What is the title of your newest book? How many books have you published?
Killer Debt, fourth book of my Michael Stoddard American Revolution mysteries, is the newest title
How did you become interested in writing?
I’ve been writing fiction since I was in second grade. I’d been through the eye of a hurricane at home with my family—mighty Mother Nature!—and a few weeks later, I caught the mumps and was quarantined at home while I was contagious. Since I didn’t feel bad, I was really bored. I zipped through a stack of library books. Then my mother gave me paper and a pencil and told me to write something. And after that genie was out of the bottle, I didn’t stop writing.
What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc?
While I’m actively writing on a first draft, my best time to work is before noon. Rather than aim for a certain daily word count, I aim for consistent time spent writing on the ms. daily. If I adequately clear distractions, it isn’t unusual for me to write 3000 words during the morning hours. Afternoons are usually better for editing.
Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
I’m a pantser-plotter hybrid. When I start the first draft, I know the scene where I’ll start writing, how the book will end, and several major points in between that I have to hit to keep the plot on course. I don’t outline it. There’s too much “gray” (lesser plot points). Kinda scary, but I’ve learned to start writing and not worry about the gray. Soon into the first draft, my characters take over. If I don’t interfere, what they must do and how they must grow replaces the gray—identifies and refines plot points. Around the halfway point, I create a crude outline of the remaining points I have to hit to satisfactorily reach the end. That gets me across the finish line.
Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
I write historical mystery set in the 18th century, so I can use real people and places without having to model them on anyone. Of course, I research people and places extensively to create a well-rounded picture of the past. Here’s an example.
Major James Henry Craig, a supporting character in my series, was the real-life commander of the 82nd Regiment while it occupied Wilmington, North Carolina. To construct a realistic and period-accurate picture of him for the reader, I studied his service record and read some of his letters. There’s also a profile portrait of him available and descriptions of him (physiological and personality) from 18th-century sources. In Wilmington, he competently commanded about two hundred soldiers who wound up accomplishing goals that two thousand soldiers might have done. That tells me Craig delegated a lot of work to the officers below him (and trusted them), had short meetings with people, wrote a number of letters trying to get more soldiers transferred to his post, thought outside the box a great deal, and was good at seeing the big picture but not the minutiae. In other words, he wasn’t too different from the CEO of a modern corporation.
Who is your favorite author?
I have several favorites. In no particular order: Ellis Peters, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Daphne du Maurier, Terri Windling, Andre Norton, Robert Louis Stevenson, Ursula K. LeGuin.
How do you promote your books?
I’m active on social media, of course, but the most effective promotion for the Michael Stoddard series is in-person promotion, such as a presentation, a workshop, or a panel. My readers strongly prefer to read physical books, rather than ebooks, and they enjoy meeting me and talking with me at author events.
They use Facebook. They also regularly read the Relevant History feature on my blog, where I post guest essays by authors of historical fiction or historical non-fiction. I created the feature in 2011 to give authors with a history connection extra visibility, provide them with cyber space to discuss something exciting, horrific, hilarious, scandalous, etc. that they’ve learned while researching their own corners of history—nuggets that make the past relevant to those of us living in the twenty-first century. Seven years of Relevant History posts have showed me that human nature hasn’t changed much over time!
For more information on Suzanne, go to her Facebook page here.