.December 1913. Clara Thornton won’t allow being jilted at the altar to squash her spirit. Against the wishes of her aunt and uncle, Clara decides to travel to Madagascar to learn more about the tragic shipwreck that took the lives of her missionary family, and marked her forever.
Clara is escorted abroad by Xavier Mourain, a handsome young merchant who works with her uncle. The two of them start off on the wrong foot, but Clara can’t help but be drawn to the mysterious Frenchman who helps her unravel the mystery that has always haunted her. But as their love blossoms, war begins. And the world will never be the same again.
For Clara, all the answers seem to lie far across the ocean. But some of them might be closer than she thinks…
Hello Els, its so lovely to meet you, and thank you so much for having me on your blog! I can’t wait to dive into your questions.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I’m afraid I’m not a very disciplined writer, nor do I stick to a regimented routine. As my day job I work in a primary school with 4 & 5 yr olds, so I get home mid-afternoon. Generally I’m exhausted so I tend to work late at night, maybe weekends too. If I have a major edit to do I might go away somewhere for the weekend and have peace and quiet to get it done. I don’t have a dedicated desk either. Most of the time I use the dinner table, but with the cold weather I’ve gone upstairs and sit on a sofa and put the laptop on my knee and huddle under a blanket.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
No, I really don’t, except unfortunately checking social media too much. I should be more disciplined!
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
I used to love coffee and sweet snacks, but recently I’ve switched to peppermint tea and dark chocolate.
– What is your favourite book?
I’ve always loved reading historical novels, even from when I was a child. One of my first WW2 children’s books (and one that remained a firm favourite) I picked at the Library was Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. I was probably the same age as the author was herself in the book, and it was the first time I became aware of the truly sinister and deadly Nazi State. My Granny had told me some stories of how they lived during WW2, but it was in England and they were fairly safe. As an adult my favourite book has to be Daphne Du Maurier’s The King’s General. It is set during the English Civil war and is a beautiful love story.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
There are times I get an idea about a contemporary story, but probably I’ll stick with Historical Romance. I like Dual-timeline novels, so perhaps that might work out.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
No! Absolutely not. I do however get an idea for stories from real life situations, but the characters just come to life by themselves.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No I’m afraid I don’t. I tend to see things online, and save them as notes, or sometimes if there is something I want to record, I dictate an email to myself.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I can’t say I don’t like a genre, because there are so many different writers and different books out there, one day I might just find one that suits me. Let’s just say I have my favourite genre which is Historical, and after that I’m fairly open.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
That is such a good question! I keep coming back to historical books because they are my favourites, so it’s going to be a historical author – but which one? There are so many to choose from! I’d love a chance to chat with Dinah Jefferies because she’s lived in so many different places. I’d also love a chance to write with Jojo Moyes, maybe brainstorm an idea with her, or just have a coffee.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
It would have to be Japan. I came across a book about a gentleman called ‘Cherry Ingram’. He was English but on a visit to Japan in 1926 he realised that they had lost a lot of the diversity of their cherry trees, and of course cherry blossom is such an integral part of their culture. I’d love to see the cherry blossoms in bloom and retrace part of his travels and maybe set a novel there one day.
‘Cherry Ingram’: The Englishman who saved Japan’s Blossoms – Naoko Abe
About the author
Award winning author Suzie Hull lives in Northern Ireland with her family and numerous rescue cats.
As a child she dreamt of being a ballet dancer but instead trained as a Montessori Nursery teacher and has spent the last thirty years working with children in a variety of settings. Suzie has always had an enduring passion for reading and history.
Suzie HulI won the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2022 with her debut novel, In This Foreign Land.