Interviewed by Gloria Herrera
Interview with Suzy Shearer by Gloria Herrera.
Her personal description in Facebook reads… “Single, all alone and fancy free; I live in the western suburbs of Sydney Australia with one very spoilt dog and two equally spoilt cats to keep me company.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.”
Her writing reflects an author who gets deep into the characters of her books. They become so real, the readers cannot help feel they are part of the cast of characters, only a silent one.
Thanks to the Internet, I was able to interview Suzy without the jet lag. Here are the questions I asked.
1. What are some of the references that you used while researching your latest book? I’ve just had my latest ménage book accepted by my publisher and it’s due out in September. In it one of the heroes is an indigenous Australian – a member of the Warlpiri tribe. I wanted to make sure I treated his culture with respect. Spend days online researching customs and culture, reading reports, anthropological documents as well as gathering information on indigenous sites. As well I wanted him to use a native dialect at times and luckily I found an amazing online education site that taught children Warlpiri language.
2. What do you think most characterizes your writing? My heroes and heroines are always older. They range in age from late 30s right through to 60s. Most are around 50. As well 99% of my heroines have been plus-sized women who are proud of their curves. I want to show that just because a person is older they aren’t sexy and attractive.
3. What did you enjoy most about writing your latest book? The amazing things I learn about Australian aboriginal culture. Even though I’m an Aussie my knowledge of customs and culture of indigenous Aussies was limited. I’ve always respected and love their culture but now I have an even deeper insight to their wonderful connection to the Earth, their love of family and their amazing oral traditions.
4. Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process. What does your writing process look like? Do you have any strange writing habits?
It’s a rather intuitive process and it’s very crazy….lol….apart from the fact that I usually have a few WIPs like most authors. I tend to write all over the place. I may start at chapter 1 but then move to chapter 20 then back to 15 then 2. I flit about like a butterfly. I could be writing a chapter then have an idea for something further in the book so I write that chapter. Amazingly it all comes together in the end. I’m sure a lot of other writers would be horrified but it works for me. I use a program called Scrivener because it allows me to wander about with all my chapters showing as tabs. It also has my characters, my research and any pics included in tabs as well. I also search the internet for pictures of males who I imagine my heroes would look like. I print them out and hang them in front of my laptop – I talk to them, let them dictate how they want to act, maybe even fall in love with them a little …. lol Then there’s music, music and even more music. I have to have music blasting out loudly in the background. I just can’t work in silence. When I go into my studio the first thing I do is turn my iPod onto shuffle and it’s the last thing I turn off when I leave. Very eclectic in my music choices too – opera, classical, pop, world, blues, soundtracks, RnR… you name it it’s probably on my iPod except for C&W – hate that! 5. What process did you go through to get your book published? I have to be the luckiest author on the planet. I’d written two manuscripts and decided to send each to a different publisher. After four nail biting weeks I received an answer from Siren telling me they’d love to publish my MS – I was totally shocked! I never in my wildest dreams imagined that the first publisher I submitted my MS to would accept my work. I figured I’d be able to wallpaper my studio with reject slips … lol. A few weeks later I got a reply from the other publishers – they loved the work but didn’t print in the genre and gave me a list of publisher’s they felt would be interested – Siren was on that list … lol!
6. What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors? Read, read and read even more. I’ve been an avid reader since childhood. I read mainly thrillers, murder mysteries, Sci/Fi/Fantasy, the classics and adventures but it doesn’t matter what you read as long as you do. When you do write always write for yourself. Never write what you think other people will like – it just comes across false. Believe in what you write. When you finally finish a MS get someone honest to read it. Make sure they’re the sort of person who will tell you honestly if it’s shit or if’s good. Accept their criticisms and learn from them. When I re-read that very first book I cringe … lol… I’ve learnt so much since then and grown as a writer and I believe it’s because I learn from honest criticisms and honest feedback. The edit, edit, edit – some books would be great if they were shorter and in some cases longer so don’t be afraid to add where you think it needs more and chop bits out that just don’t work or have become long and tedious. Most importantly never give up!
7. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
In the beginning I would read them. I’d be in tears over the bad reviews. I wanted to write to those people and tell them how awful they were but I didn’t. Then one day I was looking at a very well-known author’s latest book and reading his reviews. Imagine my surprise when I read some horrid ones. Made me realise no matter what you write or how good it is, you just can’t satisfy everyone. That’s when I understood you have to write for yourself and believe in it. Now I rarely read reviews unless they are from reviewers I requested. If theirs aren’t as good as I hope I’ve found that most offer suggestions as to why they felt sections didn’t work and I always take that on board. If you’re an author you have to grow a thick skin and learn to ignore the bad.
8. If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living? I’m lucky – I actually do the two things I love most for a living. As well as being an author I’m an artist. I’ve been painting since childhood and it was my full-time career for about 5 years before I became an author as well.
9. How do you feel about e-books vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I’m addicted to technology so I do love e-books BUT there is absolutely nothing in the world that beats holding a print book. The smell, the texture, the weight. There are good points to having e-books – you can have thousands and not have to worry about finding room on the book shelves but I love seeing my shelves overflowing. As an author it just doesn’t feel real until you hold that book in your hand and see your name on the front cover. I’ve never gone the Indie way of publishing so I can’t really comment on how that relates to conventional publishing.
10. What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn't so?
When people find out I write erotic romances often their reaction is to give a sleazy leer and make some comment about writing porn and being a sex maniac or else act horrified that I’d write such ‘trash’. Also the general assumption I’ve had from many males is I’m some sort of nymphomaniac who jumps into bed with anyone and does every kind of weird sexual thing. Just as authors who write adventures about killing people don’t actually go around with a huge machine gun shooting people women who write erotic novels usually have a monogamous happy relationship or are single like me without any sexual partner.
11. How important are names to you in your books? You choose the names based on … In my first manuscripts I actually worked my way through my family tree … lol. I imagine some of my ancestors might roll in their graves when they saw their characters were into BDSM or some kinky fetish. Now that I’ve used them all up I tend to come up with names that I feel work well with the other characters. Some names seemed to clash against another – it wouldn’t do for a heroine’s name to jar awkwardly against the heroes. Sometimes I use the name generator in Scrivener (I write my manuscripts using it) usually when I want a character from another country. I’ve written a series about immortal vampire hunters and need Romanian, Cree, Italian, etc names for the characters in them.
12. What projects are you working on at the present? I’ve just sent the first draft of a novella to one of my beta readers – it’s a short 30k word story about vampires. The heroine is a 59 yr old mortal who has a very rare blood type (the only one of 2 people alive with it). My heroes are two sexy vampires who have to protect her from a villainous vamp. As well I am working on the 3rd book in my Dark Desires series. I based the series around the fact that nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, that many people harbour dark secret sexual desires. This 3rd book is a Dom/sub who have to overcome some emotional problems before they can have their perfect relationship. A couple of other WIPs are still in the ‘just started’ stage but hopefully come to fruition.
Now, let’s get personal…
1. Do you have any tattoos? If so, do they have a meaning
I have 6 tattoos including a very colourful half-sleeve. They all mean something to me and they are all from my own drawings. My two most important are my wrist tattoos – I’m a Buddhist (have been for 48 yrs) and on one wrist I have an ‘om’ and the other the Sanskrit mantra ‘on mani padme hum’.
2. Favorite place? Somersby Falls near Gosford in NSW. It’s beautiful and I love painting the falls.
3. Favorite Animal and why I have several but earlier this year I had a ‘Meerkat Encounter’. I actually had 7 meerkats crawling all over me and it was one of the most amazing, awesome unforgettable experience I’ve had.
4. Biggest Fear I’ll have to live the rest of my life alone. Been single and alone for years. I really would love to meet that one soul mate out there just for me.
5. Any secret talent you want us to know about? I think I’m a pretty good artist. I paint usually in watercolours in the traditional style. My subjects are varied usually portraits of people or animals, nudes and seascapes. I sold hundreds of works over the years.
Her workspace… how inspiring!
I loved interviewing and getting to know Suzy so much, I went and bought one of her books - Her Cravings Mastered (Dark Desires #2).
This is an impressive story of a domestic abuse victim and her search for independence and freedom. You hear about abused women who stay in relationships that are abhorrent. You hear that they stay with the abuser and then you wonder ... Why?
This story looks into the heart of a woman who survives years of abuse at the hand of her boyfriend and finally seeks to free herself from his control. Years of working toward her goal to succeed and prove she can achieve everything he denied her, melt away when he threatens her again. Jessica has become a successful businesswoman. The impact of Dennis coming into her life again and making demands, weakens her with the terror of his influence. She has a good man in her life now who believes in her and her abilities. Out of the strength of this relationship springs the needed moral support for her to stand up to her abusive ex. Aiden Dowling is her strongest supporter. He loves her just as she is. His love and assurances help Jessica flourish.
Mature love can be just as exciting and passionate. This story is well-written and believable. I was transported into Aiden and Jessica's world. My only regret is that the book ended. I loved it!