Thursday, May 19, 2011

Guest Author: Sue Moorcroft

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author, Sue Moorcroft onto the blog. This is to celebrate the arrival of Love & Freedom, Sue's new book, due out on 1st June. I asked Sue to tell us about her research:

Why do we love research?

What’s not to love? Let’s face it, spending time in and around Brighton in gorgeous sunny weather, taking photos and making notes – well, it doesn’t sound like hard work, does it?

When I decided to make the heroine of Love & Freedom, Honor, an American looking for her English mother in England, I wanted the English part to be in a setting that would appeal to American readers, too. I didn’t fancy London or Scotland, popularly supposed to be the only parts of the UK that Americans recognise (! yeah, right) so I picked on Brighton, sometimes know as Little-London-by-the-Sea. Brighton is rich in history and eccentricity, things that play their parts in the book and that I thought readers from another country would enjoy.

Writers vary in the way they choose their settings. Some choose real places; others create entire countries, or even worlds. I’m comfortable with a technique halfway between these two as I create fictitious towns or villages set in proximity to real places, and my characters move between the two. The real places provide authenticity and the created places give me freedom. I have to worry a lot less about whether you can really get from A to B in twenty minutes or whether a business I depict as a grotty pick up joint, will be recognised.

I began with a big old book of road maps that I keep in my study for the purpose then, when spending a few days near Arundel whilst deciding where exactly I was going to settle Eastingdean, bought a map of the Sussex area and an A-Z of the city of Brighton & Hove, which have been much thumbed. Finally, I drew a map of Eastingdean itself. It’s a seaside village just outside Brighton – if you drive east along the coast road through Rottingdean and Saltdean, it’s just there, before you get to Peacehaven.

Over the course of several visits, I built up a collection of leaflets and maps from Brighton Tourist Information, books on Rottingdean and Arundel, parish magazines and, essentially, bus and train timetables. These are still in a box at the bottom of one of my bookcases. I suppose I only ever used ten per cent of what I began with – but boy did I use that ten per cent. Stuck three hours away from Brighton in my study, they were invaluable. Like most writers, I also use the Internet for a certain amount of research, especially about businesses, aerial views and local activities.

And I spent hours and hours walking in the area. Along the Undercliff Walk from Rottingdean, past Saltdean – and, oops, Eastingdean wasn’t really there. I was surprised, more than once. I took hundreds of photos with my digital camera and my phone, which I loaded on my lovely Mac when I got home, so that I could check out the undulating white cliffs, the beach, the breakwaters, Saltdean Park and lido, the concrete steps from undercliff to coast road, the hotels, the wildflowers – pretty much anything I could think of whilst I was there with a camera. I spent hours around Brighton itself, too, on the beach, the pier, in the city and the Lanes.

Later in the process, I walked everywhere that Honor walked in Brighton, Rottingdean and Arundel, drove the roads along which she was driven and took the bus rides that she took. And I ate fish and chips on the pier. Just for authenticity. You understand.

I had one last, really handy, source of research – my son lives in Brighton. So I could ask him to check out tides and sun direction and all that stuff. And when my editor queried whether Honor would be able to see the derelict West Pier from the entrance to the Palace Pier, he went down and rang me from the very spot. ‘Not unless she’s about seventeen feet tall,’ he said. Oh. OK. Change that bit, then …

Love & Freedom will be published by Choc Lit on 1 June 2011. You can preorder it now or read the first two chapters. And you can listen to a recording of the FREE prequel chapter here.

Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes for Choc Lit. Combining that success with her experience as a creative writing tutor, she’s written a ‘how to’ book, Love Writing – How to Make Money From Writing Romantic and Erotic Fiction (Accent Press). Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles and courses and is the head judge for Writers’ Forum. She's a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner.
Check out her website and her blog at for news and writing tips. You’re welcome to befriend Sue on Facebook or Follow her on Twitter.
All of Sue’s Choc Lit novels and Love Writing are available as ebooks.
Thank you visiting the blog, Sue!  

I have already started reading Love & Freedom and it's a fantastic read! The great news is I have one copy to give away. 
Just comment on the blog below - UK only.
Please leave some way of contacting you. 
This will close on 27th May - Good Luck!


  1. Great post on giving us insight into research and how important it is, without actually making it sound like a lecture.
    Thank you, I enjoyed it.

  2. Brilliant interview! Fish and chips on the pier, now I do fancy that!Please enter me for a free copy of Love & Freedom - you know where to find me,Catherine!

  3. Great interview about one of my favorite writerly jobs - research. Wishing you super success and sales with Love & Freedom Sue!

  4. Thank you for the entries!

    I certainly do, Rachel! At the bar, right?

  5. Oooo I love Sue Moorcroft books - please put me in your draw. I worry about using real places in my books, so I've adopted this kind of halway house too - I know where the places are, but my reader will not quite be sure. Hope the book does well Sue. Mx

  6. Fantastic interview about research - and being as nosy as I am, I love to read about how other people work and write!

  7. Really enjoyed reading about your research methods, Sue. And the book sounds great!

  8. I wish I had Sue's dedication to research - I am very much of the 'oh, that seems reasonable' school. I've got my copy of Love and Freedom, keeping it for the peace and quiet of half term holiday!

  9. Thanks for the article its interesting to learn who important research and preparation is to a good story. I'm looking forward to reading Sue's book.

  10. Fascinating to read how detailed your research is, Sue, and what it involved. I'm with you on sampling the local food and drink - it has to be done for authenticity!

    I've got my copy of Love & Freedom and am looking forward to reading it very soon, so please don't enter me in the draw.

  11. John Grisham loathes research, he says. He's sold a quarter of a billion books. Good book sales can't be all down to great research then...