Visiting with me today is the incredible Suki Fleet, author of This is Not a Love Story. I asked a few questions…more than a few actually, and she was very generous with her answers.
I asked about her personal life:
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Initially, I wanted to be a vet. I have a real love of horses. But by the time I was ten or eleven I just wanted to be a writer. And I’ve never really had any ambition to be anything else.
What books have most influenced your life most?
I’m sure I’ve influenced by everything I’ve ever read in some way. There are certain books that open your eyes to possibilities though and Thorn Kief Hillsbery’s book ‘What we do is Secret’ certainly did that to me. It is at once heartbreaking and compelling and the ending blew me away. It is not what you expect. I like the unexpected.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love fabric. I love creating things out of fabric. I love making clothes. Luckily I have a room full of it as selling fabric is my day job.
I asked about her writing career:
What do you think makes a good story?
I really like that this is a question everyone is likely to answer a little differently. In a romance, I personally like a good amount of tension between the characters, anticipation that keeps you turning the page, a great plot that sweeps the story forwards. I love to be so involved and authors that make me cry. I love to be taken through a range of emotions as I read.
Ow What inspired you to write your first book?
The first story I completed was entitled Wildflowers and I wrote it as an escape. My husband had just lost his dad very suddenly and it was a really difficult time for us as a family and so I wrote this story about two young men, one of whom was dying. I wanted it to be beautiful and sad and I wanted my character to be saved—which he was.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have completed 9 stories of various lengths—2 of them are novel length, 5 are novellas and 2 are short stories.
Out of all of them my novel This is Not a Love Story is probably my favorite. My novella entitled Skeleton (which is coming out in Oct/Nov) and my second novel Innocence are strong second favourites.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I can actually finish a story! For so many years I just could not finish anything. I was fine with writing a good bit of poetic prose but I found it hard to ever make anything cohesive out of it until I started to write M/M romances. Then I realized I could finish stories—I wanted to finish the stories, I wanted to bring about a happy ending for my characters!
What are your current projects?
I currently have too many things on the go I think! 😛 I would love to finish a story of mine with an autistic MC. It’s a little bit experimental, even for my writing style, but I do love writing it.
I asked her about her current book:
What is your current book about?
When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him. Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough. This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy)
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I guess the message is the same one in all romance novels—love conquers all.
Could you share an excerpt with us?
It feels like hours later when I walk back down the stairs and out the front door. Julian and Phillippe are sat on the curb sharing a cigarette. Julian looks around when the door behind me bangs shut. He has a black eye, and his top lip is swollen and cut.
No more squat, then, I think apathetically.
But that’s where we head, the three of us, in silence.
I’m so scared Julian is disappointed in me. He’s barely even looked at me since I came out of the house. But before we get to the squat, he mouths something to Phillippe and pulls me into a shady passage between the buildings. The hug he gives me there is so fiercely tender I can hardly breathe. He touches my face, my neck, my hair almost desperately, and it takes all of my willpower not to graze my fingers against his sore lip.
“Fuck,” he says over and over again until it sounds like a sob.
I pull out my pad.
I’m okay, I write. Nobody hurt me or even touched me.
It’s true. So there’s this hollow ache in my chest from what I did do; it doesn’t matter. It’s nothing. I know I got off lightly. They were just pictures.
When he looks at me like this, I feel like he’s looking inside me, seeing so deep he must know every star-bright feeling, every truth, every lie.
“We’ll stay at the squat tonight, and then we’ll leave.”
I know the thought of being on the street again is killing him.
We can stay. It wasn’t so bad.
And now I do touch his bruised face, because I can’t not.
He shakes his head and lets it rest against mine. His hair falls in my eyes.
“They don’t want me,” he says, so close I can feel his breath against my lips.
With slightly shaking hands, he takes my pad and pen and writes in his curvy flowing script, I couldn’t do what they wanted me to do.
What did they want you to do?
I’m actually surprised the conversation has got this far.
He stares at the paper for ages, pen hovering.
Tell me, I will him, sensing this is somehow one of those bridges we’ve never crossed, and he must sense it too.
Where can we buy the book or contact you?
Suki Fleet currently lives in the heart of England. Her childhood was quite unconventional and she spent some time living on a boat and travelling at sea with her family. Since she was very small she has always dreamed of writing for a living, but though she has written original fiction online for years and encouraged many new writers to keep going and follow their author dreams, it is only recently she got the courage to make her own dream a reality and actually send something off to a publisher.
By day she runs her own business selling fabric (her second love) and juggling family commitments, by night she weaves the stories that the characters in her head dictate. These stories often start with pain or longing but always end with love.