Award-winning, international bestselling author Susan Fox, who also writes as Susan Lyons and Savanna Fox, writes contemporary romances that verge toward women’s and mainstream fiction. Today she sits down with us for an interview. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
I’d always been a huge consumer of fiction, but it didn’t occur to me that I might actually write one of those books until a friend gave me Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. When I started writing fiction, I knew I’d found my calling.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
This was back in the days before indie publishing and I’m embarrassed to say that it took ten years – and probably at least ten completed manuscripts. I have a law degree and I always told people it was easier to become a lawyer than a published writer. Of course now, with indie publishing, it’s the opposite. As for being an excellent writer or lawyer – well, either one still takes a lot of time and devotion!
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I’m hybrid, but heavily weighted toward traditionally published. I have two dozen titles with Kensington, six with Berkley, two indie novels, and a dozen indie collections of mini-stories.
Where do you write?
Mostly at my desk in my home office, with my full-size monitor and wireless keyboard and mouse. But I have back issues so I mix it up by taking the laptop to a recliner chair, working standing at the kitchen island, or sitting on one of those big balls. I love occasionally going to a coffee shop or wine bar to write.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Silence, definitely! I’m an only child, grew up in a quiet house, and still have trouble concentrating on my work if there’s music or a TV show on. If my partner’s watching TV in the other room, I have the door closed or my earplugs in. Oddly enough, though, if I’m in a coffee shop, the chatter around me becomes white noise that I can mostly tune out.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
My characters and plots represent people and issues that intrigue me. A lot of the time they come from my general observation of the world, but sometimes there are things that resonate particularly close to home. For example, in Fly Away With Me, the Gulf Islands setting is very close to home. My partner and I have a boat and we explore those islands every summer. My heroine Eden wants to use her law degree to do something she considers worthwhile. I have a law degree and felt the same way. Aaron is a seaplane pilot and I’ve flown on those little seaplanes, over islands like my fictional Destiny Island, and I love the experience. I’ve also kayaked with seals – and definitely drunk wine at sunset! Eden’s mom is a cancer survivor and so was my mom. The issues Eden’s family deals with around her mom’s illness are all ones I’ve experienced.
Describe your process for naming your characters?
Calling it a “process” makes it sound more efficient than it really is. Sometimes names just pop into my mind or I see interesting names in TV credits or magazines. I have lists of names that interest me and I review them when I’m naming new characters. I’ll check popular baby names for the year the character was born. Ethnic background is a factor. I’ve also asked for suggestions on my Facebook page.
Here’s how I came up with the names in Fly Away With Me. Eden: A friend gave her baby that name, and I loved it. Blaine: I wanted a simple surname, one syllable after the two-syllable first name, something that sounded good with Eden, so I just hunted through names until one felt right. Aaron: He was originally Adam, a name I like and have never used for a hero, but someone pointed out that Adam and Eden was too Biblical – something I’d never actually realized myself, even though it seems obvious – so I looked for something similar and hit on Aaron. Gabriel: It’s a name I just love, one I’ve used as a hero’s first name (in Finding Isadora), so I indulged and let myself use it again, this time as a surname. I also loved naming Di and Seal SkySong, but if I told you any more about that, it would be a spoiler!
Real settings or fictional towns?
That depends on what works for the story. I used Vancouver as a setting for many of my books, because it’s such a fabulous city and provides so many options. But for my Caribou Crossing Romances and my Blue Moon Harbor series, which are set in small communities in British Columbia, I didn’t know of any actual town or island that would work perfectly for the stories, so I created them, trying to be authentic to the general areas.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
My heroine Eden, who’s a perfectionist and a control-freak, is a nail-biter. When she was little, her grandmother, a strong-minded woman, told her the habit was not only unattractive and unhygienic but it was a sure giveaway of anxiety, insecurity, and lack of control. Eden certainly doesn’t want to reveal those qualities to the outside world, so she has a bunch of techniques to cope with her urge to bite her nails: sitting on her hands, gripping the strap of her briefcase or purse, or clasping her hands.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I’m a little OCD. I like to straighten things and tidy things.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I love how the characters are drawn so clearly and are so human and imperfect, yet strong in their own way. I love the theme of justice versus injustice and the poignancy of the fact that the good guys don’t always win. I love how the setting comes to life. And I love that the story is told from a young girl’s point of view, which means she sees the world through inexperienced eyes, observing and forming opinions that are less biased than those of the adults.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
There’s nothing big that I can think of. I’m not a believer in wishing things had been different. The past is the past; learn from it and move on. I suppose the things I’d really like to do over are the small ones, like if I spoke too quickly, maybe out of anger or hurt, and said something snappy or unkind.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Intolerance and prejudice. I believe each person is unique and all people are equal, and I get upset with people who think that other people are inferior to them. I realize that prejudice usually comes of out ignorance and fear, but I still find it difficult to excuse.
Diversity and equality are themes I always include in my books. I have multicultural characters, interracial relationships, characters with physical or mental disabilities, and gay relationships.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
The necessities of physical survival (water, food). An unlimited supply of books. An intelligent, perceptive, resourceful companion.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Marking exams. It was a summer job between third and fourth year university. A bunch of us – all female – sat around a table all day marking exam papers. So intensely boring. But at least we enjoyed each other’s company.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
I’m going back to To Kill a Mockingbird.
Ocean or mountains?
Ocean. I don’t do very well with heights!
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
I need both.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m continuing with the Blue Moon Harbor series. The next story is “Blue Moon Harbor Christmas” in Winter Wishes, a holiday anthology (October 2017) that also contains novellas by Fern Michaels, Jules Bennett, and Leah Marie Brown. Then Come Home With Me will be out in late December, and Sail Away With Me (which I’m working on now) in the fall of 2018.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
I hope readers will explore my website. There are excerpts, behind-the-scenes notes, discussion guides, review quotes, photos, and recipes. You can sign up for my e-newsletter there, enter my opinion poll contest, and get in touch with me. I love to hear from readers! You can also find my Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, and BookBub links there.
Thank you so much for hosting me here!
Fly Away With Me, Blue Moon Harbor Book 1
Known for its rugged beauty and eccentric residents, tiny Blue Moon Harbor is big on love...
For busy lawyer Eden Blaine, a trip to a Pacific Northwest island she’s never even heard of is far from a vacation. Eden’s ailing mother has tasked her with finding her long-lost aunt, who once had ties to a commune on the island. Still reeling from a breakup with her longtime boyfriend, romance is the last thing Eden is looking for. But her gorgeous seaplane pilot has her wondering if a carefree rebound fling is exactly what she needs…
Aaron Gabriel has no illusions about happily ever after. His troubled childhood made sure of that. But he does appreciate a pretty woman’s company, and Eden is the exact combination of smart and sexy that turns him on. Still, as he helps her search for her missing aunt, the casual relationship he imagined quickly becomes something much more passionate—and much harder to give up. Can two people determined to ignore romance recognize that their heated connection is the kind of love destined to last?