Anthony Ehlers chatted to Suzanne shortly after she won ROSA's Imbali Writing Competition. Her entry The Joy of Comfort Eating swooped the trophy at a gala dinner held in Johannesburg 17 September 2016. Joanne Mcgregor with her book Scarred was the runner up.
Congratulations on your win! Your novel, The Joy of Comfort Eating, scooped the first-ever Imabli Award at ROSACon 2016. Describe the experience in five words.
SJ: “High-fives all round. Yeah.”
At your book launch last week, you mentioned that Joy was part of a trilogy? Can you tell us a bit about that?
SJ “The Joy trilogy focuses on three contemporary Jo’burg heroines – each one sassy and fabulous, but totally useless when it comes to love. The next in the series focuses on Charlie’s sister Madge.”
We love that your heroine, Charlie Everson, is so sassy and so real. How important is it to have a character readers can relate to, especially from a South African point of view?
SJ: “Readers want to be able to identify with the heroine. We all want some version of happy-ever-after, and we want to feel that if she could climb Everest/land that multinational deal/bring that billionaire playboy to his knees, then so could we. For South Africans, I love reading something that’s set somewhere I can actually visit without having to dust off my passport.”
Your novel explores the trope of ‘shared pasts’ in that Brian ‘Bad Ass’ Tendai was Charlie’s teen crush and first love. Did you have any embarrassing celeb teen crushes you can admit to?
SJ: “Timothy Dalton. Age thirteen, we had to watch the BBC version of Jane Eyre, and he was Rochester in all of his vain, proud glory. That voice, those eyes, that dimple in his chin. Drool. Drool. I’d have watched Penny Dreadful a whole lot sooner if someone had mentioned he was in it.”
Charlie works in media, PR, and communications – much like you. What other characteristics does she share with you?
SJ: “Indecent love of cake. That stuff is legalised crack!”
What gets you through a writing day? Any set rituals?
SJ: “Switching on the laptop is usually a good start. Good cup of tea. Radio on in the background.”
In closing, what do you think the Imbali Award means for the broader SA romance writing community?
SJ: “A wonderful opportunity to be acknowledged and recognised for your writing by the community. I hope it encourages more people to enter, and more importantly, more people to write romance.”
Suzanne's book The Joy of Comfort Eating is published by Fire Quill Publishing (currently open for submissions at the time of this post) and is available on Amazon here ($3.99 for the kindle edition).
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