Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Author is Interview Series by Molly O'Keefe

Susan Andersen

THE AUTHOR IS...
Interview with Susan Andersen

NO STRINGS ATTACHED
Amazon Barnes and Noble Books-A-Million IndieBound

Never Been Kissed

  
  

Susan Andersen is an author whose work I’ve read and loved since before I really realized I wanted to write romances. Imagine how thrilled I was when she gave my first book with Bantam a glowing cover quote. She is supportive and kind and even more fabulous than her books — which is no easy thing!! I’m thrilled she agreed to answer some questions, from me and from readers.
Susan, I started reading your romantic suspense books first. (On Thin Ice is my FAVORITE!) And when I picked up Baby I Am Yours — it was like meeting your twin, or something. Your funny, zany sister. How did that transition work for you? How did you manage those two voices? Why did you decide to stop?
I didn’t so much decide as have no choice. When the bottom dropped out of the Romantic Suspense market in 1995 my publisher at the time closed their suspense line and I was cut loose. Desiring to continue my very much stop and go career, I chose to do three things. I reinvented my career, exchanged my first agent for my current one and vowed to never again sell myself short. (I’d already closed down the Popular Library line at Warner and signed a ridiculously bad contract with the publisher that dumped me and was beginning to realize if I didn’t take my career choices more seriously, neither would anyone else).
I thought it might be a kick to write about twins who were worlds apart personality-wise and then throw in that good old standby Mistaken Identity. It didn’t occur to me that my voice diverged in the two different styles, because more than anything my levity has always come from the vastly different ways in which men and women view things, and I’d incorporated that in my darker Romantic Suspense as well. In Baby, I’m Yours and Be My Baby, however, I shot for a consciously lighter tone when it came to the situations my characters found themselves in.
Your books are very funny. Do you brainstorm the funny bits, or do they happen while you’re writing? Or editing?
Its organic. I can brainstorm a situation that lends itself to a more light-hearted tone but funny is something I can’t force. I’ve always had a sort of skewed sense of humor so I chose to unleash it like so many flying monkeys. Some people really like it. Other’s go, “What the hell is she talking about? That’s not funny.”
You’ve written books about competitive ice skating, Vegas show girls, Marines. Your new book No Strings Attached has a DEA hero and a heroine who spends three nights in a Bahamian jail on fake drug charges. All of this to say — wow! That’s a lot of research. Have you ever shied away from an idea because you weren’t keen on doing the research?
I haven’t shied away from it, but my favorite way to research is talking to professionals. I’ve been lucky on more than one occasion to be conversing with the right person at the right time, only to discover they know someone in the very field I want to write about. The first time was for Obsessed. In the dressing room at the gym one day I got to talking to a woman I’d exchanged chit-chat with out on the floor. I don’t usually like to talk about my writing, as I’d rather write the entire book than have to describe succinctly (a concept my brain can’t seem to wrap its little head around) its core idea/theme/ whathaveyou. Yet I found myself telling her I was working on a book whose hero was a detective in the sexual assaults division—but I was writing blind and was unsure how to go about getting the technical information I needed. Turned out she was a cop and she hooked me up with a detective in the Special Assaults Unit in the Seattle PD. Same thing happened with On Thin Ice. A long time friend of my mom’s (and mine) put me in touch with her old school chum who had skated with Shipstad and Johnson Ice Folliies, a now defunct touring company, and was still active in the ice skating world. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was so green in those days that I didn’t even include them in the acknowledgments, an oversight I regret to this day.
What I find most difficult is writing settings I’ve never personally visited. I wrote Be My Baby without visiting New Orleans. I had immense help from a mystery writer who lived there and a Seattle journalist with Sunset Magazine who brought me back a huge stack of photographs. But I still stressed over it and made it a point to visit the areas the books were set in from that point. Of course, having said that, here I am, currently writing an on-the-run book I’ve set in South America (starring Finn Kavanagh, who featured in two of the Sisterhood Diaries Trilogy). I’ve never been to South America, but I did a lot of library/online research—then made up my own country based on what I learned.
I just wrote a blog post for Bobbi Dumas’ Read-A-Romance Month about how reading romance and writing romance helps me celebrate my marriage in that it reminds me on a nearly daily basis of what love feels like and requires of me. And it made me think of you and your soul mate/High School Sweetheart! How has this very bizarre career we have played a part in your life? Enriched? Complicated?
In our day to day lives, it truly hasn’t played much of a role. He’s an engineer; I’m a writer. It’s just what we do. We arrived at the traditions that shape our marriage with a whole lot of raising each other and hit and miss experimentation.
On the other hand, it took me almost eight years to sell my first book and, bless his heart, during that time the soul mate displayed darn few douche moments. He was supportive through the pre-sell years and through the first decade I was published when I could have made a better living flipping burgers. My all time favorite encouragement moment came long before I got my first contract. I’d received yet another rejection of a manuscript I’d submitted. I was totally discouraged and said (okay, wailed), “Do you think I’ll ever be published?”
He just looked at me and said, “Hell, yeah. You’re too damn stubborn to ever give up.”
Perked
Me
Right
Up. The man took one of my character faults and turned it into a virtue. Gotta love that.
I know when I answer the question “which of your books is your favorite?” I almost always lie and say, all of them. Or the next one. When I know the truth is that some books were easier to write than others. For a multitude of reasons — life stuff and writing stuff. Some nearly killed me. Some make me so proud I can’t even stand it. So, which book of yours is your favorite? Which one nearly killed you? Which are you most proud of?
I usually say the one I just finished because the thing finally is done. The actual writing makes my ears bleed. I’m not one of those authors whose words flow from her fingertips in copperplate cursive. I write largely by correction so where I shine is in the editing process. Getting my original idea down hurts. Some books are far easier to write than others, but I’ve found that some of the ones that came the hardest, that I thought were pure crap as I was writing them, have surprised the hell out of me when I did the final Prologue-to-The End polish. And picking your fave really is a lot like saying who your favorite kid is (and I only have one, but I’ve got a shipload of nieces and nephews and their kids). That said, a few of my sneaking favourites are Exposure, Baby, I’m Yours, Coming Undone, Just For Kicks and Some Like It Hot. Of those, the first three were the easiest to write. The last two, not so much. Still, I’m pretty proud of my body of work as a whole.
I got some GREAT reader questions mostly regarding brainstorming and your writing process:
Renee Page: How do you develop the plot and do you ever change the plot in the middle of writing the book?
When I started out, I was a strictly a seat of the pants writer—I’d just make it up as I went along. I was lucky in that I had the same editor for the first five books. Book One was an entire manuscript. The next four I wrote single-paragraph synopsises (synosi?) which said This is what I think I’ll do and she trusted me to do it. But, believing she deserved a life of her own., the darn woman got married and moved to LA.
That’s when I found out no one loves you quite as much as the person who discovered you. My new editors wanted to see actual fleshed out synopsi (Yep, going with that for the plural). So I started brainstorming with my friend Caroline Cross who wrote kick-ass Desires and taught me to write a decent synopsis. Between us, we’d develop enough plot to score me an advance. I’m a pantser by nature, though, so until I plant my butt in the chair, I truly don’t know will come out of my head. Plus my books are more character than plot driven. That generally means those characters hijack my nicely thought out plot and take it in directions I never anticipated. But that’s kind of the beauty of writing. Nothing’s quite as satisfying as looking at something you’ve written, feeling your mouth quirk up in a wry smile, and saying, “Huh. Who knew?”
Martina Chees: How much time does she spend on brainstorming the idea for book in comparison to writing it? Is it harder to think of a good story or to write it?
I spend waaaayyyyy more time writing than brainstorming. I’m a slow writer. I so wish that was an exaggeration, but unfortunately it isn’t. Every now and then an idea will come to me full blown (Burning UP) but that’s rare, rare, rare. Mostly I find the difficulty level in a dead heat between thinking of a good storyline and writing it.
And Finally Fill in the Blank THE AUTHOR IS... sometimes stoked, but too often frazzled
Susan’s next book NO STRINGS ATTATCHED will be released on July 29! You can read the prologue on her website:
http://susanandersen.com/index.php
And if you’re not following on her on Facebook — you need to fix that because she’s always got the good stuff on her page!
https://www.facebook.com/SusanAndersenFanPage?fref=ts
While you’re at it — come and find me on Facebook and let me know what you thought of the interview!
https://www.facebook.com/MollyOKeefeBooks?ref=hl
or send me an email: molly@molly-okeefe.com
Next month I’m interviewing Sherry Thomas — find out more about her on her website: http://www.sherrythomas.com/

The Boys of Bishop Are Coming!
Wild Child — October 2013
Never Been Kissed — June 2014
Between The Sheets — July 2014

Life. Not as it seems.


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