Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Flying high with Teresa Hamilton

Teresa Hamilton's brilliant debut novel, Choices, made history being the first book to be sponsored by advertising since the nineteenth century. With the publishing industry crammed with chick-lit novels, Teresa introduces 'hen-lit' as a new genre for thinking women all over the world.

After studying in London, gaining a B E'd [Hons] Teresa has continued to teach at Primary and Adult Education level for over twenty years - interspersed with bring up three children, running her own Sugaring business, being a portrait photographer and years as cabin crew for a major airline.

It is this experience she draws on for her latest book LOVE,SUZI x, a contemporary novel about the adventures of flight attendant, Suzi Frazier, written in disarmingly honest, humorous letters to her childhood friend, Eve.

She has also written a humorous memoir of her year of cancer treatment with the NHS, children's texts and won writing competitions.

Teresa lives in East Sussex, UK, with her husband, 3 children, 2 dogs, 1 ancient cat and a fish. She also owns www.eastiseasthome.co.uk - a web store selling unique home accessories.

For more information about Teresa and her writing please go to her website www.teresahamilton.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @THamiltonwriter



Your novel is called 'LOVE SUZI x' please could you tell me about it?
However hard she tries, Suzi can’t settle for the life which boyfriend Matt has mapped out for her. Becoming a long-haul flight attendant Suzi shares her secrets in her letters with her childhood friend Eve, revealing that being single and the life of a stewardess is far more exciting than anything Matt could ever dream up. Then to compound the situation Suzi meets First Officer, Ed Mc Ewan. If only Ed’s crazy girlfriend wasn’t a problem and Matt would move on with his life. Suzi’s caught between two men and this time Eve can’t help her best friend.

When I was younger I flew the skies as a long haul air stewardess for British Airways. At the time I kept diaries about my trips which logged all the exciting places I’d been to, what amazing things I’d done and how manic my lifestyle was. When I came across these a while ago I realised they had the potential for a hilarious book.
Everyone thinks the life of a stewardess is so glamorous and undoubtedly there are parts that are, but there are also many times where you think OMG! I was once handed a bag full of vomit just before landing and had the choice of sitting with it on my lap with the chance of it leaking onto my uniform or risk my life by undoing my safety harness just as the wheels touched down. You’ll have to read the book to find out which option I went for.

'LOVE SUZI x' about Suzi, please can you tell me about her?
Suzi is determined not to be forced into a life long commitment with Matt when she’s not 100% sure. She’s young, hasn’t done much with her life and desperate to really see what else is out there before she makes a decision she may later regret. I think we all have moments of doubt in relationships but Suzi follows her instincts, becomes a flight attendant and realises that there is a whole exciting world out there she never dreamt of. But of course it opens her eyes to her relationship with Matt.

Are any of the characters in 'LOVE SUZI x' anything like you?
That’s a difficult one. There are parts of Suzi that I’m like. The adventurous side and wanting to take control of my life. When I was a twenty something I had the same need to see the world and experience life before I settled down. Falling for a First Officer though was definitely not on my agenda.


What inspired you to write 'LOVE SUZI x' in letter format?
I’ve always loved writing and receiving letters. Now sadly there’s only a few people that I actually write pen and paper letters to – everything is always so much quicker by email. When Suzi’s adventures were formulating on my blog I wanted a coherent way I could write snippets of her life that weren’t just a diary - letter form seemed natural.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?

I’d love to go out for the day with JJ. I met a steward like him when I was flying. He was so full of energy, knew the best shops, bars and places to visit and really enjoyed his job. Working with him on the other end of the trolley was a laugh from the moment we left Heathrow until the wheels touched down there again three weeks later.

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take; please can you describe the journey that you went on?
I would totally agree with that. My journey has been long and complicated mixed with a little bit of luck. After selling my first short story to a magazine I had the confidence to submit my first manuscript, a memoir about my year of cancer treatment, to an agent. Although I received a rejection, it was such a positive, personal rejection that I was determined to keep going. My next breakthrough came ten years later! Admittedly during these years I worked and raised three children but also amassed a huge amount of material in the form of short stories, novels and children’s texts. I then won a children’s book competition with a young reader series I created - the prize being a publishing contract. This encouraged me to give up my job as a portrait photographer but sadly the prize amounted to nothing when the publishing company closed down and didn’t deliver their promised prize. A short while later I chanced upon a small publishing company looking for book reviewers on the internet. This then led to them taking my first book, Choices and publishing that. By the time Love Suzi x was ready they had changed their criteria for submissions and were concentrating on non-fiction so I decided to publish Suzi myself. There have been times of huge frustration and angst on my road to publication but writing is just something it’s not possible for me to give up. I am determined one day to be able to do it full time.


If there was one saying that could sum up your life to date, what would it be?
'We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. ' Randy Pausch.

What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
Definitely. While I’ve been busy writing my next book Three of a Kind about the challenges faced by three female friends dealing with children, adultery, new love, aged parents and alcoholism, another character keeps interrupting me. This was going to be my fourth book but the main character just won’t wait so I’ve started writing her story. She is a fifty-year-old virgin, Pollyanna Jessop, who has been caring for her mother. Now her mother has passed away she wants to live a little but doesn’t know how. Her saviour comes in the form of a sixteen-year-old rebellious girl. It’s a story about how the two of them have things to teach each other about living.

What or who in life inspires you?
My sister. She’s spent her whole working life in nursing getting to the point in her career where she is today. The legacy she is going to leave behind will help so many people it is awesome.

What is your all time favourite book?
I just love Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. I know the first hundred or so pages are difficult to get through but once you are on Kefalonia with Pelagia it is the most engaging love story as well as an important insight into history. When you read it subsequent times the first pages make sense. Oh, but don’t watch the Cruz/Cage movie it was terrible and didn’t do the book justice.

Please would you share who your 5 dream dinner party guests would be?
Aung San Suu Kyi – inspirational as someone who has endured much for her beliefs.

Nelson Mandela - What a life that man has lead.

Dawn French – funny, funny lady.

Diane Keaton – I love all her films and think she is one hell of an actress.

Gerard Butler for the eye candy factor. I know that is really unfair as he’s probably charming company but I would just have my mouth open staring at him.

At your dinner party, there's a cocktail in honour of 'LOVE SUZI x' what are the ingredients?
Any cocktail involving Suzi would have to have champagne as its base ingredient. There are some very funny episodes with Suzi and champagne in the book coupled with the fact that Ed keeps producing bottles of it from his bag along with glasses to serve it in. There is also the time Suzi opens the door of her hotel room in Hong Kong wearing nothing but a small towel to find a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket on the floor outside.

Choices (The first hen-lit by Teresa)
Blurb : -
Forty-something mother, Lauren Harding, seemed to have it all.
But her idyllic world is turned upside down when she is suddenly confronted by her husband’s infidelity, news that she has fallen pregnant and the prospect of a new love in her life. What will Lauren do? What would you do?
Filled with family feuds, love, sex and betrayal, Choices is a page-turning drama that challenges the reader with every chapter.
Choices is a remarkable debut for first time author Teresa Hamilton. With the publishing industry crammed with chick-lit novels, Teresa introduces ‘hen-lit’ as a new genre for thinking women all over the world.

A big thank you to Teresa for talking to The Love of a Good Book

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