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Q&A with Sophie Sullivan - Love, Naturally

By Beth Moore

We are excited to welcome Sophie Sullivan to The Reading Corner to talk about her new release, Love, Naturally, released on the 16th January 2024.

Presley Ayers is not the woman you bring on a camping trip. An accomplished concierge at an exclusive hotel in Great Falls, MI, she knows more about the top ten places for champagne and caviar than she does about the best hiking boots to go stomping around near Lake Michigan. But when she surprises her boyfriend of eight months with a vacation to the Get Lost Lodge and he dumps her instead, Presley decides to rough it solo and take the trip herself.

When Beckett Keller helps the gorgeous woman off the rickety boat and onto Lodge territory, it’s clear she’s made a mistake. She doesn’t like hiking, fishing, or nature in general, so why did she go on this trip?―but he’s got other things on his mind. A crumbling lodge, and his own plans and dreams that are forever deferred―so he doesn’t have time for Ms. Fish-Out-of-Water. But neither Beckett or Presley can help that inexplicable draw they feel towards each other. He’s all rough stubble and plaid shirts, while she’s all high heels and brand-name athleisurewear.

But you know what they say about opposites.

A charming opposites-attract romance, Love, Naturally is for anyone who ever stepped outside their comfort zone and found that all the best things can happen when you take a chance.

Could you start by telling us a little about yourself and your career, and, without giving anything away, about your new novel Love, Naturally?

First, thank you for having me! Love, Naturally is the first in a brand new series. Before this, under my pen name, Sophie Sullivan, I wrote a series of three books, starting with Ten Rules For Faking It. Under my own name, Jody Holford, I’ve written more than 25 books that include romance and cosy mysteries.

I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years now. I went to a writing conference with a friend and pitched a picture book to an agent. Though that didn’t pan out in the end, I started writing romance and kept pursuing that goal.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have Ten Rules picked up by St. Martin’s Press. Because I had so many other books, they suggested I try a pen name to set myself apart from…well, myself. It’s been a wonderful journey and I’m still thrilled and surprised every single day that I get to write books that people actually read.

First of all, this was a really fun and charming read! One of my favourite things about this book is the split third person narration, hopping between following our leading man and woman chapter to chapter. Can you explore for us why you chose to write the novel in this way?

At this point, I’m a little worried I don’t know how to write any other way. I have definitely written books that are all from the female character’s point of view; mostly my cosies. Third person feels like the most natural fit to me. I feel awe for those who can write in first person and make you feel like you’re in the story. I always like to have the dual POV because I think it allows us to become deeper connected to the characters by seeing both sides. I think it’s a cool journey for the readers because when they feel frustrated with something one character has done, they get a chance to understand the why when they jump to a new chapter.

Although a third person narration, I enjoyed the injection of little first-person thoughts in italics throughout because as a reader it connected me to the characters. Was this the intention with these moments and how did choosing to feature them come about?

Hmm. This question is making me realise how used to this style I am. I don’t think about the third person piece as much anymore. But when I’m reading back, I’ll realise what thoughts the character is having and realise those pieces need to be identified as internal. It’s honestly such a natural way for me to write that I don’t think about it much anymore. Unless I’ve messed up my tenses; then I read back and wonder what I was doing.

Social Media plays a massive role in Love, Naturally. I think you predominantly show technology’s positive benefits in the novel which is lovely. Can you tell us about why you wanted it to have this role in your novel and what positive effects it has on your own life?

I’ll go for complete honesty here and tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I don’t think I’m unique in feeling this as an author or a person. For Presley, as for most of us, it’s a way to connect and be authentic. That’s the piece I really wanted to highlight in the book because I think it’s what truly makes social media valuable. It is a great way to connect but it also has that dark underbelly of making me feel…lacking.

As someone who is raising daughters, it really matters to me that they recognise what we see online isn’t always the truth. There’s always more to the story. It really matters to me for them and for myself to utilise the positive aspects of social media without using it to define or judge ourselves.

I wanted Presley to explore that a little. She tries to share deals and things that improve her life so she can share with others and feel that connection. But what catapults her popularity is something she didn’t even mean to do. That’s another piece of social media I have to be really cognisant of as an author and person: we can spend hours creating a post that gets ten likes and then we’ll do something off the cuff and thousands of people view it. We have control of what we post and how we present ourselves but not always what happens from there on out. That piece both intrigues and frustrates me so I like to play with it in my books.

Get Lost sounds like a gorgeous holiday destination. Of all the activities at the lodge, which would you most like to partake in and why?

I would definitely enjoy the boat day. Not the fishing but just being out with others on the boat, enjoying the sunshine and company. I’d also really enjoy the hot tub time with Beckett 😉

I also think I now would love to visit Smile, it sounds idyllic and fun! If you were to visit Smile, where would be your first stop in the town and why?

Either the General Store or Brother’s Pub. I really love the idea that the townsfolk catch up with each other at these places while also showing so much about the town just by how they’re run. The community chalk board says a lot about the town and its ‘quaintness’ just as how people support both sides of Brother’s gives you insight into their kindness.

This novel is a real opposites attract, fish out of water kind of romance but I wondered what are your three favourite romance tropes to read right now?

I love friends to lovers, brother’s best friend, and forced proximity.

If people enjoyed Love, Naturally do you have any other books or medium you’d like to recommend to them or anything that inspired your writing process you’d like to mention?

I absolutely love and adore Schitt’s Creek. Smile is definitely inspired by that small town, communal, everyone in your business vibe.

Finally just for fun what is one song you’d use to describe Love, Naturally?

Great question! 'Reason to Stay' by Brett Young might be a really good one. Another would be 'Everything Has Changed' by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.

Thank you for this. The questions were really fun! And thank you for reading Love, Naturally.

Sophie Sullivan is a Canadian author as well as a cookie-eating, Diet Pepsi-drinking, Disney enthusiast who loves reading and writing romance in almost equal measure. She writes around her day job as a teacher and spends her spare time with her sweet family watching reruns of Friends. Ten Rules For Faking It is her romcom debut novel, but she's had plenty of practice writing happily ever after as her alter ego, Jody Holford.


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