Interview with Susanne Matthews

When did you first start writing?
When I retired from teaching in 2010, I had too much time on my hands. I had been so busy, and suddenly, I had nothing meaningful to do. I tried my hand at replacement teaching, but my heart wasn't in it. I did a lot of reading. One day, I came across a site for would-be writers. I decided to try my hand at writing a book myself, since that was one of those items on the bucket list you don't ever expect to strike off. I penned Fire Angel in the fall of 2012, and the book was published by Crimson Romance in April 2013. I haven't looked back.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm currently working on several different projects. One of them is a romance that reunites a family after several years of misunderstanding. Another is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel with the last of humanity searching for a new planet to call home. The third is women's fiction--a book within a book--where a woman goes back to find the man she fell in love with fifty years ago to discover why he never answered her letters. I also have a couple of books in the editing stage, one of which is a historical romance dealing with early Canada.
What prompted you to become a hybrid author?
There are a lot of reasons for choosing to publish independently and have a traditional publisher as well. Some of the books I've published on my own were books orphaned when one or two of my publishers went into bankruptcy, a nasty experience I never want to repeat. Once I had my rights back, it was easier to simply edit, hire cover artists, and then self-publish, since few publishers want previously published books. Other books I published independently because I simply wanted to do so. These are books that don't quite fit into one particular genre, and since most publishers want things to fit into neatly designated categories, doing it myself made more sense. I did not want to lose aspects of a story because they did not fit into a preconceived formula.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love to live a story, watch as the words and images appear on the screen, and get to know my characters. As the plot unfolds, it's as if I'm dreaming or watching a movie I control. When I get to the end, there's a sense of wonder and accomplishment, I can't explain. When someone tells me how much they've enjoyed one of my stories, the sensation is magical.
What do your fans mean to you?
To an entertainer, and authors are entertainers, fans are everything. As a new author, it's hard to build a fan base, but you have to keep trying. Essentially, all authors write for readers. If I were just writing for myself, where would the fun be in that? I want to thrill, chill, and excite people. want to make them laugh, cry, and sigh. I simply want to do it alone, from the comfort of my home. Hearing from fans either though social media or reviews fills that need for me.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The need to get the story written, but also looking after my husband and family. My children are all grown-up and not all close by, but I do have grandchildren in the city and seeing them is a pleasure. While writing is important, it isn't my entire life. I like to travel and see new places, visit with and help my grandchildren, and do those things my age and health still allow me to do.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Like any other author, I read. I enjoy traveling, especially on cruises. I've been lucky enough to visit each of Canada's ten provinces, too. When the weather permits, I garden, go on day trips, and visit some of my favorite local places, When it doesn't, I watch television. I have arthritis that limits some of the activities I can do with my hands, but I stay busy. I also go camping each summer.
What is your writing process?
Despite the fact that I taught English for almost 30 years, I do not follow any of the rules of writing I taught. I don't make a plot graph, write characters sketches, or look for images online to inspire me. All the elements of the story are created in my mind as I come to them. I get an idea and go with it. It could be something I see around me, a recent news report, a fact I discover, a person's name that interests me, a potential title, or even something someone says that sticks with me. All of my novels have happy endings and a couple who eventually fall in love, which is why they are classified as romances, even when the romance isn't the plot's driving force. While I have a loose idea the way the story will unravel, I rarely know exactly how that will happen until the scenes and the words come to me. Sometimes I'll have several potential villains in a suspense novel and the perfect one won't reveal himself until I've finished writing 80% of the book. I enjoy surprises, too. I am a consummate editor, constantly going back and revising as I write, making sure all the plot points I hit on are properly introduced in the story and resolved at the end. I layer my plots with subplots. In everything I write, there is a core of suspense. My heroes and heroines are always flawed, since real people generally are, and I want the reader to identify with them.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The very first one? No, but I do remember how much I loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries. As I got older, I began to select historical novels, fascinated with the mythology of Ancient Greece and Rome as well as the mysteries of Egypt. I must've read everything I could about the former kings and queens of England. When I did my ancestry DNA, I discovered I was 45% Great Britain and 14% Greek and Italian, which could account for that interest. The novel I remember best though, and the one that pushed me to become a writer was Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. That's most likely why I need to add suspense to everything I write.
How do you approach cover design?
While I have very little control over covers created for the books published through my publishers, for those I indie publish, I have two phenomenal cover artists who seem to know exactly what I need. Since the first thing a reader sees is the cover, I consider a good cover a vital part of the book. Both of the ladies I use are extremely talented, and I defer to their expertise.
What do you read for pleasure?
While most of the books I read are similar to those I like to write, I will step out of the box occasionally. While I won't read slasher horror, satanism, or erotica, I do enjoy a good western, Native American tales, and Regency historicals as well as period pieces. Light paranormal and fantasy are good, as are medical thrillers such as those from Kathy Reighs and Robin Cook. I do my best to support new authors like Melinda De Ross, Elle Marlow, and Jean Joachim, too. All authors need to remember that it's hard to build up a following, and they shouldn't be afraid to help out new authors by adding them to their reading lists.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
While I still enjoy the feel of a book in my hands, I read on many different devices--my computer, my tablet, my Kindle, and my Kobo. It depends on the circumstances and the location. A book may be more convenient at the beach, but an electronic reader is better in bed.
Describe your desk
MY desk is organized chaos. I use paper and pencil to track word count and character POV in a novel as well as keep track of names and places until they become second nature to me. This is handy, especially when i'm working on more than one book at a time. I have a box of tissue for those moments when a scene makes me cry--yes, that does happen, a large bottle of water and a coffee mug, sitting on the Popsicle coaster my granddaughter gave me for my birthday. My desk has a hutch, and all the cubbies are filled with writing supplies, which include hardcover dictionaries and a thesaurus, and paper for the printer. I also have my landline phone and my cellphone at hand. I prefer using a desktop computer with a large monitor. Headphones are plugged into my sound system since I like to listen to what I've written, but rarely listen to music when I write.
Published 2017-12-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.