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Monday, February 26, 2007

Interview with Susan Page Davis

First, tell us about yourself and give us a plug for your latest release, as well as your upcoming releases.

Frasier Island will be released March 1, and I’m tickled. This is my first published suspense book. It’s a military story with lots of conflict and action, but it’s also the story of a relationship that gets off to a rocky start and winds up critical. If George and Rachel can’t work together to fight the enemy, many people will suffer.

Coming up in September, Harvest House will release Finding Marie, which features some of the same characters as Frasier Island. I have a cozy mystery coming next February and a couple of new romantic suspense books in the works for ’08.

You could say I’m the anti-image of a suspense writer. I’m a mother of six and grandma of four; a slow-moving person with a quick-moving mind.

Was there any particular research you had to do for your present release that our readers might enjoy reading about?

Oh, yes. I did many hours of reading and searching for up-to-date data on Navy equipment and procedures, marine mammals, and technology such as active and passive sonar, rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles.

Many authors say they grow personally with each book they write, discovering pieces of themselves in their characters as they write. Has this happened to you? If so, can you elaborate?

I find slivers of myself in my characters, but also slabs of other people I know. There’s a lot of my brother in George Hudson of Frasier Island, and my sisters keep popping up here and there. My husband lends a bit of character to each of my heroes. My four daughters, while not models for my heroines exactly, would find they had a lot in common with some of them. As for me, I’m probably closest to Janet Borden, the heroine of a yet unpublished book. She has the veneer of a placid middle-aged housewife, but she gets deep into unraveling riddles that turn out to be serious crimes. (In my real life they turn out to be non-crises, but for Janet it’s the real thing.)

Can you briefly tell us about your writing process? From the germ of an idea to the completed novel? And how long it takes you?

Writing the rough draft of a book can take me from one to three months. Usually I start with a small idea of a situation or event and follow it to its possible implications. An example is a book I’m working on now. I wrote a short story about 20 years ago and recently dug it out and realized it had a great scenario as the basis for a full-length book.

I started expanding the outline of this mystery. Then I changed the gender of the victim. Then it switched from a murder mystery with the heroine unmasking the killers to a suspense where no one is killed but the heroine is endangered and trying to stop the villains from hurting others and herself. Then I realized I loved the heroine, hero and setting, but the motive needed to change. I came up with three possible directions to take the story—espionage, kidnap for ransom, or mistaken identity.

In the end, a fourth possibility occurred to me as I was adjusting the synopsis. Something that had seemed incidental in the early part of the story took on a new significance and became the driving force of the plot. Whew! I finally have my outline. I’ve wrangled with it so much over the past two weeks that I know exactly where it’s going now, and I should be able to complete the first draft of the book within a month.

Is writing your full-time job? If so, are you a nine-to-five writer? If not, how do you fit your writing into your schedule?

I’m happy to say that writing fiction is now my full time job. I write early in the morning, break to do algebra and grammar with my two home-schooled students, write in the afternoon, and if I have no other commitments in the evening, you’ll find me still at the computer.

Do you have any particular writers' resources you use regularly? Any that apply to suspense in particular?

My Synonym Finder is indispensable, as is the Online Etymology Dictionary. I’m compiling a crime/mystery library. The books I’ve used most so far are Order in the Court, by David S. Mullally, and The Writer’s Complete Crime Reference Book, by Martin Roth. I also have an attorney who has graciously agreed to read one of my books for authenticity, a state trooper who will answer occasional questions, and a super critique group whose members are all mystery/suspense writers.

Do you have any future plans for your writing you'd like to share? Any specific dreams you'd like to accomplish in the area of writing?

Yes, I hope to go on in the suspense genre, getting better at it and bringing lots of exciting stories to the reader. My second suspense book, Finding Marie, will feature Pierre Belanger, a beloved character in Frasier Island, and Marie, his wife. Marie has always been sheltered, but she is thrust into a terrifying world where she must think for herself if she wants to live.

I have a couple of suspense books coming out in 2008 with another publisher, and a cozy mystery, co-authored with my daughter Megan, from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries next February. My agent, Chip MacGregor, is helping me find my niche in the mystery/suspense genre.

What is the number one thing you've learned from your writing journey?

Everything happens in God’s timing. It seemed as though I would NEVER sell a book. But it happened, after years of effort. God knows when your work is ready, and when you are ready.

Because many of our blog readers are aspiring authors, can you share any tidbits of wisdom about getting published?

Study your craft. Read well-written books in the genre you want to write. Continue writing every day, even if it’s only a little. Don’t give up. Just keep writing.

How do you see the future of suspense and mystery in the inspirational market?

The potential is limitless. I see Christian offerings in this genre getting better and better. And readers are responding.

What suspense/mystery authors do you read for pleasure? (Inspirational and secular)

Some of the most recent ones I’ve read are Sharon Dunn, Susan May Warren, Brandilyn Collins. I also enjoy Dee Henderson, Dick Francis, Dorothy Sayers, John Grisham, Craig Parshall ... whatever I can get my hands on.

Do you have anything you want to leave with our readers? Something the Lord is speaking to you?

Don’t get so caught up in fiction that you neglect God’s Word. “With my whole heart have I sought thee; oh, let me not wander from thy commandments.” (Ps. 119:10)

We’re giving away a copy of Frasier Island here at Keep Me In Suspense. I hope lots of readers sign up for the drawing (several ladies have told me they would buy it just for the cover). And visit me at my Website: www.susanpagedavis.com. It’s just been redesigned, so come take a peek. Enter my monthly giveaway, too, and win your choice this month of my published titles.


Blogger Betsy Ann said...

Sounds great!!!! =)

1:12 PM  
Blogger Katie Hart said...

Great interview! It sounds like an awesome book.

9:03 PM  

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