Q&A with Suzie Hull

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Far Across The Ocean. I’m sharing my Q&A with the author with thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on the blog tour and to Suzie Hull for answering my questions!

Have you always wanted to write? 

It never occurred to me to start writing until I was home after having my first baby. My family didn’t live nearby and I was a bit lonely and needed something to do other than watch a baby sleep. Once I started I would write for a few weeks and then stop, then came back to it and do a bit more, but it was a very long process. I didn’t accomplish much whilst the children were small, but it certainly built into a passionate hobby and I just knew that it was something I’d be doing for the rest of my life. 

What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process? 

I’ve had a lot of jobs, but other than perhaps giving me inspiration and life experience, I don’t think they have influenced my writing process. Over the years I’ve worked in a bookshop, as a nanny, a Montessori Nursery Teacher, in retail, for a charity and in a school. 

What was your inspiration for Far Across The Ocean ?

 There were a couple of strands that came together for this story. Whilst I was at a hotel on the North coast of Northern Ireland, I came across a story of a baby washed up on the shore in a small boat. The baby was a newborn and the mother in the boat was dead, and try as they might, the village people never found out the identity of the baby. There have been other cases like this over the years, and other fictional stories have been written, Far Across The Ocean is just my idea of how this kind of story might have played out.

The other strands are the settings of Bradford and Madagascar which seem an unusual combination, but I came upon it in our extended family history. One of my Grandparents came from a very large and well documented Quaker family and left lots of information. One branch of the family had a Worsted mill in Manningham, Bradford, and another branch had a couple who were Missionaries in Madagascar in the late 1800’s. I just put the two things together and came up with a fictional family and a fictional plot. 

How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know? 

For me it is always the plot that comes first, and from that I decide what the character needs to look like, they aren’t anyone I know. The exception to that is my character of Clara, who is hard of hearing after being badly injured in the shipwreck. Personally I find it hard to hear on my right hand side, so I was able to weave in the difficulties I find, into the story. For example, I find I can’t make out what people are saying when they turn away from me, so I kept that in mind for Clara.  

What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser? 

My novels take quite a while to germinate. I gather ideas for several years before I start writing them down. Then once I start it can be nearly a year of writing. I need to have a good idea of what the plot is before I start, although once the proves begins, I use the time to allow ideas to percolate and grow. I think about my characters and how best they might behave and react to things, and so I’m open to having different endings as I write. 

How did you research? Did you enjoy it?

 I love research, but perhaps I’m not very methodical about it! I research as I go along, or, as I have an idea I save the blogpost or book that sparked an idea. So for example, I read a memoir by a lady who worked at the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris in 1914, and knew I wanted that to be a part of the novel, and then tried to do more research on that. I researched the silk trade in the UK and researched lots of small things that people wouldn’t even notice are there, but they would if I got it wrong. The problem is, I don’t keep notes very well (I love post-its), but when I need to double check facts at the editing stage I can’t remember where I found things! I love finding memoirs or diaries from the time and place that I’m writing in, but these can also be hard to come by, but all my research is done online.

Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them? 

I have lots of favourite writers – Dinah Jefferies, Jojo Moyes, Jenny Ashcroft, Kerry Hewitt. There are two writers who definitely influenced my writing though. The first is daphne Du Maurier. My daughter, who sometimes does copy edits for me laughs because my sentences are so long. Du Maurier had her own distinctive style and long sentences and the wa she described the settings stood out for me. The second is Kate Morton. I read her book The Lake House, and that was when I really wanted to write a dual-timeline novel. My first book with Orion Dash, In this Foreign Land, started out as a dual-timeline mystery, but in the end we only retained the historical plot and setting, but I’ve still plans for one in that style.

Who would play the main character/s in a film version of Far Across The Ocean ?

 I love this question! I happen to adore my book cover for this novel and I do think the female looks like Florence Pugh when she was playing Amy, in Little Women. She’s also blonde too and I think her character would be a perfect match. Once Clara is jilted at the altar her mind is made up to go away and she becomes very singular in her desire to go away. I think Florence would be perfect. 

For the hero I’m struggling a bit, because all the ones I like are just a bit too old, but I’m going to go with Lucas Bravo from Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, and also Emily in Paris because my hero Xavier needs that dark tousled look.

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

I actually like to write in my spare time! Other than that, I’d love to travel more either abroad or nearer to home. We did a van conversion last year so I’d love to drive the camper van up through Scotland and see all the highlands and islands. I’ve got a trip to Rome and a weekend in Paris planned very soon and when I’m doing a city break I love going to art galleries and sipping coffee in a café. 

What is next for you? 

I’m finishing writing a WW2 novel, set on Malta at the start of the war and then in Northern Ireland. It’s taking far too long, but I’m so excited by the love story in it. 


Book? Daphne Du Maurier’s The King’s General. Not that it has a HEA, but it is a wonderful epic love story. 

Film? Last of the Mohicans – I loved the epic romance and how things were literally life and dead. When Nathaniel says, ‘I will find you. No matter how far or how long it takes, I will find you.’ My heart just leaps at that, and that is the kind of epic, all encompassing romance I try to create in my own novels. 

Colour? Any version of blue or green.

Place? Yorkshire Dales as that’s where we grew up and had family. 

Biscuit? Unfortunately I am now restricted to a gluten free diet and biscuits just don’t taste the same. But on the other hand I’ve never met a type of chocolate that I don’t like. 


Far Across The Ocean is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

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