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Sue Gee to sign copies of her new book at Waterstone's
3:58pm Wednesday 1st June 2011 in Books
HEREFORDSHIRE is renowned for its agricultural plenty, but its beautiful landscape also provides a fertile ground for creativity, with many writers, artists and makers calling the county home.
One of the former who has had a cottage in an idyllically unspoilt corner of the county for more than a decade is Sue Gee, author of 10 widely acclaimed novels, who has now published her first collection of short stories entitled Last Fling.
Having started her long association with words as deputy fiction editor at Woman magazine, it is perhaps appropriate that Sue should finally publish a collection of short stories, especially as her first published work was a short story – in the magazine she worked for, helping other writers develop their careers.
But when she had her son Jamie and left the magazine, she turned to writing full time, securing a commission for her first novel, Spring Will be Ours, based on her late husband Marek’s Polish family, before Jamie reached his second birthday.
Sue is currently working on a new novel, one which, she says is, “for the first time the purest autobiography”.
“It’s based on my parents, especially my father, who went to India in 1932 to work on a sugar plantation, then joined the Indian Army during the war and had the whole colonial experience.
“He and my mother met, fell in love and were married within three weeks, and my whole childhood was coloured by the constant refrain of India, India.
“He left me most of the tape recordings of his Indian stories, from which I tried to write a monologue, and after that I tried to write a play.
“Then I got the start of the novel, which was him sitting up in bed recording the stories.
“When I first started writing, I was very hesitant,” admits Sue. “Even now, though I think this book is good, I still sit and have moments when I think that everyone’s going to hate it.
“But I have a real need for writing and everything it gives me, which, basically, is peace. It creates a very rich space. That sounds quite spiritual, which I don’t think I am normally, but if I have any spirituality it’s through my writing, the place where I am in touch with something that’s not me.”
Last Fling is Sue’s new book of 12 short stories, some dating back, she thinks, at least 15 years, and others that are much more recent That leads to a satisfying variety and a range of texture in the collection.
One of the most poignant, Back, is among the oldest and was sparked by trying to imagine what it would be like to have decided to kill yourself and then not done it.
“It’s not uniform in tone,” she admits. “But there is a progression to the stories, which are about love and lust and the end of affairs, but by the end it’s about women’s strength and about sisters.”
Sue will be signing copies of Last Fling at Waterstone’s in Hereford on Saturday, June 25, from 11am.