Regular blog readers will know I've been friends with Sue Moorcroft
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, where we had great fun). Since then she's gone from strength to strength, hitting number one in the Kindle Bestseller charts (with The Christmas Promise),
becoming a Sunday Times Best Seller and her novel from last year, A Summer To Remember
(which I wrote about here
) won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award 2020
. As well as featuring her a lot on blog (to see more, click this link
), I'm also pleased to be one of her beta-readers and enjoyed her latest novel, Summer On A Sunny Island
, so much it was in my Top 3 favourite reads of last year.
This summer, sparks are flying on the island of Malta…
When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus, her Mum Dory suggests a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dory introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that romance will bloom under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work, after all.
Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for love – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?
As mentioned, I read it last year to critique and thoroughly enjoyed it. Another winner, it takes place completely in Malta (an island Sue knows well) and she captures a sense and feel of the place so well you can almost see the vistas and architecture surrounding the hero and heroine. In fact, along with the weather and how that affects everyone, it's almost like the island becomes another character.
The leads, Rosa and Zach, are as complicated, fresh and feisty as we’ve come to expect and although the backstory is a bit more tightly packed than usual (involving Army brats and local gangs and difficult histories for our leads ), it all flows together really well. One of the things I love about Sue's work is that the words roll past you, wrapping you effortlessly in the story and it's only when you glance up at the clock that you realise a) how long you've been reading and b) how much the book has transported you. With a pace that doesn't flag (at all), always believable characters and - perhaps due to the sun, sea and sand - a slightly raunchier tone than usual, this is wonderful. A terrific novel from a writer at the top of her game, I highly recommend this.
Before we were locked down, I managed to meet up with Sue in our regular venue, The Trading Post and ask her some questions.
* * *
5 Questions With Sue Moorcroft:
MW: An obvious question, perhaps, but why send your characters to Malta for the summer?
|One of Sue's research photos, of Spinola in Malta|
SM: Malta’s my favourite country. I lived there as an army kid and it still feels like home. I love to send my characters to the island and this book justified four visits last year: with a friend, to scope out locations and take preliminary photos; alone, to write a chunk of the book in situ and do more detailed research; with my husband on our annual holiday; and with my brother, who helps with research, to tie up loose ends. In Summer on a Sunny Island
Rosa, Zach, Dory and the rest are spending summer in Malta, which is something I’d love to do. In Dory, I’ve sent myself up a bit as she’s an army kid who adores Malta and can’t understand any other attitude. She was at school with Zach’s dad and his Maltese grandmother owns the apartment Dory rents, which is the unifying factor between the characters.
MW: Zach sees himself as a ‘trouble magnet’, having been sucked into something when he young and suffering for it ever since. What led you to this?
SM: It’s amazing what my memory drags up and feeds to my plotty head. I was at school with a guy who got involved with vandalising an unoccupied building and was badly injured. I gave that situation to Stuart, the youngest of Zach’s friendship group and easily manipulated by self-appointed leader Fitzmo. As the rest of the group run away, Zach gets Stuart help before he bleeds out. This cast Zach as someone who fights for the underdog and his character developed from there. Both times he wanders onto the wrong side of the law he’s trying to protect Stuart from Fitzmo and later he risks everything protecting Luccio. I didn’t mean to get Zach into quite so much trouble … but he just kept trying to help people.
MW: Rosa doesn’t get away with anything lightly either. What made you choose her character’s particular issues?
SM: I gave Rosa a trough full of problems. Her relationship with Marcus ended, partly because he was gambling. She has trust issues around men and money as her dad was feckless. Marcus then said something on a radio interview that made her look bad and a frenemy gave it traction on social media. Because her job involved young people she felt it made things difficult at work … in short, I made it appealing for her to spend a while as her mum’s personal assistant/kitchen porter in Malta. Most of Rosa’s problems come back to money - Marcus’s gambling threatens her security and, later, the value of the home they’d shared falls through the floor, which threatens her future with Zach. I used to work in a bank and that background keeps me aware of the financial implications of my characters’ conflicts. Much of our real lives revolve around our economic situations and I notice when other authors gloss over these realities.
MW: The backstory around Army Brats is very well handled.
SM: Thank you but that didn’t take much research! I had a lot of fun with it, especially with Dory’s Maltese vocabulary. (People will have to read the book to understand that.) One of the sparks for the book was that in October 2018 my brothers, my sister-in-law and I attended a service kids’ reunion in Malta. We managed to convert a reunion lunch into a ten-day holiday so it wasn’t too big a stretch to convert a reunion lunch into a novel.
MW: And finally, can you put into words exactly how it felt when you heard your name announced as the winner of the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award?
SM: That was AWESOME. I’ve long coveted one of those awards and now A Summer to Remember
has won one! I’ve been shortlisted twice before, but that was as far as I got. The Contemporary category was one of the largest and had a shortlist of eight rather than five. Shortlisted authors arrive at the award ceremony early for photos and a champagne reception, which makes you feel loved and important. But I’ve always gone into awards thinking I won’t win and I’m usually right (although I won the Readers Best Romantic Read Award with Love & Freedom
). It was a super-strong shortlist that included two topsellers, Sophie Kinsella and Carole Matthews, but my hunch was that Jules Wake would win with Notting Hill in the Snow because it’s a charming book. The awards were hosted by Jane Wenham-Jones and presented by performer and author Jenny Eclair at a posh London hotel. Its impressive function room was crammed with circular tables covered by white cloths. As each category was announced, a huge screen behind the stage showed slides of the shortlisted books and authors, then Jenny Eclair opened the envelope and announced the winner. When she said, ‘And the winner of the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award 2020 is the lovely S …’ I actually had time to think, ‘Oh, it’s Sophie Kinsella,’ before I realised she was saying, ‘Sue Moorcroft!’ My jaw nearly hit the table. I wound my way to the stage in a daze, thinking to myself, ‘Don’t trip up the steps, don’t trip up the steps!’ I didn’t. I was quite composed as I bumped elbows with Jenny Eclair but when I went to the mic to say a few words I did choke up. A huge roomful of people all went, ‘Ahhhhhh …’ I was absolutely exultant as I carried my crystal star back to my table, and people said nice things as I floated past somewhere between Cloud Nine and Over the Moon. Then it was photos again - but this time clutching my award! I feel very, very lucky that this all happened just before Coronavirus social distancing was introduced. In comparison to the glitzy, euphoric reality, getting the news by email and the star in the post would have been a damp squib.
MW: As always, thanks for being a great sport and answering these questions. Already looking forward to our next meet-up at The Trading Post.
SM: Thanks very much for inviting me back onto your blog, Mark. As always, it’s been a pleasure.
is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s uplifting novels of love and life are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by an array of publishers in other countries.
Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared around the world.
Born into an army family in Germany, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire at the age of ten. An avid reader, she also loves Formula 1, travel, family and friends, dance exercise and yoga.
Other buying links:
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor
Amazon author page: Author.to/SueMoorcroft