Ladies and Gentlemen...you may have noticed a new symmetry to the blog lately. Check out that sidebar--TWENTY BANDITAS! That means we're finally complete. Hurrah!
I get the pleasure of introducing our new Bandita, because she happens to be my critique partner (CP, to the acronym-happy among us) and one of the dearest people I know. If it weren't for Susan, I wouldn't be a member of RWA, I probably wouldn't have finished my first manuscript, and I certainly would never have entered the Golden Heart--which means I wouldn't be a Bandita! (The horror!) Yes, the world has a lot to blame...er, thank Susan for. She's graciously agreed to let me ask her a few questions to introduce her properly to you all.
What she didn't know was that I was going to dredge up a picture from our first camping trip together to Glacier National Park. Here's Suz, showing off her muscles for the camera. So now that the public humiliation part of this is over, I'll turn to the interview...
Kirsten: When did you start writing? How/when did you start pursuing publication?
Susan: I’ve been in love with stories since I learned how to read, and a die-hard romance fan since way earlier than was probably wise. (Judy Blume, V. C. Andrews, and Iris Johanssen really filled in some gaps in my understanding of certain things.) But I’ve always had some pretty strong ideas about what a book should provide and a happy ending is absolutely essential. That’s why I read romance novels, and it’s why when I found myself with a couple months on my hands between quitting my miserable job and giving birth to my first baby, I decided to write one myself. How hard could it be, right?
Five years later, I have four unpublished novels languishing under the bed. Oh, all right, five. The first one was an astounding achievement in sheer…awfulness, if that’s a word. I don’t like to count it, but I’ll fess up to it here in the Bandit Lair. I’m among friends.
Kirsten: I think we've all got one of those under our bed. I wrote mine in high school. It involved pirates and lots of kinky...oh wait, this is suppose to be about Susan. (blush) So, er, Susan, what books/authors influenced you?
Susan: Well, anything by the ladies mentioned above, of course. Anybody who doesn’t have a copy of Flowers in the Attic that falls open to the good parts wasn’t a teenaged girl, I’m convinced. If my mother had had any idea what I was reading…
Other than that, anything by Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Suzanne Brockman, or Nora Roberts/JD Robb goes into my shopping cart, no questions asked.
Kirsten: (Note to self: get Flowers in the Attic asap!) Can you describe your writing process, you naughty thing?
Susan: Sure, it goes something like this: deposit four year old in her room for quiet time with CD player, books on CD, snacks, crayons, etc. Promise sure and certain death upon interruption. Arrange ten month old on boppy pillow for marathon nursing session on lap. Belly up to keyboard. Check email. Read Romance Bandits. Comment. Check out Perez Hilton’s celebrity gossip site. (Addictive, beware.) Open WIP. Scroll to trouble spots. Spell check. Stare into space. Consider renaming minor characters. Email Kirsten Scott, trusty CP, and beg for help. Cover sleeping baby’s ears while bellowing for four year old to turn down her CD player. Get caught up in “Ramona Quimby, age 8” blasting from four year old’s room. Admire Beverly Cleary. Frown at WIP, which doesn’t compare favorably. Belch out a few paragraphs. Frown some more. Belch out another paragraph or two. Check email again. Wonder what to cook for dinner. Send four year old back to her room for the tenth time. Save and close.
Kirsten: (Note to self: check diaphragm for holes.) That sounds very challenging! Tell us about your current WIP, and what’s next for you?
Susan: I just finished up a 100,000 word contemporary single title called the Princess Project. I was inspired by Angelina Jolie naming her daughter Shiloh Nouvel (which translates to New Messiah, but no pressure, right?) and pimping her baby pics for charity. I thought, yikes, how’s that kid going to grow up? And her mom is Angelina Jolie on top of it? Crazy sexy and possibly just plain crazy, but totally into saving the world. Wow. Good luck, Shiloh. Next thing I knew I was writing a book that imagined a possible future for such a kid -- Shiloh Nouvel grows up and gets a life.
Kirsten: The Princess Project just finaled in two contests, by the way--the Maggies and the Indiana Golden Opportunity contests. Expect to see it on the shelves soon! So as we come to a close, any advice for others or personal comments?
Susan: Just a big thanks to the banditas for opening the lair to me, late as I am to the party. It’s a wonderfully warm, supportive and informative bunch of women who hang out here. For example, did you know that a Glock (or was it a Sig Sauer?) cannot be effectively concealed in even the most generous of cleavage? You heard it here first, ladies. If you're planning to pack heat, get a holster. Or a big purse.
So how about you? What's the best fun fact you've picked up since you started writing--or since you started hanging out with the Banditas? We want to know! And just to keep things interesting, we'll randomly select one commentor & reward them with a $15 Border's Gift Card!
Oh, and just to keep it fair, here's a picture of Kirsten, on the same trip...note the keen sense of fashion I demonstrate, even while camping.