Monday, 29 October 2018

A Christmas Gift, an interview with Sue Moorcroft

Regular readers of the blog will know Sue Moorcroft and I have been friends for a while, having met at the Kettering Writers Group in 1999 (the group leader was of a more literary bent, so we genre writers were consigned to the back of the room and had great fun).  Since then she's gone from strength to strength, hitting number one in the Kindle Bestseller charts (with The Christmas Promiseand also becoming a Sunday Times Best Seller in the process.  With her latest Christmas novel, A Christmas Gift, now out in ebook (and appearing in hardback on November 1st), I thought it was time to sit down for another chat with her at our regular haunt, The Trading Post.
Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

Curl up with the gorgeous new book from the Sunday Times bestseller, perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

MW:   A major theme of A Christmas Gift is poverty and neglect.  The heroine, Georgine, grew up comfortably off but now finds her situation completely opposite.  Joe, the hero, suffered a poor childhood but has now enjoyed a “rags to riches” experience.  Why did you decide to write about this?

SM:   A member of my family works in a school for children with special needs and as he talked to me about social problems faced by the students, I began to think of someone I went to school with myself. Looking back, armed with a little more knowledge, I began to see him in a very different light and feel ashamed that I’d missed it at the time. He isn’t Joe Blackthorn, the hero of A Christmas Gift, but Joe Blackthorn grew out of my reflections on the past. I think Georgine evolved simply out of wanting the greatest possible contrast to Joe’s story. She was the comfortably off kid at school who was his friend. Not all of them were.

MW:   What kind of research did you do?

SM:   I talked to people who work in that field - very generally, of course. None of them would dream of discussing specific people with me. And I talked to someone else I’d been to school with, who knew more about my old school connection than I did. It increased my respect for those who work with children who need help.
Sue & I at the Corby Cube, October 2018, for the Author Q&A (which I wrote about here)
MW:   Now a very successful writer, what was your favourite full-time job?

SM:   I only ever had one. I worked as a secretary in a bank for nine years after I left college. I had a lot to do with the lending team and gained a clear understanding of what a far-reaching and emotive subject money is.

MW:   What was the least favourite job you’ve ever had?

SM:   Doing the books for a family member. I know I used to work in a bank but I hated bookkeeping, especially when something didn’t balance that should have. When my kids were young I did a few part-time jobs so I could be there for them but earn some money. Also, it allowed me time to write.

MW:   What does money mean to you?

SM:   Interesting question. I don’t think I’m a greedy person and I think I’m quite generous too. I’m OK for money now but I have been in situations where lack of money was a problem and it’s really uncomfortable. Luckily, I’m a good money manager so all was never lost but to have to watch the pennies wasn’t fun. I never went hungry or homeless though, so I count myself lucky.  And although money does make life more comfortable there are many things I think far more important - like love, people, kindness and time.

MW:   How did you research Acting Instrumental, the educational establishment featured in the book?

SM:   Partly through the family member, partly through a head of drama, Alex, who not only advised, and answered questions, but read the entire manuscript and told me where I’d gone wrong. The starting point was learning about vocational further education colleges that have sprung up now kids are expected to stay in some form of education till the age of 18. I have another old schoolfriend who is a professional singer, Jacqueline Barron, and she knew a lot about the subject and pointed me in the right direction to gain some idea of the facilities Acting Instrumental would need. I also closely studied the website of a local college with a vibrant performing arts programme.
Sue with me and Wayne Parkin, FantasyCon 2015 at Nottingham
MW:   I note from the acknowledgements the input our mutual friend Wayne Parkin had with researching the play within the book.  How enjoyable did you find that?

SM:   Very! Wayne was hugely enthusiastic about the project from the first, and introduced me to Alex, in fact. Wayne and I used to meet up for evenings talking about what form the show in A Christmas Gift could take, working out the timeline and weaving it through the book. He tended to leap up and act out his words, which got us some interested glances. If there was anything he was unsure about he knew where to look for the information and pass it on to me.

MW:   Thanks Sue, it's been a treat as always.  Congratulations again on your first hardback edition and good luck with the book!

SM:   Thanks for inviting me onto your blog, Mark. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you, either in reality or virtually.

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary, and has been nominated for several other awards, including the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards.

Facebook: sue.moorcroft.3
Facebook author page:
Twitter: @suemoorcroft
Instagram: suemoorcroftauthor
Amazon author page:


  1. Thank you so much for inviting me onto Strange Tales once again, Mark. Your unending support is a source of constant pleasure - as is the fact that we never run out of things to talk about. :-)