Interview with Sue Moorcroft – Author of A Home in the Sun and many more!

Sue Moorcroft

What was the inspiration behind A Home in the Sun?

A Home in the Sun was originally written in 2004/5. I was on a family holiday in Malta, where I was brought up for several years, and watched a tour bus pull up outside some apartments. A female guide left the bus and shouted up to a second-floor balcony, ‘Allo, Giorgio!’ A young guy came out, exchanged some banter in Maltese … then climbed down the outside of the balconies to the street! He took his clipboard and the bus pulled away. I thought, ‘You’re going in a book.’ Later that same day I was snorkelling with my family, remembering my childhood when snorkelling had been a daily occurrence for much of the year, and thinking about how it had felt to leave Malta as a child and how that would compare to leaving as an adult. Judith came into my mind. When I read in the Times of Malta a piece about divorce not (then) being possible in Malta, and it leaving a lot of separated people in limbo, I had my starting point for her and Giorgio. Giorgio, unfortunately, doesn’t have a good time in my story.

A Home in the Sun was published as Uphill All the Way by an independent publisher. Divorce is now legal in Malta but the book is still set from 2000-2005, so that doesn’t matter. The story is the same and I still like it. I’ve just made a structural change to the beginning and edited it to my current writing standard. Judith is still torn between Malta and the UK, still worried about her appealing mum and tricky sister, close to her stepson and exasperated by her ex-husband. She also has to evict her tenant Adam from her house. She used to have a crush on Adam at school and it’s particularly awkward to end his tenancy as she’s begun working for him as a photographer’s assistant. Luckily for her, he has a son, Caleb, who trashes the house with a party.

You have travelled and lived in different countries, do you have a place that particularly feels like ‘home’ and why?

Malta! By the time I was eight-and-a-half I’d lived in Malta for more than half my life. I had to come back to the UK for good and I didn’t like London at all. I thought the police should have been called because I was sent outside to do PE when it was sleeting and was desperate to go ‘home’ to Malta. This is the fate of many military kids, of course. It’s a privilege to be brought up in Germany, Cyprus and Malta, as I was, but sooner or later one joins Civvy Street and has to deal with sleet and not living by the sea. It’s quite odd to have an affinity to a place that’s not one’s national home or even birth country but I adore Malta. I haven’t been able to visit for nearly two years because of the pandemic, and I miss it.

Is there a book that you would like to revisit to see how the characters might have developed?

I do that sometimes, as I return to certain settings and so I can see that the pub in Middledip has changed hands, Carola is running the Angel Community Café as well as the village hall, Gabe’s getting older and so is his pony, Snobby. I also very much enjoyed returning to A Home in the Sun and ‘being with’ Judith and Adam again, too. It was like meeting up with old school friends and remember why we were friends. Also, my earlier book this summer, Under the Italian Sun, has left me with a thirst to give Ursula, a quirky tattoo artist living in Brighton, her own story. She’s a secondary character in Under the Italian Sun but I gave her a bit of a rough trot. I’d like to see her find happiness, maybe in Montelibertà, Italy as her best friend Zia did.

Aspiring writers often wonder how to take a dream of writing a novel to the reality, can you tell us how the process works for you?

I’m fond of saying it took me twenty years to be an overnight success. It was April 1996 when I sold my first short story (to The People’s Friend) and winter 2016 when The Christmas Promise, my first book with Avon HarperCollins, reached #1 the UK Kindle chart. In between, came hundreds of short stories, several serials, articles, courses, a writing guide and eight novels. Oh, yes, and a lot of rejections. I had an agent with whom I didn’t find success, then was unagented for seven books, before getting together with my current agent, Juliet Pickering of Blake Friedmann. That was the turning point. She sold the first two books to Avon who have since taken me not just to #1 on UK Kindle but made me a Sunday Times bestseller and top 100 on US Kindle. A Home in the Sun is my eleventh book with them and more are contracted. Blake Friedmann also sold me into many languages and I’ve been top 50 in Germany and done very nicely in Italy and many other markets. Hard work and persistence are my allies, as well as working with all the right people. 

Can you share with us some information about your next book?

Under the Mistletoe comes out on October 28th in paperback, ebook and audio. It’s about Laurel, who left the Cambridgeshire village of Middledip when she was sixteen. Now her sister and niece need her so she’s moving back after her divorce … but the reason she left the village is still living there. It’s a novel about forgiveness, and whether we can give it, and family loyalties that tear at our hearts. I’ve just checked out the advanced reader reviews on NetGalley and the first is from Oriana B, Reviewer and says:

Gorgeous, just gorgeous!! I love Christmas books anyway but Sue Moorcroft knows who to write em!! What a fantastic festive story.

I’m happy with that! (And thank you, Oriana.) 

When you are not writing what do you do to relax? 

I’m addicted to Formula One, I love to dance, yoga and walking, and also spending time with friends over a meal. And, of course, a lot of my downtime is spent reading. I’m part of a close family, too, and never tire of their company. See our review of  A Home in the Sun by Sue Moorcroft

Photo Credit for Sue Moorcroft is Charlotte Barnes.