Here on the blog we occasionally like to feature other people. Even I get bored with me at times.
Ha! I almost said that with a straight face!
But we learn from any author who visits, and today we’ll be visiting with Susan Mills Wilson. Pull up a chair.
Susan is a native of North Carolina and lives in a small town just outside Charlotte, so she can enjoy having the best of both worlds. She writes a blog on a wide range of topics, is the leader of the Charlotte Writers Club Mystery Critique Group, and serves on the board of the Charlotte Writers Club. Susan has published five romantic suspense novels: Good Gone Bad, Her Lying Eyes, Hunt for Redemption, Cruz Control, andMeltdown.
On her blog is says, “She writes because she cannot imagine not writing.” I like that.
DAN: Do you remember the first story you read and if it had an impact on you?
SUSAN WILSON: The first book I remember reading was Alice in Wonderland. For my fifth birthday,
I received the children’s version with beautiful illustrations. It became my most treasured property.
But over the years the book that has stuck with me most is Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson. I first read it as a teenager, and over the years, I have read it several times.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript for Twisted Fate?
I started doing research about two months before I started writing Twisted Fate. Most of my research focused on tornadoes since I had never experienced one. Once I began writing, it took me a year to write the first draft with the help of my writers’ critique group.
What’s a good writing secret?
I created a formula for writing each scene. I call it “hook, drag, hang.” It sounds crazy, but it works for me. I start off with a hook, keep the reader intrigued, and at the end of the scene, I use a cliff hanger, a problem to be solved, or a question to be answered.
My other secret is making sure I include tension in every scene. Of course in suspense writing, there’s always the typical fistfight, heated argument, or gunfire, but tension can also be in the form of an internal conflict, sexual tension between a guy and girl, or something even going on in the background like a driver doing something crazy in traffic or a diner at a nearby table, making a scene by throwing a glass of wine in the face of her date.
When you need help, are stuck, need to know what character should say, who are your go-to people?
I interview my characters to get unstuck. I pretend I am a reporter and I ask my point of view character questions such as, “What did you do when that happened?” “What did you see?” “What were you thinking or feeling?”
What is the strangest place you’ve gotten a great story?
Once I was at a concert in a park and an idea popped into my head. When I noticed a church tower directly across the street, I turned to my husband and said, “That would be a great place for a sniper to fire into the crowd at the park.” He said, “You’re weird.” True, but a story was born, and I published Meltdown the next year about a sniper shooting into a park on the Fourth of July.
Which project took you farthest out of your comfort zone?
Besides people being gunned down by a sniper shooter, a scene for Cruz Control was gut-wrenching to write. It is where a man brutally beats his wife, and it seemed so real to me, I tossed and turned in bed all night. Although I have never been physically abused, I felt as though I had experienced what my character went through.
Wine or coffee when you write?
In the morning, I insist on drinking black coffee to get me going. I do my best writing at that time of day. However, I usually do the love scenes at night after I’ve had one or two glasses of wine.
One other tidbit, when I write fight scenes, car chases, or shootings, I listen to rock music, but when I write romance, I prefer slower, love songs. Michael Buble, Ed Sheeran, and Andrea Bocelli come to mind.
What’s your writing area?
As a fan of Jimmy Buffet music and a true Parrothead, I have transformed my writing area/office into what I consider to be Margaritaville. It helps to have a coastal Margaritaville Restaurant just a few hours away where I’m a sucker for a wall plaque or mug from the gift shop.
Answer this: “What I want a writer to get from my writing is…”
I like to write fast-paced suspense books which can be read in a short amount of time. Although I write to entertain, there is always a moral lesson in there somewhere. People don’t know their own strength or abilities until pushed to their limits. This is true of my characters.
Want to know more? Here are Susan’s links.
Gang, please join me in thanking Susan for stopping by and sharing these insights.
And grab your copy of Twisted Fate today!