Hello Coffee Readers! Today, I am so excited to be able to chat with award winning Susan Crandall about her latest book Pitch Black. So sit back, relax, and listen to my wonderful conversation with a talented author, Susan Crandall. Thank you Susan for stopping by to answer my numerous questions (grin)
This was your first foray into writing romantic suspense, was it easier or harder than writing women's fiction?
I’ve never been the one to choose the less difficult path. If there’s a smooth road or an uphill, crater-filled path, I’ll nearly always take the one that will threaten the most twisted ankles. But I can’t say that writing romantic suspense was more difficult than women’s fiction; it was just different. I wanted to write romantic suspense my way. I still focused on creating strong characters (the biggest challenge in women’s fiction) and combined it with one of the biggest challenges in romantic suspense, pacing. So I suppose you could say I combined the most difficult aspects of the genres. That said, it didn’t feel more difficult, just more challenging. I had a blast writing this book.
Susan, when you began writing Pitch Black did you have any idea it would turn into a suspense?
Yes. My intention from the moment of conception was to write it as a romantic suspense. I think it would have been a real challenge to adjust the first half of the book if I’d begun it as a women’s fiction – the pacing is entirely different.
You are well known for your women's fiction. Will you continue to write in that genre as well as romantic suspense?
I’d love to. But for now, I’m concentrating on my romantic suspense. As my women’s fiction always had a mystery or suspense element, and my romantic suspense is based on very character driven aspects, I feel my readers will find my romantic suspense equally satisfying.
In Pitch Black Maddie adopted Ethan who was at first her foster son. What was your motivation behind that aspect of the story?
I think it’s all about giving your characters real and believable challenges. Maddie was a person who would never have imagined taking on the raising of a half-grown child, but Ethan unexpectedly stole her heart and was in need. She stepped up and took on a role that wasn’t easy. I often think about children whose potential is never reached because of the lack of an adult mentor to assist them along the way. Both of my parents lost their mothers when they were very young. The question always lingers: What would be different about them if they’d had a mother present throughout their formative years?
How exactly did you go from being a dental hygienist to a writer? Was writing something you'd always wanted to do, dreamed about, or did it just happen?
I’ve always been an avid reader (of a wide variety of genres). When my sister admitted she was writing a novel, she asked me to read it. I was sucked into writing from that moment on. I helped her with that novel (not having the good sense to realize I didn’t know what I was doing from anything except a reader’s standpoint). We co-wrote five novels, I consider them my writing education. Once I began to interact with other writers, my learning curve really sharpened.
As for the transition from dental hygiene to writing, I had been weaning myself from my job for a while. I’d cut back to two days a week, then had become a stay-at-home mom. Writing came along at just the right time, when my children were in upper grade school. Luckily, I sold a book, BACK ROADS, by the time my youngest was in high school (you can see it wasn’t a quick process), so I could continue to write full time, turning my hobby into a real job.
Susan, you and sister used to write stories. Is there any chance we might see one or two published in the future?
I’d love to see one of our co-written books in print – so it’s possible. There was a ghost story that I think was pretty darn good and publishable (an important key in this business) that might make it one day. I’ll have to dust it off and see what kind of “repairs” it needs.
'Seeing Red' is your next scheduled book. Could you tell us about it and when we will see it hit the shelves?
SEEING RED will be released in February, ’09. It’s the story of Ellis Greene, whose testimony against the man who abducted her cousin when they were teens resulted in his conviction. She was the sole witness, having been sleeping in the same bedroom at the time. The man vowed vengeance and now, fifteen years later, he’s out on parole.
Nate Vance, a close friend of both Ellis and her cousin, Laura, had been the initial suspect in the crime. Ellis’s testimony cleared him. He left town right after the guilty verdict. When he hears the man has been paroled, he returns to protect Ellis.
Was there anything in particular that drew you to write about what happened to Laura in 'Seeing Red'?
I like to write relevant and realistic stories – ones that could happen to any of us. I don’t think there’s anything a parent fears more than a predator going after their child. The very idea is terrifying. I wanted to explore the lasting effects, the aftermath. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to go into the mind of a truly evil man.
What was it like moving back to your hometown after being away for years and how did your husband and family react?
I always hoped we’d move back to our hometown (my husband and I both grew up here). When our son was born, we decided we wanted to be nearer family and in a less metropolitan environment. It was a mutual decision to move back. Our families were thrilled!
What was your family's reaction when you told them you were going to write full time?
It was my hobby, with hopes of publication. My main goal was to be able to say to my family, “Go away, I’m working,” and not have them chuckle as they left the room!
That day has arrived. However, they still don’t realize that when they interrupt me “just for a second” that it isn’t the second it takes to answer the question – it’s the hour it took me to get to where I was mentally in my work. The entire flow is wrecked. I have hopes that they’re still trainable.
Thank you Susan for stopping by for coffee and chatting about one of my favorite topics..books! It has been a pleasure and a priviledge to be able to talk with an author I have admired for years.
Readers, make sure you check out the great review that our Coffee Crew, Liadan, gave Susan's book, Pitch Black. Until next time...