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The Path of the Golden Eagle

19 November 2011

So far, writer interviews have been with people I know personally, or have worked with on projects in the past — but not today. Today, I’m going to pick the brains of fellow Carina Press author Susan Edwards, whose White Series (four books of it, anywho) re-release at Carina Press starting this Monday. The following interview is a bit on the long side, but trust me, well worth it — I found it fascinating to see how an author so different from me operates. Please welcome Susan Edwards!

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Shawn: Thanks for agreeing to join the madness today! First off, introduce yourself a bit.

Susan:My name is Susan Edwards and I am the author of the White Series which are American Indian/Western Historical romances. On a personal note, I am the proud owner of 15 four-leggeds.
6 cats 2 pups 2 hamsters 5 rats
Two of the cat are 9 mo old kittens and my pride and joys, and the pups are 5 mo and are Chiweenies and possibly papillon. They are my babies. In short I love animals.

Sh: I find it interesting to know how my fellow writers caught the bug, as it were. How did you get into writing?

Su: Well, unlike so many authors who’ve always written from school age onward, I never wanted to write anything, except maybe chatty letters to friends or my great-grandmother (who loved receiving mail) or notes to pals in class (lots of those!). And, oops, I’ve dated myself here because I grew up without computers, emails, social media or text messages! But back when I was in school, I absolutely hated writing, did not excel in English and thought history the most boring subject on earth! So it’s rather strange and ironic that not only am I a writer but I’ve published 12 historical romances. But I had a couple things going for me that I hadn’t discovered yet. I was an avid reader and when I started my first book, I was really into NA Historicals (write what you know).

Two, I didn’t know then but discovered later, was that I am a natural storyteller. I remember using my dolls and stuffed animals and creating stories and “situations” for them. As I grew up, my need for storytelling did not go away. I had stories in my head day and night. However, I did not write them down or tell them to others. My stories were in my mind. I created them, scene by scene. I rewrote them then went back to individual scenes and rewrote again and again until I was satisfied. Once a “story” was perfected, another story would take shape and the process would repeat. Many times, an old story would return with the clarity of story in a book. I could “re-read” it and make changes. I still remember many of those stories.
 
Of course, I figured I was just an incurable daydreamer.  My teachers and parents certainly thought so. It wasn’t until I was in my 40’s and had already sold my first book that I discovered that my daydreaming was actually storytelling!  All the elements we writers require for our books were in my dream worlds. I had the good guys, the bad guys, the conflict, the black moment and the happy-ever-after. Does all this sound like a writer? Yep.

Sh: The White Series — due very soon for a re-release from your pals and mine at Carina Press — has a strong Native American theme, which I don’t see very often. What inspired you to write in that genre?

Su: As I said above, I was reading heavily in that genre and basically was out of books to read, or ones I wanted to read. One day, in my typical “daydreamI ing” or “story creation mode”, I came up with an idea. I had a heroine who meets a young, virile hero at stream. Hero was Native American and of course, takes her captive. This “story” kept intruding on my thoughts—more so than normal and as I thought it, daydreamed about it, I realized my heroine was willing! It was very strange as I could see these two characters so clearly: she was running away from an evil uncle, and my hero was a troubled young warrior. Before I knew it I had a nice little scene going of these two people so in love and so right for each other. And it was the perfect place to put them into a nice hot love scene.
 
But this couple refused to go with the flow. They wanted more from me and were so insistent that I did something I’d never done before: I took them out of my head and gave them life on paper (good thing I had a computer by this time). Okay, I thought. I’ll write a nice, steamy love scene. I could see it, feel it, so no problem, right? Wrong! Before I could write about these two people falling in love and having their happily-ever-after, I had to know more about them.
Why was my heroine alone in the wilderness?
Why was she fleeing her uncle? What did he want and how bad did he want it?
What troubled my warrior and why was he in the same vicinity as my heroine?
Why was he drawn to my heroine aside from her blonde hair? Why her and only her?
Was he willing to risk it all for her?
Before I knew what hit me, I had four chapters of back story. I was shocked. But it couldn’t possible be any good. So I gave it to a couple of people to read. One of my closest friends looked at me after she finished those chapters with awe in her face (I still remember that look) and she said two words that sealed my future: Finish It. The rest they say is history! The writer within was set free and an author was born!
 
Sh: What’s your writing process like?

Su: With the White Series, it was easy as I had so many people that I already knew and loved. Normally I start out with my couple. I try to create personalities, conflicts, scenarios. I do as much pre-work as I can then I simply let go. Most of the time I never look at my worksheets again. I just let the story carry me forward. Once I have the ending, then I’m home free but that doesn’t always come right away. I guess you could say to some extent I write by the seat of my pants or step off the cliff like Indiana Jones did in that one movie where a ledge appeared. I just grab onto my faith that I will once again find my way from beginning to The End.

Sh: The writer’s process is all well and good, but I’m afraid I have some bad news. While you were answering the last question, a global catastrophe has hit. I blame Justin Beiber — I just know he had something to do with it. Regardless of the cause, the world is now an anarchist, inexplicably desert wasteland, much like the one depicted in the award-winning Australian documentary “The Road Warrior.” How do you plan to survive in this new, post-apocalyptic world? What tools do you need to lay your hands on? Who do you team up with? (Note: This one is a silly question I just keep asking. There are no wrong answers.)

Su: I’d have to call forth McGyver, the Stargate team (the original group), NCIS, and the cast from Criminal Minds. At least for a start. With them, all things are possible and so would be my survival. Oh, add Neil Diamond in there with his music.

Sh: I can think of very few problems that can’t be solved by two Richard Dean Andersons. 😉 Now that we’ve dealt with the apocalypse, tell me a little bit about how you came up with the character of Golden Eagle. Is he based on anyone in reality?

Su: Golden Eagle just came to me. He just showed up in my head one day and stared me down until I agreed to write his story. And really, how could I refuse!

Sh: I’ve often said that it takes a more talented person than me to write romance — I tried once as a challenge from a friend and failed… miserably. How do you keep the feelings and emotions of the characters in balance, and believable?

Su: I think in part some of this comes naturally, some comes with age and life experiences (which is why a lot of writers start writing in their 40’s), part from connecting with the characters and knowing what is coming and where they are going to end up. All writers can call upon their own experiences to know how you’d feel in a situation, even if you’ve never experienced something yourself. After all, people who write mysteries do not have to kill to know how it feels or why the killer did it. I really think it’s there inside you but sometimes you gotta grab it and yank it out.

Sh: What does your workspace look like? Are there any tools you just can’t function without? (My main tool is coffee, by the way.)

Su: I have a very pretty office I redid a few years ago in blues, with NA décor and I splurged and got an entire matching desk, corner unit and matching hutches. I have my coffee, a kaleidoscope (for inspiration or pure play), some round stones for hands to fiddle with and some super silly toys with flashing balls in them that I can bat around like a paddle board with a string. My thinking and creating toys. But honestly I probably wrote my best when it was a makeshift desk, house full of kids and I worked part time. I guess I like to be surrounded by chaos (hence the cats, kittens & pups)

Sh: After the re-release of the first four books of the White Series, what’s next for you? What are you working on now?

Sh: I’m currently working on 3 projects: Another White Series book—a reunion book, a historical SpiritWalker book. Book 12 of mine was not a White Series book but the start of my SpiritWalker Series. And a contemporary book is also getting some attention.

Su: Anything else you’d like to add before we close?

I’m very grateful for your invite to your site and your support. It’s been an eye opener in many ways to be re-releasing these books in a totally new format, which also means that the promotion and marketing process has been completely new for me as well.

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Thanks so much to Susan for dropping by! Go visit her Web site for more, or check her out on Twitter and Facebook!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. 19 November 2011 1243

    Great interview. It was fun learning about you and your writing processes, Susan. A kaleidoscope sounds like a cool thing to have on your desk. Good luck with your new releases and your current projects.

    • 19 November 2011 1352

      Thank you Shelley. I think everyone should have a few “toys” on or in their desk to help free the child within who often can relegate that pesky inner editor into some back recess of our mind whille we create!

  2. 19 November 2011 2310

    Wow, 15 animals. Susan, you are a woman after my own heart. Great interview. Enjoyed reading it.

  3. 20 November 2011 1744

    I enjoyed the interview and though I don’t own so many animals, I am an animal lover too. Congrats on the re-releases!

  4. 21 November 2011 1056

    Angela — lol’s. I’d have a houseful of kids if I could as well!

    Georgie — Thank you for stopping by.

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