Today I am delighted to be able to bring you a lovely interview with Suzanne Leal who has published her latest novel, The Teacher’s Secret, with Legend Press.
Many thanks to Imogen Harris, at Legend Press, for arranging the following interview and for offering a paperback copy of The Teacher’s Secret for me to giveaway!
Interview with Suzanne Leal…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
I’m a Sydney-based writer, lawyer and mother.
My new novel, The Teacher’s Secret, is about life in the close-knit coastal community of Brindle and the struggles and scandals of the people who live there. Terry Pritchard, assistant principal at Brindle Public School, watches his career collapse when he is accused of inappropriate behaviour towards his students. Nina Foreman, new to the school, struggles to deal both with the breakdown of her marriage and a classroom of students who don’t like her. Rebecca Chuma is also new to Brindle: she’s a curiosity for the locals who don’t know what she’s doing there and just why she can’t return home.
For me, The Teacher’s Secret is the story of a small community and its search for grace, dignity and love in the midst of dishonour, humiliation, grief and uncertainty.
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
The Teacher’s Secret is set in the fictional town of Brindle. Geographically, Brindle is very similar to the little town in south-eastern Sydney where I live. In many ways, The Teacher’s Secret is my lovesong to this little place and the community I have there.
As a lawyer, I have worked in criminal law and in child protection. In The Teacher’s Secret, I drew upon this experience to consider those issues of trust and suspicion that can emerge within a school setting.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
I have worked in refugee law and, in the course of my work, have encountered many people seeking asylum in Australia. Many have been strong, articulate and impressive women who had experienced great hardship. The character of Rebecca Chuma emerged from my knowledge of these women and their lives.
With the character of Nina Foreman, I wanted to look at the juggle for a working woman who is also a single parent. For some years, I was a single parent myself and I used this in creating Nina’s story.
How do you pick your characters names?
When I can visualize my character, I google lists of names and scroll down until I find the name that best suits him or her. There’s always a name that jumps out at me as the right one, even if it takes a bit of searching.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
Whenever I begin a new manuscript, I open a new project on the software package, Scrivener, and start to plot my story and develop my characters and settings. Then I sit down and make myself write for three hours every day. Once I have a full draft of the manuscript – however rough – I go back to the beginning and fix it up; then I do it again and again and again and again.
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would meet William Shakespeare and I would ask him how on earth he managed to be so prolific.
Were you a big reader as a child?
As a child, I would read all the time. For me, reading gave me the chance to live other lives and escape into other worlds.
When did you start to write?
I was always writing as a child and always hoped to become a writer when I’d grown up. Then one day, I realized that I had, in fact, grown up – I’d even had a baby – and still wasn’t a writer. So when the baby finally went to sleep, I would sit down – mostly sleep deprived – and start to type.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
I wish I’d written A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I would invite Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables for coffee. I would take her anywhere she wanted to go to thank her for letting me grow up with her and for allowing me to lose myself in her world.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished the manuscript for a time travel story for children aged between 10 and 14 years. I’m now working on a new novel about the far-reaching consequences of long-held family secrets.
Tell us about your last release?
The Teacher’s Secret was released in hardback in the United Kingdom last year.
Do you have a new release due?
The paperback edition for The Teacher’s Secret is being released in the UK on 1 March 2018.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
After working so hard to get the book finished, on publication day I finally allow myself to simply wallow in euphoria.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I love to hear from readers.
My website is suzanneleal.com
You can find me on:
My Facebook page: suzannelealauthor
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
Thanks for the interview and for the great questions.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Suzanne 🙂
For your chance to win a paperback copy of The Teacher’s Secret (UK only!) simply comment ‘Yes please’ below and a winner will be chosen at random.
Thanks in advance for entering
Things aren’t always as they seem…
A small town can be a refuge, but while its secrets are held, it’s hard to know who to trust and what to believe.
The Teacher’s Secret is a tender and compelling story of scandal, rumour and dislocation, and the search for grace and dignity in the midst of dishonour and humiliation.
Perfect for fans of The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty and A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray.
‘Packed with heart and suspense… I absolutely loved it’ Jenny Ashcroft
‘Delicately woven… a big-hearted book’ Joanne Fedler
‘Elegantly structured, unsettling, yet with moments of surprising wit’ Kathryn Heyman
‘Masterfully constructed… Drawn with wit and clear-eyed affection’ Mark Lamprell
‘Leal’s novel shows us, achingly and beautifully, the slippery nature of truth’ Maggie Joel
‘A rich interweaving of beautifully drawn characters’ Robin de Crespigny
‘A gutsy yet intricate examination of one of society’s nightmares’ Robert Wainwright
‘Leal writes with her hand on her heart’ Charles Waterstreet
‘Suspenseful, moving and full of heart. I couldn’t put it down’ Richard Glover
‘An eloquent story of a life thrown into disarray; it drew me in and held me’ Rachel Seiffert