Hi, Jane! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Congratulations on your brand new publication! Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Hello Susan, and thank you for inviting me. I was brought up in a house full of books in a family with an almost religious respect for the written word. My mother was an artist, my father was a poet, and so was my Grandad Brennan, bilingual Irish and English. My Great-Grandma Brennan had read all of Dickens, Thackeray and Wilkie Collins even though she had no formal education beyond the age of twelve. Creative expression either through writing or the plastic arts was as natural as breathing in our house. I was just better with words than with images.
The Dark Citadel is the first book in your epic young adult fantasy series, The Green Woman Trilogy, and it was published on October 4, 2013, by Musa Publishing. Can you tell us about the book? What inspired you to write it?
The Green Woman was written for my teenage children who wanted a fantasy without swords and warriors and usurped princes. I had an idea of a sinister, oppressive society, where women were at the bottom of the heap, and a young heroine who defies the system and refuses what is being thrown at her. But I wanted to give the story a moral dimension, with real, human, institutionalised evil, not some nebulous ‘evil force’. There is a lot of evil in Providence, but it comes from the Elders and the belief system they impose. Deborah’s role is to understand that she is in a position to change things, and she has a responsibility to do it. The way she goes about it is to offer something better in it’s place, not just by getting up an army and massacring those who don’t agree with her. I liked the idea of the underdog fighting against injustice for all the other underdogs, not just for herself.
You’ve completed the second and third books already. Can you tell us anything about them?
The Green Woman is an epic story, in the sense that it has a broad scope. Deborah is the main character, but her story is just part of the whole. When she gets out of Providence, the Protector is refining a diabolical plan, and the wheels of that plan keep turning even though the story of The Dark Citadel follows Deborah’s journey. I didn’t want to confuse the narrative with a lot of back and forth, and more POVs, so the second book in the series focuses on the action in Providence where extremely unpleasant things are happening. The third book brings the two strands together, the creative and the destructive. It doesn’t end in a cliff hanger, but I can reveal that it allows for the story to continue. In fact I’ve already written two volumes of the next series, she whispers proudly.
You’ve also finished a two-part series that begins with the novel, Wormholes. Can you tell us anything about the series?
When I decided that I’d done as much on my novels as I could without professional editing, I sent Wormholes, a YA dystopian fantasy, out to publishers thinking it was the one most likely to be picked up. I had a couple of offers, but then Ellen Brock of Musa Publishing, who was interested in acquiring Wormholes, asked to see some more of my work, and she loved The Dark Citadel. It came out of the blue, and I was so surprised and thrilled that I accepted Musa’s offer, and decided to put Wormholes on hold until I got through my first publishing ordeal. It’s a very different story, more urban fantasy, with elements of time travel and parallel universes, and my favourite villain, Lucifer plays a big part in it.
The Dark Citadel has a book trailer. I’ve seen several versions, actually. Who created them, and how did you choose the official trailer? Can you share it with us?
I can’t remember why I got a bee in my bonnet about doing a book trailer, I’m pretty useless at anything technical, but there are sites that allow you to make very short videos using a ready-made template. Once I discovered I could do it, I was hooked. The ‘official’ trailer is just the longest, and one that I made using iMovie. I’ve got so many trailers now it’s embarrassing! This is the latest one that I made just before the release.
You live in Bordeaux, France. Do you use the history or scenery of France in your books?
The opening section of Wormholes is set in central Paris where I lived for fourteen years, so I know it well. Most of the book’s action takes place in a bombed out shopping mall, and that I based on the mall we visited when we first came to Bordeaux. It could be any shopping mall absolutely anywhere, but it was the first really big one I had ever been inside, and it left a terrifying impression. I have a horror of huge shopping emporiums and one was bound to find its way into my apocalyptical vision of the earth grinding to a halt. The ultimate ‘shop till you drop’.
I love your interview with your cat, Trixie, on your blog site. What a wonderful, creative interview. How did you come up with that idea?
Thank you, Susan! It was just a bit of fun. I’d read on one of the dozens of articles giving advice on how to create an interesting blog, that it’s a good idea to guest interview non-bloggers. Short of going round the streets and doing a vox pop, I didn’t have much choice. Trixie was to hand, and she’s always got something to gripe about, so I asked her.
What books or authors have inspired you the most?
That’s a difficult one. Before I decided to write seriously, I had been translating a novel by Natalia Ginzburg simply because I love the way she wrote, and I wanted to try and render it in English. I gave up when it occurred to me that rather than borrowing her words, I should try and write some of my own. I’m sure that I tried to emulate her style to begin with, just as I would love to be able to put words together like Yeats. Combining Ginzburg’s limpidity and Yeats’s passionate images would be quite something to pull off!
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
Favourite: throwing down that first phrase that means I’ve had an idea and I’m going to let it run and run.
Least favourite: explanations that hold up the action but have to be fitted in somewhere. And anything involving fighting.
Do you have a writing routine, a special place where you go to do your writing, or a certain time of day? Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind of music?
I share a study with my husband and Finbar (the Spanish greyhound, emphasis on Spanish). It’s much cosier in the winter, and it gives me the impression that I’m doing ‘real work’. I write in and out and around all the other things I have to do. It’s amazing how many household jobs get pushed into the unnecessary category when there’s something more interesting to do! I never listen to music because I can’t do two things at once, and because my husband is actually doing ‘real work’ six feet away from me.
How do you get past writers’ block or distractions like the internet?
I have a lot of different projects on the go at any given time, all at varying stages of completion. If I get stuck on one, I go on to another. Writing short fiction is a distraction I admit to using to keep the creative juices flowing. The ping of the inbox is a fatal attraction for almost all writers I would have thought, since we are always expecting replies back about one submission or another. I save looking at my mail for when I run out of steam on what I’m writing. Blogging is something else I do when I need a rest from novel writing. I’m the kind of person who has long internal conversations with herself, and often I can jot them down in the form of a blog post. I count that as an authorised distraction.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!