The Interchange spoke exclusively to author Susan Lewis during this year’s Cotswold Edge Literary Festival.
She’s talked to our editor, Suzie, about why she agreed to take part, her love of audio books and her hopes for her career…
“I just felt strongly that as Richard (the organiser) was putting so much hard work into making the festival happen that I really wanted to take part,” Susan explained.
It’s certainly no small task securing Sunday Times best-selling authors to attend the very first literary festival taking place this month, but the organisers’ passion ignited something within Susan that encouraged her to clear her diary and join in.
Susan has a busy schedule and writes two books each year, growing the list of more than 30 published works to her name. So, her decision to open the festival in Chipping Sodbury on Friday could have been a tough one to make.
“I fully appreciate just how many people they must have contacted, and how many knock backs they must have had, to secure the event. The whole co-ordination of the festival has been spectacular, so I was happy to be a part of it.
“With these type of events, I’m usually asked so far in advance that I have to refuse, but I feel this area needed an event of this kind, so I was happy to organise my diary around it.
“For avid readers, these events are hugely important.”
“It’s lovely to meet them (readers) because there’s a huge industry between the reader and a writer, and literary festivals bring the two most important elements together,” said Susan.
Born in Bristol, so familiar with the area, Susan lived in both California and France, during her writing career. A meeting, with the man who was to become her husband, prompted a move back to the South West of England.
“I did want to come home eventually,” Susan explained, “I think I had created a fantasy of what life would be like when I came back, and it was actually very different from that. So much had changed that I felt like a foreigner in my own country. It’s taken time to settle back into life in the UK.”
Each place that Susan called home inspired her to write in different ways. “My time living abroad definitely shaped the books I wrote at that time. I felt very involved in American politics when I lived in Los Angeles and that inspired me to write my investigative journalism series of books,” she said.
As well as writing fiction, Susan has also penned two memoirs, that she describes as an almost fictionalised account of her life. “I wrote them when I was going through therapy about the death of my mother. I was told to write my feelings down, but by then I could really only write stories, so that’s what and how I wrote.”
Working as an author for decades, Susan said she can’t imagine doing anything else, but did admit she still has one dream for her work. “I can’t imagine not writing, what else would I do? I do feel that I would love for my books to make it to the screen. I think either A French Affair or No Child of Mine would make a great film or mini-series. I’ve been in talks several times about the possibility, so who knows it might happen one day.”
Whilst her books may not have made it to the screen, fans can still listen to Susan’s books as audio books – something that the author is passionate about.
She said: “I’m always listening to books, but I grew up loving being read to. My father still used to read to me when I was 18. Fewer and fewer people are reading these days, which is a real shame.
“There seems to be such a concentration on technology, with people on their phones. I think if more people downloaded audio books it would cross the bridge between technology and books. They could listen to books whenever and wherever they like.”
The Coswold Edge Literary Festival is on until June 24 read more here.