Saturday 22 July 2017

Close to Home...Susan Pape

As a book reviewer I have made contact with authors from all across the globe and feel immensely privileged to be able to share some amazing work. However, there is always something rather special when a book comes to my attention which has been written by an author in my part of the North of England. So with this in mind I have great pleasure in featuring some of those authors who are literally close to my home. Over the next few Saturdays, and hopefully beyond, I will be sharing the work of a very talented bunch of Northern authors and discovering just what being a Northerner means to them both in terms of inspiration and also in their writing.

Please welcome Northern Writer

Susan Pape

Hi Susan, a very warm welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thanks so much for being our guest today. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author?

Like so many authors, I started making up stories as a little girl (and got into trouble more than once for telling people things that hadn’t actually happened. For instance, I told one of my mother’s friends a long tale about having been in a boat that was attacked by a whale. I think I’d been influenced by the film, Moby Dick.)

Your books are written in Northern England. Have the people and the northern landscape shaped your stories in any way? 

Apart from two short periods when I worked on newspapers in the South, I’ve always been based in Yorkshire. It’s a more varied county than people realise – with the wonderful Dales, glorious east coast and the gritty urban west. I know it’s a clichรฉ, but everyone’s so friendly too – you can smile and say hello to people and you’ll always get a friendly response. 

As a writer based in the North, does this present any problems in terms of marketing and promoting your books and if so, how do you overcome them? 

I was once in London to interview a Harley Street doctor for a newspaper interview, and his secretary was astonished that I had come down from Leeds that morning – and was going home that evening. She didn’t believe you could travel that far in a day! 

Luckily, life for a journalist/writer is not as London-centric as it was then, although many authors still have the impression it all goes on in the South, probably because so many publishing houses are based there. But increasing numbers of independent publishers are springing up throughout the country (and abroad) and they don’t feel it necessary to be based in or near London. The publisher who printed our two text books Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction, was London-based Sage, but the publisher of our novels is Lakewater Press, based in Australia.

The internet and social media has also changed completely the way we work. Authors and bloggers are great users of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and, of course, many of us run our own websites. With the internet, a writer can operate from anywhere in the world. 

I used to think we were missing out on literary events in the South, but more and more book people – authors and bloggers – are getting to know each other and meeting up in the North. 

In your research for your books, did you visit any of the places you write about and which have made a lasting impression

In our first two novels, A Falling Friend and its sequel (to be published Autumn 2017), Sue and I place the stories in Yorkshire – in areas we both know well – so we didn’t have to do a lot of fresh research. However, the two books also take in France, Greece and India, which we’d both visited on various holidays, so we were able to incorporate details from our own travels. 

If you were pitching the North as an ideal place to live, work and write – how would you sell it and what makes it so special? 

The North – and Yorkshire in particular – is such a special place to live and work. We have wonderful variety here: the Lake District (which has just been named a World Heritage Site) is only a couple of hours away; you can escape to the peace and beauty of the various Dales (such as Wensleydale and Swaledale); visit the elegant spa town of Harrogate; walk the dramatic coastline that takes in Whitby and Scarborough; trundle round the old mill towns of West Yorkshire; and do business or go shopping in the vibrant city of Leeds. 

The variety of places, and the people who live and work here, offer so much scope for book material and characterization. For instance, I only have to sit in a coffee shop for a short time to spot someone or hear something that will trigger my imagination. 

I couldn’t imagine living and working anywhere else.

Writing is a solitary business - how do you interact with other authors? 

I talk regularly to Sue on the phone or by email, and we also meet up for coffee/lunch as often as possible to discuss plot lines. I interact with other authors through Twitter and Facebook – and there are groups of us who meet for networking events and/or lunch, which is great.

How supportive are local communities to your writing, and are there ever any opportunities for book shops, local reading groups, or libraries to be involved in promoting your work

Sue and I give talks to Book Groups, Literary Festivals, Women’s Institutes, local libraries and Lunch Clubs, and they’ve all been extremely supportive and encouraging. We always take copies of our books and love it when people want to buy them – and have us sign them.

More about Susan and her co-author, Sue Featherstone, can be found on their website, the Booklovers’ Booklist:

Follow Susan on Twitter @wordfocus

Susan Pape is a former newspaper journalist with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and public relations.

More recently she worked in higher education, teaching journalism to undergraduate and postgraduate students at Leeds Trinity University.

She now writes novels with her co-author, Sue Featherstone.

Huge thanks to Susan for being our very welcome guest today and for talking about her writing and for sharing her love of the North  with us.

I hope that you have enjoyed this week's Close to Home feature

Coming next week : Susanna Bavin



  1. Hi Jo - and Jaffa, thanks so much for featuring me's always good to write about the lovely North!

    1. Thank you, Susan for being such a lovely guest and for sharing your love of the North with us today :)

  2. Ooooh I love your close to home series (I'm a Yorkshire girl too!)

    1. Thanks Dawn - once a Yorkshire lass, always a Yorkshire lass !!

  3. Just a quickie - found this blog ( and it has an ongoing "letters from the Front" section, which might interest you. You can delete this after reading as I know it's in the wrong place!!!

    1. Many thanks, Susan. Always happy to have you visit us wherever you choose to comment. I'll take a look at the site you mentioned. Thank you !


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