Much to her husband’s chagrin, Susan loves to look at everyday situations and turn them into murder and mayhem scenarios for future novels. If you’ve met Susan, she has probably figured out a plausible way to kill you and get away with it. Don’t worry, she’d never follow through on it.
Her GARDEN GATE MYSTERY series featuring landscape designer Paige Turner, debuts with NIPPED IN THE BUD in Barbour Books Hometown Mysteries line. An avid gardener, Susan has included gardening tips at the beginning of each chapter brought to you in humorous scenarios.
Her first romantic suspense novel, featuring a trio of brothers who must find Courage to Trust, debuts with Ryan’s story in HIGH-STAKES INHERITANCE this fall. These stories will be told as part of Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense line with the second brother’s story coming in June of 2011 in BEHIND THE BADGE.
Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson. In her spare time, you can find her traveling to Oregon to visit her children and grandson, reading, gardening or working on TheSuspenseZone.com.
The life long love of reading inspired me to want to write a book, but it was God who arranged free time for it to happen. I’ve always enjoyed writing from creative to technical writing I’ve done in the corporate world, and I said for years that I was going to write a book, but I was so busy working full-time, raising children, and volunteering at church that I never made the time. Then in 2000, I began having health issues that limited my physical activity. Forced to sit for long periods of time, I started to research the craft of writing and began my first book. As my health deteriorated, I had more and more time available and soon I was writing full-time and actively pursuing publication.
Q: What is the most important thing you want your readers to take from your books?
No question here. God is in charge and, if we know what’s best, we will seek His guidance and follow His leading. I guess since this is something I continually struggle with, it shows up time and again in my writing. But I know I am not the only one who has a hard time wanting to be in charge of my life and so I write about it to remind others, too. We are taught as we grow up to be independent, take charge, and make something of ourselves, and we lose sight of the fact that only with God’s guidance can we become everything He has created us to be.
Q: Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
Because of our experiences and perceptions, we all put something of ourselves in our characters, but I try to make each character different and unique and that means they have to possess a variety of characteristics. If anything, I try to write characters that have features I would want to have or that I admire.
That said, though not done intentionally, when I finish a book and evaluate the spiritual struggle of the main character I am surprised to see issues I am either struggling with and or have recently come through. Though Christian fiction entertains, and some would say that is the only purpose of fiction, God can really help us develop our spiritual walk through great stories.
Q: Name one of the craziest things you’ve ever done.
Oh, wow, just one? There have been so many things in my life that in hindsight, I see as crazy, but at the time, they were perfectly sound decisions and plans. Probably the one that stands out in my mind is when I was first married and lived in northern Wisconsin. We had a winter with seriously cold days that never ended. I mean really cold. Minus 25 degrees day after day.
One of our friends had moved to Texas and we thought it would be great to get out of the cold. So, without jobs or a way to support ourselves, we moved to Texas. When we arrived there, I discovered I was pregnant. So, both unemployed and now a baby on the way, we found ourselves in a strange town in a strange state. It all worked out well, though. My husband found a teaching job and I substitute taught until our daughter was born.
Q: What has surprised you most about being a published novelist?
The biggest surprise beyond the amount of time it takes to market and promote your books, is how intrigued people are with writers. We are not so different from the average person, except that we put our daydreams in writing, but I think most people have at one time or another thought about writing a book and wish they could do so. Also, people often think–as they do of actors–that we are the people we write about. Though we do put some of ourselves in a character, they are fictional people. And they also think that writers are all wealthy. That we all receive huge advances for our work. The truth is, many writers work full-time jobs in addition to their writing to make enough money to live on.
Q: What is your typical writing day like?
I don’t really have a typical day as my writing day depends on whatever deadline I have at the moment. Let’s say that I don’t have a contract deadline, but pray that it never happens, and focus on what I would do if a day were typical.
While drinking my coffee, I start the day answering emails and posting Facebook and Twitter updates. Then I read the chapters I wrote the day before to get back into the feel for where I left off and do a bit of light editing as I read. Next I write the next chapter or as much as I can write before I no longer know where the story is going or need to do research. If research is required, I make calls, send emails, or work on the Internet until I resolve the issue. By now it’s lunchtime and as I eat I read postings from various news lists or groups I belong to. This is followed by checking email and of course wasting a bit of time on Facebook. Okay, so maybe I do the Facebook and Twitter thing more than this, but hey, the writing business is a lonely business to be in.
I will write until about four in the afternoon at which time I’m kind of brain-dead and I work on my website or work on updating www.thesuspensezone.com until dinner, which I or my wonderful husband will cook. I take a short break for dinner and then continue the website work. When my eyes are crossed from the computer, I pull out a suspense book and read. Now that is a wonderful way to end the day.
Q: How do you integrate faith into the stories and lives of your characters?
This is actually one of the easiest parts of writing for me as it is such a fundamental part of my life. Before I begin a book, I pray for guidance on a verse to base the story on. Once I am clear on the verse, I think about lessons I may have learned revolving around this verse or how this verse has changed my life. Then I create a story where the characters struggle with this lesson.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Something many people don’t know is that due to both my work and my husband’s work, we have lived in nine states since we’ve been married. We started our married life in Wisconsin where I grew up-go Packers-and then moved, in order, to Texas, Minnesota, New York, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Texas again (it’s such a big state you have to live there twice), and now Florida. We have loved every place we’ve lived but do have a special fondness for the Portland, Oregon, area where one of our daughters still lives and the other goes to college.
Q: What is your favorite book?
I don’t have a favorite book, but favorite genres. I read mostly mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense because I like a book that moves along and has a mystery to solve. As a writer, there are books that I love because of the prose, books I love because of the great/creative plots, books I love for wonderful/quirky characters, books I love for the message, and of course, books I love for the pure entertainment value. When a book includes all of these under one cover, I cannot put it down.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
Oh, now that is really tough. I can’t say that I have a favorite movie, but love to watch chick flicks. Not a big comedy person, but do love a good thriller.
Q: What is your favorite Bible verse?
Though I don’t have a favorite verse as different verses speak to me at different times of my life, the verse I use for my writing life and for my life in general, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17
Q: What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Though, I don’t think of this as an accomplishment per se, I am proud of my two daughters. Of the women they have become and of their walk with the Lord. It’s hard to raise godly children these days with all the competing noise and distractions of our hectic world and the fact that faith is so important to both of them makes me so happy.
Mia Blackburn moved from Atlanta, Georgia, to Logan Lake, Oregon, so she could fulfill the conditions in her Uncle Willy’s will and thus inherit the rustic resort he left her. Rebellious and tenacious as a teenager, coming back to Oregon was extremely difficult due to her estranged, caustic relationships with her dad and brother.
Mia finds that Ryan Morgan, her cheating ex-boyfriend, also lives in Logan Lake as a camp counselor and volunteer firefighter. She’s stored deep bitterness and mistrust in her heart towards him, her father, and all men for ten years. Yet shortly after arriving at the rustic resort, it’s Ryan that rescues her from a raging barn fire, where she is trapped.
Susan’s book is action-packed from page one–the mysterious threats, fire, break-ins, and murder. Events strike at a moment’s notice, but the elusive criminal always seems to be out of arm’s reach, creating tension as you wonder what will happen next and to whom. Susan has a great handle on the intricacies of life in that locale, making it difficult to assess who was behind all the turmoil and crimes, such as the guns used, since it was a hunting area.
Mia’s emotional upheavals were realistic considering how she perceived life after the tragedies and betrayals she experienced, although her perceptions may not have been necessarily true.
The hope of things working out were evident in Ryan’s faith and trust in the Lord, as he learned to lean on Him through these tumultuous events, while reaching out to Mia to do the same. A hope we can all have when we put our trust in the Lord.
This book was provided by Susan for my honest review. It’s a good read for great suspense and romance.
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