Review and Interview with Romance Author Suzy England

What happens when the secrets of your past suddenly become the plot of a best-selling novel?

Suzy England

I don’t think many of us have considered this stomach-twisting possibility, but this is the premise of Suzy England’s debut book, ‘The Weekend’. Wealthy socialite Clark stumbles across a table full of hardcovers at a New York bookstore while waiting to propose to his girlfriend… and quickly realises that the books flying off the shelves into the hands of romance readers everywhere are a detailed, steamy and very identifiable recount of a thrilling affair he had with the author – a weekend he has never been able to forget.

It’s easy to see just from the summary why this story would be a hit, so it doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that ‘The Weekend’ was already an established success in its homeland of Wattpad before it was picked out by editing students at University of Southern Queensland, and then acquired by Black Phoenix Publishing Collective for mainstream publication. It’s a fun and quirky read, alternating between the story’s present day and the novel Clark is reading, and it’s sweet, but it’s also remarkably well-written. Suzy England is considered with her words, often moving the scene along with feeling and dialogue rather than big blocks of prose. This seems especially fitting for a moving novella about a whirlwind romance that takes place almost entirely in one small cabin over a single weekend.

I caught up with Suzy to ask her some questions…

Before we start off, can you share a bit about yourself, your education, work history, writing experience, etc.

According to my mom, my love of writing started in 1st Grade when I penned a poem about a bubble. My teacher loved it! I guess that’s when the seed was planted. It’s funny – I was talking about that poem with my mom recently and she said that when she read my poem for the first time, she didn’t believe that I actually wrote it myself. I don’t remember the exact wording of the poem (and we lost the original when our home burned) but evidently, it was somewhat advanced for a seven-year old’s mind. Imagine being accused of plagiarism by your own mother! LOL!

In 3rd grade, I fell in love with author Judy Blume. I read every one of her books–multiple times with some titles. In 5th grade, I started a writing club. I even had a pen name – Lucky Lemon Lollipop. Sophisticated, huh? I journaled and wrote poetry throughout junior high and high school. I wrote a modern version of Thorton Wilder’s play Our Town during my sophomore year. My English teacher printed copies and used it as a companion piece with the original text for several years. My senior year of high school, I fell in love with Chaucer (if that’s even possible) and wrote my own Canterbury Tale in iambic pentameter. If that doesn’t say nerd writer girl, I don’t know what does.

I entered adulthood–marriage and motherhood–and didn’t write a word for years. Then I found the world of online fanfiction. My first thought: Who are these weirdos who make up stories about existing characters? Within a year of stumbling on various online fandoms, I became a weirdo too! I have written fanfiction off and on for four different fandoms since 2005. Not only has it helped me grow as a writer, but it has also created some of my strongest friendships.

I graduated from college in 1994 with a degree in Education and became an elementary school teacher. I’ve taught 2nd and 3rd grades, and now I teach Physical Education. Best job ever! I get paid to play games with kids all day! I am excited to announce that I’m starting a Creative Writing club at my school this month. I’ll be working with several 2nd graders, coaching them in all areas of writing in preparation for a district competition in the spring.

True story: Back when I was in my last year of college, I went to see a psychic. Now I don’t hold much stock in mystical readings, but a friend begged me to go with her and I thought, why not? Looking back, the psychic predicted a lot of things that have actually come true in my life, with regard to relationships, children, and the like. But the most curious thing she told me was that teaching was not my true calling. She didn’t say exactly what my true calling would be, only that she saw letters and words in my future. Lots and lots of words.

What was the inspiration behind writing The Weekend?

The Weekend actually began life as a very short fanfic which married my love for a certain fandom with a well known novella. It has undergone many rewrites and has featured two very different endings. While most loved my original ending, some readers wished for an alternate ending. So I wrote a different ending, and it was well received for the most part. But I knew in my heart that my original ending was the true ending, so The Weekend will be published with my original ending. My apologies to those who like the alternate ending better. At the end of the day, I have to be true to myself and write the story that’s within me.

What other novels would you compare The Weekend to and have you always been a lover of Romance novels?

The Weekend is my updated retelling of Robert James Waller’s The Bridges of Madison County. That book imprinted on me from my very first reading. And then Clint Eastwood made his beautiful movie with the incomparable Meryl Streep and a haunting soundtrack/score and I fell in love with the story all over again. I find that whenever I’m flipping through television channels and find it playing, I stop whatever I’m doing to watch. I have always loved Romance novels and credit my mom for sharing so many wonderful books with me. And the titles she wouldn’t share? Well I’d just sneak those and read them in secret! (*ahem* every Jackie Collins novel I could smuggle into my room!)

Can you share your writing routine with us? Are you a morning or night writer, paper or pen, plotter or pantser?

I’m a night writer! Well, more of a “late afternoon/early evening writer.” Also, I’m a big “shower writer.” I do some of my very best thinking and compose some of my best dialogue in the shower. As a teacher, I try to get as much writing done in the summer months as possible. I didn’t write much this past summer BUT I did read a ton of books (16 novels!) so I’m gonna call it “research.”

Hate to admit it, but I’m 100% a pantser. Ugh! It can be so painful at times! I wish I could be one of those writers who map everything out in advance, but I’ve just never done it that way. I write exclusively on my laptop but keep a notebook and pen close by to jot down ideas when my computer isn’t handy. I have seven completed works and I haven’t written myself into a corner…yet.

Knowing what you now know, what advice would you give to aspiring writers regarding the writing process and the path to publication?

Four things:

  1. Write the stories you want to read. If you love it, others will love it too.
  2. Edit, edit, and edit some more. And then, when you’re certain your story is perfect, edit it again because I can promise that you missed something.
  3. If you’re pursuing a traditional publishing path, be careful not to query literary agents too soon. I have queried agents with projects that were not ready when I naively thought they were.
  4. Join the #WritingCommunity on Twitter! You will connect with authors all over the world who will love you, champion you, and send you hilarious vids/GIFs/memes when you’re having a bad day!

As far as publishing goes, there are so many paths! Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that by joining Wattpad back in 2015 I’d be publishing my novella today. The craziest part? My publishing dream came to me, via a DM from a Wattpad reader, asking to submit The Weekend to her Editing and Publishing class at the University of Southern Queensland for a full scale publishing project. I have learned so much on my journey with the incredible USQ students and their wonderful professors, who are also industry professionals and head Black Phoenix Publishing Collective.

Someone said life writes the best stories, and honestly, I think my path to publishing is one of the best.

‘The Weekend’ is available now for pre-order (link to come)! It will be released in eBook and print on 25 November, 2019, from Black Phoenix Publishing Collective. You can find out more about Suzy England at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

How to Make Working from Home Work



If you are self-employed and work from home, then you are largely in charge of your schedule. People around you (family and friends) may misinterpret this control as meaning that you work “whenever you feel like it.”

(Watch the video version here)

Creating an ideal writing routine takes time. We have to figure out whether we work best in the morning, afternoon or night. We trial different creative processes such as outlining, discovery writing or a combination of both. We test out different cafes and libraries to see which ones have the best lighting, non-invasive music and relaxed staff. We learn whether we are disciplined enough to check email and social media before we start writing, or whether our Wi-Fi has to stay off until the session is over.

The writing routine is often fetishized, but the reality is it takes a long time and a lot of experimentation to develop a routine that supports our creative practice and goals.

When we find something that works, we stick to it.

Unfortunately, these routines are also very fragile.

We need to set aside a reasonable chunk of time—preferably during our optimal working hours—in order to do the deep work our novels/short stories/articles/essays require. A knock on the door, a text message or email can be enough to throw us off our game. For every interruption that occurs, it takes fifteen minutes to get back into the ‘zone.’

A friend may call or text to invite you out for a morning coffee or to go see a midday movie. Because you work from home they just assume you’ll make up those lost hours later.

The problem is, you only have so many good hours in a day.

If you spend three of your optimal morning hours having coffee with a friend, you are not going to get those hours back. Of course, you can push yourself to make up those lost hours later, but the quality of that work will not be equal to what you could have produced during your optimal working hours.

There is only one way to negotiate your work schedules with loves one: communication.

That means you need to tell your family and friends what your non-negotiable work hours are. If you consider yourself a morning person, get yourself into your office as early as reasonably possible and firmly close the door. You can even put up a nifty sign if you like. Tell your family that you will be unavailable between 9am-12pm. You can then reserve less urgent tasks such as administration and email for the afternoon. Though it may still be undesirable to be interrupted during this time, you can let your family know that they can come to see you between 1-5pm.

If you have adult children, teenagers or friends that you connect with on a daily basis via text message, tell them not to text you during your dedicated writing time. You can also switch your phone to flight mode or leave it in another room, but some people prefer to keep their phones handy in case of emergency.

That being said, there is no reason to keep your inbox or social media pages open during your writing time. You need to make it MORE difficult for people to interrupt you, not easier!

And no-one is going to contact you about an emergency situation via email or social. If the house is on fire—metaphorically speaking—people will call you.

Being self-employed and working from home is a dream scenario for many people. The downside is some people see home-based businesses as less serious then brick and mortar businesses. As though the money earned through writing articles is less real than that earned through an employer.

Being a full-time writer who works from home is a privilege, but it is also a job. A job that you need to dedicate time to. A job that requires a schedule and that requires you to stick to that schedule. Family and friends may never see your work in this way, or they may forget when your non-negotiable work hours are, but there are so many distractions you do have control over. You have the power to say no to invitations and requests. To switch off your devices. To close your web browser.

You can’t stop life from happening, but you can minimise its ability to distract you. And don’t worry, all those requests, invitations and interruptions will still be there when you open the door and emerge from your writing cave. At least you will be more generous in dealing with them because you’ve already tended to one of your highest priorities: writing.



How to get the most out of a writing session

We all have looming deadlines whether they be personal or professional. If you have a full-time job, if you’re studying or if you have a family or other commitments, chances are you struggle to find time for writing. For a lot of us, writing is something that happens in the fringes. Maybe you write for an hour every weekday morning before you head into the office or maybe you’re lucky to carve out an hour on the weekend. Regardless of when, where and how often you write, these slithers of time are precious and you need to make the most of them. This week, I’m listing the four steps you can take to maximise your productivity within any given writing session.

If you prefer to video content, you can watch this week’s video here.

Be selective in your location

Writers can be pretty precious when it comes to our writing environments. I often take my laptop with me when I’m travelling and I always set out with the best of intentions. Although I manage to achieve some writerly goals while on the road, the moment I leave the comfort, ease, and familiarity of my day-to-day environment and routine, I struggle. My usual focus and discipline disappear and I have to white-knuckle my way through the drafting, revising and publishing process.

That being said, the types of distraction that occur while travelling can also occur at home, so you need to be clever in the selecting of your writing location.

Let’s say you prefer to stay home and write in your study on the weekends. Though you may love the convenience of being able to get up and make a cup of tea, go to the bathroom or sloth around in your sweatpants, the reality is that writing at home can be counterproductive, especially if you live with others. Your spouse may knock on the door and entice you with suggestions of a cafe lunch, the kids might burst in and beg you to take them to the park or you may simply look out your office window and notice that the lawn needs to be mowed, the car needs to be washed or the washing needs to be taken off the line. Even if you set yourself up in a room with a lockable door, there is a good chance that domestic distractions will come a-knocking anyhow.

If this is the case for you, consider getting out of the house and setting yourself up at either a library or at a café, I believe that a coffee an hour is the going rate for occupying a table. If you opt for the latter option, again be selective. Don’t set yourself up at a café where you know there is a high probability of running into someone you know. If you find the noise inside cafes too distracting, you can either opt for noise cancelling head phones, venturing out at off peaks times or you can pick daggier cafes that are less busy.

Turn off your devices

Dani Shapiro has often compared writing on a laptop with internet access as akin to writing at an amusement park – there are just so many distractions! If you want to get the most out of your writing session, then you need to turn off the devices or features that are likely to distract you. That means any device that rings, buzzes or has a colourful touch screen. If you’re writing at home, switch off your wifi or invest in one of those nifty apps that blocks your access to the internet and others apps for a set time period. Now there may be instances when you can’t turn off your phone because you’re expecting an important phone call or perhaps you prefer to be available in case of emergency. If that’s the case, then at the very least I recommend that you turn your phone on silence and that you make use of apps such as Freedom that way you aren’t tempted to quickly Google something or check your social media feed anytime you hit a rough spot in your manuscript.

Set yourself up before you start

Regardless of whether you are writing at home or at a library or café, you need to set up your workspace before you start writing. If you’re writing at home, clear your desk, have your research notebooks close at hand, fill up your water bottle, open or close the window, turn on the aircon or heater, slip on a pair of socks and have a snack close at hand if you wish. For me, I place a small vase of flowers on my desk and I bring my dog and her bed into the room with me. Not only do these small tasks minimise the likelihood of interruptions, it also sends a signal to the brain that you’re about to start a writing session and it’s time to get serious.

The five-minute outline

Now, I know that some people detest outlining and that’s fine. If you have a process that you’re comfortable with and you don’t want to change it then that’s your decision. However, one of the best ways to increase the productivity of your writing session is to know what you are going to write before you sit down to write it.

Before you open your word doc, spend five minutes roughly outlining what it is you’re going to write. If you’re working on a novel, do a rough outline of the main story beats that need to occur within the next scene, what that scene is trying to achieve, which characters are present and where they are. If you’re working on an article or blog, break that piece down into dot points or subheadings.

Those first few minutes of any writing session are always going to be painful.

We all know what it is like to push through that initial resistance.

Eventually…usually… you can break through that mental barrier and the words begin to flow. The length of time it takes to get over this mental hurdle lessens when you know where your story or articles is going, and what it is you are trying to achieve with that piece.

So there you have it guys, those are my four quick tips for a successful writing session. If you have any tips of your own that you would like to suggest, feel free to leave a comment in the section below. If you’re into social media, you can find me on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Happy writing!