I’d like to introduce you to the twenty-second interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. She is Susan Wingate.
QUESTION: Hi, Susan! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer? How long have you been writing? Did you have a mentor?
ANSWER: Hello Susan and thank you for hosting me on your great blog site. Okay, first off, I’ve been writing all of my life but got serious about my writing in the mid-1990’s. My father was a writer and I always longed to write like him. However, after I thought about writing as a career and began my first novel, I attended a conference. One of the instructors, Michael Collins (international best-seller and with work short-listed for the 2000 Man Booker Award), liked my work so much that he offered to help me. So, yes. I had a writing mentor and his input and wisdom played a large role in shaping me into the writer I am today.
QUESTION: Your latest novel, Spider Brains, was published in March, 2013, by Astraea Press. It’s the first book in a three-book young adult series. Can you tell us a bit about the ‘Susie Speider’ series? What inspired you to write it?
ANSWER: The Spider Brains series takes place in Ronkonkoma, NY. Susie Speider is the main character. All of the stories revolve around high school science projects. Spider Brains, the first in the series, shows Susie’s science project in her sophomore year, building a viable habitat for a spider she has captured. It also shows the fantasy world she actually lives in after being bit by a spider—a world where she takes revenge on her mean science teacher, Mrs. Morlson. Throw in her cat, Delilah, her mother, a new neighborhood boy and the loss of a parent and the story becomes more than just a fantasy or a YA read. The story touches on real-life problems, like bullying and Attention-Deficit-Disorder treatment. I was inspired by a spider who traversed my ceiling one night when I was having trouble sleeping. The story was nearly written right then and there.
QUESTION: How many books have you written? I counted twenty-six Susan Wingate novels, and one Myah Lin (pen name). Do you have a favorite?
ANSWER: Actually, I have written thirteen novels, one novella (by Myah Lin) and many short stories. Your count most likely includes some short stories. As for a favorite? Well, I believe that one is the one I’m currently working on, a coming of age fantasy drenched in a time as near as possible to the 1970’s, when child labor rights had not yet been established. That’s probably my favorite. Oh, and the one after that.
QUESTION: You write Young Adult Fantasy, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Mystery, Dark Mystery, Literary Fiction, and Christian Fiction. Do you find it difficult to switch from one genre to another? Which did you write first? Does one genre feel more natural to you than the others?
ANSWER: I wrote a mystery first, the noir story called OF THE LAW. That’s the one Michael Collins helped me through. But, writing mysteries has ebbed of late. I enjoy my more current writing. Writing women’s fiction, family drama, young adult and coming of age stories has become my hallmark. Especially after DROWNING won first place in the 2011 Forward National Literature Award for Drama, the women’s fiction and family drama categories seems a comfortable fit with my writing and with my writing style.
QUESTION: You’ve won numerous awards for your poetry, short stories, and novels. Your Contemporary Women’s Fiction novel, Drowning, won first place in the 2011 Forward National Literarure Award. Also, in 2012, two of your novels made it onto the Top Ten Amazon Best Seller List, twice. What was that like?
ANSWER: It was great! But I have to tell you it is quickly forgotten not only by me but by the publishing industry. You just need to write the next award-winner and move forward. Each step up is awesome but if you dwell too long on the accolades you can soon forget the writing itself. Story is the most important thing to me. That and entertaining my readers. When my readers love one of my stories, well, I can’t describe how that feels. Way better than any award, for sure.
QUESTION: You give motivational talks about the craft of writing, publishing, and marketing. Can you tell us about your experiences traveling and meeting other writers? Do you have any special stories you’d like to share?
ANSWER: Meeting people and other writers who want to learn from you becomes a huge responsibility. I think understanding that crystallized for me in 2009 when, at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference, I maxed out the venue’s auditorium. Thank goodness the lights were dimmed and the lekos squarely on my face or else I might’ve gotten stage fright. So many people wanted to know what I was doing, wanted to learn my methods and wanted to talk. There was a line of thirty people who, after my lecture, wanted to touch bases. Unfortunately, I had an video interview right after and the editor of Author Magazine whisked me away. I was awestruck at the reception. My head spun and, right then and there, I realized that my words would effect people and influence them. It’s a huge responsibility.
QUESTION: You will be teaching a Free Summer Workshop Series for writers this summer on San Juan Island. Can you tell us more about it? How would someone enroll? Where can writers find details about it?
ANSWER: Yes, I’m so excited about this. Many workshops are quite expensive and getting to the island and the lodging here is expensive in and of itself. So, Terry Persun and I decided to offer writers a feasible alternative to the expensive conferences. These weekends will be retreat style, in that we will lecture for only an hour or two in the morning and then leave writers to their own writing the rest of the day. At the end, the weekend in September, we will have an agent and a publisher who writers can meet with and discuss their work. These meetings will be the only paid services throughout the summer months. To learn more about these weekend summer retreats and to enroll, people can go to: http://susanwingate.wordpress.com/free-summer-workshops/
QUESTION: What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
ANSWER: The marketing! That was easy. LOL! The catch-22 is that I’m good at marketing and it comes easy for me. But, I’d rather be holed up somewhere writing and reading than doing all that self-promotion mumbo-jumbo we writers must do these days.
QUESTION: If you could meet any book character, who would it be, and what would you do with them?
ANSWER: Kilgore Trout. Easy answer. He was one of the main characters in “Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut. He would like to chat about writing with me and so I would oblige him.
QUESTION: Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!
ANSWER: Again, Susan, thank you so much for hosting me here. I’m honored by your generosity.
If your blog visitors wish, they can find me at the following links:
My website: http://www.susanwingate.com
My Facebook profile: http://www.facebook.com/susanwingate.author
My Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/authorsusanwingate
My Twitter page: http://www.twitter.com/susanwingate
All my books on Amazon: http://astore.amazon.com/theoffwebo03e-20
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