Hi, Ingrid! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
Hi Susan, thanks for having me! I have loved writing ever since I was a child sitting on top of (or sometimes underneath) the kitchen table scribbling away whatever thoughts came into my head. During my early twenties I started writing a lot of different things however never had the stamina to finish anything. The material I was writing at that time was a lot more autobiographical as I hadn’t honed my skills. I took some creative writing classes back then and whilst I loved the people that I met, I hated the courses themselves as I couldn’t get my head around “having” to write a poem or a short story when what I really wanted to do was completely different. Life then got in the way and I didn’t write anything of merit for maybe ten years. I got married in my early thirties and as a family we went through a lot of trauma which threw me into a deep depression. I eventually figured that I needed to do something to help myself and writing seemed the logical thing to do. I remember sitting one day in the dining room of our old house and the window cleaner was cleaning the windows and I was struck by the concept of the outsider looking in and the seeds for my first novel, Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife – Revenge – were sown.
Your first novel, Granny Irene’s Guide to the Afterlife: Revenge, Part I, was published in July, 2013. Can you tell us about the new book? Since it is Part I, it’s obviously part of a series. Do you know how many sequels you will write?
Ah, Granny Irene, she has my life! It’s complicated! Initially, Granny Irene was meant to be part of a trilogy. (Revenge, Repentance and Enlightenment) I wrote Revenge during my depression. It is an epic tale of a little old dead Granny who upon finding herself thrust into “Viking Heaven” has to first of all adjust to being dead and then set out to save the world. The story is told in first person through her own eyes and is written exactly as she speaks, which is a broad Geordie, North of England voice. Initially the word count for Revenge came in at 250,000 words and I published it in it’s whole back in January of this year. I then started getting feedback that it was just way too long for one book and Irene’s voice was causing a few problems. So, I decided to split Revenge into three parts and after making a lot of changes (including toning down Irene’s voice slightly to make her more reader friendly and making it very clear at the beginning that it NOT written in Queen’s English etc) I also had to do some work around the character of her lover Harry to make his role stronger as he originally didn’t feature heavily until what will now be book two.
So, I now envisage that the Granny Irene series will be nine books in total: Three each for Revenge, Repentance and Enlightenment. There are also likely to be several spin off books involving some of the other characters.
You also write under an alter-ego, Luna Ballantyne. What made you choose to do that?
Well, first of all Luna Ballantyne isn’t out there yet, although I do have plans to publish my first book under her name by the end of 2014. I am a “write outside of the box” kind of writer. My characters are all completely unique and different and because Granny Irene is written in a very strong Northern voice I really don’t want to confuse my readership. The Luna Ballantyne novels are going to be in a completely different genre and will probably appeal to a different audience so it makes perfect sense to do it under a different name (Whilst making it abundantly clear on my blog that Luna Ballantyne and I are one and the same.) I may write under several different names yet, as I love the concept of constantly shedding my skin and taking on a whole new identity!
Your first book by Luna Ballantyne, will be a paranormal erotica book and will be published in 2014. Do you have a title for the book? Can you tell us about it? Will it be the first in a series?
I don’t have a title yet and I am not planning a series with with the first one. Luna Ballantyne will write several paranormal erotic books, all of which will be set in Newcastle Upon Tyne and the surrounding area however they won’t be linked. The first book is going to involve “The Newcastle Witches” and is to be based upon one of the biggest witch trials in England but in a contemporary setting and is going to make Fifty Shades of Grey look tame!
You are currently working on a novella, The Tunnel of Love. What is that about? Do you have a publication date planned yet?
Ah, The Tunnel of Love, my little gem! The Tunnel of Love is a first person account of a near death experience told through the eyes of Julia: A middle class, twenty something who as the result of a horrific accident finds herself in “The Tunnel”. I am loving Julia’s voice because it is very middle class and traditionally British and is the complete opposite of Granny Irene! I am very near the end of the first draft and whilst I don’t have an exact publication date as of yet, I am hoping and praying that I can get it out there sometime in January, 2014. (I had hoped to publish earlier however my mam is seriously ill and this has delayed me somewhat)
Where do you get your book covers?
I get mine from Ida Jansson (Amygdala Design.)
How do you market your books? Do you give book talks, book signings, and in-person interviews?
At the moment most of my promotion has been online, however from January, 2014, I am planning on doing a LOT of promotion locally in the North East of England which will hopefully involve getting my books into local libraries, doing book signings, talks etc. I am also planning on publishing my work on the likes of Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo etc and not exclusively on Amazon.
Do you outline your books, or do you plot them as you are writing?
I do outline them to a degree. Granny Irene was plotted out and I wrote a lot of that out of sequence depending upon the mood I (or Irene!) was in. I do like my characters to lead the story and Irene is VERY vocal and opinionated. I like to think that The Tunnel of Love has been more structured stream of consciousness…I have written this in sequence, scene by scene from the beginning and whilst I have had stepping stones to keep me roughly on course, I have been much more confident about allowing the story to twist and turn the way it wants to: Possibly because Julia is generally calmer than Irene.
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
My favourite part is just sitting down with a cup of coffee and listening to whatever it is that my characters want to tell me and then trying to capture their story in their own words and voice. My least favourite is having to edit part of that voice out…
Do you have a writing routine?
No, there is too much going on in my life at the moment to have a set routine. I have my novels to write, my blog, my husband, children, mother and a part time job to factor in! I write when I can, wherever I can. Early mornings are best for the creative novel writing stuff, so if I am up early I try to do that before the moment is lost and life gets in the way.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!