THE THINGS WE NEVER SAID – 10th anniversary!

Ten years ago next week, my debut novel, The Things We Never Said, was published. To my utter astonishment it instantly became a bestseller, so I’m doing a little blog post to celebrate. I guess I’m celebrating ten years as a published novelist, but I also want to celebrate the book itself. It still sells well on Kindle and in audiobook, and is much-borrowed in libraries, but the paperback is now print on demand,  so it’s more expensive! However, I do get an author discount, so I’ve splashed out and bought some copies to give away on my  Facebook page 

What it’s about

The Things We Never Said, by Susan Elliot Wright

The Things We Never Said

In 1964, Maggie wakes up in an asylum with no idea who she is or why she’s there. Little glimpses of memory tantalise her – a roaring gale,  a sickly baby. Then one night, a word in an overheard conversation on the ward suddenly brings the devastating truth flooding back.

In 2010, Jonathan and his wife are expecting their first baby. His difficult relationship with his own father means he’s already worried he won’t be a good dad,  then a knock on the door from a cold case detective throws his life even further into turmoil. Jonathan’s familial DNA is linked with a decades-old crime


‘If you love Maggie O’Farrell, you will love this’  Veronica Henry

The Things We Never Said

Review in The Bookseller

The book seemed to touch the hearts of readers in a way I could only have dreamed of. Being my first novel, it took years of blood, sweat and tears (well, certainly tears!) and what felt like endless writing and rewriting before it was in good enough shape to start approaching agents.

I knew getting published wasn’t easy, so I braced myself for rejections. And they came. Plenty of them. But then came the call from my agent telling me that Simon & Schuster were interested. ‘But don’t open the champagne yet,’ she cautioned. The editor and the fiction team loved it, She told me, but the acquisitions meeting the following day, and nothing was certain until then.

I was working as a chef at the time, catering weddings, and the next day, I don’t know how I didn’t end up putting salt in the meringues and sugar in the potatoes. I checked my phone a hundred times, but by the time I finished my shift at 3pm, I still hadn’t heard. I went home and took the dog for a walk. We’re in the park, he’s just done a massive poo (big dog, big poo) and I’m just bending down, poo bag stretched over my hands thinking, this would be about the worst possible time for my agent to call…

The news I’d been waiting for

Have you ever tried to sound excited but completely professional while tying up a bag of warm dog poo? Anyway, the news was good – a two-book deal – and it was all systems go on the champagne. It was a long time to wait before I was able to hold the book in my hands, but eventually, the months passed, and it was published,

susan elliot wright

It’s a real book! The great unboxing

Book launch for The Things We Never Said

Book launch at Waterstones







Readers loved it, and it got shortlisted and long listed for a few things, including the RNA Contemporary romantic novel of the year (NB I don’t think it’s romantic, though it does have a strong relationship that withstands considerable pressure). I got to speak at libraries and events, and all in all, I had a brilliant time.

Romantic novel of the year Shortlist  4

With other shortlisted authors at RONAs award ceremony 2014

But the absolute best thing of all was the amazing emails I received. ten years on, I still get messages about this book, though these days it’s usually via social media. One that sticks in my mind was from a woman who said the book had reignited her love of reading after a long period where she’d been completely unable to engage with the book. Most of the messages are from women, although I’ve had some lovely comments about this novel from men, too.

The Things We Never Said

In good company on the Waterstones front table!

Since then…

My fifth novel, All You Ever Wanted was published last year, and my fourth, The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood was published ‘to acclaim’. I’m probably a better writer now than I was then, but there seems to have been something about this book that captured the imagination and brought me readers who have since gone on to buy all my novels. Which is why I’ll always have a soft spot for my ‘first baby’, and why I might just open another bottle of champagne on its tenth birthday. If you’d like to read it now,  try your luck in the giveaway by going to my Facebook page  or buy it on Audiobook  or on Kindle 

If you’d like to know more about me and my books, have a look around my website


I’m writing a series of 10 blog posts in which I record my writing process and the progress I’m making on my third novel. This is week three. If you’d like to follow the whole thing, here’s week one and here’s week two 

Tuesday 8th July
Babysitting again this morning from 8 until 1.30, then off to a meeting until 3.30, then reading students’ work for tonight’s short story tutorials. My aim for this week is to do something on the novel every day, but today has just disappeared. However, desperate to meet that modest aim, I managed to scrawl 150 words of a scene when I got back from class tonight. Too tired now to do any more, though, except to write up this entry for today. That’s the other thing I’m finding helpful about writing this blog – even if I’m not working on the novel, I’m committed to doing some writing every day so that I have a record to turn into a blog post at the end of the week. It’s also helping me to get a perspective on what I’m doing each day in terms of what holds up my writing and what helps it. For example, I’ve realised that when I have a commitment later in the day, I find it difficult to get started once it gets within a few hours of that commitment. The solution, obviously, is to start writing earlier! Word count:150

Wednesday 9th July
Spent an hour on Twitter  this morning – didn’t mean to, but there’s so much interesting stuff out there! Also, I felt compelled to tweet about the wonderful book I’ve just finished – We Are Called to Rise, by Laura McBride – highly recommended! Anyway, must work now – mother arriving in a few hours and then it’s going to be difficult to get anything done. Today’s word count: 520
Thursday 10th July
Look what arrived in the post today:

I’d like to keep one of these, but wasn’t sure what to do with the other two copies, but after posting this on my FB page, I now have ‘good cause’ homes for two of them. My mum has arrived from London, staying until Saturday. Normally, I’d take a few days off while she’s here, but I’m really struggling with this novel and feel that I dare not take a day away from it. My line of thinking is that if do something on it every day, even if it’s only reading over what I’ve written and doing a little editing, the story will be bubbling away in my subconscious and I’m more likely to find a way through. So, I’ve explained to mum that I need to work for an hour each day. I’m at the tail end of my hour now, but at least I’ve done something. Chipping away, chipping away…  Word count: 339
Friday 11th July
Again, I have snuck up to my study for an hour and have written a small chunk. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it’s still moving forward. A good haul of research materials have now arrived and I’m really enjoying flicking through these – Woman’s Realm and Woman’s Weekly from the early 60s and mid-70s, and copies of Spare Rib from the early 80s. 

Fascinating stuff! Today’s word count: 284

Saturday 12thJuly
Went to visit friends for the weekend and managed to do a little work on the train. Usually, I love working on trains because there are no distractions, but on this particular journey we had an extremely annoying train manager who:   welcomed us aboard and asked us to take a moment to read the safety information; reminded us that smoking was not permitted anywhere on the train (including the toilets and vestibules); listed the stops we would be calling at; told us the names of the on-board staff; informed us of the location of the buffet car (“carriage ‘C’ for Charlie, that’s carriage ‘C’ for Charlie…”), listing the items available from said buffet; warned us that if we had purchased “an advance ticket – that’s an advance ticket…” that we should make sure we were on the correct train. In case we hadn’t quite got that, she added, “If your ticket has the word advance printed on it, and you are not on the correct train, you will be required to pay the full fare.” She announced all of this loudly, longly, and after every single sodding stop. Nevertheless, I managed to write the start of a new scene without turning it into a ‘train passenger murders train manager’ story. Word count: 422

Sunday 13th July
The return train journey was blissfully peaceful in comparison to the outward trip, but was considerably longer (travelling for almost 6 hours on three different trains). Tired, at a difficult stage in the novel and perhaps just a little hungover, I struggled to work properly, but managed to squeeze out 360 words which is, as they say here in Sheffield, better than nowt. Word count: 360

Monday 14th July
Frantically busy today catching up with everything that’s fallen behind over the last few days, So lots of emails, lots of reading and annotating students work for short story class tomorrow, and a fair bit of household stuff. I need to be on top of things before heading off on a writing retreat on Wednesday. I’ve not written anything today, but did spend half an hour doing some editing. Word Count: 0

Nice things this week:
Audiobooks arrived! Haven’t listened yet. I wonder what it’ll be like to hear my own words read to me?

New Amazon reviews:
The Secrets We Left Behind: one 4-star, one 3-star 
The Things We Never Said: one 5-star, two 4-star

It’s been an incredibly busy week, and I’ve not done as much on the novel as I’d have liked, but I still made some progress, and have just about hit my modest target of 2000 words (wrote 2075). Total wordcount: 40,436 BUT I am about to cut a section that I absolutely know I won’t use so, here goes…there! Total wordcount  now 37,945. Gutted.

The coming week:
Off on a writing retreat tomorrow until next Tuesday, so am hoping to make seriously good progress this week. There will fewer distractions, no babysitting, no cooking, no shopping! All that can hold me up is the novel itself. I’m at a difficult point, moving to a different character/time period and storyline. So far, I’ve not had much luck with this character. I’m hoping that by focusing closely on her over the next five days, I can make a breakthrough. This may involve simply writing and writing to try and ‘uncover’ the character and story. I’ve tried planning, and that hasn’t worked, so I’m going to try just steaming in. On that basis, I’m going to set a more ambitious target of 10,000 words for this coming week! If I don’t make it, I shall be honest about it, as I have promised to be right through these 10 weeks. Yikes!

 If you’d like to know more about me and my work, please visit My website Also, you can follow me on Facebook by ‘liking’ my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter 

                                                                                                                                                                My second novel, The Secrets We Left Behind was published last week. Hoorah! 

I kicked off publication day with a visit to the dentist (I know how to live the glamorous life, me) then I popped into the local shop for some washing-up liquid and a packet of biscuits. You see, I remember my last Publication Day. There had been a long build-up and I felt a tremendous sense of anticipation, and when the day finally dawned, I suppose I expected some sort of life-changing moment. But the reality of Publication Day for the vast majority of first-time authors is simply that one minute, your book isn’t in the shops, and then the next minute – um, your book isn’t in the shops!

I was pretty naive last time and I’d gone dashing around expecting to see my shiny new novel on lots of shelves. In fact, I only found The Things We Never Said in Tesco, where it was on a special promotion. It soon appeared my local Waterstones, though, and in more and more branches over the next few months, and I’ve been extremely fortunate in that it’s ended up selling very well indeed. But although my first publication day felt very special in some ways – flowers from my publishers, a congratulations card from my agent and lots of lovely messages from fellow authors, it certainly wasn’t what I’d imagined before I was published.

So this time, I was prepared. I would simply enjoy the celebratory nature of the day, eat some cake and maybe have a glass of fizz. And what lovely day it turned out to be! I was overwhelmed by the sheer warmth and number of congratulatory messages from my Twitter and Facebook friends, I received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from Simon & Schuster, 

and when, despite my best intentions, I couldn’t resist nipping into town to have a nosy around the bookshelves, I’m thrilled to report that I found it in Waterstones, Tesco’s, and WH Smith! So I had another glass of champagne.

During my Read Regional library events, readers have been asking whether the second book was easier to write than the first. I didn’t find it easier, I’m afraid, although I do feel I learned a lot first time round. With the second book, I was much more aware of the process of storytelling; I feel I’ve learned more about how to reveal some things gradually and keep others back in order to increase the tension. I wrote The Secrets We Left Behind in 18 months – much faster than The Things We Never Said. I had a deadline to meet, so I had to make decisions more quickly and stick to them rather than allowing myself the luxury of trying out different things to see if they worked. Overall, I’d say writing the second novel was a different experience, rather than an easier one.

One of the messages I received wished me a ‘Happy Book Birthday’ and talked about my second novel being ‘born’. I suppose writing a novel is a bit like having a baby – you plan it for years but it’s only finally born after a long gestation period and an incredibly difficult and painful period of labour. Then, for some strange reason we forget how hard the whole thing is and we do it all over again!  And I’m reflecting on this now as I struggle with my third novel….

*If you’re in or near to Sheffield on 21st of May, do join me for a glass of wine to celebrate the launch of The Secrets We Left Behind. The event starts at 6.30 at Waterstones, Orchard Square, Sheffield S1