This is the first in a series of new blog posts for me:
introductions to authors you should know about — and read!
I had the luxury of meeting up with author Susanne Matthews earlier this week, and when I talked to her about her books and life in general, I got a few surprises. I learned about the wild adventures in her head that drive her to write and the muse that inspires her stories, and what compels her to pen fiction across several genres. Oh, and I discovered a little secret about what color she’d like to be if she was inside a crayon box.
Looking for a new author to explore? Meet Susanne Matthews…
You’ve been writing for a while now. So tell me, what was your best writing experience ever?
First, thank you for having me here! And to answer your question, I’d have to say that would have to be when a story seems to write itself. I’ve had a few that have done that, and those moments are the ones I treasure. In some ways, parts of Desert Deception did just that for me, despite the fact that it’s the longest book I’ve ever written. I think specifically of the scene in the desert with the meteor shower, the one in the mountains during the earthquake, and the scenes with her nephew. My plots are multi-layered, and while I still use only 2 points of view, it’s important that the story flows naturally. Since I’m a pantser, that is I don’t plan my work out ahead of time, I feel truly satisfied when they happen, especially as I move to the ending and everything comes together for me.
What was your worst writing experience ever?
When I did my first official NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I planned to do it as part of a group sponsored by a publisher. It sounded like a good idea. Not only would I finish the book in a month, but I might sell the novel to the publisher, too. The problem was, I had to provide a goals, motivation, and conflict chart as well as character sketches and a plot outline. I struggled with those for days, starting over, printing charts to fill in, to the point where I was so frustrated I didn’t go near the computer for three days. Finally, I gave up and dropped out of the group. I did do NaNo that year, but on my own terms. To me, I have to do it my way or it just doesn’t work.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Without a doubt that would be the money I spend on the covers for the books I release independently. I use Do Elle Designs. She’s done covers for six of my novels including Desert Deception. I believe a good cover markets the book more effectively than anything else I’ve tried. With so many books available online, your book needs to stand out in the crowd. Danielle has great skills and fantastic ideas. She’s wonderful to work with and well worth the costs.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have a number of authors as Facebook friends and colleagues. I certainly don’t have space to name them all, but among the most influential are Vikki Vaught-Mccombie, Flossie Benton Rogers, Iris Blobel , Jean Joachim, Kristen Bethany-Kris Fournier, Angelica Dawson, Heather M. Gardner, Deborah O’Neill Cordes, Trisha Faye, and Elle Marlow. I blog with some of these on a weekly basis. Others lift me up with their wonderful comments and reviews. I value their opinions and strive to ensure the time they take reading and commenting on my work is time well spent. They make me strive to be the best I can be. Christy Newton is my critique partner who makes sure I stay with US English among other things. Melinda De Ross has become a close friend. Misery loves company and we shared a particularly miserable experience with an unscrupulous publisher. She lifts me up when I have one of my black moments. Writing is a solitary business, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone.
Do you have a muse? If so, what is his/her name and how does he/she help your creativity?
People have told me they would love to spend some time inside my head and wonder how I come up with the plots and twists and turns like I do. I give the credit to my muse. Who or what is my muse? She’s my imagination, one that was indulged in my early years by my father who used to sit and tell wild adventure stories to get me to eat my meals. As I got older, I fed her books of all kinds to stimulate her. She and I traveled the world, past and present, soared into outer space and make-believe lands. Today, she pays attention to the world around us and provides me with the story ideas I use to create my novels. She’s a difficult taskmaster, insisting I sit at the computer each day, but for me it’s a dream come true. All I do is type the information she gives me as it comes to her. Her greatest reward and mine comes from knowing people who read my books enjoy them.
Did you grow up with books? If so, what were your favorites and why?
Yes. I was and still am a voracious reader. As a child growing up in the Fifties with asthma, I was sick a lot and spent time either in a hospital bed or at home. I loved the Nancy Drew books as well as those about the mouseketeer Anette or Donna Parker. I read Hardy Boy mysteries as well. When I was able to, I would go to the public library and spend hours there. I got interested in history books and read most of Sir Walter Scott’s books as well as anything by Thomas Costain. I believe I took out every book the library had on Ancient Greece, Roma, and Egypt. When I was fifteen, I started reading Harlequin Romances and other similar novels.
What genre do you write in, and why? What fascinates you most about that genre?
All the novels I write are romances in that they all end with a happily ever after. That being said, in some of my books, the suspense, mystery, historical, paranormal, or sci-fi aspect is as important as the love affair. In my YA novel, Prove It! there is a budding romance, but the focus of the story is on the ‘who done it’, just like a Nancy Drew book. In Echoes of the Past and Hello Again, there are ghosts and spirits that influence the story. I do have some contemporary romance novels, like Just for the Weekend and Come Home for Christmas but again, they have another side to them besides just getting together. Similarly, the heroines in my historical novels, The Price of Honor and The Captains’ Promise have to overcome issues before they reach their goals. All of my books are descriptive. I love it when a reviewer says, “it’s like being there” almost as much as I love hearing “I couldn’t put it down.”
As to the second part of your question, why do I write romance? I do it because for many people the world has become and continued to be an ugly place. I want to help the reader escape from the every day. Some of my suspense novels, like the Harvester saga: The White Carnation, The White Lily, and The White Iris are graphic and violent, but in the end, the good guy wins and that doesn’t always happen in real life. I don’t write erotica, and if there is sex in the book, it grows out of the story and the scene. What fascinates me about the genre is that I can go anywhere and do anything with it. If I can make a heart race, tears come, or laughter bubble up, I’ve succeeded. I write to entertain and being able to do that is what I like best.
If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
If I were an animal, I would definitely be a cat. I’ve had cats before and of all the animals I’ve had, they are the ones that appeal to me the most. I suppose it’s fitting since according to my birthday, I’m a Leo. Felines are strong, resilient, and independent. While they welcome affection, they know when enough is enough. They were worshipped in Ancient Egypt and continue to be associated with magic and mystery. They are among the most beautiful animals, like a snow leopard, a Bengal tiger, or a jaguar. They’re fast and sleek, and no one messes with them. In Desert Deception, I have a scene with a puma when Casey gets lost in the wilderness.
Tell us about your most recent book. What prompted you to write it?
Desert Deception is a rewrite of a novel published a few years ago by Misty Matthews, a writing partnership that dissolved when the publisher closed. Misty gave me the rights to the story, and I decided to put it out again. Originally, Coming Home, as it was called, was intended to be part of a four book series called Taking a Chance on Love.
I love suspense and mystery. When I began to rewrite the story, I wanted to add some of the information that would’ve gone into subsequent books, and do it in such a way that there would be no impact on anything Misty might want to write with the rights I gave her. So, I changed the names, the location, the time of year, added a few more characters while deleting others, etc. The story is set now in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, in the imaginary town of Fortune. The book begins much as it did, and I did retain some scenes I’d written that I really liked, but I would say 125,000 of the 157,000 words are new. The plot now resolves around a number of unsolved murders and arsons and the reason Casey’s refuses to return to her hometown is clearly spelled out. Cole’s desire to remain anonymous as an author is also explained in a little more depth. When Casey and Cole are forced to work together, the romance grows, but they have a number of obstacles to overcome before they get to their happily ever after. I’m fortunate to have a reviewer who enjoys my work, and she has read the new version of the book. In her words: “I thought your scenes were more visually descriptive. I liked it the first time, this was improved…so great job!”
What was your most exciting moment as a writer?
That has to be selling my first book, Fire Angel. I sometimes wonder if I would’ve written another if that one hadn’t sold. I have to admit that each time I publish a book, the sense of accomplishment is what pushes me to write the next one.
You’re a new addition to a crayon box. What color would you be?
I would be a milky turquoise color. Last spring, we visited Iceland and went to the Blue Lagoon. The water was this incredible opaque, milky turquoise. I’ve seen similar colors in Alaska near the glaciers but this was indescribable.
As an author, what’s the best thing you love about, or from, readers?
I love hearing their feedback. I enjoy knowing they liked my books and would read them again. I don’t mind it when they criticize because you need to know where you went wrong if you’re going to improve.
When high-powered Santa Fe attorney Casey Stevens reluctantly returns to Fortune for Gold Rush Days, she is drawn to Cole Walker Junior, but he is no longer the shy, quiet boy she recalls. Then again, Cole isn’t the only one who has changed. The town may be celebrating its past, but someone is trying to destroy its future. A hit and run accident leaves Fortune’s only lawyer in a coma, forcing Casey to choose between helping innocent people and running away once more. Can she face the demons of her past or will they destroy her this time?
Cole Warner has a secret identity, one he’s determined to protect at all costs. The police officer, volunteer firefighter, and part-time store owner, is also popular western novelist, CJ Coleson, who uses Fortune and its people as the inspiration for his books. Having Casey walk into his life turns it upside down. When someone starts using the murders in Cole’s books to stage a killing spree of their own, keeping his secret may be too costly, but admitting the truth could ruin any chance they have for a happily ever after.
As the bodies pile up and the buildings burn down, Casey and Cole have to work together to stop a madman with gold fever before more people die. The answer lies on Superstition Mountain or is it all a desert deception?
Available as an eBook and a paperback. You can buy Desert Deception here.
Susanne Matthews lives in Eastern Ontario, Canada with her husband. She has three grown children and five grandchildren. Of French-Canadian descent, Susanne is an avid reader of all types of books, but with a penchant for happily ever after romances regardless of what it takes to get there. A retired educator, she spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers, whether in a contemporary, historical, sci-fi, paranormal, or suspense setting. She loves the ins and outs of complex romances, and the journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love. Susanne is a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America.
You can follow Susanne here:
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Susanne-Matthews/e/B00DJCKRP4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
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