Interview with Suse Pears

Describe your desk
My desk is actually a kitchen island, wedged near the patio door so I can see out into my garden. This is my creative hub. I have my 'big' computer screen at the back and a wireless keyboard, so that I can clear space to make artwork, knit, sew, cut things up and glue them back together. I sit up on a bar chair to type.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Vernor Vinge wrote two of them: A Fire upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. I think these were the first scifi books that I read that really moved beyond the 'hard' scifi I'd experienced until that point, that focused me on imagining what a far distant future could be like without the limitations of current day physics. It's fair to say that Slip/Stream would never have existed without this exposure.

Richard Ford wrote Quest for the Faradawn. I haven't read it for a long time now though I still have my copy safely on a shelf. For me, this was and still is the profound archetype of, well, a quest tale. Going from somewhere to somewhere else, and watching things fall apart and be remade around you. I loved it so much I almost don't want to re-read it again, in case I have changed so much as a person that I no longer find the same things in it now!

Three down, two to choose. You know, I don't think I can quite narrow it to five with certainty. There's just too many. I want to talk about Phyllis Eisenstein and the first two published novels in The Book of Elementals. I want to try and quantify why Dune by Frank Herbert built such worlds in my head. I want to pluck out the world building aspects of Tolkein and the carefree heroism in The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Saint. I used to read a lot of horror: Peter Straub, Stephen King, Richard Laymon. The Gunslinger! Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising sequence! My childhood friends, The Famous Five! I can't do it. Sorry. Let's move on to another question.
What do you read for pleasure?
All sorts. Anything that my friends and family put into my hands. For true luxury on the shelf beside my bed are my "go to" beauties: old books, with thick yellowed pages or leather covers and slip cases. I find them in charity shops and street markets.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I really prefer a Kindle. The old generation, with the keyboard. Is liking that generation of Kindle now like collecting old books from second-hand shops? I have the apps on my iPhone and iPad but it's not the same experience at all. Too much other distraction available on the same device. I can't read eBooks on a desktop computer at all.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up all over the place. My dad was a gamekeeper and went where the work was. Sometimes he stopped being a gamekeeper and did other things like being a carpenter for a while. I spent four years of my childhood living with my parents on an island, being home-schooled. My reading age was phenomenal because my parents didn't stage my reading, as soon as I could read one age group of books I went on to the next, so I was reading my mum's Wilbur Smith collection by age twelve. (My maths were very basic though!)

My writing is in part a channeling of my inner voice. I was a fairly silent child, not having friends to talk to, and I'm not always that chatty as an adult. Sometimes my characters say things that I don't. All that time I spend not talking, I'm likely turning over a story in my head. I'm pretty sure if I'd had a different upbringing, I'd be a much more social person and spend a lot less time inventing fiction!

Sometimes I write about things or places I've known. Talking about the island is so evocative for me because I ran wild there for so long as a child. I've got a story turning over in my head that features it.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing long-hand when I was fifteen or so. I'd buy a big lined A4 pad in the pound shop and some biros and scrawl away happily. I used to experiment a lot with word count and pacing. I'd count the words in blocks of ten and mark them up on the page.

I didn't bother much with short stories. I had a brief affair with them but lost interest after I submitted one for my English composition homework. It was returned unmarked. The teacher said to me that she thought it had been copied from a magazine although she couldn't find which one. I wished her luck in finding it since I'd written it the week before. I got detention. That kind of soured the whole short story thing for me, for about twenty years in fact!

When I was seventeen I got a typewriter. A big old fashioned one. I spent all my pocketmoney on typewriter ribbon and paper and secondhand books. We didn't have much money. I'd let my trainers fall into wretched disrepair if I could buy books instead.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Slip/Stream - Red Right Hand is a story -- the beginning of a quest, really -- about a person who isn't who he believes he is. He's got a past and not all of it is known to him. He thinks he's in control, that he's almost invincible really, but he gets swept up in someone else's plans and his current life starts falling apart around him. People he cares for get hurt. He gets betrayed, basically. All of this happens against the backdrop of the failure of his neural network. He's losing his sense of self and discovering maybe he isn't who he thought he was. It's about identity. How much are we defined by who we believe we are?

Red Right Hand is Lev's deconstruction and the beginning of his rediscovery. I'm already a third into the next in the series and it will be his coming to terms with who he I s well as moving the focus onto some other main characters.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I don't write for profit. I don't write for my living. I have another job that pays my mortgage. I write because my head is full of stories.

I was first published by an online acquaintance who essentially pestered me into getting version one of Red Right Hand ready for publishing. He was ultimately the person who gave me the faith in myself as being an author other people might want to read (thanks, St Rob!).

Time moved on a year or so and sadly his publishing exploits came to an end and I found myself back with the publishing rights again. I don't feel like hawking my work to major publishers. The idea of a slush pile frankly turns me off entirely. I'm much more comfortable with self distributing eBooks myself and hopefully moving to a print on demand service in the future. I like being in control.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are awesome. It makes me feel good to know people read and enjoy what I write.
What are you working on next?
Currently I'm a third into Slip/Stream iteration 2, which has a working title of Valkyrie. There's another story poking around in the back of my head, based in part on something I wrote years ago for NaNoWriMo. It's not scifi, though, it's possibly modern horror. Surrealist. Not sure until I start putting words to the story how it will flow.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I have such a busy life. I think what inspires me to get out of bed each day is the terror of how far behind in my schedule I'd fall if I didn't!
What is your writing process?
I think about things for a very long time.

Sometimes I draw character names from places I pass while exploring the UK, or sometimes someone who knows I write will say to me "oh, I've got such a great character name for you". North Burlingham is a place I used to drive past a sign for when travelling to see my mum, for example. Those things I make a note of because names without a character attached to them yet tend to get forgotten quickly.

I tried once to map the plot of a novel with index cards and frankly it didn't work. I get the start of a story right and then I let it take me where it's going. Sometimes I'll end up in a dead end, so I'll stop writing and go away and mull it over before clipping out what didn't work. I have tons of orphaned snippets of writing, scenes that didn't work or were unnecessary. Later, when I've got a good sense of the arc, then I'll start gently polishing and shaping it in terms of pace.

So I think about things for a long time. I let the characters find their voice and tell me what they would do if X happened. Then I start putting the words down. I used to use Word exclusively but now I write in Scrivener as it's easier to jig things about.
Published 2018-03-18.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Slip/Stream - Red Right Hand
Series: Slip/Stream. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 99,720. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Lev is a man with a past, a man with many names and many faces. There are secrets hidden inside his head that even he can't access any more. Lev may have left his past behind, but his past has never let go. Soon, it will find him and remind him of what he once was, what he was capable of once and what he will be again.