Susan Page Davis Interview
Beth: The ACFW conference is coming up this month. How long have you been attending? What do you think about the conference overall? Do you have a success story that you can share from attending?
Susan: This will be my third ACFW conference, and I’m looking forward to it eagerly. The first year I went (2006) was bittersweet. My first LARGE conference. I was blown away by the depth of teaching, the variety of topics, and the fellowship with authors at all levels of professionalism. There were newbies like and multi-published people whose names were household words (at least in our household). I met my new agent there. I’d never heard of Chip MacGregor before (but he’s now a household word around here, too). I met several of my editors, including Susan Downs of HP Mysteries (whom I loved instantly) and Kim Moore of Harvest House (ditto), who brought me my first glimpse of the cover of my first “big book,” Frasier Island. You know, I don’t think I met one person I didn’t like. And one week after I came home, I had to admit my Dad to the hospital. He’d been suffering from cancer for a long time, and we knew it was coming, but of course we still weren’t ready. He died five days later. So my first ACFW conference was a time of changes and growth. I’m still thankful for the opportunity to go.
Beth: You’re teaching a workshop. Tell us about that.
Susan: Yes, I mustered the proverbial courage and submitted a proposal for a workshop this year. It’s called “Multiple Deadlines: Blessing or Bane?” I chose it because it sums up my own joy and frustrations on any given day as I look at my writing calendar. Yes! I have several contracts right now. Ooooh! That means I have to deliver. I hope my presentation can help some other authors in my situation to get a grip on this delightful but scary circumstance.
Beth: Can you offer a few quick tips or teasers taken from the workshop?
Susan: Planning is critical. With that said, there are always things you can’t plan for. So how does one schedule in the unexpected? It’s a challenge, but it can be done.
Beth: Tell us a bit about your next book coming out with your daughter, Megan.
Susan: Treasure at Blue Heron Lake is the second book in our MAINEly Murder Series, from Heartsong Presents: Mysteries! We’ve loved writing this series together. In “Treasure,” the hero and heroine, Nate Holman and Emily Gray, become engaged while staying at a friend’s wilderness hunting lodge. Strange things are going on there, and they try to help the owner, Jeff Lewis, discover the cause. They also learn about a hundred-year-old mystery surrounding the man who owned Lakeview Lodge when it was the barracks for a lumbering camp. A present day murder heats things up, and soon it becomes obvious that the old lumber baron’s treasure is still causing mayhem on the shores of Blue Heron Lake.
Beth: How did you come up with that story idea?
Susan: I think a seed was planted about 35 years ago. My father was a game warden, and for a while he served as a supervisor in northern Maine. When I visited him and my mom up there, Dad took me to a place where a large, old ramshackle building stood. It had been part of a thriving lumber camp many years earlier. I imagined it restored as a sporting camp. When Megan and I needed a second plot for our northern Maine series, that old lumber camp came to mind.
Beth: Can you share some tips about co-authoring?
Susan: I think Megan spoiled me by being easy to work with. We finished our third book in the series about six weeks ago. She got married August 16 and moved to England, so I’m not sure if we’ll do any more collaborations or not. If the MAINEly Murder Series does well, who knows?
Anyway, Megan’s bedroom (when she lived at home) was directly above my office. That made it easy to yell, email, or tap on the ceiling (didn’t really do that last one) if I needed her. We sometimes had differing ideas of how the story should go, but we hammered out a synopsis we both could live with for each book, and pretty much stuck to it. I was amazed at the depth she was able to bring to the characters (the hero and heroine are close to her age, not mine!). And she had some great ideas for plot twists.
For the first two books we basically alternated chapters. Book 3 (Impostors at Blue Heron Lake) was a little harder, as we were preparing for her wedding and had several trips and family crises tucked in there. For instance, my husband had his appendix out while we were writing it. When the going got tough, one of us would take the manuscript and write as much as we could—sometimes half a chapter, sometimes two or three chapters. It worked, and I think our input was about equal in the end. We love the story—it may be the best of the three. You just have to be flexible and do what works for you.
Beth: You’ve just returned from Alaska. What’s that all about?
Susan: Did I mention multiple deadlines? I’m under contract for three Alaska contemporary romances for the Heartsong Presents line. The first one is due on editor Joanne Simmons’ desk January 1. God has blessed richly in allowing me to make a quick research trip to Anchorage and Homer, Alaska. The first book is tentatively titled Always Ready, which is the Coast Guard motto, and the hero and heroine serve in the U.S. Coast Guard. This trip reunited me with an old friend, LuAnn Nordine, who used to be in my home-schooling group in Maine. LuAnn and I had a memorable road trip together to Homer amidst what is arguably the most spectacular scenery on earth.
Beth: Anything else you’d like to share.
Susan: I just inked a contract with Barbour for a long historical book, the first in what we hope will be The Ladies’ Shooting Club Series. Release isn’t until early 2010, but I’ll start writing it very soon. I love to hear from readers and other authors. Come visit me at www.susanpagedavis.com.
Thank you for the interview, Susan. And thank you for joining us. If you'd like to win a copy of Treasure at Blue Heron Lake please post a comment. Remember to leave a way for us to contact you.