Good morning Susan, and welcome to Write Pathway, a place for writers and editors to meet. We are so pleased to have you with us this morning. So let's get started with our interview.
What would you do with your life if you didn't write?
I would probably hold some 9 to 5 job, as I have two teenagers heading off to college in the fall. Before I wrote fiction, I was a news correspondent, so it’s hard to imagine not writing in some form.
How many rejections did you get before you published a book?
I can’t even remember. The first book I ever wrote was rejected about fourteen times. It’s never been published. But I wrote several more books before I was published. I’m guessing a total of at least thirty rejections.
How many books have you published? Are all of them published by Traditional publishers?
So far 32 novels and two novellas (not counting anthologies), and yes, all published traditionally. I have five more under contract and somewhere in the process between contract and publication, and one story collection I posted myself as an e-book that has never been a paper book, though the title story was published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. (Mailbox Mayhem).
Tell us a bit about Inside Story, the book we’re giving away next week.
Claudia Gillette is a high-powered magazine writer who wants to forget her small town roots as a Franco-American girl from Maine. She’ll take almost any risk to get a good story. Most people find her a bit overpowering, but Lt. Bill White is fascinated by her. Bill is part of a Navy special operations team supervised by Claudia’s brother-in-law. When she learns the unit includes a woman, Claudia knows she has to get that woman’s story for her magazine. She pulls some strings, and to Bill’s horror, she drops into his unit’s top secret mission at a critical moment.
What gave you the idea for the Frasier Island Series?
This is actually the third book in the Frasier Island series, but it can be read as a standalone. The series is about Navy personnel in unusual situations. Book 1 has three people guarding a secret on an island outpost (Frasier Island). Book 2 has Claudia’s sister, Marie Belanger, running for her life after witnessing a murder (Finding Marie). The idea for Frasier Island came first.
My son and I were discussing science fiction, and he said he wanted to write a SF book. One thing led to another, which was a challenge—who could complete a SF book first? Well, my book turned out to be romantic suspense, not SF. The only thing remotely Sci-Fi about it is the mysterious substance found in the water near Frasier Island. And my son’s book? He didn’t finish it, so I think I won.
What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
I used to be a panster, but I reformed. Now I outline in detail before I ever begin writing.
Where do you find your story ideas?
The idea for Inside Story sprang from the earlier books in the series. Claudia appeared briefly in Finding Marie, when her sister Marie was missing. My readers loved Marie’s family (and her husband Pierre’s large French family too) and asked if I would write about the other siblings. So in this case, I had the character, Claudia, established as a journalist, the girl who left home and made good. She apparently “had it all,” but I knew she wasn’t happy with the life she’d made for herself. I wanted to tell her story and show her longing for the simple domesticity her sisters had. So I put Claudia in several intense situations and showed her unhappiness growing.Other starter ideas for books have come from lots of places. It could be something I’ve read or heard or seen on TV. It could be a nugget I discovered while researching something else, or an odd bit of trivia that caught my fancy.
Usually my story ideas start in one of two ways-—with a character I want to portray (like Claudia) or with a situation I populate with people who can best execute it (like the discovery of the mysterious “stuff” in Frasier Island).
What two or three things would you do differently if you were starting your publishing career today?
Go to conferences for fiction writers sooner (like ACFW). I would not assume some editor would read my book, love it, and publish it without changing a word.
Describe your favorite writing spot.
My desk, which is in a corner room. I can look out any time, but being in my familiar place with all my “tools” handy keeps me from being too easily distracted. I have lots of research books around me, along with files, printer, maps, and so on.
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
Make a 3-ring binder containing sections for contract, timeline, synopsis, and research topics. Later I add reader mail, correspondence, and whatever pertains to that book. My Inside Story binder contains a lot of information about the Navy, mountain gorillas, Peru, and guerilla warfare, for instance. I also make cards for each character with a thumbnail sketch of their appearance, relationships, and other facts I might want to refer to again (make of car, for instance, or key dates in their lives).
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response or peer honor? Please share.
I’ve written 15 books for Heartsong Presents, and this year their readers chose me as their favorite author. That was a huge honor, and very humbling when I look at the list of authors who write for them.
Congratulations, Susan. That is quite an honor---to be chosen as your readers favorite author. What’s next?
My historical romance, Captive Trail, will release in September. It’s part of the new Texas Trails series, from Moody Publishers. I’m excited to be writing this series with authors Darlene Franklin and Vickie McDonough. You can read more about it on my Website: http://www.susanpagedavis.com/historicals.html
Tell us about your e-books.
I recently had the rights revert to me for Inside Story, and have posted it as a Kindle e-book with a new cover (made by my awesome youngest daughter, by the way). I have 12 e-books now, and I love having that many books available to people who want to read on their computer or a book reader. See Inside Story at: http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Story-Frasier-Island-ebook/dp/B004TMMZ26/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1301060930&sr=1-1
Why do you keep writing?
Because I have a lot more stories to tell. If the Lord quits giving me stories, I’ll stop.
Well, Susan, I've read your Frazier Island series and loved every one. I wish you much success as you continue the journey to accomplish what God has laid on your heart. I'm sure He has many more wonderful stories for you to share with us. Again, thank you so much for sharing with us today.
CONTEST: Win a copy of Inside Story
You can be a winner today! Leave a comment for one entry or "Follow Me" for two entries. If you are already a follower, but have not posted your picture on the Follow Me site, you can add your picture for two entries.