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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Unpuzzling the Past

Hi, I’m Susan Page Davis. It’s a pleasure to be here as one of your hosts! I hope to get to know our readers and bring you some topics that will help you as you create your own suspense stories.

One question I’m often asked is why, after seven historical novels, I started writing suspense. I hope the story of my path to suspense will help other writers who are breaking into this genre. There are three main answers to that question.

1. I’ve always loved mysteries and suspense, and I read a lot in those genres. When I was a child, I wrote mystery stories. They’re pretty silly, but back then they were serious stuff to me. The first complete book I wrote as an adult was a romantic suspense novel. That one’s still in the drawer, but it’s the story that drove me to start writing fiction seriously.

2. I began selling historical novels, and I loved writing them, but I found that mystery/suspense elements were creeping into my historical books. In fact, The Prisoner’s Wife, which was named 2006 Favorite Historical Book of the Year among Heartsong Presents readers, is a 1720 murder mystery. Jack, the hero, is imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. Lucy, the heroine, agrees to marry him in the jail, believing he will be hung the next day. Eventually Jack is released, and he and Lucy spend a lot of effort puzzling out who really committed the murder. Readers loved the book.

3. Remember that first, unpublished romantic suspense? Confession time. I have a file drawer full of unpublished manuscripts, and several of them are mysteries and suspense novels. When I finally sold my first historical, I got an agent and sold more books. I became a better writer. I sold a mystery story to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. That was followed by a contract for a cozy mystery with my daughter Megan at Heartsong Presents: Mysteries (our first title together will appear in February 2008). Meanwhile, I had written a romantic suspense novel, Frasier Island. Harvest House nearly bought it in 2004. Nearly. I was crushed when I got that rejection and relegated the manuscript to the “maybe-take-out-and-revise-later” file. I wrote more historicals. Finally, in the spring of 2006, just about the time I was doing galleys for The Prisoner’s Wife, Harvest House asked to see Frasier Island again. Oh, joy! Editor Kim Moore had remembered my book for two years. That can’t be bad. She took it back to the publisher’s fiction committee, and this time a two-book suspense contract came my way.

So now I’m concentrating on suspense. I just finished writing the sequel to Frasier Island. My agent, Chip MacGregor, is helping me with the creation of several more mystery and suspense books. And I’m loving it! Come see my Website at http://www.susanpagedavis.com/

Later this week I'll bring you an interview with trial lawyer John Youney, and he'll give us the scoop on what authors do wrong in supsense books.



Blogger Sheryl said...

I am very glad to hear you are doing a sequel to Frasier Island. I just finished reading and reviewing it for Armchair Interviews.com, and I enjoyed it so much.

Thank you for sharing this post. It encourages those of us who are aspiring authors to persevere when we know that even a talented, multi-published author has a file drawer of unpublished manuscripts :-)


8:42 PM  
Blogger Lynette Sowell said...

Susan, welcome! :) I'm looking forward to your interview with the trial lawyer.

12:11 PM  

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