Sue Watson is a former journalist and TV producer who is about to publish her twentieth book.
Now writing full-time, she's a self-confessed deadline junkie who says she writes best when the clock is ticking.
She's been chatting to me about studying literature at university, never missing a deadline and the influence of her cat, Poppy, on some of her most memorable plot twists!
Where do you live?
I’m a Mancunian who landed in Worcestershire via Sheffield and London.
How many books have you published?
My new release, The Resort will be my 20th book.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing books about twelve years ago, but having studied for a degree in literature, then becoming a journalist, then a TV producer, I guess I’ve always written for a living.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I loved English at school, and when I was nine my English teacher asked me to send him a copy of my first book. I think he planted a seed that made me believe it was possible.
Do you write full-time?
I’m very lucky and write full-time.
Who are your favourite authors?
My degree in literature, definitely inspired me and influenced the way I write, from Maya Angelou to Margaret Atwood to Thomas Hardy. My favourite contemporary writers are Ian Rankin, Tamar Cohen, Joy Fielding and Lousie Candlish.
What does your writing day look like?
I aim to work 9-5 and write 3 thousand words a day. So I start first thing, write about 500 words and am so pleased with myself I wander off to procrastinate and celebrate with cake for the rest of the day.
Do you set yourself a target?
I do set myself a target, but I’m a deadline junkie and can only stick to it when the deadline is on the horizon. I usually end up working into the night writing between 3k – 5k a day on the last sprint, it’s just the way I work, and I’ve never missed a deadline. There isn’t a right or wrong way, as long as you get there in the end - our sat navs are all different.
Do you plan your books in advance or discover as you go along?
I write a detailed outline and discuss with my editor, then start writing, but it often changes because the characters do surprising things. I let them have their freedom, they usually know best.
Where do you write?
I’ve written the last few books on the sofa with our cat Poppy sleeping beside me. She’s great at the plot twists.
Where do your ideas come from?
Everywhere, from TV news, to overheard conversations, and ideas that wake me up at 4 in the morning. Whatever it is, and wherever I am, I write everything down. As Nora Ephron said, ‘it’s all copy.’
Which has been your most successful book to date?
It’s a close call between my first thriller, Our Little Lies, and The Sister-in-Law.
If readers are new to your work – which book of yours do you recommend starting with?
I think The Sister in Law is perhaps a good gateway book. It’s about a family holiday set on the beautiful Amalfi Coast, but even a glamorous sunshine setting can’t hide the dark secrets this family are keeping. The Sister in Law is also on a kindle deal for 99p in June, so it might be worth downloading to see if you like my writing.
What are you currently working on?
I’m writing a book about a mother and teenage daughter who appear to live an idyllic life by the coast. But this is a psychological thriller, so nothing is as it seems.
Tell us about your latest release.
My new book The Resort, is released on June 24th. It’s set in an Art Decco hotel on an island off the coast of Devon, inspired by Burgh Island, the real hotel where Agatha Christie wrote And Then There were None. The story centres around three couples all on holiday, who all have their own reasons for being at the luxury hotel. When a body is found, police close down the island, and no-one can leave – including the murderer. But who is the murderer?
Sue Watson was a TV producer at the BBC until she wrote her first book and was hooked.
Now a USA Today bestselling author, she has sold more than a million books and explores the darker side of life, writing psychological thrillers with big twists. Originally from Manchester, she now lives with her family in leafy Worcestershire where much of her day is spent writing – and procrastinating. Her hobby is eating cake while watching diet and exercise programmes from the sofa, a skill she’s perfected after many years of practice.
Find out more about Sue Watson on her website - suewatsonbooks.com
Sue Watson was talking to AJ Wills, the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.