Today we sit down for a chat with romantic suspense and mystery author Suzanne Baginskie who's been writing ever since her mother gifted her with a five-year diary for her eighth birthday. She recently retired from a law firm as a paralegal-office manager. Now she writes daily spinning tales of romantic suspense that pair tantalizing mystery with compelling romance. Learn more about Suzanne and her books at her website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
After years of writing and selling short fiction and nonfiction stories that mostly appeared in romance & mystery anthologies and twenty-two Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, I dreamed of writing a book that would have only my name on the cover.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
After nineteen years, I wrote my first novel and entered a writing contest for a romantic suspense Harlequin line. Three months later, I was notified my book was in the last ten entries, but I didn’t win. The best part was it forced me to write a complete novel that I could rewrite and submit to other publishers. During Covid-19, with time on my hands, I saw a call out for romance manuscripts. I polished up the book and submitted Dangerous Charade. A week later in a Zoom call, I was offered a five-book contract and asked to write a series.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I’m traditionally published.
Where do you write?
Years ago, when we searched for a new home and walked through many different models, I fell in love with my current house because it had a small bonus office. That feature sold me on this particular home. When we moved in, I purchased some large bookshelves, a rolltop desk and matching wooden chair. The area has a large window and also a French door with little glass panes. I keep a Do not Disturb – Writing in Progress sign on the doorknob. It doesn’t keep my hubby out though.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Some days, I need pure silence. Other times, I play my favorite radio station with light rock music in the background and then realized I’m so deep into my head at times, I don’t even hear it.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I had a lengthy twenty-nine year career as a paralegal/office manager in a law office that handled criminal cases, divorces, and other general law. I also volunteered for the local Sheriff for nine years and helped with the Citizen Academy classes. I reaped valuable information from them both. Twisted criminal plots are happening almost every day. I watch television shows/movies and the news, read the newspapers, and discovered crazy characters reside around us all.
Describe your process for naming your character?
I name my characters in three different ways. Number one is using a baby book of 60,000 first names. My 2007 edition features the meanings, origins and all the derivations. The last names are harder, I either take the daily obituary column page, and borrow a last name from there, or think about my family and friends and use one or two of them in my stories, first or last name. I get tickled when they notice their name is in my book. Then I know for sure they read them!
Real settings or fictional towns?
I like actual town settings and tend to research so I can name the interstates and use city highlights to make the area more realistic. I use FBI buildings in the town vicinity featured in the story. The weather plays an important role in some of my books too. The first is set in a small fishing town of Crystal Springs, Florida, the second in Allentown and the mountains of Pennsylvania and the third in Daytona Beach, Florida.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
In my third book, the male FBI special agent’s wife was ill with cancer and passed away while he was on duty. After he buried her, he just couldn’t bear to take off his wedding ring and wore it for over two years. You’ll have to read it to find out why. When he fell in love with his partner, he wondered what she thought of him still wearing the ring throughout their missions, but he never took it off. At the very end, he finally removed it and stuck it in his drawer before he proposed.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
I’ve realized I’ve been analytical all of my life. Everything I do has to be done logically and not out of order. I’ve established a steady routine and strong habits. I’m also curious, modest, and very observant. Monday through Friday, I begin with an early four-mile walk, and then a shower and breakfast. After that, I go into my office and work on my writing.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,)
which one would it be? Why?
I would choose to write Wizard of Oz, the literary book by L. Frank Baum. As a child, I read this book over and over and it’s still my favorite. As a writer, I realized it gives you the perfect guide to writing a book since every character in it wants and needs something and they go the extra mile to obtain it.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
There is one thing I would do over. I would have chosen the career of a flight attendant. So, I could have earned the status of free flights for life because I love to travel. Since I can’t do it over, I grab every opportunity to see the world with my husband and friends. We do cruise a lot. I’m retired and I make sure there’s always a cruise booked in the near future.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Lateness! I was brought up to arrive earlier than necessary and I still exist in this manner, so it irks me very much if someone is late.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Coffee daily, lots of books to read and a roof over my head to protect me.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
When we first moved to Florida, I took a job at the counter of a drycleaner business. After the clothes were dropped off and the ticket was written, I had to empty the pants and jacket pockets before setting them in the cleaning basket. I hated sticking my hands inside all those pockets, it made me cringe. And I’d pull out the oddest things, dirt included. Crumbled up handkerchiefs or used tissues, grimy combs, and lots of coins. Too bad they didn’t give me rubber gloves back then. I quit after three weeks.
Who’s your all-time favorite literary character (any genre)? Why?
I’ll go with Dorothy Gale in the Wizard of Oz. She landed in an unknown world, killed a witch, and never missed a beat. Then continued on her journey to find a way back home to Kansas and her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. I loved her passion and the perseverance trait she possessed.
Ocean or mountains?
I am a Thalassophile. A lover of the blue ocean. I grew up in New Jersey and always enjoyed our summer trips to the shore. I love walking on the sandy beach when the Atlantic Ocean’s waves crashed against the shoreline and covered my feet. I guess that’s why I’m addicted to cruising. I never tire of gazing at the bluest, foamy topped waves hammering the ship as it sails on sea days to our next port or the long wake it leaves behind it.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
City girl for sure. I love to be close to all the shopping malls, grocery stores, churches, and theaters. Plus, the airport and most of all the Florida cruise ports.
What’s on the horizon for you?
Dangerous Undercurrents, Book four in my FBI Affairs series. I’m currently writing my novel and hope to have it completed in the near future. This book will take my FBI characters off dry land and have them board a cruise ship for an adventurous, undercover mission.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your books?
My husband makes all my business cards and bookmarks. He is so creative and is also an avid reader. His suggestions, support and understanding has really helped me during my entire writing career. I sincerely thank him in this blog.
FBI Affairs, Book 1
When an undercover sting in Nevada at a Las Vegas Casino goes wrong, FBI Agent Noelle Farrell’s cover is blown, and someone wants revenge. Noelle is sent to Florida under the Witness Protection Program where she runs into her old partner, FBI Agent Kyle Rivers, a man she worked closely with and admired. Kyle’s mourning his father. He failed to keep him safe from a deadly stalker. Deep in hiding as a witness for the IRS, someone targets Noelle. She fears for herself and her four-year-old daughter’s safety. Noelle struggles to keep her independence. Kyle vows to protect Noelle, unaware she has a secret—one her assailants already know.