Hi I'm Laura, I’m an English teacher from East London and married to Phil, who is a Geography teacher.
We have two daughters, Sadie who is two and Esther who was born in September 2016.
I’m often told that I’m funny, but don’t always mean to be.
My interests include reading, watching cult TV, eating seafood and messing around on the Internet.
I am not very interested in housework, cooking toddler-approved meals or CBeebies, but unfortunately seem to do more of those than of the pursuits that I actually enjoy. My favourite book of all time is the much-underrated Time for Bed by David Baddiel.
I blog here and tweet here .
I got to interview Sue Whitaker about her books 'Remember Remember' and 'Dear Anyone'.
Q. What made you get into writing books? Was it something you had always wanted to do?
A. " I think that I was so unhappy with my own life at the time, that I felt the need to escape, so I began creating the life of the main character of the book, living her life so that I didn’t feel my own personal pain. The book was rejected by the publisher, but it was good therapy for me. It was as if I had given my pain to someone else and by doing so I could create different ways of dealing with the pain. "
Q. When did you write your first book and how old were you? What was the thing that got you started with the first book?
A. "I began writing in my late twenties for the reasons I have mentioned above."
Q. Both of these books utilise the first person voice. Why did you choose to write them in this way? What does it add to the story and what does it make harder as a writer?
A. "I find it easy to take on the role of a character, and when I am writing I become that person, so writing in the first person feels natural, as if I was writing my own diary. When I am writing I am terrible to live with as everything else takes second place, as the main character of the book takes over my way of thinking. It can be difficult to switch that person off and be myself, and I guess sometimes I lose my own identity."
Q. In Remember Remember Carla is disfigured after an incident involving fireworks.
She then has to overcome the stigma of disfiguration. What was your inspiration for such a hard hitting story?
A. "Around bonfire night, when the darkness is intermittently bombarded by invading sounds of exploding fireworks, I always feel uneasy. I worry about the safety of wildlife and hope that my grandchildren (if they are out) are safe and acting responsibly themselves. Alas, every year not everyone’s children and grandchildren are safe, and this should not be the case. Even though we are all supposed to know the firework code, in the midst of November 5th excitement, warnings can be forgotten. I wanted everyone to think, just for a minute, what would it be like if we were at the wrong end of someone’s excitement. What if being at the wrong end changed our life forever."
Q. In Dear Anyone the story is told through letters. This must make it difficult to tell some elements of the story, how did you overcome this?
A. "They began writing their letters with no intention of ever meeting face to face, so the letters had to become the conversations that they would never have. They had to be frank, honest and full of hope."
Q. You include a lot of detail about the medical side of Carla’s disfigurement and of her encounters with medical professionals in Remember, Remember. How did you do your research?
A. "I trained as a nurse and I come from a medical family."
Q. In Remember, Remember Carla is lucky enough to experience kindness from an unexpected source, which ends up making a huge difference to her life. Is this something that you have experienced in your own life?
A. "I believe in the bonds that unite a family, and I am lucky enough to have a very supportive family of my own, but what I have never had is a friend who can give me a similar kind of support. Something I have wanted but never been able to achieve."
Q. In Dear Anyone, the character of Ava has been diagnosed with cancer, is this something that is close to your heart?
A. "Cancer is close to the hearts of many, and yes I have known my fair share of people who have suffered the ordeal, but sadly not anyone who has beaten the disease."
Q. In Dear Anyone Ava and her pen pal manage to create their own little universe where death isn’t constantly hanging over their heads like it is in real life, and we as the readers get to see that world. How did you, as a writer, make sure that we got to know the characters well enough that that was possible?
A. "I have always been bewildered by the fascination of women to write to men on death row, in fact I am one of those women and this is something that I am considering doing. However, I have always told myself that when I do write to someone I would try to help them leave their circumstances behind and starting with a blank canvas, create their life again, like a collage of everything they never had. I intentionally made both of their lives unbearably painful so that their fantasy world would become their therapy. I hope I got this across."
Q. What feedback have you had from readers about Remember, Remember and Dear Anyone? Did they have any questions about the characters or story?
A. "I have often been asked how can I write about matters so painfully tragic. I guess it’s because, like a lot of people, I have had a lot of pain in my life, so I have empathy and understanding for the pain of others."
We want to thank Laura and Sue for their questions and answers, which make a very interesting interview.
If you want to purchase Sue's books Remember Remember and Dear Anyone please click the links below.
Dear Anyone eBook
Dear Anyone Paperback
Remember Remember eBook
Remember Remember Paperback