Interview With S.A. Meade

S.A. Meade has recently returned to England after 8 years in Arizona, where she learned to love air conditioners and realised that rain wasn’t such a bad thing after all. She lives with her husband, son and two cats in one of the most beautiful villages in Wiltshire and is partial to gin and tonic with loads of ice and lemon.

1.       Looking at your website, I see elements of SciFi, Romance, GLBT, Historical fiction, and that’s just a quick glance! How many of these combine in each book?

I mainly write Contemporary GLBT Romance. ‘Orion Rising’ is my only ‘Sci Fi’ to date, and that’s Sci Fi ‘lite’ not very heavy on the science! The forthcoming Endersley series is my first foray into Historical GLBT romance, with three of the four books being set from 1857 to WW2. The last in the series will be contemporary. My ever-growing list of future books are all contemporary.

2.       There’s food on your blog too! Are you a chef, a foodie, or both?

I’m an unashamed foodie. I love to cook and, sadly for my figure, I also love to eat. Food seems to feature prominently in my stories. I should really provide some sort of warning that the books may make readers hungry.

3.       Why did you choose to use a pseudonym?

My grand plan was to use my real name, Sue Laybourn, for ‘mainstream’ fiction. I wanted a pseudonym for my GLBT stuff to keep the two separate. ‘Stolen Summer’, my first book, was intended to be my one and only GLBT book. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever write another one. Boy, was I wrong!

4.       Is there a story behind why you chose S.A. Meade as a pen name?

It’s just a play on my real life name. ‘S.A.’ are my first initials and ‘Meade’ is just another way of saying ‘meadow’. ‘Laybourn’ is Ango-Saxon for ‘meadow by a stream’.

5.       Why did you spend eight years in Arizona?

Why indeed? I ask myself that a lot. No, seriously. I worked in Town Planning for years. I was actually brought up in the U.S. My family moved there was I was 8. I returned to the UK when I was 21. Married, divorced, remarried and had a son. I had it in my head that I wanted to return to the U.S. because my immediate family still live there. I managed, after 2 years of searching, to find an employer who was willing to sponsor me for a work-related visa. Unfortunately, after jumping through all of the immigration hoops, I was laid off before our Green Cards came through, so we had to return to the UK. It’s still a bit of a sore point that I was treated like crap after eight years. I do believe I was  totally and utterly shafted and there are some people I will never forgive for throwing me under the proverbial bus so they could feather their own nests. But, I am glad to be back in the UK for many reasons.

6.       How did you come up with the name Kestrel Rising for your blog?

One of my trunked ‘mainstream’ novels was an historical romance set in England during WW2. It was called ‘Kestrel Rising’.  I was convinced that I’d get an agent with that novel so I optimistically named my blog that. I’ve kept the name because I love kestrels, they are a symbol of a person grasping for opportunities, so it seemed appropriate to keep it.

7.       What social media do you use? Do you combine your personal and professional or keep them separate?

I’ve let the personal and professional blur a bit. I have a Twitter account (also Kestrel Rising) and a Facebook page. I have a separate author page but it’s sadly neglected because most everyone who follows me, follows me on my main page. I just have to try and remember to behave myself and not go all Drunk Hulk if I’m upset or angry about something.

8.       When did you get serious about writing and why?

I got serious about writing 4 years ago. I was still in my Arizona job. I was getting a little disillusioned and had this crazy notion that I could write my way out of that town. My first attempt was an historical romance set in England in WW1, Kestrel Rising was the follow-up to that one. Then I wrote a contemporary romance which failed to interest an agent and then stumbled into Stolen Summer.

9.       What is your editing/rewrite process?

I write a first draft. Then, I leave it for a day or two before going back and fixing things. I write fairly clean first drafts. Then I send it to any willing person who wants to beta-read. I fix anything the betas bring up, then send it to my editor at Total E-Bound.

10.   Have you ever faced criticism regarding a heterosexual woman writing homosexual romance?

I haven’t directly. I’ve certainly been painfully aware of plenty of criticism floating around. My answer would be, 99.9% of the books residing on our shelves would not have been written if the requirement was that you could only write about what you are or what you personally experience. I always do my best to ensure that my characters act like men.

11.   What was your path to publication?

‘Stolen Summer’ started as a 1k word answer to a challenge on the writer’s forum ‘Absolute Write’. After I’d finished it the characters would not leave me alone. I kicked an idea or two around for a couple of days, then wrote the first draft in 4 weeks flat. It went through trial by beta reader, then I fixed it. I submitted it to a US e-pub and the editor requested a fairly challenging R and R. I deal with the changes, sent it out to betas, made some final changes and sent it back. It was rejected because the editor couldn’t ‘feel’ the characters. I had a lightbulb moment and realised that the book is very ‘British’, so it made sense to send it to a British e-pub. The editor requested the full about three hours after I sent the first three chapters, then 2 weeks later I had an offer.

12.   Do you have any of those proverbial “books in the back of the drawer that will never see the light of day?”

 See my answers to question 8! hahahaha!

13.   What kind of research do you do for your historical fiction?

Exhaustive. I’m not just concerned with the ‘big picture’, I need the little every day details as well – clothes, food, manners, customs, transportation, furniture, the Full Monty. Then I have to pick the information that makes the most sense to use and try not to indulge in exuberant info dumpage.

14.   What is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?

My beloved laptop

15.   What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?

A medium ball point pen, blue or black ink and a narrow-lined notebook.

16.   What is the most persistent distraction from writing?

– my family, cats, domestic drudgery.

17.   What is your ideal writing environment? Have you ever been able to create it?

I don’t think have one. I’ll write anywhere. I can shut out noise most of the time, especially if the story has really grabbed hold of me.

18.   Do you have rules for how steamy you write your sex scenes?

No, not really. I keep everything fairly ‘vanilla’, because although there’s sex scenes in the book, they’re just a small part of the story.

19.   What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the second Endersley book. It’s set in St Petersburg, during the Russian Revolution and Civil War. The last bit of the book is set in England in the early 1920s.

20.   Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

I had to look this up. I’m a terrible, terrible non-Star Wars person. So, we’re talking about going back and changing something, right? I don’t think there’s anything I’d change. When I saw some of the reviews for ‘Mourning Jack’, where readers were a bit disappointed with the story’s outcome, I did briefly wonder whether I should’ve stuck with the original idea. Then, I decided that I wrote the best story that I could, and the plot is far more indicative of what happens in real life than it would’ve been had I gone for idea number one. I’m proud of ‘Mourning Jack’ because what happens in the book happens to a lot of people. We don’t always end up with the person we initially fall in love with. Sometimes we have to recognise that a relationship isn’t going to work and we move on and find happiness with someone else. I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that some of the reactions to the book have made me feel a little sad and frustrated.

S.A. Mead is giving gave away a PDF of her novel ‘Lord of Endersley’ to one lucky person! Just leave a comment below that includes either a twitter handle or e-mail (So we can reach you) and I will draw a lucky winner next week, on Friday, August 10.

And the winner is Vastine!

About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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10 Responses to Interview With S.A. Meade

  1. Sue, I had no idea you had lived in Arizona! Learned something new today!
    Cannot wait for Lord of Endersly!!! Good to see you, lady!

  2. Jeannine Whelan says:

    I was fortunate enough to read Kestrel Rising and I wish it would find its way out of her drawer! It’s a beautiful story that takes you back so vividly that you can smell, taste, feel the characters. I’m a huge fan.

  3. Hi Sue, great to get to know you better (getting the “bigger picture”, so to speak). 🙂 Also, I agree, rain isn’t so bad.

  4. Alice says:

    I love historicals–especially because I couldn’t begin to write one. 😀 I will especially love this one because I always enjoy Ms. Meade’s books!

  5. tomcwilliams says:

    I feel guilty not to have bought any of Sue’s books when she’s been so nice about mine. So here’s hoping I get to win one. That’s the depths we authors are reduced to when we try to get by on our royalty cheques! (Or checks, to our US readers.)

    Seriously, it’s great to learn more about Sue and why she hovers between the US and the UK. And I hope that reading about her brings more people to read her.

  6. So many gorgeous covers, Sue. Love them, and love your writing. 🙂

  7. sally says:

    I love al the books ive read by you

  8. sojournerkat says:

    I just bought Orion Rising. This interview really piqued my interest!

  9. We have 7 entrants for Sue’s book! (Kat, you don’t count lol!)
    No one left an e-mail or twitter handle, so I will put all 7 names in the hat and hope that I can find a way to contact the winner.
    Check back in a few hours!

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