Sally Xerri-Brooks, author of Her Shadow is here today.
She’s giving away one signed copy and one e-copy of Her Shadow. More details are below.
Please welcome Sally Xerri-Brooks.
Before we begin, thanks so much for stopping by today for a chat.
You’re welcome! I’m always happy to have an excuse to talk about the stories I write and have contact with readers.
Tell us about where you grew up?
I grew up in a small UK town in Hertfordshire called Stevenage. Not too far from London – as a teenager I used to get a train into the city and spend the day exploring with friends. Known as a ‘new town’, Stevenage was built just after the second world war, and people deride it as having no character. I disagree – the history may all be relatively recent, but it’s fascinating. Indeed, the town and its inhabitants inspired my first novel, Four Movements.
When you started university, you began studying Mechanical Engineering. What drew you to this field and did you stick with it?
I was inspired to study engineering by a film that played a prominent part in my childhood, Reach for the Sky. It’s a black and white film, based on the true story of an RAF pilot called Douglas Bader who lost his legs in the 1930s in an accident and returned to flying, becoming a prominent leader in the Battle of Britain. He was able to go back to flying thanks to the new development of artificial limbs made of tin – designed by an aeronautical engineer. I was fascinated by this mechanical creation that could enable someone to walk again. So, I studied mechanical engineering in a bid to go on and study prosthesis design. I think it was John Lennon who said that ‘life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans’, and that’s what happened to me – life! In my late teens I became quite unwell, and was forced to give up my studies. It took me almost two years to recover, and when I came to return to my studies in my early 20s, my interests had to some extent changed, and I embarked on a communications degree, which I did complete.
How did you end up studying journalism?
It all started as a bit of a throwaway comment really. I was reading a magazine and remarked to a friend that I thought I could write a better article. She challenged me to prove it, and so I wrote an article and sent it to the magazine. To my surprise, not only did they print it, but they paid me too. I was coming to the end of my undergraduate degree and managed to scrape together some funding to do a postgraduate diploma in journalism. I was immediately thrown into the rough and tumble world of telling the real stories of people’s lives, warts and all.
When did you decide to pen your first novel and can you tell us about it?
I have always written stories from a young age. I kept on saying that one day I would write a novel, but never really did. A few years ago I set myself the challenge of writing 1,000 words every day for 80 days. I somehow managed it, and from that came Four Movements. It is a book in four parts about an old upright piano. Each part covers a different piece of history, from the 1950s to the present day, and follows the story of the owners of the time. I have always been fascinated by objects, like pianos, that have lived their own lives and witnessed so much.
You also write nonfiction. Is it hard to switch from fiction to factual and does writing both help or hinder your projects?
Not really. I see both as very similar really. Even in fiction you need to find an element of truth to the story you tell, whether that is in the words the characters speak, or the actions they take.
Tell us about your latest?
Her Shadow is a story about what happens when your life is turned upside down. Cameron Strawbank is a high level fundraiser, and through the course of her work falls for one of her donors, MP Sara Lorenzo. Inadvertently their affair makes it onto the front pages of the British tabloids, forcing Cameron into hiding and Sara into a series of meetings in London. The events, which threaten both their careers, splits the pair up, with Cameron fleeing the country with an old flame. The story follows her efforts to put her life back together without Sara by her side, when tragedy hits in the form of a suspected terrorist attack in London involving Sara. Cameron rushes to the capital, with no idea what she will find. This is a fast paced story about love, loss, passion and politics and I am really enjoying sharing it with readers.
What was the inspiration for Her Shadow?
For part of my career, I worked in the same job that Cameron has – essentially taking wealthy people out for coffee and asking them to invest significant sums of money in good causes. It was fascinating. I met some really interesting and unusual people, and ended up in some unlikely places – including the House of Lords, which features in the book. One day I wondered what would have happened if I had fallen in love with a high profile donor? And that was where the story came from.
What are you working on now?
I am working on a few things at the moment. I have always wanted to write for television, so I am developing a screenplay. However, after feedback from readers, it has become clear that there is still more for the characters in Her Shadow to do, so I am tentatively beginning a sequel. I’m definitely not telling what happens next though!
What do you like to do for fun?
I love spending time with my four-year-old daughter, playing with Lego or having hot chocolate in a cafe together. I have a passion for great television and film, and when I get the opportunity, enjoy getting sucked into a box set or two. I am a voracious reader, and in many ways, I write for fun too. Creating characters and worlds and stories is just such a thrilling and freeing adventure.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Good coffee in good cafes.
A shower in the morning – even when my daughter was first born and me and my wife struggled to do anything but keep her alive, showers kept me sane.
The sea. Paradoxically, I live in Birmingham, the furthest place in the UK from the sea, but my parents now live on the coast in Devon, and I love visiting them there. There is something fantastically calming about the sea.
Thanks so much for chatting today.
It’s been a real pleasure.
Also available in Kindle Unlimited
Release Date: November 11, 2017
Cameron Strawbank’s job as a high society fundraiser finds her wining and dining the great and the good. Following a five figure donation, her professional and personal life collide with dramatic consequences when she finds herself in bed with a prominent politician. Sara Lorenzo is a well known shadow cabinet minister, and what begins as a fling, becomes a relationship that surprises both women. Before long, the tabloid press discover their affair, and its apparent link to cash, and lurid headlines follow, forcing the couple apart. Sara prioritises safeguarding her career and Cameron is left with her working and personal life in tatters, and flees the country with an old flame.
Cameron’s desire to find out how Sara really feels about her, brings her back to the UK, despite the guilt she carries. Is there any chance of a future together? She attempts to rebuild a career, and forge a new connection with Sara when tragedy hits in the form of a suspected terrorist attack in central London.
This is a story of love, loss, friendship, adventure, politics and forgiveness that will keep you guessing to the very end.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Sally Xerri-Brooks is a British writer, based in Birmingham in the West Midlands. She writes when she’s not working, parenting or drinking tea. That said, she also drinks coffee, and drinking and writing are not mutually exclusive…
Sally has, to date, written two novels, the most recent being Her Shadow, released in November 2017. She’s passionate about creating characters that aren’t always represented and telling stories that aren’t normally told. It’s said ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ – Sally hopes people will see themselves in what she writes.
CONNECT WITH SALLY XERRI-BROOKS
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Thanks so much for stopping by today.
Best of luck to everyone who enters the giveaway.