Susan Schreyer steps forward and edges her way towards the flaming chair. She may be nervous, but she’s determined she will survive no matter how badly she gets burnt by the HOT SEAT.
Susan joins us from Washington, USA. She lives with her husband, two children, a demanding old cat and an untrustworthy rabbit. When not writing stories about people in the next town being murdered, articles for worthy publications, or blogging, Susan trains horses and teaches people how to ride them.
So, Susan, let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write?
I’m going to say “mystery” to this, but there’s a lot of “thriller” to my books, not to mention the leaning toward cozy (with the small town and people who know each other), AND there’s a good serving of “romance,” and my own brand of humor.
Tell us about Levels of Deception, your most recently completed novel, in 25 words or less.
A killer isn’t the only one attempting deceptions as the past overtakes the present and errors in judgment come together in a critical mass.
Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?
I really have to work at finding time to write. I have two day-jobs. I work in a vet’s office and I teach riding (dressage). Having a husband and two children (teens) takes up a fair share of time and attention as well.
Tell us a little about your writing process.
I find it is an evolving process. I’m always looking for better ways to develop a story and improve my writing. Over the years I’ve become more and more of a plotter (outliner). I don’t get stuck in dead ends and my characters don’t wander aimlessly when I have a good idea where the story is going and what plot points need to be reached.
One thing that has remained consistent is my tendency to start with a body, then figure out who that person is and how they were murdered.
Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?
There are so many “who” I could mention here. Suzanne Adair and Ann Charles pop to mind right away. Suzanne is an awesome talent. I’d read anything she wrote. Ann is wonderfully talented as well and has a wicked sense of humor.
Both women work hard at their craft and have embraced this Brave New World of Publishing. As far as “what” — I would have to name the Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The organization has been and continues to be the best place I’ve found to hone one’s craft and find support. Writers need both.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?
Challenges have varied, depending on where I am in my process and career. Learning how to construct a good story was the first challenge. It’s a big one. Finishing that first draft is a huge accomplishment. Of the many people who start, only a few finish.
Accepting criticism and learning from it, is another challenge — one we all must face. Currently, my biggest challenge is marketing and promotion. It takes a lot of time and energy, which is time I’d rather spend writing! However, if I want people to read my books (and I DO!) I must schedule it in and put aside my own tendency to shy away from the spotlight.
And now for the HOT SEAT questions
Finish this sentence from your character’s perspective: Life would be a lot easier if…
Thea: Life would be a lot easier if people didn’t keep dropping dead in my vicinity, but it’d be a lot less interesting!
Now finish the same sentence from your perspective.
Me: Life would be a lot easier if I could turn promotion and marketing over to someone else.
Have you ever considered stopping writing? Why? What made you continue?
Yes and no! Mean-spirited, or thoughtless criticism from someone whose opinion is valued or sought can stop anyone in their tracks. However, I am happiest when I have a creative outlet and the compulsion to seek that expression bobs to the surface after a short while of wound-licking. Sometimes there are truths that need time to accept. Other times there are opinions that simply need to be discarded. It’s hard to tell the difference when the pain first hits. It’s important to give oneself recovery time so one can evaluate.
There are other times when life gets in the way of writing. But, circumstances change. Eventually, because writing is part of who I am, it surfaces again and there are more stories to tell.:)
Thanks for taking a seat, Susan. Levels of Deception sounds like a suspenseful read. Un-put-downable, that’s my guess!
If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀