So, after an unplanned hiatus last week (for which I blame an over-indulgence in Christmas spirits by someone!), I am back having Friday Night Drinks with lovely author and my fellow Fiction Cafe Writer, Sherron Mayes. Writing as S. D. Mayes, Sherron’s debut novel Letters to the Pianist is out now in paperback and e-book formats.
Sherron, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening. I love that you have sent me a photo of you already drinking to go with the blog post – a girl after my own heart! Sadly, I am doing Dry January so I will be on the lime and soda water, but what are you drinking?
A glass of red Shiraz
If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
To Alto Lounge, a bar in Caversham where I live, where you can get amazing food/tapas, cocktails, wine or tea/coffee
That sounds ideal, I love tapas. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. I mean can you imagine having the pair of them there with us. It would be weird and amazing. Something we’d never forget.
That would be an interesting combination! I suspect she’d have him wrapped around her little finger quite quickly! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
I’m writing my WIP, ‘The Lodger’, and that’s ticking along. More of that later. I was also asked to open a new library in a school near me, where I did a talk and book signing on Letters to the Pianist. I am also networking a lot and have recently joined a writers group in my little Village of Caversham in Berkshire. Writing can get lonely, so it’s great to meet in a bar and bounce ideas off other writers and sometimes get together to just write and feel that you are all motivating each other.
What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
Proudest moment, seeing my novel, Letters to the Pianist published with its fabulous cover, that’s won a best cover award in LA. My biggest challenge is the publicity. Sending it off to magazines and papers who expressed interest and hearing from some and not others. It’s a lot of work that can feel like you’re in Groundhog day.
I can imagine. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
Okay here goes … in present tense. I have an amazing gungho Literary agent for, ‘The Lodger’ who auctions it in a bidding war, and I end up with a phenomenal publishing house who give me a half million advance, and make sure the book gets lots of publicity. The book then sells 10 million plus copies. And then I’m commissioned to write the screenplay, which is made into a film, which is a box office success. I’d also like the rights of my current novel, Letters to the Pianist to be bought for half a million and made into a film by Steven Spielberg, which is also a box office success. And then I’ll fly you over to the screening by private jet. Let me know your meal requirements.
It’s a deal. I will eat (almost) anything. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I’m writing my WIP, ‘The Lodger’. It’s about a single mum who takes in a lodger to make ends meet after she loses her job in finance. She’s vulnerable and falls for him, but he isn’t quite what he seems to be. I felt inspired to write a thriller or as the literary world calls it, a ‘domestic noir’, It’s the first time I haven’t had to do a ton of research for a novel as I’m using a lot of my own experience, but just ramping the temperature up a fair few degrees. I’m 33,000 words in so eek a third of the way there.
How exciting, quite a change from Letters to the Pianist. I love domestic noir and I know I’m not alone in that so hopefully it will be a big success for you. I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
One of my favourite places I’ve visited is Alaska where my aunt lives. It’s so breathtakingly beautiful – so much space, mountains and sky. I was there in the month of July, over a decade ago, so it was sunny, but you have the amazing glaciers which look like something from an ice age movie.
I definitely want to travel more and would love to go to Hawaii, Peru and Tibet
Oh, I would love to go to Alaska! All of your bucket list destinations are on mine too. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
My family followed an Indian Guru, and when I was seven I moved to Plymouth to live in a boarding school on a farm which was supposed to be a ‘divine school’. We meditated, ate organic vegetarian food and fed animals. However, the idealism of the place didn’t match the reality. It was all a bit chaotic and my mum ended up taking me out of there, when we were sent to the local village school. It was an interesting interlude.
Wow, that sounds like the plot of a book right there! How interesting. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Hmmm it’s so difficult to say just one. Probably, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. It’s so descriptive and clever, but you’ve probably already read it.
I have read it, it is a wonderful book. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Oh God, what boozers we are haha. I’d make sure we ordered lots of carby food like chips, or pasta and then have a large slice of chocolate cake or some kind of fruit pie. I would also ask for a jug of water on the table to dilute the alcohol content, which I would sip in between the wines/Gins/Rums. If I do end up with a hangover, I tend to just eat more carbs or a fry up. Mind you, I’d eat myself out of any situation. I’m a foodie, so it’s the answer to everything.
Chocolate cake is always the answer! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
After a boozy night out, I tend to want a pyjama day to recover, watch movies at home, play scrabble and order a take away curry or pizza – or both!
That sounds great, I am in! Sherron, thank you so much for joining me tonight. Sorry for being a boring teetotaller tonight but I had great fun anyway, I hope you did too.
Make sure you check out Sherron’s wonderful debut, Letter to the Pianist. You can buy a copy here.
A FAMILY TORN APART … A PAST THEY CAN’T ESCAPE
In war torn London, 1941, fourteen-year-old Ruth Goldberg and her two younger siblings, Gabi and Hannah, survive the terrifying bombing of their family home. They believe their parents are dead, their bodies buried underneath the burnt remains – but unbeknownst to them, their father, Joe, survives and is taken to hospital with amnesia.
Four years on, Ruth stumbles across a newspaper photo of a celebrated pianist and is struck by the resemblance to her father. Desperate for evidence she sends him a letter, and as the pianist’s dormant memories emerge, his past unravels, revealing his true identity – as her beloved father, Joe. Ruth sets out to meet him, only to find herself plunged into an aristocratic world of sinister dark secrets.
Can she help him escape and find a way to stay alive?
LETTERS TO THE PIANIST is a compelling page turner packed with drama, intrigue and suspense. If you loved The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or The Pianist, then you will love this exciting novel.
If you would like to learn more about Sherron and what she is up to, why not check her out on social media?
Facebook: Author Mayes
Goodreads: S.D. Mayes
Next week on Friday Night Drinks I will be joined by my good friend, fellow Yorkshire lass and RNA member, author Lynda Stacey, so don’t miss that.