I have read and reviewed several of Susan's books, my favorites being My Foolish Heart and Baby, It's Cold Outside. I will also be reviewing her latest book Take a Chance on Me in the next few weeks.
The members of the Kick-Off team were given the opportunity to ask Susan some questions, and she graciously answered them for a Q & A that we could post on our blogs. Enjoy!
Also, be sure to check out Susan's website for a contest that she is currently running - "When Someone Took a Chance on Me."
Where do you get your inspiration?
Great question! I get inspiration everywhere – the news, facebook posts, sermons, radio talk shows, conversations. It’s always about a question, something that makes me think…what if?
I got the story about Izzy, (My Foolish Heart) the talk show host to the lovelorn from a Brad Paisely song, "Online", about a guy who lives in his parent’s basement, but online he’s awesome (because he’s created that persona). I added to that the idea of falling in love over the airwaves, and whalla! Izzy’s story was germinated.
I got the idea for You Don’t Know Me while sitting on a plane to Seattle. The woman next to me was openly agitated, and when I talked to her (during the food and beverage service!), she told me was flying to Seattle to put her daughter into the witness protection program. Forever. The daughter was 21. The questions surrounding that situation birthed the story.
I got the idea for Take a Chance on Me from an event that happened in our town – an accident that killed a well-regarded man. In the aftermath the town took sides for or against the person who hit him, and it birthed a slew of ideas about blame and forgiveness.
I always look at the idea and see if I can ask a big spiritual question about it, or touch an emotional issue, or even raise a social question. Then I start exploring the characters interacting with the question, and how they might find answers.
During your childhood/teenage years, who encouraged your love for reading? For writing?
I never had any champions, but you know how it is as a writer – it’s in you and you can’t escape it. I loved to go to the library and pile up my backpack with books. They represented new friends, new adventures, and I spent most Saturdays plunked down in the middle of the library, turning pages. I started writing when I was fourteen – wrote my first novel on a summer vacation with my family, about a girl and her horse. It wasn’t until I married and began writing newsletters for our ministry that people began to really encourage me to write, but by then, I had the bug and was already penning novels that I never thought would be published. However, it was our supporters who pushed me to send the novels in to publishers. They believed in my books on the shelves long before I did.
If you were to cast the movie based on your book, who would you choose to play the key roles?
Take a Chance on Me? I have a key list of actors I used as prototypes:
John would be played by Tom Selleck
Ingrid would be played by Bonnie Hunt
Darek would be played by (Thor) Chris Hemsworth
Ivy would be played by Emma Stone
Jenson would be played by Scott Speedman
Claire would be played by (90210) Arielle Kibbel
What is one thing on your "bucket list"?
I would like to learn how to dance the Charleston and get better at the Lindy Hop. Actually, I’d like to take regular dance lessons and become a better all around ballroom dancer.
What are your 5 favorite things, excluding family?
Sitting on my back deck on a warm summer day, reading.
Throwing a great party.
Exploring a new place (esp. on vacation).
Dancing. All kinds.
How did you become a writer? What inspires you to write? Who is your favourite author and why?
Writing was always something I loved to do, so I think I was born with it in me. Words are definitely my love language, so I love a well crafted sentence or poem, a great story. It’s how I communicate my worship, and how I find understanding and work out my thoughts.
I’m inspired to write by things that move me, things I want to explore, and great moments of emotion – joy, sorrow, fear, love. One of my favorite types of writing, however, is travel writing. I like to take a journal and go somewhere new and just sit and capture the setting in words. It’s better than a picture.
Rachel Hauck. I love her stories, her depth, her words. I’m also a fan of Siri Mitchell, Dee Henderson, Francine Rivers, Ronie Kendig, Beth Vogt, Melissa Tagg, Lisa Jordan and Dee Gist.
Which character do you relate to most?
MaryAnn Wallace, the character in The Great Christmas Bowl. But I’m also a lot like Ingrid Christiansen.
Why do you think Deep Haven scores a touchdown with your readers?
I love the way you phrased that question! I think it is the small town where everyone knows your name, the family connections, the beauty of the north shore, and the sense of Mayberry or maybe Mitford set in the north woods. I think reader like to escape with people they know, and learn more about their lives.
When did you decide that you wanted to write?
I was always a writer, but as I began to pen newsletters for my ministry family and our supporters, I realized I loved to tell a great story. I thought maybe I’d try and write a short story – so I wrote Happily Ever After as a short story and sent it into a contest. It won, and I began to wonder if I could write for publication. I remember getting on my knees and asking God if I should be writing articles or short stories and he said, “Write Novels.” I’d never written a novel, but that’s where I felt God asking me to invest my energies. So I began to research and study the art and craft of fiction. I wrote four novels before I got the first one published. I’m still amazed at the fact I am published –what? Whoa!
How do you find time to write with a family?
I am very focused. I write, and I spent time with family, and I attend church. I don’t have a lot of outside pursuits. My social life is spent in the bleachers, watching sporting events, or in the auditorium, at play or band rehearsal. I show up to all my kids events – but I admit, I don’t attend a woman’s Bible study or exercise class. Maybe someday, but until the kids are grown, that’s my priority.
Several of your stories have been set in MN, are you from this area?
Yes! I grew up in Minneapolis, and I now live on the north shore of Minnesota, in a little town 30 miles from the Canadian border called Grand Marais. Come and visit sometime!!