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Monday, February 11, 2008

Interview with Susan Page Davis and Megan Elaine Davis

Candice: When did you and your daughter decide to write together? How does it work? Who does what? Do you both plot and write?

Susan: We were driving somewhere—I’m not sure where, maybe home from church. We were in the van, and my husband was driving. I was telling him a plot I hoped to develop for editor Susan Downs of the new Heartsong Presents: Mysteries line, but it wasn’t quite working out right. Megan was listening, too, and she spoke up, saying something like, “What if you did it this way. . .” Her idea was a good one, and I told her that maybe she should write it with me.

Megan: Mom thought it would be a great way for me to get my foot in the door with publishing a novel. We both plot and we both write—it seems to work best if we brainstorm together to put the initial story together.

Candice: Who are your favorite characters in your books?

Susan: I really like Nate, the hero, who gave up his education when his father got sick and came home to run the marina. After him and Emily, the heroine, I think I like the neighbors best. They are snoopy, pushy gossips, but they’re goodhearted.

Megan: My favorite characters are secondary ones—especially Rocky, a friend of Nate and Emily who helps solve crimes in book one and two, and Felicia who runs the newspaper. I also like Jette who will appear in our third book.

Candice: What sort of research have you done for your three cozies in the MAINEly Murder series?

Susan: We’ve drawn maps of Blue Heron Lake and the fictional town, Baxter. I talked to an attorney about a couple of legal points (like whether certain provisions would make a will unenforceable). We’ve also inquired about the different law enforcement agencies who would have jurisdiction in the northern-Maine setting of our books. Our hero, Nate, goes to work as a county sheriff’s deputy. A state trooper kindly explained to me who would arrest the suspect, where they would hold him, and at what point the State Police would take over the case.

Megan: Emily does a lot of research of her own in our books, so I wound up researching libraries, county courthouses, etc. to find out where Emily would go to find her information. I am also constantly doing quick online research while I write to find the best word, the best name, or to make sure I have facts straight. I’ve also drawn on my memories of summers spent camping in the Maine woods and staying at cottages on Maine lakes.

Candice: Susan, your writing career has really taken off lately. How has this impacted your life? What’s changed? How do you organize your time?

Susan: This has been a great blessing. I am working hard, it’s true, but I was before. The difference now is that those long hours at the computer are paying off. Some other major changes in our family life have dovetailed with my success over the last couple of years. My father passed away in October, 2006. I miss him terribly, but for the two years prior to his death I was spending a great deal of time on his care, and I obviously no longer do that. Megan moved home and took over the lunch preparations and grocery shopping for me, which frees me up a bit more. She also became my co-author, and that’s been a joy. Then her sister Page graduated from college and moved home as well. However, Megan will be getting married this summer and transplanting to England. So our family has been in flux for several years now, and sometimes it’s hard to hammer out a working schedule.
I know I could organize my time better, and I reevaluate that now and then. Basically, I spend most weekday mornings with my two youngest children, still being homeschooled, and catch up on correspondence, financial matters, laundry, and other family and business tasks. The afternoon and evening, if not otherwise scheduled, are now when I do the most of my writing.

Candice: You write romance, romantic suspense, and cozies. What do you like about each genre? Do you have a preference for any of the three?

Susan: Romantic suspense is my favorite so far. My longer books have been suspense, and I’m able to go deeper into the characters’ lives. I like writing longer books. With that said, I also love the lighter cozy mysteries and the historical romance I write. I do love history, and I enjoy research, whether it’s Indian Wars in colonial days, or modern military equipment. I love learning new things and the stories that come through the research.

Candice: Are you working on more than one book at a time now? If so, how do you do that?

Susan: Yes, I’m blessed with several book contracts. Megan and I wrapped up our second cozy together at the end of December. I just finished a historical novella (to appear next fall in the Colorado Snowbound Christmas Collection from Barbour), and I’m halfway done with my next book in the Frasier Island series, titled Inside Story. Megan and I will start the actual writing of our third cozy, Impostors at Blue Heron Lake, any day now.
I plan out my writing days for each book, because I know the unexpected will happen, and if I don’t plan, something won’t get done. My immediate plans include finishing Inside Story by the end of March, allowing time for critiques and revisions before my deadline. While alternating chapters with Megan, I’d like to see Impostors at BHL done by June 30 (our deadline is Aug. 15, but that’s the day before Megan and John-Mark’s wedding, so. . .). When that is done, I’ll be working on a contemporary romance for Heartsong, which is due in October. I’ve blocked out time so that I’ll get that done without interfering with the wedding hoopla, I hope. In between writing books, I block in extra days for revisions, galleys, and critiquing for others.

Candice: Speaking of that upcoming wedding, Megan, how do you juggle writing mysteries with planning your wedding and keeping up with the freelance newspaper work you do?

Megan: I too have to make a schedule for myself. At the moment, I tend to do about two hours of writing in the morning before I start cooking lunch. After lunch until 3:00 I do my newspaper work, after which I talk on the phone with my fiancé, and after supper I write again. Wedding plans so far tend to be sporadic, when I have a free minute to make a call or brainstorm. But I often deviate from my schedule, and spend too much time trying to make a better schedule …

You can read more about Susan and Megan and their books at www.susanpagedavis.com .


Blogger Jess said...

Good interview.

5:16 PM  
Blogger FrecklesandDeb said...

You both sound like you have busy lives which are about to get busier with the weddiing! It's great that you can write together (and still remain friends!) I'm interested in how you will continue writing when Megan moves to England.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Susan Page Davis said...

Yeah, that's a question. We haven't decided whether to keep on writing together after that. Our 3-book MAINEly Murder series will be finished before Megan moves. We'll see what the Lord brings our way. We'll keep in close contact via email, but we may just continue on with solo books.

7:10 PM  

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