Susan was staying at a charming Bed and Breakfast that was within walking distance of the cafe we were headed to, so we decided to walk. We passed several old victorian homes, one in particular that reminded me of Theo's house in HEROES ARE MY WEAKENESS. Susan paused to snap a picture and said, "Paint it black and put it on a cliff and it you have Harp House."
|Photo credit: SEP via FB page.|
One of the advantages to old-fashioned sit-down interviews is, having the chance to get to know the person beyond the book they're promoting. It was nice not to be a name behind a blog or a face in a profile picture for a change. Susan asked me as many questions as I did her, and was so gracious about letting me pick her writer's brain.
Here are a few highlights....
As a writer, what's the best piece of advice you've been given? Or that you would give an aspiring author?
SEP: Figure out what works best for you. You go to conferences and listen to writers talk about how fast they can write a book and while it's meant to be encouraging, not everyone in the audience is going to be able to write as fast as those panelists do. A lot of successful writers take a long time to write a book. (Diana Gabaldon for example.)
If you're serious about writing, you have to treat it like a job. But you need to consider where you are in life, too. Do you have a family? Work a full-time job? When my boys were young, I would send them off to school and write until they came home. I didn't run errands, or make appointments. I spent that time writing. Now, I get up and write for a few hours but once 5p.m. hits, I'm done. My brain is mush.
What is your daily writing routine like? Do you set daily word counts, page counts or aim for finishing a chapter?
SEP: I set a timer for 2, maybe 3 hours. If I start writing at 9a.m. and I get interrupted, I stop the timer. Some days I can get all of my writing finished before lunch. Other times, I'll start at 9a.m. and go until it's 5p.m. if there are too many interruptions.
Are you a plotter, outliner, or panster?
SEP: It takes me roughly 9 months to figure a character out. To really understand and know what their story is.
Me: Like being pregnant, except you're birthing a character.
SEP: Exactly. I'll get an idea and start writing. If I write 3 chapters, I'll go back and edit them before writing the next chapter. And so on.
What tropes do you enjoy most writing?
SEP: I love a good marriage of convenience story, but those are becoming harder to write, coming up with a good reason you would have to get married. I like to write stories where the MC is stripped of her support system forcing her to work to pull herself back up. Her strength is what the Hero is attracted to most. And I like to the man to be both Hero and Villain, it makes for more romantic tension.
This is going back a few years, but who was your inspiration for Dean Robillard in NATURAL BORN CHARMER? (My first SEP book, btw.)
SEP: No one, really. I never planned to write his story, but I had a vivid picture of what he looked like. While I was working on another book (where he is a minor character), he just kept pushing his way into the room. I knew then he had to have his own book.
What are you working on now?
SEP: Another Chicago Stars book. I always say I'm not going to write another one, and then I'll get an idea.
Me: *internally freaking out* I'm looking forward to reading it.
Thank you, Susan for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me. And thank you, Pam Jaffee for setting our meeting up!
~ About Susan Elizabeth Phillips ~
The Huffington Post says the books of Susan Elizabeth Phillips provide a “gateway drug to the whole [romance] genre,” which she assumes is a good thing. Bookpage magazine calls her “the crown jewel of romantic comedy writers,” which is definitely a good thing. Since she wrote her first novel on a typewriter in her kitchen, her books have been published in over 30 languages and appear on bestseller lists all over the world.
In addition to being a New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and USA Today bestseller, she is a hiker, lazy gardener, horrible singer, passable cook, passionate reader, wife, mother of two grown sons, and grandmother of two adorable little ones. Her newest book, THE GREAT ESCAPE, is now available in hardback and will be released in trade paperback in April 2013. You can visit Susan on Facebook or on her website, where she’s added a special Members Only Lounge.
~ About the Book ~
Title: Heroes Are My Weakness
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Publication: (Paperback) July 28, 2015
By: Avon Romance
New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Elizabeth Phillips is back with a delightful novel filled with her sassy wit, dazzling charm, and a threat of danger—a modern Jane Eyre
It's going to be a long, hot winter.
He is a reclusive writer whose imagination creates chilling horror novels. She is a down-on-her-luck actress who's given up far too much. He knows a dozen ways to kill his characters with his bare hands. She knows a dozen ways to kill an audience with laughs. But she's not laughing now.
Annie Hewitt has been forced to return to an isolated island off the coast of Maine, a place she hasn't visited since a disastrous summer when she was a teen. She couldn't be more ill prepared for what she finds on the island—or for Theo Harp, the mysterious man who dwells in Harp House, the mansion hovering above her home in Moonraker Cottage.
When she was a teenager, Theo betrayed her in a way she can never forget or forgive. Now they're trapped together on a frozen island along with a lonely widow, a mute little girl, and townspeople who don't know how to mind their own business.
Is he the villain she remembers, or has he changed? Her head says no. Her heart says yes. The wrong decision could cost her everything.