I am thrilled to welcome Susan Sleeman, the author of The Christmas Witnes,s to my blog today. I finished reading this a couple weeks ago and loved it.
Q: Can you tell us about your current book release?
The Christmas Witness is book three in my Morgan Brothers series and features the oldest brother Reid. Reid’s a former FBI agent who quit his work in law enforcement when his wife died and his daughter Jessie needed him more. Here’s the back cover copy to give you a quick idea of the story.
When a criminal threatened to kill Megan Cash if she testified against him, she didn’t back down. Years later, he’s out of jail and ready for revenge against Megan and her daughter. The only one who can protect them is the former FBI agent who broke Megan’s heart.
But Reid Morgan isn’t the same man—he’s now a widowed father with a harrowing past. . .and a heart more guarded than ever. Still, he’s the only who believes Megan when she says she’s in danger. Because someone wants to make this a Christmas she won’t live long enough to forget.
Kimberly: I didn’t realize this was the third book in the series. I like that I was able to read this book without feeling like I missed out on anything. Of course now I want to read the others.
Q: What is the most important thing you want your readers to take from your books?
No question here. God is in charge and, if we know what’s best, we will seek His guidance and follow His leading. I guess since this is something I continually struggle with, it shows up time and again in my writing. But I know I am not the only one who has a hard time wanting to be in charge of my life and so I write about it to remind others, too. We are taught as we grow up to be independent, take charge, and make something of ourselves, and we lose sight of the fact that only with God’s guidance can we become everything He has created us to be.
Q: Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
Because of our experiences and perceptions, we all put something of ourselves in our characters, but I try to make each character different and unique and that means they have to possess a variety of characteristics. If anything, I try to write characters that have features I would want to have or that I admire.
That said, though not done intentionally, when I finish a book and evaluate the spiritual struggle of the main character I am surprised to see issues I am either struggling with and or have recently come through. Though Christian fiction entertains, and some would say that is the only purpose of fiction, God can really help us develop our spiritual walk through great stories.
Kimberly: I agree. I am often surprised at the spiritual insights I take away from a work of fiction.
Q: What has surprised you most about being a published novelist?
The biggest surprise beyond the amount of time it takes to market and promote your books, is how intrigued people are with writers. We are not so different than the average person, except that we put our daydreams in writing, but I think most people have at one time or another thought about writing a book and wish they could do so. Also, people often think-as they do of actors-that we are the people we write about. Though we do put some of ourselves in a character, they are fictional people. And they also think that writers are all wealthy. That we all receive huge advances for our work. The truth is, many writers work full time jobs in addition to their writing to make enough money to live on.
Kimberly: I agree, Susan, it has been my experience that most writers have a “day job” along with their writing. There are very few writers who can actually make a living writing novels. Since I’ve joined the rakes of being a writer I’ve learned that writers are regular people, with all the same issues everyone else deals with.
Q: What is your typical writing day like?
I don’t really have a typical day as my writing day depends on whatever deadline I have at the moment. Let’s say that I don’t have a contract deadline, but pray that it never happens, and focus on what I would do if a day were typical.
While drinking my coffee, I start the day answering emails and posting Facebook and Twitter updates. Then I read the chapters I wrote the day before to get back into the feel for where I left off and do a bit of light editing as I read. Next I write the next chapter or as much as I can write before I no longer know where the story is going or need to do research. If research is required, I make calls, send emails, or work on the Internet until I resolve the issue. By now it’s lunchtime and as I eat I read postings from various news lists or groups I belong to. This is followed by checking email and of course wasting a bit of time on Facebook. Okay so maybe I do the Facebook and Twitter thing more than this, but hey, the writing business is a lonely business to be in.
I will write until about four in the afternoon at which time I’m kind of brain dead and I work on my website or work on updating www.thesuspensezone.com until dinner, which I or my wonderful husband will cook. I take a short break for dinner and then continue the website work. When my eyes are crossed from the computer, I pull out a suspense book and read. Now that is a wonderful way to end the day.
Kimberly: It sure is. I try to set aside at least thirty minutes a day to indulge in a great story.
Q: Can you tell us what you’re working on now?
I am currently working on the edits for Double Exposure my June of 2012 release from Love Inspired Suspense and writing my fall of 2012 release tentatively titled Dead Wrong. These are the first two books in the Justice Agency series featuring five adopted siblings who used to work in law enforcement but now own a private investigative agency, called what else but The Justice Agency.
Kimberly: I can’t wait to read this series. It sounds fantastic!
Q: How do you integrate faith into the stories and lives of your characters?
This is actually one of the easiest parts of writing for me as it is such a fundamental part of my life. Before I begin a book, I pray for guidance on a verse to base the story on. Once I am clear on the verse, I think about lessons I may have learned revolving around this verse or how this verse has changed my life. Then I create a story where the characters struggle with this lesson.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Something many people don’t know is that due to both my work and my husband’s work, we have lived in nine states since we’ve been married. We started our married life in Wisconsin where I grew up-go Packers-and then moved in order to Texas, Minnesota, New York, Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Texas again (it’s such a big state you have to live there twice), and now Florida. We have loved every place we’ve lived but do have a special fondness for the Portland, Oregon area where one of our daughters still lives and the other goes to college.
Q: What is your favorite book?
I don’t have a favorite book, but favorite genres. I read mostly mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense because I like a book that moves along and has a mystery to solve. As a writer, there are books that I love because of the prose, books I love because of the great/creative plots, books I love for wonderful/quirky characters, books I love for the message, and of course, books I love for the pure entertainment value. When a book includes all of these under one cover, I cannot put it down.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
Oh, now that is really tough. I can’t say that I have a favorite movie, but love to watch chick flicks. Not a big comedy person, but I do love a good thriller.
Q: What is your favorite Bible verse?
Though I don’t have a favorite verse as different verses speak to me at different times of my life, the verse I use for my writing life and for my life in general, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17
Q: What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Though, I don’t think of this as an accomplishment per se, I am proud of my two daughters. Of the women they have become and of their walk with the Lord. It’s hard to raise godly children these days with all the competing noise and distractions of our hectic world and the fact that faith is so important to both of them makes me so happy.
Kimberly: Thanks for sharing with us today, Susan.
SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com. Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson. To learn more about Susan visit her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SusanSleemanBooks or website http://www.susansleeman.com