Interview with Author Susan McGeown

You can find out more about Susan and her website (here)
Susan is a Member of:

  • EPIC, the Electronically Published Internet Connection. 
  • Member of Faith, Hope, Love, Inc. The Inspirational Outreach Chapter of Romance Writers of America. 
  • Member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 
  • Member of Romance Writers of America.

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1. What made you want to become an Author?
Although
I always wanted to be a mom and a teacher, I always knew that writing
would be a big component of each.  I published a how-to book when I
taught and wrote a Traveling with Children book when I my two oldest
were just toddlers.  Sometimes when real life is going on around me,
I’ll try to narrate it in my head – describe the setting, the emotions,
the smells in the air… weird, I know, but that’s me!

2. How do you come up with the ideas for your books?
I’ve
always had stories in my head.  When I was a child I vividly remember
sitting in the back seat of the family station wagon spinning stories in
my head.  If they were particularly good, I could keep them going for
days and days.  After I wrote my first book about a 13 year old girl
kidnapped by the Cherokees
(A Garden Welled Around) a friend
said, “Where did you come up with this idea?!”  “You know how you have
stories in your head,” I explained, “well, I just wrote one down.”  My
friend said, “I don’t have stories in my head.”  Neither did anyone else
I asked.  I finally asked a friend who wrote music and he smiled and
said, “I have songs in my head.”  I was 45 year old when I had that
discovery and was completely humbled.  Here I’d had this wonderful, God
given gift all these years and I’d totally taken it for granted!  

3. How do you come up with the characters of your books?
They
find me!  I’m not one of those writers who outlines everything before I
start.  Every one of my stories begins with a very vivid picture in my
head that I just can’t wait to find out more about.  (It’s usually the
first scene in my fictional stories.)  Once I’m immersed in a story the
characters develop a life of their own.  In
No Darkness So Great
every time my hero and heroine got together they’d have these tremendous
fights!  I laughed about it because I kept trying to have these tender
moments but he’d say something obnoxious and she had this fiery Spanish
temper and well …  In
Joining The Club my heroine is this mouthy, brash woman who says everything I always wished I’d had the nerve (and quick wit) to say.

4. Are any of the events in your book based on real life?
I
have TWO tee shirts that say “Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel”
which were bought for me by friends who have ended up in my novels. 
Real life invades all the time.  In
Recipe For Disaster I have a
whole list of acknowledgements in the front regarding real life carry
overs.  I use locations (old apartments, current churches, childhood
haunts) and almost always write about the east coast because that’s
where I’m most familiar.  In my newest book
Embracing The Truth I used all the names of my friends in my Bible study (first and last!) for characters throughout the book.  Rosamund’s Bower is
based on a real woman named Rosamund Clifford who lived in the 12th
century and caught King Henry II’s eye.  But I make up a lot, too, of
course.  The mother in
Recipe For Disaster is very cold and bitter.  After my mother read it she said, “You didn’t model the mother character after me did you?”  Ha.

5. How do you like living in New Jersey?
I
live in Central New Jersey, right smack in the center.  Jersey is
great.  Travel and hour and depending which way you went you can be
skiing, surfing, mountain climbing or in a big city.  I’m a born and
raised Jersey girl but married a Brit.  All three of my kids have dual
citizenship and we visit family in the United Kingdom as often as we can
afford to.

6. Where is your favorite place in New Jersey to go?
My favorite place in New Jersey is home.  I love being home in my cuddly house.

7. What do you miss most about being a teacher?
I
miss the challenges and the successes.  I particularly loved having
kids come in and say, “I hate math” or “I hate social studies” and then
by the end of the year having changed their minds completely.  Although I
don’t teach in public school anymore (I did for 12 years) I still teach
regularly.  I lead two Bible studies (one out of my home and one at
church) and enjoy conducting conferences and workshops whenever I can.

8. Do you have any special treats you give yourself when a book publishes?
Well,
I do love shoes and purses.  That’s my weakness.  And books of course. 
I just got a new light weight computer so when I travel I’m not
breaking my back anymore.  And I love my Kindle.  Oh, and I collect
quotes; I’ve been doing it since I was a teen.

9.
You seem to be a very busy person with being a mom, a wife and member
to so many things, how do you find time to pull out two books a year?
I
am very fortunate to be a “stay at home mom” who has three teenage
kids.  It gets easier and easier once those kids start doing things on
their own!  And I’ve got an absolutely fantastic husband who’s very
supportive and encouraging. 
I
try very hard to make God smile (that’s my #1 priority).  If you can
keep that in perspective things tend to work out just fine.  As God
gives me all my stories, I’m comfortable being on His agenda.  It helps
that I self-publish, too, so I’m my own boss.
Lately,
God seems to be pushing me towards speaking as well as writing.  I’ve
spoken at book clubs in Delaware, church groups, libraries and schools
in New Jersey and next year I am a key note speaker at a large women’s
conference in California!  I’m so excited.  My latest project www.godsphoenixproject.webs.com is the result of that and it seems to grow bigger (speaking, book, workshops) with each passing month.

10. What are your hobbies?
Reading,
crocheting, teaching (I still lead two Bible studies), traveling …  I
make a mean loaf of bread, too.  My own recipe!!  

11. Do you read?
Voraciously,
but I never read what I’m writing.  If I’m writing contemporary I don’t
read contemporary.  I actually prefer to read what I don’t write: 
romantic suspense & romantic comedy, mysteries, and an occasional
fantasy.

12. What is your favorite type of book to read and who are your favorite authors?
Well,
I prefer to read stories that have love and happy endings.  Life is
tough enough without having to read about it, too.  I can’t stand
finishing a story and being depressed as a result!!  I love Diana
Gabaldon, Sara Donati, Suzanne Brockmann, Rachel Gibson, Marian Keyes … 
I also love Oswald Chambers, C.S. Lewis, and Rick Warren … (Christian nonfiction).  I am a better person for reading them.

13. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’ve
been very fortunate in that I’ve traveled a lot.  I did my student
teaching in England and have always been eager to see new places.  Still
on my list is a cruise to Alaska.  I was actually talking about it with
my sister and my mom just the other day.  Anyone want to make any
donations to the cause? 
J

14. If you could spend the day with anyone, who would it be? (Dead or Alive)
I’d
like to talk with the biblical judge, Deborah.  (Judges 4 & 5). 
I’ve got 40,000 words of a story written about her but it’s just sitting
in my computer.  I think she was fabulous and she’s one of my favorite
Bible characters.  To do what she accomplished during the time period in
which she lived (12 century BC) is just incredible.  

15. What advice would you give to upcoming and new Authors?

Keep your day job!  Ha. I actually do writing workshops and have my Top Ten Writing Advice Tips:  Here they are:
1.       The more you write, the more you improve.  (Hey, that’s better than “Practice makes perfect.”  Isn’t it?)
2.       It’s okay if your writing stinks.  For now.  That
only means you have that much more room for improvement.  (Let’s face
it, if you’re perfect now, the most you can dream of is to stay the same
for the rest of your life.)
3.       Your lit teacher was right.  He or she was teaching you information you must have in order to be a good writer.  (Learn it or you’ll be forced to learn it later.)
4.       Learn to live with rejection. 
In fact, negative feedback is more valuable than positive feedback. 
(It’s usually more honest and you can use it to get even better.)
5.       Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Even an inquisitive idiot is better than a speechless blob.
6.       It’s not too soon to try to get published.  Try submitting something.  (Even if you’re not successful, well, see my comment about rejection.)
7.       Enjoy what you do.  Writing is tremendously time consuming.  If it ain’t fun for you, forget it.
8.       A unique voice is your #1 asset but
that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to good advice.  (And please
note:  being bizarre only caters to others just as strange.)
9.       You cannot proofread your own stuff.  Neither can your computer.  I mean it.
10.    Don’t count on your writing career to make you rich. 
Writing is a slow process that teaches patience and humility.  Stephen
King was a teacher, John Grisham was a lawyer, J.K. Rowling was on
welfare, Mark Twain was a journalist, and Louisa May Alcott was a
teacher, seamstress, governess and maid.

16.  (Susan’s Own Question)  Why write?
I can’t not write.  The stories bubble up in my head and I have to
write them down.  I feel that it is part of my ministry that God has
called me to do.  I never started writing to become rich or famous.  I
just want people to read the stories God has given me.  I believe in
what I write – believe in love and happy endings and miraculous
transformation and wonderful, godly coincidences.  I believe that God
loves us and wants us for His own.  Visit my website at www.susanmcgeown.com
.  People who join the website can leave a request in my guestbook for a
free ebook of their choice.  I’ve happily given away hundreds.
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