Interview with Susan Rae, author of TRUE blue (DeLuca Family Series)I’m so thrilled to have the pleasure of hosting this interview with a writer who has taken on a niche in the suspense and mystery genres and added some spice to to them. I’ve read two of Ms. Rae’s earlier novels; first was freefall, then I discovered ICE blue - the second of three from the DeLuca Family Series. I waited on pins and needles for the release of Rae’s third in the series, TRUE blue. I must say, that I was thoroughly rewarded with some first class reading entertainment. My review of TRUE blue is on this blog (reviews of freefall and ICE blue are also posted here).
Lucky for us, Susan agreed to an interview so we can get to know a bit more about an author with a flare for action, suspense, and tension, all mixed in with a little bit of romance. Let’s have Ms. Rae share some of her experiences from her writer’s journey.
Q: I’ve introduced you as a writer, with a passion for a niche genre. Could you tell us what best describes the genre you prefer for your novels?
A: Currently, I write what is considered romantic suspense. I enjoy writing in this genre, as my bio states, because it allows me to combine a gritty suspense tale with a passionate love story. The challenge in writing RS is to intertwine the suspense and romance story lines so that both work together toward a satisfying ending (pun intended!) In RS, solving the murder/mystery requires that both the hero and heroine work together, often overcoming differences in personalities and/or overwhelming odds, in order to save themselves and bring the culprits to justice. Although I have to admit, my more recent books, including my latest, TRUE blue, leans more heavily on the suspense side with just enough passionate romance to fire it up.
Q: How old were you when you set out on your first adventure in writing a novel? Could you comment a little more about why you write and maybe give us some background on your choice of characters?
A: Hmm… I like to tell people that I write basically, because I can’t help myself. Characters and story lines are always popping into my head—a story line can be sparked by an article I read in the newspaper or a person I see on the street. I currently have at least four novels bouncing around in my head. The trick is to corral one, get it down on paper, and start fleshing it out. The other trick is to find the time for all those stories. I’ve been writing since I was old enough to put pencil to paper. In college I wrote numerous short stories and poetry and later did some freelance journalism. I didn’t set out to write my first novel until I was a young mother at home with three children to take care of. That first one was an historical romance, but I soon realized that my real passion was for contemporary suspense.
Q: You’ve managed to write quite a number of quality novels in a short span of time. How does a day in the life of author Susan Rae unfold? Do you have a favorite time of the day when you are most productive with your writing?
A: When I am in full writing mode, my usual day starts out with reading the newspaper while I eat breakfast. I often find that stories in the newspaper help fuel my writing process. That done, some days I go to the computer and do a quick check of email, Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In. However, even though an author has to keep up on all the social channels, I try very hard not to get sucked into these. Other days, I will immediately attack the writing project for the day—the scene I will be working on. I often start by writing some notes freehand which usually morphs into a dialogue between characters, where I hear the characters talking, discussing what is happening in the scene. Even if I feel blocked before this process, soon, just by starting with some dialogue, I’ll have half-a-dozen pages of scribbles that I can’t wait to get into the manuscript. In either case, I am usually at the computer with the book document open by ten am. I’ll write for a couple of hours, have lunch, do some housework, and then get back to it again, not finishing until well past six o-clock. I find I do my most productive work in the mid to late afternoon.
Q: TRUE blue has a number of plot strings that I thought were tightly woven, which I thought you concluded with honest precision. To pull this off, how did you keep track of all the moving parts?
A: Yes, TRUE blue is my most intricate murder/mystery to date. Keeping it all straight was definitely a challenge. When I write a novel, I start by creating a chart where I break the book into Acts 1, 2 and 3. I list where I want the murder storyline and the characters to be at the end of each act; then I jot down the high points of each act. Now I have a road map to follow as I write the book. Because I write suspense, I feel I need to know where I am going with the story before I write it, but within that basic outline is where the creative magic happens where the story and the characters take over. The other important tool I use is the timeline. For TRUE blue I had to keep multiple time lines, one for the murder twenty-four years ago, one for the current time, and another for the entire DeLuca family showing where they were then and now.
Q: Your decision to connect the main characters with the story by employing the DeLuca Family ties and chosen occupations led me to believe you must have some familiarity with both. Do you come from a large family?
A: Yes, I do come from a large family. I have five siblings—three brothers and two sisters, as well as over thirty cousins. I find the family dynamics fascinating. My husband also comes from a large extended family, mostly Italian. I love the Italian culture and I thought it would be fun to incorporate it into my first book, heartbeats, which became the first book in the DeLuca series.
Q: The sense I got from reading the Notes From the Author, at the back of your novels suggested that you get your inspiration for the settings you use from the places you travel. How much does traveling play in your life as a writer?
A: I think traveling, visiting other places, especially out in nature, fuels my writing spirit. My husband and I bought our first motorhome before we were married after being inspired by a friend’s trip to Colorado. We spent our honeymoon on a trip to Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park. We have driven to New York, the Carolinas, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada and all the states in between. Our next big trip will be to New England’s coast and then perhaps to San Francisco.
Freefall, my second novel, takes place in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine Forest and panoramic Door County. For TRUE blue, I was first inspired to visit Montana’s Glacier National Park by the pictures my son took during one of his visit’s there. Once I experienced its majesty for myself, I knew I had to get my characters out of Chicago and to the park to solve the mystery of Sean McConnell’s murder.
The background picture on TRUE blue’s cover is actually from one of my son’s pics.
Q: I know that TRUE blue was just released. Are you working on another project right now?
A: I have two that are fighting for attention. The first one, Moonshadows, takes place in the Wisconsin Northwoods where Maggie, a journalist, returns to her Native American home to cover a story about mining which turns into so much more. The second project, currently titled, Finding Emily, is a time-travel suspense which takes place on the New England coast (hence the needed trip there.) Teenage girls are disappearing from Walnut Cove. The Chief of Police, Zach Taylor is exasperated by the lack of clues. Then one night he is awakened by a phone call from his ex-wife—his daughter, Emily, is missing.
Q: Time to lighten things up a bit – what is your favorite color and why? Do you have a favorite food?
A: You could ask me this a dozen times and on any given day I could give you a different answer–so much depends on my mood. But today, I will say red, because it connotes passion, anger, blood, desire, fire for all things and feeds the adrenalin rush required to survive and solve a crime. Ice cream is my favorite food. (That’s a food group, right?)
Q: Tell us three random things about yourself that you’d hope would make us laugh:
A: I’m often way too serious? I love a good thunderstorm. I enjoy golfing but I lost at least half-a-dozen balls the last time I went. (Honest, it was a really difficult course!)
Thank you so much Ms. Rae, for candidly sharing insights that readers and other writers will appreciate. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the successful launch of TRUE blue, and your future adventures as an author who knows how to keep things interesting. You can count me among the first who will be reading Moonshadows and Finding Emily.
Look for more about Ms. Rae, her writings, and events, at the following locations:
Publisher Link: MusaPublishing.com
Amazon Author Page: Susan Rae, Author
Susan Rae’s books, including all three from the DeLuca Family series, can be purchased on Amazon and all other major e-book retailers. Click HERE for more info.
To purchase direct from Amazon: