Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with S.D.Mayes

I’m delighted to welcome author S.D.Mayes back to The Hippo today. When she first visited she brought along one of her characters from her debut novel, Letters to the Pianist, then shortly after that I reviewed her book (you can read my review here) and if that wasn’t enough, she cropped up again on my list of favourite books of 2017!

If you haven’t read Letters to the Pianist let me tell you a little bit more about this stunning book.



In war torn London, 1941, fourteen-year-old Ruth Goldberg and her two younger siblings, Gabi and Hannah, survive the terrifying bombing of their family home. They believe their parents are dead, their bodies buried underneath the burnt remains – but unbeknownst to them, their father, Joe, survives and is taken to hospital with amnesia.

Four years on, Ruth stumbles across a newspaper photo of a celebrated pianist and is struck by the resemblance to her father. Desperate for evidence she sends him a letter, and as the pianist’s dormant memories emerge, his past unravels, revealing his true identity – as her beloved father, Joe. Ruth sets out to meet him, only to find herself plunged into an aristocratic world of sinister dark secrets.

Can she help him escape and find a way to stay alive?

LETTERS TO THE PIANIST is a compelling page turner packed with drama, intrigue and suspense. If you loved The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or The Pianist, then you will love this exciting new novel.

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The trailer for the book gives a great insight into the story and is definitely worth a look and I’m not just saying that because a certain Michael Fassbender makes a very brief appearance! Take a look for yourselves here.

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Photo courtesy of S.D.Mayes

S.D. Mayes worked as a journalist for nearly twenty years before turning her hand to fiction. Inspired by the bizarre but factual events of Hitler’s supernatural obsession, Letters to the Pianist is her first historical suspense novel. Originally from the West Country, she currently lives in Berkshire, UK.


What book/books made you cry and why?
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman.  The story is about Tom, the lighthouse keeper on a remote island, and Izzy, his wife, who longed for a baby after she suffered several miscarriages. They thought their happiness was complete … The ending was just tragic, but I can’t give away why, as I’d spoil the story. 

 I totally agree. This book is a real tear-jerker and the film is pretty amazing as well.

What’s your favourite motivational phrase?
‘Live life as if everything is everything is rigged in your favour.’

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc come from?
I’m the youngest of seven and the only one from my mum’s second marriage, so there was a big age gap between me and my siblings. They read to me all the time. I still remember when I was three I would sit next to my seventeen year old sister whilst she read me Winnie the Pooh and I would be mesmerised by Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore and bouncing Tiger. I also loved fairy stories by the Brothers Grimm, and when I walked past a tree I would scan them to see if there was a door and fairies lived there. I loved all the magic. So I learned to read and write stories from a young age, wanting to create my own adventures. 

If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be and why? What would you get up to?
I’d love to hang out with Dr Oliver Jungston who is the psychologist that treats my protagonist Edward whilst he’s in hospital and becomes his close friend. He is very kind, a little tubby and dishevelled, but knows a lot about psychology, food and different countries where he’s travelled. Plus he speaks five different languages which can be useful. I can imagine him saying, ‘sit down dear, and relax. Have a drop of brandy in your coffee and let us look at the reasons why you can’t sit still!’ I can just see us sitting in his living room packed with books, whilst the percolator was chugging away in the nearby kitchen. He’d probably cook me dinner and we’d spend hours chatting next to the fire with a blanket over our knees.

What character in your book are you least likely to get along with and why?
Lord Henry Douglas-Scott. He is loud, sexist, racist, and thinks money and his social ranking gives him power to do as he likes, when he likes. I would probably not argue with him as he’s pretty evil and might plan to get me killed. I’d just sit quietly, nod in agreement, and make excuses to get away as soon as possible.

You get a brilliant idea/thought/phrase at an inappropriate moment (eg in the shower or driving) what do you do?
I’ve had them in the bath, in the cinema, at a friend’s house and yep, I can’t afford to lose them - so I always put any inspirational idea straight into the notes on my phone.

Describe yourself in five words.
Generous, impatient, creative, hard-working, outspoken, (particularly of injustice)

If a genie granted you three wishes what would they be?
For my novel, Letters to the Pianist to be a best-seller
To sell the rights of Letters to the Pianist to a producer and have it made into a movie
For my eighteen year old daughter to feel happy and healthy in every way.

You can find out more about S.D. Mayes and connect with her using the links below

I'd like to thank S.D. Mayes for spending some more time here and for taking the time to answer my questions. It's always a pleasure to have you here and I'm already looking forward to your next visit!

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