Susan has had an abiding love for books, writing, and reading ever since her mother first read fairy tales to her as a child to get her to go to sleep. That method obviously backfired and resulted in a woman with a passion for literature that more often than not extended into the wee hours of the night.
A fan of saunas, Lady Gaga, and chocolate, of course, Susan believes that love triumphs over all other considerations, which is why she writes about it.
Q: What was your initial inspiration and starting point for A Hero of His Own?
A: I wanted to write a scene with a confused drunk, a closeted man who begins to spout out vows of love to a complete stranger. Something that was both funny and sad at the same time. That’s the first scene in Hero, and the plot unfolds from there. And the small-town setting, where everyone knows everyone else and their business, adds to this revelation, escalating change.
Q: Which character do you think you see more of yourself in, Dan or Patrick?
A: Dan is a strong, confident, stable man. Patrick has all those things, too, but hidden away, so he appears weak, insecure, and unstable. We all have our doubts and fears, so in that sense Patrick is more like me. Being down is something I get as a Finn. But I’m trying to learn the same kind of self-confidence as Dan, too.
Q: When you start a series, do you plan all the books and heroes out beforehand or do you make them up as you go along?
A: I plan an overall setting, very abstract and non-restrictive, and then make up stuff as I go along. If I planned everything down to the last detail in advance, it might restrict my writing, and I don’t want to do that.
Q: Do you intend to continue the Sailor’s Knot series? If so, where might you take it next? If not, can you talk about any other story ideas you have?
A: Yes, I have plans for more in the Sailor’s Knot series. The next story will revolve around Dan’s brother as he comes to visit—and falls in love—with the small fishing town. ☺ And my Cowboys of Snow Lake series will get a family-oriented sequel soon-ish as well.
Q: What do you find most rewarding and challenging about writing ManLove stories?
A: The most rewarding aspect, in my opinion, is to be able to show that love between two men is no different than the love between a man and a woman. It’s normal, natural, and perfectly fine. There should, in fact, be more love out there, not less. The most challenging part, I think, is getting the men right. As a woman, I admit I am not fully versed in the intricacies of the male mind. But one tries. ☺
Q: What’s the most memorable sex scene from one of your books? Why?
A: The first sex scene in Sub, or Sailor’s Knot 1, was memorable for me. It was my first time writing angry sex, let alone having the stronger man take a submissive role. Hunter’s strength is so different from David’s. The scene was hot to write, and the personalities of the two men came through very clearly. They revealed to me who they were deep down, and the sex reflected these inner truths, propelling the plot forward into directions I hadn’t anticipated.
Q: Tell us something we don’t know about you that might surprise us.
A: When I was younger, I wanted to become an explorer or an urban planner. Then I figured out I’m not too keen on heat, bugs, or traveling, and that my math skills leave too much to be desired. Oh, well…
Q: What qualities do you think are important for the hero in a romance? Are there types of men you prefer to write about?
A: A worthy hero doesn’t have to be physically perfect, but he must have a certain inner light. Not just intellect or emotion, but honor, honesty, and conscience. I like to read and write about flawed heroes, however. The story of a hero making peace with his past mistakes and becoming more than he was before is such a universal theme. It could fit into any genre, and it’s always compelling.
Q: Even in today’s world, men who are romantically involved with each other can face discrimination, violence, and bullying. What are some conflicts your heroes have faced, and how did they overcome these obstacles?
A: In my Cowboys of Snow Lake series, the heroes have faced sexual abuse, alcoholism, beatings, and prejudice. A new love becomes a power for healing and self-worth, with a little help from the law. Also, when a hero hits rock bottom, remembering that they have a family, and a job, and a future, even if it’s hard to see, is our story as well. We all have something to live for, and it’s important not to forget that. In Rivers of Wind, a former lover abused one of the heroes, and the hero’s ordeal to come to terms with it lasts a long time. A violent confrontation ensues. Without the help of law enforcement officials, the result might have been decidedly different. The real-life attitude of those representing the law, the county, and the government matters so much when it comes to the GLBT community. In Mending Fences, a deep-rooted self-worthlessness in one of the heroes makes him feel like he deserves every beating he gets, and he drinks to forget. It takes a sit-down with the hurt hero, the sheriff, and the bully to resolve the issue. I thought it was important to show that not everything needs to be taken care of with fists. Words and open dialogue can be just as effective.
Q: One of your books is going to be adapted into a film. Which one? And who plays the main characters?
A: Rivers of Wind. It has a good mix of dialogue, romance, sex, and action, in my opinion (wink-wink). Jayden would be played by Alex Pettyfer because they have similar youthful bravado and they’ve got that blond bad boy thing going on. Mal would be played by Javier Bardem or Clive Owen because they both appear dark, brooding, stoic, and yet sexy. Plus, they wear their age well.