WRITER/AUTHOR: ELEVEN INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Author name: Susan Gourley
Latest titles: The Keepers of Sulbreth, Beyond the Gate (coming soon)
1. I’m always interested in the writer’s process. How often do you write? Do you have a daily word count goal? Give me an overview (or detailed if you really want to go there) of your writing life.
I do write every day although it’s not always on a new manuscript. Sometimes I’m editing, revising or creating a new post for my blog. Before I was published I thought sitting at the keyboard and writing the next novel was all there was to being an author. Now I know it’s a constant juggling of chores related to the job. Blogs and other social networking sites take up part of my time everyday.
I don’t set a certain word count for each day but I often set goals for the week. Usually I hope for somewhere between eight and ten thousand words. Some weeks my goals are to edit and revise a certain number of pages.
2. Do you also work a full-time non-writer job or career?
I teach high school during the day. I really love teenagers. Most of them are so full of hopes and dreams. Contact with them constantly renews my faith in mankind and the innate generosity of the human race. Now after saying that, I still wish I could write full time. If I didn’t need the financial and health benefits of my teaching position, I would resign without a second thought.
3. How supportive has your family been of your writing time? Have you ever had to fight for your right to write?
My family is very supportive. My writing office does have two doors though and my children, all teenagers or older, constantly stop in to talk about this or that. I wouldn’t miss those moments with them for anything but it does interfere. I know they’ll move on soon so I don’t ever lock those doors. My children have pushed their friends to sample my books and brought them to my book signings. I have sisters and nieces and nephews spread across the country and they’ve all bought my books and given me positive feedback.
4. How long did it take to write (from start to finish) your novel?
That’s a tricky question. The first draft of my novel took me nearly an entire year. After that I revised and polished it numerous times before I found a publisher. Then there were a few more weeks of polishing during the numerous rounds of editing by my publisher, Medallion Press, so I would have to add that time to actually claim it as finished.
5. What route to publishing did you take (agent, traditional, self-pub), and how long did it take from finish to publication?
I would like to have an agent and have some queries out there to a few but I haven’t put my career on hold while I search for one. I sold my books without benefit of an agent and will continue to do so. The fantasy market is tough to crack without an agent as many of the big fantasy publishers are closed to un-agented submissions. I continue to submit my next fantasy series to the ones who will look at it. I have no plans to do any self-publishing at this time but with the advances in the ease of putting your own work out there I might change my mind in the future.
6. Is there a theme, or premise you’d really like readers to connect with in your latest book?
I think most fantasy series have the theme of good versus evil and saving the world from the darkness. The challenge is to make a fantasy world unique from others, characters flawed yet still heroic, and an antagonist dark enough to raise shivers but complex enough to appear of more than the single dimension of total evil. I believe my series, The Futhark Chronicles, is filled with protagonists battling their personal demons while trying to save their world. The first book, The Keepers of Sulbreth, introduces an enemy intent on mindless destruction. The second book, the forthcoming, Beyond the Gate, will slowly reveal the complexities of this opponent to civilization.
I hope the readers will connect with my characters as they make mistakes, fight their own insecurities and ignorance even as they try to save the world. Despite Futhark being a fantasy world, the people still worry about honor, family relationships, children and how to pay the bills the same as they do in our world.
7. Where are you going now, are you working on a sequel, or something entirely different?
The Futhark Chronicles is a four part fantasy series. Book # One, The Keepers of Sulbreth is already published, the second, Beyond the Gate is being release in January and the next two are finished and in various stages of editing. I’m also working a new YA fantasy series and am looking for a publisher interested in taking it on.
I also write fantasy romance under the pen name, Susan Kelley. You can check those out on my blog or my website.
8. Where do you find inspiration for your stories and novels?
Like so many writers, I’m not sure where my ideas come from but they’re always showing up. I never have to brainstorm or search for inspiration. Usually I’ll think about a new novel for a while, coming up with the conflict, the characters and the world before I write anything down. Then I’ll make a character journal before I start writing and add to it as the plot unfolds on the pages.
9. With all the focus lately on authors providing a lot of their own self-promotion, what are you doing in this respect?
It’s very challenging. I’m doing a blog tour for my next release and I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads. I’ve constructed an author page on Amazon and will be doing the same in a few other places. The current project I’m working on is a series of prequel short stories to give some background on the personal histories of some of the characters in The Futhark Chronicles.
My publisher is taking care of numerous review submissions but I’ll be recommending a few of my own. I think promotion is more challenging than actually writing a novel. If I could hire someone to do it for me I would.
10. Who or what would you say has been the biggest influence on you as a writer?
In high school I fell in love with JRR Tolkien’s works like so many present day writers did. But it wasn’t until years later I decided to try my hand at it myself. John Marco, Brandon Sanderson, Peter V. Brett write the style of fantasy I enjoy reading and strive to emulate. I love how their plots don’t always end with everything working out as planned. Their heroes and heroines are not perfect and don’t always make the right decisions. I know going into their books not everyone will survive.
11. Where can we find your book? Is it available in e-format as well?
The Keepers of Sulbreth as a mass market paperback is available in most major bookstores and on all the major online book retailers like Amazon, Borders and Barnes & Noble. Beyond the Gate is available for pre-order on some of them already. My books are also available in all available e-formats for any type of e-reader.