In the Spotlight | Susan Murphy

About Susan Murphy

Susan Murphy is a Civil Marriage Celebrant based in South Australia. With over 8 years experience, she’s had the pleasure and blessing of conducting ceremonies all over the country including weddings, baby namings, commitment ceremonies, funerals and anything else that has been requested by a client. The stranger the better!

With a passion for words and a determination to one day (even if it was from the nursing home) become a writer, she made a fateful decision to attend a Masterclass with the amazing Fiona McIntosh, and from there ‘Confetti Confidential’ was born.

“Writing about weddings came naturally to me. I’d been a part of that world for so long and seen everything there was to see – good and bad. But there had to be humour. Coming from a large Irish family there was no way I could write without the laughs. I drove my family nuts giggling away to myself while writing this book.”

About Susan as an author

What inspired you to write your first book?

I have always dabbled, but never been serious about writing until about 6 years ago. I began writing for my blog at the time, The Wedding Gurus, and came to really love connecting with people through writing. I enrolled in a Bachelor of Writing with Uni SA, but it was attending a Masterclass with Fiona McIntosh that really set me on the path. I wouldn’t be here without her. When I went to the masterclass I was writing a (bad) thriller. Fiona took us all through some exercises and then sat me down and said, as a celebrant, you really know so much about the wedding industry and you use humour really well, you need to be writing women’s fiction. I was iffy at first, but I went home and literally wrote my first book in 3 months and it was snapped up by a publisher straight away. (Now that was luck!)

What genre do you consider your books?

I’m a bit all over the place! My current books are all women’s fiction (chicklit, if you like or romcom), but I’ve co-written a middle-grade kids book with a fabulous children’s author (not yet published) as well as a historical romance and my current work in progress is actually a thriller!

Do you have a specific writing style?

My go-to is to write with humour, but I’ve found that much harder with the historical and thriller. My first 3 are definitely full of laughter. I like a fast-paced story, so I tend to write the way I like to read. That probably doesn’t suit everyone, but hopefully there are others out there like me.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I think I’ve always liked writing. English was always my favourite subject and when I look back at my old notebooks, I realise that without even knowing it, I’ve always been writing in some way or another.

What is your favorite scene that you’ve written?

I would say my favourite would be the scene in Confetti Confidential: They Do, I Don’t when the sisters go to visit an adult shop. The eldest, Annabel, is so horrified and embarrassed that she’s hiding around a corner and carrying on. I just remember how much I laughed writing that because I based her character on my oldest sister, Tracy, and she is exactly like that! There were a couple of scenes in Aloha Love that stood out for other reasons. There is one part where the main character, Jen, is writing a letter to set herself free of some past hurts and that really resonated and affected me. I bawled, and I’m not a bawler.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I would say to write first and worry about the details later. I think it’s so easy to get caught up with all the ‘rules’ around writing. The main aim is to get words on the page so don’t wait for the timing to be right or the kids to be in bed or for your page to be perfectly lined. Just write it and sort out all the details later. Also, don’t read your work back half way through. Keep writing until the end, even if something big changes, just keep going and then fix it all in the first edit. I terms of publishing, know what the publishers are looking for. Do some research, ask around and find out what they are keen to get. There are some great writing groups and pages on social media to check out where you can read about people’s experiences and what they’ve experienced. Of course, I cannot say enough about finding your tribe. I found mine at Fiona McIntosh’s masterclass. I not only spent 5 days with a great bunch of talented aspiring authors, but I got to pitch to a publisher and find out everything I needed to know to become a commercial fiction writer. Having a solid group to bounce ideas off of and support you is priceless.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I just really hope that you like my stories. We sit here, behind our desks, alone in our little office spaces, wherever they may be, and we write these stories. The biggest fear is that people won’t find any value in what we create. I hope that when you read one of my stories, you get something out of it, whether that is just a few laughs, a good cry or a sense that there is someone else just as crazy as you are.

How do you beat writer’s block?

I’ve never had writer’s block. To be honest, I have the complete opposite. I literally drive myself insane with constant story ideas and characters that I will never have time to write. Everywhere I look there are stories and people to write about!

Are any of your characters based on you?

Sort of. I remember when Confetti Confidential was first released I wrote a blog post titled, ‘She’s not me’. The main character does so many crazy and embarrassing things I was petrified that people would think that I did too. There are elements of me in all my main characters, it’s inside my head so I guess that’s inevitable, but there are also so many any parts to a character that you make up as you go. They seem to unfold sometimes as if they take on a life of their own.

About Susan’s current new release, ALOHA LOVE

How did you come up with the title?

This book had so many titles before “Aloha Love.” I couldn’t settle on anything and then I gave it to a good author friend of mine, Adam Cece, to read and his wife, Belinda, just seem to pull that title out of nowhere. Thanks goodness she did because it was perfect and it stuck. Thanks, Belinda!

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I think that Aloha Love is about never giving up on yourself. It’s hard out there and it can get brutal, but we are often our own worst critics and what we see isn’t always what others see. I have one of those vision boards in my office (where you stick pictures and quotes etc to remind yourself of things) and on it I have 2 quotes that say: ‘You will never know your limits until you push yourself to them.’ And ‘People only see the you that you show them, so show them something amazing and they too will believe it.’ I love these because it reminds me that I’m in control of my own destiny and sometimes you have to work pretty hard at it. Aloha Love is about second chances, taking life by the horns and remembering that we all have something amazing to offer this world.

About Susan as a reader

What book are you reading now?

Lots! I’m reading A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald (audiobook), by Natasha Lester, The Lace Weaver, by Lauren Chater, and Vanessa Carnevale’s new release, The Memories of Us. There are more, but I won’t mention them all.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Kathy Lette is my hero. I love her writing and it was one of her books which really got me into women’s fiction in the first place. I also love Fiona McIntosh of course who has been my mentor for years, but I’m loving all the historical romances that are popular right now.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Definitely. Ali Sinclaire, Dianne Maguire, Lauren Chater, Natasha Lester, Vanessa Carnevale and Carla Caruso to name a few.

Because Karan is random

Which question are you most sick of answering in interviews?

Hey, I’m just pleased to be asked questions! Beggars can’t be chooser as they say. I’m grateful that people are interested in hearing about me.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I’d love it if you would connect with me on social media. Here are my links. I absolutely love chatting to readers and other authors. It what makes this whole thing worthwhile, so drop me a line and tell me about yourself.

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