I met Susan through Twitter and we became quick friends.  She sent DMs signed off with Sooz, which still makes me laugh.  I have held on to this interview for a little while as she mentioned she would be publishing a new book.  With the book release imminent, I think it’s time to publish the interview.

Oh, the new book is called The Dating Game.  I have included the blurb towards the end of the interview.   Over to you, Sooz.

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?

I’d quite like to write a children’s book, maybe aimed at 9-12 years old. Unfortunately  I can’t remember what level  of vocabulary one has at that age! I already started writing one a few years back. It’s in a folder somewhere.  I have a very good imagination!

Where do your ideas come from?  Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

Anywhere, everywhere. A passing comment from a friend last week has given me another idea for a book and I am definitely going to write it, as book 5.  My new book, The Dating Game, is about a professional dating agency and this was sparked because of an experience a friend of mine had, although the scenes bear no relation to what she experienced. The seed, however, was sown!

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it?  Does that trigger the story?

Not always. In fact, Sign of the Times was meant to be called Zodiac, but just at that time (2008) another author launched a novel called Zodiac, so I tried to make a play on the words and use a well-know term. The Dating Game earned its title early on, but not right at the beginning. Interestingly, I already have the titles for the next 3 books after The Dating Game.  I usually have the idea for the story and that prompts a title.

Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright?  If so, which authors are driving it?

Well there are certainly plenty of authors in those genres if you look at Twitter! I don’t know very much about science fiction and I don’t read as much fantasy as I used to, although when  I did, Tad Williams was a particular favourite, The Dragonbone Chair series.

What themes are being overused?

At the risk of not knowing if this is directly related to the last question, I am going to take a leap and assume it’s not. So I would say vampires and paranormal . Yes, I get that Twilight was hugely successful, but we really don’t need another zillion examples of it!

Are movies of books ruining the book?

No, I don’t think so.  I have never knowingly gone to see a film which was also a book. I make a point of reading the book and then watching the movie. My favourite example of this is John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief. Many years ago I read the book in one sitting and then went out and rented the video the same night.

However, if you watch the movie, then read the book, absolutely it ruins it, as it has given you no chance to imagine the characters/scenes/setting. Instead the movie has spoonfed you.  There are also some excellent movies of books, The Help and My Sister’s Keeper are two examples (albeit MSK has a different and equally good ending).   I didn’t like how The Golden Compass (of the Phillip Pullman books) cut lots of the book out and also changed some key scenes– that for me, was a bad example, although I still enjoyed the film.

What I am not won over by are book trailers. Why? How can you imagine if someone shows you, instead of allowing you to think and imagine for yourself?

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

Y es and no. I personally use ebooks and paper books and will never give up paper books.  Ebooks are convenient. They save space, both at home and when travelling. You never lose your place. You can look words up in the dictionary, highlight key points, underline mistakes!  They are great for when you are eating breakfast and don’t have a free hand to turn the page!

Paper books – ah! My old friends! You can’t beat the smell of paper books, or that excitement over getting a new hardback, or even paperback. And you can’t rummage in a charity shop for an ebook!

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

I read both. I have my list of favourite authors and it’s very long. Then I have authors I have heard about, been recommended both by personal friends and on Goodreads/Twitter. Now, particularly since becoming an indie author, I come across so many great books by other indie authors, often, but not always debut novels, and I want to read them.  One of the best debut novels I had read was The Chapel in the Woods by Susan Louineau.  I choose them from the cover, the blurb and if I like the sound/look of them.

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

As a teenager, for English class, I once wrote a short story about a magic dancing sugar bowl, so things that can’t be real intrigue me. The Neverending Story is my favourite book.  I also love Harry Potter and prior to that always loved C S Lewis’ series, particularly The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Even as a very small child, I loved Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree and The Enchanted Wood. I think it was an early form of escapism and it has stuck!

Can I get an autographed book? (lol) –

Well, I believe there is such a thing as a Kindlegraph!

At the moment, Sign of the Times is only out in ebook. I may put it in paperback eventually, but at the moment I am concentrating solely on the book versions.

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?

For Sign of the Times, the only person who saw all of it beforehand was my editor, who is an old university friend.  With The Dating Game I had 6 beta readers.  My editor didn’t have impact to the extent that I changed any plot, but more, she told me when I was droning on, if I was being repetitive anywhere, that sort of thing.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

No, not really. I didn’t last time, which was a mistake.  The first draft of The Dating Game was around 120K words, with the final draft being around 110K words.  I plan out the order of the chapters, but not how many words there are going to be in each chapter. I do try to review this every so often though, to ensure am on track. I learned from last time!

Do you have a target each day?

No! It comes and goes. On days when I write, which unfortunately is not every day (Life sometimes gets in the way) I try to write at least 1000 words. A great day would be 4000 words.  The most I wrote of The Dating Game in one day was 7000 words.

Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

Now that I am properly writing and have committed to writing new books, I will be writing constantly, except perhaps  a week’s rest to read in between finishing a book and starting a new one!

Do you have characters running around your head?  Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

Yes, all the time. It’s very disconcerting. Sometimes I am writing something and they tell me, ‘I don’t think so,’ and make me take the book in a whole different direction!

After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

Well, not really a problem yet, as I only have one book published, with the second, The Dating Game launching on Fri 2nd November. However, I don’t envisage any difficulty keeping them unique, as they are all about totally different topics (except the sequel to Sign of the Times, but even there, a lot of new material will be introduced and several new characters)

What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?

Twitter! Without a shadow of a doubt. It’s very difficult to juggle marketing one book whilst writing the next. Recently, although my Twitter followers might disagree, I have had to limit my Twitter time to allow me to write. A few weeks after The Dating Game launch I will already be writing book three!

Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?

No, because it hasn’t happened yet, as my book is only an ebook. That is one of the main reasons I would like to do the paperback at some point. That must be an amazing feeling. I can imagine going up to it and stroking the cover in a kind of My Precious way from Lord of the Rings!

Do you read other people’s writing?

I have done and I am very honest as I don’t think just telling them what they want to hear is useful.  I have been told that my input is useful, so will continue to do so.

Would you read mine?

The virus aspect interests me, but I am not much of a music buff…

Where can Susan be found on the web?

Amazon author page:  http://amzn.to/PeGUTD

For Sooz, I have decided to use the blurb for her new book, The Dating Game:

Workaholic recruitment consultant, Gill McFadden, is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her.  Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert.

She realises she has to act, as work keeps piling up and at this rate she will have retired before she has time for a relationship.

Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency.  She quickly discovers men are like buses. They all come along at once. Unsure what her type is, Gill decides to keep her options open.  Soon she has problems juggling her social life as well as her work diary. Will she ever strike the right balance?

Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love?  But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.