Susanne is a prolific and talented self-published writer, who takes time from her busy schedule about once a month to sit in a restaurant drinking and waiting for me to finally show up. I know from her Facebook page that during the time she is not writing, she is traveling to a variety of interesting events to promote her books, hobnobbing with celebrities like Scott Wilson, who portrayed Hershel from AMC’s The Walking Dead, Robert Maillet of The 300 and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Eric Roberts, who I fell in love with in King of the Gypsies and was so happy to see in Lost Girl and I’m still kind of pissed that she didn’t get me an autograph.
Visit Susanne’s website to find which comic cons she will be attending. Her next gig is at Seattle Crypticon, which boasts guests like George Romero, director of Night of the Living Dead, and Doug Bradley, otherwise known as this guy:
The first book in her new Realm of Magic series, just came out on March 30. The series is High Fantasy, and follows our heroine, Taliesin. “Orphaned as a child, Taliesin was adopted by the Ravens, a clan that makes its living searching battlefields for valuables. Civil war is brewing, though, and leaders both good and evil are searching for the magic weapons they need to help their forces achieve victory. The most powerful of these ancient blades is Ringerike, a sword that is said to be both a king-maker and a king-killer.”
She is also the author of the Dead Hearts series, and she is exploding with words and stories and sometimes, blood and gore. The long-awaited fifth book in the series, Immortal Hearts, drops on May 5.
Check all of her work out here.
Last week, I decided to use my interviewing skills to distract her from how late I was.
One piece of advice you would give to an author looking to self-publish?
Right now, Amazon.com is the number one book seller in the nation. That means more folks buy through them than any other source. They also offer a way to publish your own books at an affordable cost. CreateSpace is the best and easiest way to self-publish. There are three prices ranges that include editing, book designs and layout. Anyone serious about being publish should consider going through CreateSpace. This how I started. I had my own book covers ready and the book was edited, so all they had to do was format the interior design. I then bought 600 books and have gone to conventions selling them in person, as well as signing consignment agreements with local and out-of-state book stores.
What is one of your favorite scenes you have written in the Dead Hearts series?
Forsaken Hearts is the second book in the series. In this book, the human survivors at the Seven Falls in Colorado Springs wake up to find zombies are being herded to their gate at the end of the box canyon. Vampires have arrived at Colorado Springs Air Force Academy and are herding zombies to their camp. They are also abduct the best fighters among the teenagers and force them to fight in the Death Games, which are televised. The Shadowguard are the names of these evil vampires and while they are responsible for bringing the electricity and phone on-line, including cells phones, they are rounding the human survivors up nationwide, later internationally, and either turning them, feeding on them or forcing them to fight in the Death Games.
My favorite scene in this book, however, is a duel fought at the Citadel (this is the new name for the CSAFA) between the hero, Dragon, a young Asian boy who fights with two katanas and Lt. Aldarik of the Shadowguard. Aldarik is German and fights with a saber, groomed in the dueling style, considering him Prussian, not German. The duel is fought between the Kaiser, the leader of the Shadowguard and his elegant vampire guests, including vampire lords from throughout the US and Italy (the only European country that is not taken over by zombies). While Aldarik struts about showing off with his saber, Dragon chooses a nodachi, a longer version of the katana. This particular nodachi is an artifact and was used in battle by the famous samurai named Miyamato Musashi. Dragon worships this samurai who in 1612 fought a famous duel against his nemesis, master swordsman Sasaki Kojiro. Kojiro, like Lt. Aldarik, was exceptional in his precision and speed. Musashi heckled Kojiro into attacking first and killed him with one blow; Dragon does the same thing to L. Aldarik, which is way to pay honor to his idol.
How could you NOT have gotten me Eric Robert’s autograph?
I met Eric Roberts at Crypticon in Kansas City. Knowing my sister was in love with him, not you, I walked right up to him and told him this. He was delighted. Most people have to pay for celebrities signatures. But Eric gave my sister two autographs. He drew on a large piece of paper and drew doodled all over it, both times. I think he had more fun being goofy and drawing pictures, like hearts with arrows through them, knowing that someone his own age thought he was still wonderful, handsome, sexy and a gentleman. I had my picture taken with him and he came right up behind me, threw his arms around me and smiled. He had to be one of the nicest actors I have ever met; and I have met a lot and have tons of stories about many of your favorites that aren’t so nice.
Of all the characters you have written, which one would you choose to have a beer with and why?
This is the craziest question I have ever been asked. Yet, not so crazy. Many times an author will fall in love with the characters she writes about and after the story is over, it’s like a breakup or a divorce. And it’s hard to walk away from beloved characters. But to pick one. Now that is very hard. I like to base my characters on people I have met, my own alter-ego (and I have more than one), and celebrities who I disguise in the story.
I would have a beer with Grudge, the hero in the new Realm of Magic series. He is tall, muscular, bald and hairy. He wears a dirty leather vest and mold grows on his pants. In battle, he is fearless and brutal. But he’s not who he says he is. He is that tough guy who would defend you when there is trouble, drink a beer with you, not wash for days and yet still look handsome.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? What inspires you?
When I have writer’s block, it’s because the scene isn’t working for me or the character is not being allowed to do what they really want to do in the story. Many authors allow their characters to write the story, that’s what I do, but when I try to do what I want to the story, I run into problems. If you have writer’s block of this kind, this means you need to stop what you’re doing, have a think, and approach the scene from another angle.
To help me process this, I will read other books or watch movies. Usually, something magical happens. When I’m least expecting it, someone will say something random that inspires me or I’ll watch something on TV that has nothing to do with what I’m writing and the solution presents itself.
This is the same advice I give to folks who have another form of writer’s block – they just can’t put the words to paper. When this happens, pick up your favorite novel and flip through it, or just any book and read a few pages. You’ll realize you can write. Sometimes you’ll be inspired and the words will suddenly start to flow. Dreams can help in this regard. I also find when I help edit a friend’s novel or give them a critique, I can turn around and start producing many pages in my own novels.
Another form of writer’s block is having too many ideas and not knowing which one to write. It’s hard to accept, but much of writing is being disciplined. You actually have to find the time, sit your butt down and just let the story flow from your brain without thinking too much. Over-thinking kills stories. Over-thinking causes writer’s block just as surely as making excuses so you don’t write. You can always write. If you have writer’s block on your story, then write about something else; but you can always write.