Susan Rae Interview
Today I have the pleasure of speaking with author Susan Rae
. Thanks for being here today Susan
, welcome to FAR!
What is a typical day like for you?
That depends on if I'm in writing mode or promotion mode. With two books coming out in the next two months, I have been working for the most part on promotion. Basically, after breakfast and a quick read through the morning paper I check my e-mail and Face book newsfeed, then get down to the project of the day. That can be working on my blog/website, making sure my Face book page is up to date, working with Musa's Art Director on cover art for the releases, designing and ordering postcards and other promotional material, setting up my blog tour, etc., and keeping in touch with what other writers are doing. In between I have also been working on edits for heartbeats and freefall as well as judging a writers' contest. I work for about three hours, then have lunch, do a few chores around the house, then go back to work. I try to knock off by five or six p.m. most days, but often I'm at it until seven or eight, especially when more emails come tumbling in. At least three days a week I try to get some exercise in. Sitting at a computer all day plays havoc on the shoulders and neck muscles. Walking on the treadmill and doing yoga keeps me healthy. On writing days, I pretty much follow the same routine, except I try to devote all my energy to writing.
Can you please give the readers an insight on your latest release?
heartbeats is a tale of romance and suspense set in the Wrigleyville neighborhood on Chicago's northside and the cornfields of the far northwest suburbs where I grew up. In heartbeats, my heroine, Dr. Elizabeth Iverson, has just landed the enviable position as lead cardiologist at a prestigious Chicago heart care center working under a renowned cardiovascular surgeon. (When I was young, I thought I might be a doctor; now I just write about them!) But her plans for a quiet, controlled life are shattered when she arrives home from a benefit dinner to discover her one-time college roommate murdered in her apartment. When Elizabeth's former lover, FBI Special Agent Drake McGuire, shows up on her doorstep with the cops, he unleashes a storm in her heart that further threatens to destroy her world, especially when he insists on hanging around to help solve the case when it becomes apparent that Elizabeth was the intended target for murder. heartbeats has garnered numerous awards, including Best First Book from First Coast Romance Writers and finalist for Best Romantic Suspense from Romance Writers of America.
Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?
I get much of my inspiration from the newspaper. Often a story in the paper will intrigue me and I will cut it out and put it in a file on my desk. Right now that file is overflowing-so many stories to write, so little time! However, Freefall, my June release from MusaPublishing.com, was inspired by my husband. It is the book I always wanted to write. Freefall takes place in Wisconsin, at a small airport in town of Sylvan Lake (fictitious) in the Kettle Moraine Forest and in Door County. My husband used to be co-owner of a small aircraft repair shop. I can still recall the "pungent mix of fuel oil and cleaning solvent, with just a hint of airplane fuel thrown in," as I describe it in the book. Of course, the setting was just the creative take off point for the novel. In freefall, Keith Reynolds is a war hero who was injured in Afghanistan. After a long recovery, he is now part owner of Aeromac, but on a trip to Milwaukee to pick up parts, his engine blows and the plane falls to Earth, cartwheels, and bursts into flames. When Keith's sister Kate flies home to be by his side she comes face to face with Everett "Spike" Larsen, DEA agent and a former war buddy of Keith's who has his own questions about the crash. Was it a freak accident, or attempted murder? Without giving the story away, I can tell you that the crux of the plot did come from a newspaper article.
Are there times that you feel you struggle as a writer?
I would be lying if I said I did not. I had a couple of difficult years when I had to put the writing away all together. Just thinking about what I should be doing with my writing gave me stress. I was the primary care giver for my mother when she was trying to survive cancer. With all the doctor's visits, surgeries, chemo and radiation, it just became impossible for me to concentrate on my writing. But that was okay; I felt I needed to be there for her. Unfortunately, she did not win her battle. It took another year or so after that to get her estate and everything else settled. It is just in the last year that I can feel the muse open up within me again. I am very happy to be with Musa now and feel like I can finally allow myself to get excited about the writing again.
When is the best time for you to compose?
That's an interesting question. I feel that once a book hatches itself inside my head, I am always composing. It is always working within me. But as for the real nuts and bolts of the writing, I do my best during the late morning and into early evening. That is when I am the most productive. I try to stop physically writing by six p.m. most days, or I would never sleep because my brain doesn't like to turn off. However, when I'm nearing the end of a novel, I can work well into the night. It's like the horse going back to the barn.
Can you tell us a little about your other upcoming works?
I have just signed contracts with Musa Publishing for books two and three of the DeLuca Family Series which I began with heartbeats. This is a first for me because I sold those on partial and proposal. Very soon I will have to get back into full writing mode again. Although I don't have official release dates yet, ICE Blue and True Blue should be out at the end of 2012 and sometime in 2013 respectively.
When composing your stories, do you go with the flow or follow little notes or an outline?
I definitely work with an outline. Well, actually, it is more of a storyboard. Because I write suspense novels, I have to know exactly where I am going and how I'm going to get there-or at least the main plot points and twists, who the suspects are, and how they are going to interact with each other. And, because my books are also romance novels, I have to intertwine the hero and heroine's story around the suspense plot. Before I get to the storyboard, though, I start with a notebook where I jot down my character sketches, my main plot idea, theme, etc. I also write scenes and dialogue into the notebook as they come into my head. Then I write what I call a working synopsis. That helps me get the flavor of the book. When I get right down to the writing, though, my storyboard is my roadmap. That doesn't mean that once I get going, a character may do things or say things that I never thought of before the actually writing, or that new plot problems or twists don't hit me along the way. That's actually the fun of it: finding out where your characters will take you once you have created them. Sometimes I go with it, sometimes I have to rein them in-but always we have to get to the ending together.
Can you tell us, what you think makes a good writer?
I truly believe that you have to have a basic understanding of sentence structure and storytelling. With a novel, you have to have an understanding of why people read, what moves them, and how to tell a story that pulls them in and leaves them wanting more. After that, you have to be open to new ideas, new directions, and just enjoy and observe life so that you can recreate it on the page.
What three things do you look for in a companion or friend?
Honestly, loyalty. Someone you can share the bad times with as well as the good times. Someone who won't judge you by what you say. Someone who understands that girl talk is just that, girl talk-that what is said after a glass or two of wine stays with the glass or two of wine. (Not that I have any deep dark secrets! Honest!) Trust.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can learn more about you and your works?
Yes, I have just completely redone my website. Please come visit me at susanrae.com and learn more about me and my books. I'd love to have you!
What song would you say best describes your life?
This is difficult. I like so many songs, from show tunes to love ballads to rock...but I'm going to say "My Favorite Things" from Mary Poppins. I know that is really corny, but it's the song I loved to sing to my kids and it has a very positive tone, even when life isn't going so great. That's what I try to be-positive in all things.
Being a true romantic at heart, what kind of romantic evening would you prescribe to your readers, if they are having a rough day?
Hmmm, if you have someone to share it with, I suggest a quiet walk along a beach at sunset, or a river, or a lake, or even through a garden or woods. I'm an avid outdoor person and I think being in nature is very soothing. Follow this with some wine and a quiet dinner, by the fireplace if possible, or at least with candlelight and your favorite music in the background (not "My Favorite Things", though...way too cheesy!). If you're alone, just curl up with a glass of wine and a good romantic suspense novel to take your mind off of your troubles. I can give you a couple of suggestions. :)
Do you have a favorite food or dessert?
Finally, an easy one: Brandied cherry cheesecake. Of course the cherries have to be from Door County, Wisconsin.
What is the best gift you would say you ever received?
Wow. I am going to have to say my wedding ring. Now I know that is taking corny to a whole other level, but I guess what I really mean is the symbol of the promise of the marriage. My husband and I have been married for uh...let's just say many, many years now and granted, there have been plenty of difficult times to go along with the good, but through it all he has supported me in my endeavors, as I have supported him. We have enjoyed sharing our lives together, and after three children and all our ups and downs, I think we might have it figured out. I'll let you know in another twenty years! You see, I really am a true romantic at heart.
Thank you for spending time with us today Susan
Interviewed by: Linda L.