
It seems that no matter how hard Lee Harper tries, there’s a battle awaiting her at every turn, and, as if she doesn’t need the extra, Teri continues to create constant and unnecessary drama. But Lee’s the only one who really knows what’s going on under Teri’s hard, convoluted exterior, and that’s why she’s always been there for her.
But the question is: will Teri be there when Lee needs her most?
This brilliant and entertaining final book in the unique FRIENDS series dishes out another dose of rib-tickling mayhem for our favourite thirty-something professional women.

Newspaper Journalism : A Practical Introduction

′As well as guides on how to report courts and councils, Newspaper Journalism offers tips on how to write both news stories and features and how to make and keep contacts. The tips are packed with real life examples from journalists working on provincial newspapers. A worthwhile read – and not just for the latest newshound to join the press pack′

Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction

This book provides a practical and richly informative introduction to feature writing and the broader context in which features journalists operate. As well as covering the key elements and distinctive features that constitute good feature writing, the book also offers a rich resource of real life examples, case studies and exercises.

The authors have drawn on their considerable shared experience to provide a solid and engaging grounding in the principles and practice of feature writing. The textbook will explore the possibilities of feature writing, including essential basics, such as:

  • Why journalists become feature writers
  • The difference between news stories and features
  • What features need to contain
  • How to write features
  • The different types of features

 The text is intended for both those who are studying the media at degree level and those who are wishing to embark on a career in the print industry. It will be invaluable for trainee feature writers.

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