by Mary Brand
SS: I think I joined back in 2012, thinking I was going to start writing romances and trying to find a good critique group.
SC: What sub-genre of romance stories do you write?
SS: So far I have not written a successful romance. They start out that way, but take these bizarre twists and end up being something else. The current WIP is a love story, but not a romance. A young female painter in the 1890’s has three lovers: her childhood cowboy beau, an Italian nobleman, and another woman.
SC: What about the romance genre appeals to you?
SS: The happily ever after, of course.
SC: Do you consider yourself a romantic?
SS: Mai, oui!
SC: What are your ultimate goals as a writer?
SS: I started the Stanford University writing program in January 2012 and have just completed the coursework AND the novel I was writing for them. It has just gone to the beta readers. My goal is to have it in the hands of the literary agent by January 2015.
SC: If you could have any actor/actress cast as the hero/heroine of your latest work, who would you choose and why?
SS: Nicole Kidman might make a good Ruby Louise.
SC: What is the best book you’ve ever read about the craft of writing?
SS: Hard to say. Maybe Stephen King’s On Writing or Janet Burroway’s Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. I did not like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird – too preachy.
SC: Do you have a writing routine? What does it involve?
SS: I sit at the computer and write every day before or after work.
SC: Do you have any writing superstitions?
SC: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hidden talents?
SS: I read omnivorously, quilt and knit.
SC: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
SS: Living in that secret world.
SC: What would happen if you didn’t write?
SS: I’d still have those fantasies, but they wouldn’t appear on paper.
SC: How do you know when your research is done?
SS: I tend to research as I need facts and not get bogged down in doing much ahead of time. I learned that preparing to go to Africa. I read sixty books and learned basic Swahili and was really overly prepared–like I memorized the Tanzanian bird book so I wouldn’t have to flip through it to identify them. Talk about obsessive-compulsive!
SC: Name one thing you absolutely can’t write about.
SS: I took a course at Stanford on memoir and learned I hate writing family / personal stuff. However, I can take those experiences and give them a fictional twist. Maybe I just don’t like having to tell the truth?
SC: Name one of the challenges you had writing and how you met that challenge.
SS: The current book started as my grandparents’ love story. From the memoir class, I learned that family history was not my “thing,” so I had to divorce myself from the family aspect. I made my grandmother bisexual, and that took care of that problem. From there, the story came into its own.
SC: Thanks so much, Suanne!