Interview & Contest with Susan Sey

Jen: Today we welcome Susan Sey to Romancing the Book. Susan, will you please share a short bio with us?

Susan: Sure! I live in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul with my two brilliant children and the best husband a girl could have. (No offense to your husbands; I’m sure they’re perfectly nice, too.) I’m a stay-at-home mom with an English degree and a paperback habit, so it was almost inevitable that I’d write a book at some point. It looks so easy when you’re reading stacks and stacks of them. So I wrote my book–a romance novel, of course, because that’s what I love–and instead of getting it out of my system, I got hooked. Eventually, I got lucky and sold one.

Jen: Tell us about Money Shot and where it can be purchased.
Susan: Money Shot is Maria “Goose” di Guzman’s book. She’s a secret service agent charged with tracking down a counterfeiter on tiny Mishkwa Island up in Lake Superior. Goose strolled onto stage for the first time in Money, Honey, my previous book, and she was so beautiful and slick and sexy that I knew she must be hiding something. Boy, was I right. Girl’s got issues. Secrets. And I created the perfect guy to drag them all out of her in Rush Guthrie, retired Navy SEAL and Mishkwa Island park ranger. I threw those two together on a frozen island along with a few naked hippies and a horny moose and the sparks just flew. Money Shot is available from Berkley Sensation on June 7, 2011, at any major book seller.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? When where you first published? Tell us your call story.

Susan: I’ve been writing since I learned to read but mostly in journals and letters. It wasn’t until I quit working to stay home with my first baby that I sat down and tried to write a novel. Five years later, I got The Call. I’d just returned from the RWA conference in Atlanta where Money, Honey won the 2008 Golden Heart for Best Single Title Contemporary Romance and was facing the harsh reality of my life–that nobody does laundry, shops for groceries or weeds the garden while I’m away–when I got a phone call from my agent. Allison Brandau from Berkley had just made an offer for Money, Honey and an as-yet-unwritten follow up book. Have to say, between that call and the Golden Heart, it was one of the better weeks of my life.

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.

Susan: Smart. Sexy. Fun.

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

Susan: I’ve approached writing about every way you can. I’ve tried plotting out the idea. I’ve tried sneaking up on it. I’ve tried outlining, storyboarding, winging it, plot parties. You name it, I’ve tried it. Unfortunately, I have only one speed when it comes to writing: slow and painful. That said, however, I love it too much to ever quit. I’m not sure what that says about me, now that I think of it. Nothing flattering, huh?

Jen: What are your biggest motivations to write? What keeps you going?

Susan: I’m a story junkie, plain and simple. Writing is not easy for me (see answer above) but there is nothing I love better than a good story well told. If I wasn’t writing my own, I’d be mercilessly “fixing” other people’s so I think it’s better for everybody if I keep plugging away.

Jen: Do you have a theme, object or person that appears in all of your stories?

Susan: I’m a big fan of Jayne Ann Krentz’s idea that every author has a core story, a story that speaks to her so strongly that she tells it again and again in each new book. For me, that story is family. I love to tell stories about people finding a place for themselves within a complicated family, or finding the courage to leave a destructive family behind and make a new, healthy family. In Money Shot, my heroine Goose is estranged from her family for excellent reasons but even the most independent and wary heart needs a home. And she finds hers in my hero Rush. Maybe it’s my inner introvert showing, but I love stories that end with everybody snug and cozy at home.

Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from? Why?

Susan: I’m a contemporary girl all the way, though not necessarily by choice. I read widely–I love historicals and paranormals and SF/F–but have no skill as a world-builder or with historical research, so that limits me as a writer. I love YA, too, but the teen years are so hard. Writing a good YA would mean immersing myself in that place again and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to relive those years. Just surviving them was enough for me.

Jen: How much influence does the editor have over the story or characters?

Susan: My editor has been wonderfully helpful when it comes to pacing and focus but allows me to develop the plot and characters on my own. My agent is more hands-on when it comes to reading a draft but she’d also very much of the “you make the magic” school of thought. She’s merciless about pointing out problems but fixing it is all on me. It’s like having a hard-core personal trainer. I hate rewriting and rewriting and rewriting, but I love looking good on the bookshelf, you know? And my agent and editor are champs in that regard.

Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?

Susan: I’m the third of four daughters in a big, loud family, and though I love to laugh and talk with the crowd, I also have a big streak of introversion. Give me a quiet corner, a book and an apple and I’m good for hours. It was no easy thing to find a place for myself among all the beautiful, charismatic women I call sisters. I think this is why the struggle to find a role within the family is so compelling to me. I find myself in every character who needs her loved ones to love her back exactly as she is, weird habits and all.

Jen: Who has inspired you as an author?

Susan: There are a few authors who both inspire me and make me want to hang up my laptop for good every time I read them: Susan Elizabeth Phillips for sheer charm; Jenny Crusie for making anger seem really funny; Eloisa James for witty repartee; Nora Roberts for style. But in terms of who inspired me to try my hand at writing? My mom, who always told me I could. My dad, who taught me how to keep working until the work was done, no matter how long it took. (He never specifically mentioned umpteen rewrites but it was implied.) And my husband who, when I finally sold, just said, “Well, yeah. Of course you did.” Because he never doubted I would, and when a smart person believes in you with that kind of rock-solid faith, it makes you believe, too.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?

Susan: Oh, read. Absolutely READ. It’s my vice, my pleasure, my addiction. I’ve learned to read in the shower–while it’s running, mind you–just because it’s the one place in the house I can count on twenty minutes all to myself and sometimes I just have to get to the end of the chapter. But as far as other hobbies go, I love to run, bike, and garden. And I’m making my stage debut as a Munchkin this summer in our community theatre’s staging of the Wizard of Oz, along with my two little flying monkeys. Because we all like to sing at the top of our lungs but probably shouldn’t indulge in solos.

Jen: What’s next for you?

Susan: I’m currently pitching a trilogy idea to my editor, centering around the fictional town of Devil’s Kettle, MN, up on the north shore of Lake Superior. The trilogy centers around three women, bound together by the memory of a dead man. Acquaintances at best, enemies at worst, they’ll be sisters when I’m done with them. Book one is in revisions right now, so here’s hoping my editor likes what she sees!

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Susan: The best and easiest place to find me is my website: www.susansey.com. From there you can find links to me on Facebook and Twitter, and read an excerpt of Money Shot. I love to hear from my readers, too, so feel free to drop me a line at susan@susansey.com.

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Susan: We talked a little bit about core stories today, and now you all know that my core story is the journey from isolation to family. I just love reading and writing about characters finding people and places to call home. What’s your core story? If you’re a writer, what’s the story you keep writing again and again? If you’re a reader, what’s the story you can’t get enough of?

Jen: Do you have a contest for our readers?

Susan: I’m giving away an autographed copy of Money Shot today to one lucky commenter. Due to shipping costs, it’s open to residents of the Continental US only.

Jen:  Here’s the fine print on the contest.  To enter, you first must leave a comment, be it question or comment for Susan.  Then to finish your entry, you need to either leave your email address in your comment or send a message to admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  If I don’t have a way to contact you, you won’t be entered in the contest.  The winner will be chosen on Sunday, June 12.

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