Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Susan Buchanan, author of the novels SIGN OF THE TIMES, THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, and THE DATING GAME, and welcome her to my blog.
Q: For how long have you been writing?
A: Since I was about seven, but properly writing novels, for about twelve years, with a few breaks in between – for work.
Q: Have any life experiences inspired you to write your books?
A: Not the content of the characters or their personalities, but yes, I have sometimes drawn on my travel experience, and I like to think that’s an integral part of my writing (with the exception of my Christmas books, although even in The Christmas Spirit there was an international flavour too). I’ve been to Italy many times and that’s why part of Sign of the Times is set there. I used to live in Barcelona, which made writing The Dating Game scenes there particularly pleasurable.
Q: Each writer works in different ways with reference to writing. Do you have a writing program/schedule that works for you?
A: Well, it has all changed now with the baby and also my new editing and proofreading company. I used to write during the day with many breaks for snacks. I’ve never understood writers who could write for ten hours without so much as a biscuit – I can’t think if I’m hungry! I am also an early bird, so I can write from six onwards. I’m not much good at writing after 11 p.m. Now, well, I write whenever I have time, which is very unstructured, but interestingly when you have less time, you use it more wisely. You have no choice!
I also tend to work out the launch date I want, then allow time for e-book formatting, proofreading, cover design, editing and that gives me my deadline for when I need to finish the first draft. It gives me a sense of purpose and either stops me procrastinating, or, as is happening currently, scares the heck out of me!
Q: Do you have any favorite book genres which you love to read?
A: I love chick lit, anything with a travel theme and mystery/crime fiction.
Q: Are there any favorite books and authors who have been influential upon you and your writing?
A: Probably many, but Maeve Binchy, the sadly deceased Irish women’s fiction author, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón are two who spring to mind.
Q: After reading THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT, I was taken with the subtle yet warm creation of a Christmas atmosphere for the reader, and I very much liked the descriptions of food and beverages, which perfectly complimented the novel. I also enjoyed the explorations into the psychology of the characters, and what Christmas meant to them in their individual situations. What do you most derive pleasure from when writing books which feature multiple characters, and stories connected by a common theme?
A: So glad you enjoyed all of that. I think food is a key element throughout all of my novels – I did say I got hungry! I love the diversity of the characters. They need to be having very different life experiences from each other, otherwise readers get confused over who is doing what. I love weaving them together. Sign of the Times has 12 characters all woven together, although it was much easier to do it with the six in The Christmas Spirit.
I also make little character plans for them and as I envisage the characters, maybe whilst I am out and about another detail about them forms in my head, I add to the list. I don’t always use all of the info, but I am great believer that there should be information an author knows about their characters which doesn’t get used. That means you really know your characters inside out.
Q: Amongst your stories, is there one which is closest to your heart, and why?
A: Probably Sign of the Times because it was my first and because it took me six years to write. You learn such a lot from your first book. It was also by far the most difficult book to write because of the 12 main characters based on the signs of the zodiac. There will be a continuation to it, I just have another 1 1/2 novels to write first!
Q: Do you have any favorite TV shows, either from the past, or currently on the air?
A: I love anything with Rupert Penry Jones in it – so Silk, the legal drama, Whitechapel, the crime drama, in fact I like most crime dramas. However, I don’t watch much TV, except quiz shows and the occasional movie. I have about three months worth of quiz shows recorded ready to watch, but no time to watch them – too many other things going on!
Q: Are there any hobbies or pastimes you like to participate in when you have spare time?
A: I’d quite like to get back into running again. Particularly with Glasgow hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games it really does make me want to get fit. Apart from that, I’d just like to have time to read more and go to the cinema. With a 15-month-old baby, you don’t have a great deal of spare time!
Q: Would you like to write stories in other genres?
A: I will probably write some travel stories at some point. I’m also currently editing a children’s book, which really makes me want to fulfil my dream of writing for that market too (9-12 years).
Q: Do you have any other writing projects, or new/upcoming releases, that you would like to mention to readers?
A: I am working on a follow-up to The Christmas Spirit. All going well it should be ready in time for Nov/Dec release. I was also working on What If, but the Christmas book called to me more (same as happened last year). I will definitely finish What If before I write a third Christmas book!
I am certain you will join me in thanking Susan today for her time, and that we look forward to reading more of her works in the future. If you wish to contact Susan, she is available on:
*Susan has a proofreading company for authors, Perfect Prose Services, which is at the following address: www.perfectproseservices.com
– Susan’s books can be accessed by clicking on the book covers below: