Interview with Expat Author - Susan Keefe
My name is Susan Keefe, I am originally from Essex in the U.K. however now I live just above the Loire Valley in France.
1. Why did you move abroad?
I have always loved France and when I remarried a few years back my new husband took his first trip here on our honeymoon and fell in love with France straight away. We started looking at buying a house the following year and very quickly found one. We bought it with a five year plan, which lasted all of 6 months, and so we moved here in December 2006.
2. How do you make a living? Are you a fulltime writer?
Yes I am. I have written three books Toby's Tails which is now out on Kindle with full color photos. The first two books in my Fantasy Farm series are out on Kindle, Book 1: Billy and Daisy’s Big Adventure and Book 2: The Chicken Patrol [which is also available in Spanish].
I also review and promote books from my book blogs site and write for The Good Life France and Living-in-France magazines.
3. How did you start the process of writing a book and get it published? Did you go to a publisher? Self-publish?
When we came here we had two lovely Golden Retrievers Lucky and Czar. Unfortunately Czar suffered a heart attack and was taken from us just before Christmas 2008. In the January of 2009 we were taking one of our French Alpine Goats to be mated in the back of our Renault Scenic – as you do, and discovered that the lady had Border collie puppies. I fell in love with one, who is now our constant companion and is Toby the main character in all the stories. I put the manuscript out to publishers and one ran with it, however we were not pleased with them and so the other books, and future ones will be self-published.
4. What was the hardest part of taking your writing to a book format? Did you blog before writing your book?
Just having Toby around and the animal antics on our smallholding inspired me to write Toby’s Tails and the Fantasy Farm series, the words came pouring out, and I have been writing ever since… I do have a blog which relates to the books it is http://www.tobys-tails.com/
5. What is your perception of the expat book market? Or is there a niche you consider your book to be part of?
The expat market for books is good, whilst in England dreaming of France, I loved reading about other peoples adventures in this wonderful country we now call home. Toby’s Tails, although originally written for older children has been enjoyed by many adults and I have had great feedback from them. My books seem to be enjoyed by animal lovers but also people who live here and want to find out more about our area as there are many local references in the books.
6. What is your favorite part of the book?
I think my favorite part of the book is when we bought Toby home for the first time and cuddling him on my lap I saw that our ewe had had her first ever lamb whilst we were out.
7. What was the most difficult part to write?
That will be to come, we have lost Toby’s mentor Lucky since the first book and his crossing the Rainbow Bridge will be in the second Toby’s Tails.
8. Besides your book, what book should everyone read?
Definitely Jane Eyre, why, because it is my favorite book of all time.
9. What advice would you give to other expats that want to write a book?
My grandparents were housekeeper and gardener/handyman of a vicarage in Suffolk U.K. the parson’s wife Kathleen Jarvis wrote a book called ‘A Nightingale in the Sycamore’ about her life and in it are mentioned my dad and grandmother. That book is priceless to our family and everyone has a copy, although only my uncle has the original dedicated copy.
So the moral is GO FOR IT do it for yourself and enjoy the experience, whatever the outcome, whether it becomes a best seller or not.
10. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to publish another book?
Toby’s Tails is available in paperback however we are about to publish it in Kindle format with full color photos. Later this year will see the publication of Toby’s Tails two, although we have not decided on a title yet, this will also be in full color in paperback and Kindle format, and coming soon will be other titles in the Fantasy Farm series.