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Suzannah Dunn Interview

Posted on 28 June 2004. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to novelist Suzannah Dunn, Betty Trask Award winner, whose latest novel, The Queen of Subtleties, is out now in hardback.

Tell us something about your background.

I've been published since 1990; my first book was a novella and a few stories, published by Serpent's Tail. I already had the contract for that book when I started the MA in Creative Writing at UEA. After that, I published four novels (Quite Contrary, Blood Sugar, Past Caring, and Venus Flaring) with Flamingo (a mainstream publisher - the literary in-print at Harpercollins). ('Quite Contrary' won a Betty Trask Award). Then a book of stories - Tenterhooks - which is (until this latest novel?) my favourite of mine. Then a novel, Commencing Our Descent (er, shortlisted for the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year! Now there's a claim to fame..). Then nothing for quite a while because I was (still am!) teaching at Manchester University (creative writing - both for undergraduates and on the MA in Novel Writing). When I went part-time there, and had a sabbatical, I managed to write the novel that's just been published - it's historical (about Anne Boleyn, part of it seen through the eyes of the court confectioner), but done in entirely contemporary language. The Queen of Subtleties. Out in paperback in January.

How did you start writing?

I started in my early twenties, hoping to avoid a 9-5 job! (and have been mostly - not always! - successful in that).

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I tend to like North American (women, usually) writers, and my favourite is Alice Munro (so, just short stories) although it took me a while to come to her (I did read her in my twenties, but for some reason it was when I came back to her in my thirties that I was really knocked sideways by her). My favourite British writer is Rupert Thomson.

How did you get your first agent/publisher?

By publishing a short story (my first) in The Edinburgh Review, back in the late '80s. Serpent's Tail was a new publisher then, and on the look-out for new British writers. (Those were the days, eh?!) They contacted the editor of the ER and he passed my name and contact details to them. They asked to see what I was working on, and it went from there. (It was a very small contract in monetary terms, of course! - but it got me started and it was of course easier to go to an agent when I already had a publisher interested)

What's the worst thing about writing?

The time that it takes.<br> <br> <br> <br>

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

Comments by other Members

anisoara at 19:56 on 28 June 2004  Report this post
Suzannah --

Thanks for the excellent interview. I love how you were essentially headhunted by Serpent's Tail!

And you provide excellent, practical advice. Thanks for that!

I have Past Caring, but have not read it yet. Now I think I'm going to bump it up to the top of my reading stack!


Kara at 10:39 on 02 July 2004  Report this post
I enjoyed the interview. It;s good to hear from someone sucessful who sounds fresh and happy in what she's doing. Reading this just before I started writing for the day was perfect. Thankyou.
ps I admit I haven't read anything by Suzannah, but I will!

Amirr01 at 01:09 on 13 March 2024  Report this post
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