I would like to introduce to you my featured author of the month, Susan Crandall, author of “Whistling Past the Graveyard“. Here is my review for “Whistling Past the Graveyard” if you missed it! Check out my amazing interview with Susan!
Sierra: When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
[Susan Crandall] I started co-writing with my sister (she actually started first) almost 20 years ago now, around 1993. It took us about a year to complete our first novel. I have to admit, it was a learning process as both of our formal educations were in the realm of science and medicine. We co-wrote four more unpublished novels—not for the lack of trying. My sister decided to move on to other things, but I was hooked. I wrote BACK ROADS published in 2003) as my first solo and first published work.
Sierra: Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.
[Susan Crandall] My first book, BACK ROADS, was a women’s fiction novel about a female sheriff in a rural Indiana community. As the saying goes “a mysterious stranger comes to town” bringing with him both trouble and the key to the woman finding her true place in the world. There is love and danger and mystery, a combination I personally adore when reading a novel. Although I hadn’t planned it from the beginning, this book turned out to be the first in a four book series (including THE ROAD HOME, MAGNOLIA SKY and PROMISES TO KEEP).
Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?
[Susan Crandall] When I began writing with my sister, we wrote in many genres, probably because I like reading all kinds of books. One of the major problems with our early works was the fact that they often straddled genres—a harder sell for a newbie. So when I began my first solo work, I decided to focus on one genre with an eye to marketability. As I said, I enjoy a book with a love story, danger and mystery intertwined, so off I went.
Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?
[Susan Crandall] After ten published novels, there are so many favorites that I’d be hard pressed to choose one. I will admit, even after all of these years, I’m still a in love with Will Scott, the hero in BACK ROADS. An easier thing to choose is the scene that was the most difficult I’ve ever written: it’s in WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD when my plucky nine-year-old heroine finally finds the mother she’s been searching for. It still makes me feel squirmy and prickly when I think about it.
Sierra: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
[Susan Crandall] I think everything that’s ever touched a writer in their lives comes through in their work. Good writers are above all keen observers, taking inspiration from the world around them. I think that’s what makes characters and stories relatable to readers. I’ve sometimes picked traits and backgrounds for my characters from people I know. All of my stories are an amalgamation of life and imagination, pieced together into a purely fictional tale.
Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as
[Susan Crandall] As I said before, I love reading all sorts of book. Everything I read influences my writing in some way and I learn more about my craft with every book I pick up. Some of my favorites are Lonesome Dove, The Stand, Outlander, and Sharon Kay Penman’s trilogy, Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning.
Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?
[Susan Crandall] Not really. I do experience panic when I’m not actually at my computer and am mulling over my current work and can’t see the next step. That usually clears itself up when I sit down, reread what I’ve written and start playing with the next paragraph—if that fails, it’s a phone call to my wonderful critique partners for brainstorming. My best weapon against panic is not getting up from working until I have written at least one paragraph (whether it’s good or ends up trash) in my next scene. That helps jump start me when I sit down again.
Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
[Susan Crandall] Oh my, that could be a very long list! I think Stephen King is an amazingly gifted storyteller, so I’d love to have a little sit down with him.
Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?
[Susan Crandall] The paperback edition of WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD will be out in February 2014. This is a coming of age novel set in 1963 segregated Mississippi told by a nine-year-old girl on a quest to find the mother who abandoned her as a toddler. I loved writing this one, it has humor, danger, tenderness and harsh realities all filtered through a youthful narrator.
[Susan Crandall] My next new release will be a story set in 1923 about a group of lost souls who band together to form an aerial barnstorming act. No release date set as of now.
Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?
[Susan Crandall] Not a thing. I truly believe that every step (both the good and the bad) I’ve taken along this fantastic journey has made me the writer, and the person, I am today.
Sierra: Do you have any advise to give to aspiring writers?
[Susan Crandall] My advice to aspiring writers is always the same: Work hard, learn your craft well and never give up. Persistence is often the deciding factor. I have a drawer full of rejection letters. Each one made me more determined to hone my skills and continue to pursue publication.
Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
[Susan Crandall] Yes there is. Thank you one and all! I’m so happy to share my beloved characters and their stories with you.
Thank you so much Susan!!!