Wednesday, April 9, 2008
It's always good to get to know an author better. And what better way than through an interview. I interviewed author Sue Dent and picked her brain on some things! Check it out!
1. So what got you started in writing? Have you always had a hankering for the craft or did you get a taste later in life and develop an insatiable craving that had to be satisfied?
SD: I’m creative. I have to have an outlet. I initially pursued art but I let someone convince me that I could never make “a living” at this and so I went into computers. To fill the creative void, I started writing. This was in college. I suppose I thought I might like to be published one day but it was more about filling that creative void. I didn’t care if anyone else ever read my stories though I did like to share them.
2. What prompted you to write horror? Have you always enjoyed the genre?
SD: I hate the genre! LOL I’ve read a few books by Mr. Stephen King but that stuff scares me. *Barbosa slips in to add his take* Aye, but vampires and werewolves—yes that would be my weakness!
The only thing I remember actually writing when I was a child was something about vampires which I hid in the record player compartment of our large console television set. (The record player was built-in.) I only hid it because I was embarrassed about writing. I thought everyone would think I was loony. (No, they didn’t think that automatically, believe it or not.) I’m sure it had something to do with Dark Shadows as I LOVED the little snippets I’d catch of Barnabus Collins. Most of my lore comes from what I’ve seen on television and movies and not from books. I've never read Anne Rice. I never had an interest. I suppose I always knew how I wanted my vampires and werewolves to be and I’d let no one change that.
Other that that, I don’t consider my work horror and had to get confirmation. I submitted it to a few famed “horror” writers only to have them all sign off on the fact. Okay, so it qualifies. Yay me (doing my best London Tipton impression. Yes, I watch the Disney channel!)! Another market to work. I was an invited guest of Nicholas Grabowsky (author of Halloween IV) at the World Horror Convention in March 2007 and I fit right in. Maybe I do like the genre after all. Those authors were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
3. Were you at all worried about how to balance the horror aspect with the Christian aspects of the story? Very well done by the way.
SD: Very worried because I’m a Christian but I knew it could be done. I just had to work a little harder and not get lazy. That’s where my creativeness shines through though, I think.
4. You’ve got some interesting twists and surprises in Never Ceese. Was it fun to keep us guessing through out the story?
SD: Keep up! Those twists and surprises are a pretty good example of how my mind works. And NO it wasn’t fun to keep you guessing! Blame my editor. I wanted to tell everyone a lot of the stuff at the beginning and she wouldn’t let me!! Thank God for editors. LOL
5. How long did it take you to write Never Ceese? And how did you come up with the idea for such an intriguing story?
SD: I had several other stories I’d started and not finished but when I decided I wanted to pursue getting published, I tried to think of a genre that was selling. Hey, that sort of sounds like I knew what I was doing but I didn’t do any research so the logic means nothing. LOL I then decided to just write something with elements I liked. And well, I like vampires! The werewolf part didn’t come into play until Richard got bored and thank goodness he was happy after that because I’m not quite sure how I would’ve worked a zombie into the mix!!
6. Have you thought of writing for the suspense genre?
SD: I don’t think about anything when I write except getting the dang story out of my head! All of my stories will be suspenseful I suppose. Remember, I just write to scratch my creative itch. It could be about anything.
7. Do you find it hard to market a book that can cross the lines between the CBA and ABA? Or has it been easier to concentrate on one or the other?
SD: Okay, let me step back from this question for a second to help readers, who don’t know where I came from, understand why this question is so confusing to authors outside the CBA and ECPA market.
Authors outside these two niche markets understand that ABA stands for American Booksellers Association and that this is an affiliation designed to help Independent booksellers only. Authors in the general market don’t see ABA as a market and never discuss them as such. ABA is used widely in the CBA and ECPA market to denote “secular” however. Frank Creed has an excellent article about the Christian publishing industry that explains more than I have room to in this interview.
When I wrote Never Ceese I was not aware of CBA or ECPA. My Christian publisher was not affiliated. It wasn’t until readers of this market began coming to me that I became aware. I now know that CBA and ECPA are two very large profitable markets that serve conservative evangelicals and have strict content guidelines to ensure publishers don’t offend that market.
I don’t write for a particular niche market. I write for the general Christian market and general market. If you ask me is it hard to market a book that can cross the lines between what a Christian might read and enjoy and what a non-Christian might read and enjoy, then I can answer that! Yes. It’s a little touch and go. I know that I’m not going to please everyone. I don’t necessarily concentrate on one over the other but I do in some instances. I call it responsible writing.
8. Richard and Ceese have an interesting relationship through out the story. It keeps one guessing as to where it is going! And then, surprise! Timing is so crucial with revelations given to characters and thus your readers. Do you like the natural tension such a thread woven through out the story gives? Did you have to really plot it out or did it just grow as you went? I’m trying not to reveal too much here to future readers!
SD: I’m not kidding when I told you my editor had to put her foot down. I was so excited about what was going to happen, I wanted to let everyone know. But then I so enjoyed the process of giving a little at a time that I finally understood the importance. Timing is crucial and it became natural to me very quickly. The plot really did grow as I went and does the same in Forever Richard. In fact, the last line came to me and I wrote the entire end of the book around it.
At least with my new publisher, The Writers Café Press, and new editor Cynthia (and The Finishers) I have someone to bug on a regular basis. She loved my last line so I knew it was to be!
9. Forever Richard is next! Any hints as to what we might expect? Will Richard have the same amount of tension build and suspense in it?
SD: I’m afraid so . . . or maybe that’s a good thing! LOL There is a preview chapter available but it’s upset several already. They said it just makes them mad because they know they can’t have the book yet. I guess that’s a good thing.
10. Any other projects in the works you can tell us about?
SD: Well there are the four books I wrote before but didn’t quite finish. My modern day western/rodeo is the one closest to being finished but I might get strangled if I don’t write a certain book next. Let’s just say that Always Meri; Syn No More is starting to look like a good title. And a prequel is already being worked on. Good thing since I signed a three or four book deal with TWCP! What was I thinking? :o
A very good thing! For all of us who love the books! Thanks Sue for taking the time to take time away from writing to answer my questions. Oh, and if you should see my character Kitty Morgan from Time Masters anywhere, tell her to come home! She seems to be obsessed with Richard and Ceese!