Monday, January 4, 2010
Author Susan Crandall joins us today to talk about her latest release, SLEEP NO MORE. Sue is the author of ten romantic suspense and women’s fiction novels, and the winner of several writing awards, including the prestigious RITA.
So, Sue, tell me about your book.
SLEEP NO MORE is the story of Abby Whitman, who was a sleepwalker as a child, setting a fire that destroyed the ancestral home and scarred her younger sister for life. Abby's sleepwalking passed with puberty, but the guilt did not. She lives alone, structuring her life to insure that if her sleepwalking reoccurs no one else will be in harm's way.
Now Abby's mother has recently died, her sister is being her usual manipulative self, and her father is showing signs of Alzheimer's. And her sleepwalking has returned.
One night Abby awakens behind the wheel of her van at a fatal accident. Sleepwalking, or more specifically, sleep-driving, is the only explanation she can come up with for her presence at the scene. But it soon becomes clear that there was a third party involved, and that person begins making threats for Abby not to tell what she saw. But Abby has no recollection of the accident. She seeks the help of afamily acquaintance and psychiatrist, Jason Coble to try to figure out what happened at the accident and why someone is threatening her.
Abby's journey toward truth and self-forgiveness uncovers long buried secrets in both her family and her town. Secrets someone will go to any lengths to protect.
That sounds facinating, Sue. I see you’re the author of ten novels. When did you first begin writing?
I didn't actually begin writing until I was in my thirties. My younger sister sort of dragged me into it. She came to me one day with a stack of paper and admitted she'd been writing in secret and wanted me to look over her work. Being the older sister and an avid reader, naturally I had an opinion. We worked on some stories together, then she stopped writing, but I was totally hooked. I could no more stop writing than I could stop reading. The first novel I wrote solo was RITA and National Readers Choice winner, BACK ROADS.
What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?
I absolutely love the beginning stages of writing a book. I love the brainstorming, the research, the exploring of possibilities, the laying awake at night pondering "what ifs." It's the stage when everything is possible and you aren't yet hampered with the reality of making all of the parts work.
My least favorite? This may sound contradictory, but it's the blank page, the blinking cursor waiting like a teacher with a tapping foot. It's that stage between all of the daydreaming and actually having something concrete to work with. It's the place where you have to begin to make the real choices that will chart the course of your character's journey. Once I have something started, it's fun to work with it, expand, delve more deeply into my characters.
Sue, this year I sold my first book, The Officer’s Girl, to Harlequin American. And recently, Harlequin bought my second book for a 2011 release. What advice do you have for people like myself, who are just starting out in their writing careers, and for aspiring writers?
Because my son is writing his first novel, this is an easy question; I give the same advice on a weekly basis:
1) Read widely, and read like a writer. When an author has elicited a particular emotion from you as a reader, take the work apart and figure out how he/she achieved it. Study the story construction, the pacing.
2) Continually hone your craft. Learn from workshops, classes, and just chatting with other writers.
3) Learn to trust your writing instincts. We writers are filled with self-doubt, constantly questioning the quality of our work. If you're a writer, there is something special inside you that lead you to it. Don't follow every suggestion made by everyone who has glanced at your work. Carefully evaluate criticism. It's a valuable tool, but it must be weighed.
4) And lastly, put on your armor and send your work out there into the world. No one is going to come knocking on your door and say, "I heard you're writing a book. I'd like to publish it." Yes, you'll probably receive rejections. That's all part of the process.
Now that SLEEP NO MORE is on the book shelves, what is next for you?
I'm focusing on two novels. One is a mainstream women's fiction. The other is a slow-boil psychological suspense. I'm having a great time with both of them!
Good luck with those new books, and I’ll definitely put SLEEP NO MORE on my shopping list. Sue, thanks so much for stopping by. It's been a pleasure talking with you today!