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Monday, January 01, 2007

Kick'n it off with SUSAN MAY WARREN!

We are kicking off 2007 with Susan May Warren! RECLAIMING NICK has arrived, and we’re first on her blog tour. Susan is an award winning author who writes both romantic suspense and chick lit. For a list of her books, be sure and check out her website at www.susanmaywarren.com
Now for our chat with Susan!

LISA: RECLAIMING NICK is the first in your Noble Legacy series. What can you tell us about this first title?

SUSAN: Reclaiming Nick is the modern day story about a cowboy who goes back to his home, to face his past and right old wrongs. I grew up on books by Louis L’amour, loved shows like Big Valley and Bonanza and ate up all things cowboy – horses, and trucks and life on the range, heroes in Stetsons, and women who knew how to fend for themselves. I didn’t want to write a western, but I couldn’t shake the desire to write a story about a modern day ranch – a family trying to keep their legacy alive. So I dreamed up two cowboys and a cowgirl, started exploring the themes in Philippians, created a town, out west, called Phillips, Montana, and conjured up a story triggered by something that happened to friends of mine. I imagined a bigger story – like a Nora Roberts novel, with exploring many lives, and how they intertwined, and two delicious romances and a suspense that put all their lives in danger. And I set it against the backdrop of the beautiful eastern Montana countryside. Nick is my most ambitious novel to date, but I loved stretching myself, and love the story that God gave me.

LISA: What kind of research went into writing this story? (I heard rumors of a mechanical bull?)

SUSAN: Hey, I take research VERY seriously – not only do I research setting, but I track down someone in the profession who can set me straight -- like a pilot who can teach me how to fly a Cessna, a fireman who tells me how to put out a house fire, a cop to teach me how to open handcuffs. For the Noble Legacy, I headed west, to Montana, and stayed for a week on a ranch, barraging the kind owners with questions (staring with, what’s the difference between a steer and a bull…yes, I know, but hey, I’m a city gal!) I observed and questioned and took notes and dreamed. For the sequel to Nick, Taming Rafe, about a bull-rider, I went to Gilly’s in Dallas and climbed on the mechanical bull. And then God provided a bull-rider to read my scenes. My favorite part of writing is the people I meet along the way!

LISA: I was able to “meet Nick” for the first time at the ACFW conference. . .or at least I got a glimpse of him on your cover. Can you share with us a bit about the idea behind your Meet Nick page on your website?

SUSAN: Because this series is so strongly character driven, with Nick and the rest of the Noble family most of the stories, I wanted readers to have a connection with the lead of the series. And Tyndale did a fabulous job of finding the right cowboy for the cover! I thought, if reader’s appetites could be whet with an intro to Nick, in his voice, something that gave a glimpse of the story, the series, then hopefully he’d stick around in their mind when the story came out. Tyndale and I even made up “Meet Nick” pins that I gave away at various promotional events leading up to the release! I had a number of strangers ask me where they could Meet Nick! (And no, I don’t know who the model was…sorry!)

LISA: What about a sneak peek at the next book in this series?

SUSAN: Ohhh…I had so much fun writing Taming Rafe! A non-typical bad boy meets New York socialite…with a twist on the classic rich girl meets boy across the tracks. Here’s a glimpse at their interaction as Rafe tried to teach her how to ride a mechanical bull:

“I think I was kidding,” Kitty said.
“No you weren’t.” Rafe stood behind her, blocking her quick escape, so Kat just stood in the entrance to Buffalo saloon, frozen.
“I am not riding that.”
Across the room, the bar-owner, or maybe the bouncer, inflated the cushion around a rawhide-covered mechanical bull, the one of the few nods toward the twentieth century in this whiskey and smoke saturated room. She could imagine Will Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane bellying up to the long polished bar, staring at themselves in the tarnished mirror. In the corner a jukebox whined out a country song.
“Yes, Kitty Russell, you are. You have it in your bones. And I believe in you.”
Kat closed her eyes. “Okay, so a small part of me wanted to learn to ride a bull, but really, Rafe—“
He wound his arm around her waist and pulled her into the room. Daylight streamed through the windows, and at this hour, only two weary cowboys looked up from their beers.
She’d never even been in a real-live bar before, especially one that looked like it should have spittoons on the floor. Bradley would be horrified.
That thought made her yield to Rafe’s pressure. Maybe she didn’t want to do everything expected of her.
Maybe she wanted to ride a bull, just like her dad.
“Can you make it not throw me off?”
Rafe raised one dark eyebrow.
“Okay, but if I get hurt –“
“You won’t get hurt. I’ll be with you.”
“What, are you going to ride behind me?”
He pulled her around the tables, carrying a small bag. “Do you want me to?”
She stopped, stared at him. “Would you?” Despite his rather sturdy appearance, a pair of well-worn jeans, a canvass shirt, that ratty hat pushed back on his head, contrasting with his clean-shaven chin, well, she could probably knock him over with two fingers.
“Of course.”
Of course. She didn’t know why, but those words found all the places in her heart she’d been trying to bulwark and ripped them to shreds. Perfect.

LISA: Keep Me In Suspense site is all about suspense. Do you have any words of advice for those writing in this genre?

SUSAN: Every great suspense book needs two elements -- Believability of menace and a lighted fuse.

Believability of Menace - The reader needs to believe that the terrible thing that could happen will really happen. For example, if the villain is the yard boy, then at the beginning of the story, we need to see him in the act of burying his previous victim in the backyard. Or, if the suspense is based on a cataclysmic event, let us see a similarly cataclysmic event happening in a different part of the world.

Lighted Fuse - The second key element is a countdown or ticking clock to the disaster. The story’s pace is ramped up with each ticking second and tension increases with each chapter. For example, the Poseidon adventure – we know the boat is going to sink. Mission Impossible 3 – we are sure the villain will kill Ethan Hunt’s wife. Or even Ice Age 2 – we KNOW the dam will break and poor Manny and his pals are going to drown. A fuse is imperative to keep the tension high and our nails short.

Writing a suspense can be both fun and tiring – because for a writer, it almost feels like we’re racing our own clock to get our hero and heroine out of trouble and onto safety (and true love. *g*)

Thank you for letting me stop by and share some behind-the-scenes tidbits about Reclaiming Nick!

LISA: Thanks so much for stopping by, Susan!

Dying now to read a copy of RECLAIMING NICK? Our contest page is currently featuring Susan’s book AND a chance to win a free copy! So hop on over to our contest page and sign up. There’s also a place where you can win a free critique of a chapter! And if you haven’t had a chance to check out our library, RECLAIMING NICK is just one of dozens of great books to add to your reading list for 2007.

Happy New Year!


Coming next. . .What are your writing goals for 2007?


Anonymous Alison said...

Wow!! Sounds like another amazing book from the talented Susan May Warren!

I'll keep an eye out......:)

God Bless,


6:36 PM  
Blogger Candice Speare said...

Hey, how cool to have Susie visiting us this week. YEAH! Great advice, as usual. This writer can really make characters come alive. Thank you so much.

Candice/KMIS Team

7:54 PM  
Blogger Susan Downs said...

Susie is my suspense-author icon. I see her growing in depth and artistic style with every new book. And to think. . .I knew her WHEN! :-) I'm proud of you, girlfriend!

11:15 AM  
Blogger Julie Dearyan said...

Great interview! Loved learning more about Susan's research style and her writing style!

8:19 PM  

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