Interview with Suzy Stewart Dubot

Published 2013-11-03.
If you were interviewing an author, what would be your first question?
Well, it certainly wouldn't be the standard 'Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?' I'd go for something outlandish like 'Did you ever cheat in English class?' or 'do you often look up the meanings of words?' I might ask how organised or chaotic they are when setting out an outline for their stories...
So, are you a responsible writer who plans a story outline?
A writer is only half responsible for what he writes. I promise you.
Once I have given my characters their names, they begin to take over. Their personalities emerge and have very little to do with what I had originally planned for them. The hardened hero often takes on a schoolboy vulnerability and my heroines have the colour of their hair changing several times before the end of the tale. Not one of your modern hair colour products either, because the majority of my people are ensconced in the Regency period with only the occasional time shift, if you're lucky.
How did you begin?
It was a very bad Regency paperback that convinced me that I could do better.
Why so late in life?
I admit that any urge I had to write earlier was stifled by the mystery of dialogue. How did an author create credible dialogue? Fool that I was, I never attempted it until that modern 'penny dreadful' pushed me to try. I know now. The answer is quite simple for me - I take dictation. My characters say what they like and often do as they like. I sometimes find them kissing or moving on to more serious acts, and there is little I can do without stepping away, without taking my fingers off the keyboard. I wonder if they knew we were reading about them, they might be a little more discreet but somehow I doubt that, in a moment of passion, they would give a damn!
Has a dull life fuelled your fiction?
My writings are not the fantasies of a drudge. I am an American who spent her younger years travelling back and forth between the US and Britain because of divorced parents. The irony is that I have ended up living most of my life in France.
How that happened is another story.
I am a vegetarian and an active supporter of animal rights. It is difficult to know if I have influenced my three daughters or if it is they who have influenced me. My life still has many unexpected twists to it, for which I am grateful most of the time.
To sum up, I must just say that as an author I have had the amazing good fortune of crossing paths/ words/ lines/ stories with some pretty impressive writers. Contact with them has been an eye-opening experience that I would not have missed for anything because, not only have they encouraged me, but they have shown me that writers the world around are just ordinary folk like me. They all have characters and plots in their heads waiting to get out.
What do you tell people who ask what you do for a living?
I answer without hesitation that I am a secretary who takes dictation!
Just joking.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I have actually made an acknowledgement in two of my paperbacks that I wouldn't be where I am today without Smashwords. Every writer needs readers and Smashwords gave them to me at the very beginning and I shall always be grateful. Thank you Smashwords!
What do your fans mean to you?
Any artist needs fans to exist. They are the people who approve of what you do and who encourage you to continue.
What are you working on next?
I have two works in progress. I sometimes step back from one and pick up the thread on the other. I find it gives me a fresh running start each time. The main novel is called 'A Hint of a Ghost' which mixes my Regency genre with modern. My ghost is from the Regency period and he has amnesia. The other is about an American family in London for the sabbatical year that their history professor father has taken. The Victorian house they have rented is literally linked to the past.
Who are your favorite authors?
Through different periods of my life the genre that I have favoured has changed. Just a few and not in order of preference: Anne McCaffrey, Frederic Forsyth, Anne Perry, Isaac Asimov, Michael Crichton, Mary Balogh, Len Deighton, Nichola Cornick, Paul Gallico, Isaac Bashevis Singer and many others.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Believe it or not, I don't need inspiration. Daylight is enough for me to want to get up and take advantage of the time that is left to me...
Describe your desk
My desk is a mess. I have 3 computers of different sizes on it ready to use for the different progammes they have. I have half a dozen dictionaries (English and French) and a couple of thesauruses. There are bottles of nail varnish, glasses & their cases, cups of tea, pens and pencils and papers of every sort, including grocery receipts. You wouldn't want my desk but I feel secure in my chaos.
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