Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Susi Osborne which was first posted in November 2019. It’s been brought up to date to include Susi’s latest publications.
Over to Susi:
I live with my family in The Osborne Madhouse, here in Cheshire.
We have two furbabies, Lola the chug and Alfie the cavapoochon, who add to the general chaos.
I am known for my sense of humour.
My first book was published quite late in life (I was 60!!!!) so I now have to run at all times to catch up. So much to doooo!
Being published has been life-changing. And I mean that in a good way… I think!
My motto is ‘It’s never too late to achieve anything’.
In addition to writing, I organise Northwich LitFest.
I like gin and champagne, although preferably not both at once.
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
If You’re Going To San Francisco – Scott Mackenzie. The sixties were definitely my era and this was just one of the many songs I could have chosen from that time. I was a teenager and every aspect of that decade seemed magical to me – like a whole new world had opened up before my very eyes. I was a hippy through and through. The boho fashion and the flowers in my hair were all so very me. Some may say I haven’t changed much in that respect!
Lola – The Kinks. I lived in a small Cheshire town from which you had to travel into Liverpool or elsewhere to see live music gigs. But, in the sixties/seventies, our town expanded and suddenly we had a Civic Hall and live bands! The Kinks were the first band to play there and my friends and I were in awe. Thinking back to that era, it really was such a very special time in my life. I’d discovered Mary Quant and Barbara Hulanicki and…Biba! The whole ambience of that Biba store had a huge impact on me. The ornate Victorian furniture, the antiques, the feathers, the dim lighting – is this why my house looks as it does today? I just adored that kind of look after the austerity of the fifties, which had been the decade of my childhood.
I Believe I Can Fly – R. Kelly. For many years I had to put my life on hold through sheer necessity as I cared for family members who needed me – firstly for my daughter, who had a lot of medical problems which kept her constantly in and out of hospital as a child, and then for my mother, who developed Alzheimer’s from which she suffered for ten years. Towards the end of this period of my life I had a significant birthday and threw a huge party for all of my friends. Not only was it my birthday but it was also the week of the publication of my very first book. I wore huge red feathered wings to the party and I really did feel I could fly!
My Way – Frank Sinatra. This song always reminds me of my dad. I was very close to my dad and whenever I had a problem, he was always the one person I would turn to for advice. I miss him every single day. I still speak to him even though he is no longer here, particularly when something is worrying me. It may sound weird but quite often, after doing so, a white feather mysteriously appears on the ground – like some kind of calling card. I find it both comforting and reassuring to feel that he’s still around as my guardian angel. My dad loved this song and it was one he would always sing at parties too. He was one of life’s ‘big characters’ and I think it sums him up perfectly. We played it at his funeral.
Dancing Queen – Abba. I may not be young and sweet and only seventeen ( I wish) but I am the dancing queen! Give me some music and a dancefloor and I’m away. Who needs alcohol for Dutch courage? Certainly not me, I can dance all night on water – and frequently do!
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
My dog. I have a cavapoochon called Alfie, who is my absolute shadow. He is the most gentle, sensitive dog I have ever known and he is never far from my side. We were in Edinburgh recently and I was reminded of the story of Greyfriars Bobby. I can imagine Alfie doing exactly as Bobby did if he was to outlive me. And, still on the music theme, Alfie is the only creature on the planet who would gaze at me with such adoration as he listens to my rendition of ‘What’s It All About, Alfie?’ – anyone else would run away screaming!
My Writing. I suppose by this I mean pen and paper or laptop, something with which to write. I find writing is such a brilliant form of escapism – like living in a parallel universe almost. You can just immerse yourself in a bubble of characters you have created, over whom you have total control – what’s not to love? I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but only seriously so for the past fifteen years. Having my books published has actually been quite life-changing in so many ways.
Northwich LitFest. I started Northwich LitFest eight years ago and have run it for the whole of June each year ever since. That means I must have organised approximately 120 LitFest events in total, a thought that has never crossed my mind before – no wonder I’m exhausted! It really is incredibly hard work for absolutely no financial reward whatsoever and every year I say ‘never again’. Nevertheless I have met, and come to know, some amazing people through the LitFest and that is reward in itself. So, much as I threaten to give it up each year, I think I ‘d find it hard to live without Northwich LitFest now – and I just surprised myself by saying that!
Vintage Adorables. I have always had a passion for rummaging around antiques emporiums and flea markets and daydreamed about one day maybe owning a shop of my own selling a mixture of vintage and quirky things. I never in a million years thought that could ever come to fruition. But then one day I was at Northwich Antiques & Collectables Centre having a look around, when I saw an empty room with a ‘Unit to Let’ sign pinned to the wall. It was a spur of the moment decision but when you get to my time of life I think you should seize every opportunity – so I did. And I have never looked back. If anyone reading this is in Cheshire do call into Northwich Antiques Centre in Barnton – and check out Vintage Adorables on the top floor!
My phone. I feel like a bit of a saddo admitting to this but I truly would be lost without my phone and its internet connection. I run my life through my phone – researching for my writing, organising Northwich LitFest, buying and selling for Vintage Adorables – and publicity through the social media platforms for all three of those things. All of that plus all of the personal stuff I use it for too – and yes, I admit it, I love Facebook!
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Never be afraid to try new things – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
Always follow your dreams, even though others may advise otherwise.
Live your life to the full and do whatever it is that makes you happy.
Be the best person you can be and always be kind to others – but don’t forget to be kind to yourself too.
Don’t let anyone, or anything, grind you down – you’re worth so much more.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I’ve never used a hair dye. Guess I’m just lucky that, even at my age, my hair remains the colour it’s always been – well, mostly!
I have a really bad snake phobia. One of my earliest memories is playing outside in my grandmother’s garden and suddenly being dragged back into the house by my mother who was screaming with fright. I hadn’t seen it but a huge snake had slithered along against the wall behind me. I remember my uncle rushing outside in a panic and grabbing the garden spade – he apparently chopped off its head, the poor thing. I have been terrified of them ever since, although obviously not as terrified as the snake must have been at that moment.
I used to be the northern area secretary for Dusty Springfield’s fan club – an amazing singer whose life was cut short far too soon. She had an incredible, soulful voice – I still love to listen to her music.
A fabulous lady I have always admired is the wonderful Molly Parkin and I feel so lucky to have met her. Now 87, she has an incredible sense of style which she carries off with such panache she is a joy to see – as well as being a lovely person whose warmth and humour shine through. Amazingly I have come to know Molly’s equally wonderful daughter, Sophie, who is an artist and a writer, and who did two events for me here at Northwich LitFest. Sophie runs an arts club in London called Vout-o-Reenees, to which she invited me for the launch my most recent book, Angelica Stone.
I am descended from King Richard I – apparently.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Live to be 100 and still be in good health, as I have so much I want to do and I won’t have time otherwise.
Spend a lot more time in France, or even live there. Maybe buy a dilapidated chateau and renovate it, Dick and Angel style! I have a bit of an obsession with France, I don’t know where it originated – perhaps I lived there in a past life!
Travel around the entire coast of the UK in a camper van.
Improve my skills when it comes to restoring and renovating old furniture. Since opening Vintage Adorables I’ve really come to appreciate the beauty and craftsmanship in the pieces that we find. No more ‘flat-packs’ for me!
Learn to paint – and I don’t mean furniture, or my house!
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Happiness is a Thing With Wings
Joanna is approaching the end of her forties and the empty nest syndrome looms. She consoles herself with gin and chocolate, realising that apart from raising her son Jack, she has achieved absolutely nothing.
Somewhat on the plus side of plump and barely five feet tall, she finds it difficult not to envy her younger, prettier sister. Such elevated elegance seems so unfair – as does Hannah’s successful marriage. Joanna, in contrast, has remained in a loveless marriage for the past thirty years, stuck in a rut with the most miserable man on the planet but not having the impetus to get out.
It takes an embarrassing but hilarious encounter in the supermarket to make her realise what she’s been missing. It’s exactly the push she needs to make her change her life. With a little encouragement, Joanna starts to regain her independence, finally leaving her grumpy husband to enjoy life as a single woman. As she attempts to rebuild her own future, her family and friends continually surprise her with their own revelations.
Life is never dull, laughter never far away; can Joanna finally find true happiness within herself at last?
Following years of sexual abuse and resulting psychological trauma, Angelica Stone has learnt to rely solely on herself. Unwilling to allow anyone to get close to her, Angelica is reluctant to allow her work colleague Lola into her life. Lola, in contrast to the damaged Angelica, is from what appears to be a happy middle-class family. But all is not what it seems…
An unlikely bond is formed between the two as they learn more about eachother. As they become closer, a series of life-changing events leave Lola on the verge of ruin. Will the friends be able to better themselves and have the lives they so desperately want? Or will they succumb to the expectations and the path already laid out for them?
Angelica Stone follows both characters in their own journey of self-discovery. This close and in-depth look into the lives of Angelica and Lola will see the reader laugh and cry as the two women learn about themselves and the invaluable friendship they have.
Susi Osborne worked within the library service and now runs Northwick LitFest in Cheshire, where she lives. Susi also worked as a classroom assistant in a junior school and, in addition, has had first hand experience of social workers and the adoption system.
Secrets, Lies & Butterflies
Kate is trying to rebuild her life after the death of her baby son and her husband’s unfaithfulness.
Having fled to Cornwall with her daughter, the last thing she expects is a call for help from her former best friend – the woman who slept with her husband, Tom, and destroyed their marriage.
With huge misgivings, Kate returns to the Cheshire town where her life fell apart and stays with Grace – the indomitable warm heart at the centre of a loving but chaotic household. If an outspoken four-year-old, senile Gran and characterful dog can’t make Kate forget her troubles, no one can. When Kate comes face to face with Tom again he still gives her butterflies – does she still love him? But, more importantly, can she ever trust him again?
The friendship between Grace and Kate – the heroines of Susi Osborne’s previous two novels – is the only constant in an ever-changing landscape of embarrassing moments, fraught relationships, and shock discoveries in this moving yet humorous novel.
Grace & Disgrace
Grace lives at the centre of a chaotic but happy family, who are her whole world. She has two teenagers, Zak and Cleo, from her first marriage to Richard, and a precocious three-year-old, Izzy. Gran, who is in the early stages of dementia, also lives with them; and then there is Alfie, a loveable but incontinent dog. Grace cares for them all, nurtured by the love and stability given by her second husband, Charlie. But sometimes she feels she would like to escape to a more exciting life, Then a letter from her long-lost sister turns Grace’s life upside down. An emotional meeting leads to shocking revelations. Now Grace knows why Gran turned Anna out of her house, aged just 16. Charlie’s jealousy of Grace’s first husband Richard rears its head, and Grace feels jealousies and concerns of her own as new relationships are formed and old ones reassessed. Emotions are running higher than ever, but does this family have the strength to pull through?
I have not read any of Susi Osborne’s books, but she sounds like my kind of gal. I loved all the same songs and sang along at the top of my lungs. I am definitely going to check out her work. Thanks Jill.
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My pleasure, she’s a lovely lady and a local author x
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