Scroll down for a chance to win a copy of Susan May Warren’s book, A Matter of Trust. Winner will be announced in the next Author Spotlight feature. Congratulations to last week’s winner of My Daughter’s Legacy, Linda Kish! Please e-mail your mailing address to my assistant Christen (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he’s remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana’s rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can’t seem to find his footing–or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him.
Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret—one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track.
When Ella’s brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park’s most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn’t so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he’ll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain.
But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder—and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella’s secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other—even when disaster happens again?
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a northern girl—have lived most of my life in Minnesota, except for a 10 year stint when we were missionaries in Russia, and 3 years in East Tennessee where my two oldest were born. (Hubs was in missionary aviation training school in Elizabethton, TN). My first book was published the year after I came home from Russia, but I wrote 4 novels in Siberia while I was honing my skills. Since then, I’ve written about fifty-six novels, most of them epic romantic adventure, but also historicals, rom-com, historical suspense, thrillers and a few Christmas novellas. I’ve won a few awards (the RITA, the Christy, the Carol) and landed on some best-seller lists, but my best accomplishment is my four amazing adult children and being married to my beloved husband, Andrew, for nearly 30 years.
Do you have a day job as well? If so, what is it?
Writing is my day job, but I also run a website for novelists – Novel.Academy – that teaches aspiring and advanced writers how to write brilliant stories and grow their careers.
When did you start writing your first book?
My FIRST book was written at the age of fourteen. (The epic adventure of a cowgirl, her horse and the boy who loved them!) The first serious novel I attempted was an epic historical saga about a Russian family, from 1938-1988. (50 years!) It took me 2 years and ended up being 800 pages long. We used it as a high-chair for the kids. The next one was considerably shorter—a 55 word historical novel for Heartsong Presents based very loosely on my grandparents’ romance set in WWI. But before that got published, my next novel, a trade-length romance set in northern Minnesota was picked up by Tyndale House. It was published in 2004—Happily Ever After. It’s the book that launched my career.
How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did the genre choose you?
I think it chose me!! I love writing romance, but I also love suspense. And, I’m an outdoorsy, adventure loving person, so my romantic-suspense novels tend to take place outdoors and often include search and rescue rather than racing-from-bad guys (although I have that also). I tend toward the survival type shows rather than Law and Order, too, so I naturally write in that direction. So, I’ve sort of adopted my own genre, “Epic Romantic Adventure.” (Although there are others writing in that, also!)
Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
Well, all great writing is exhausting because you have to dig deep into your own experiences to find that emotional truth to put on the page. But, I LOVE to write. I so look forward to a full day of simply digging into a great story. So, in that sense it exhilarates me to write a new story. I’m going to go with Energize as my final answer.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No. I believe in an absence of words, perhaps. And maybe a confusion on not quite knowing what to write next. But that can be so easily answered by the question: What does your character fear happening? (and then writing to that end!) Not knowing where to start the scene can also be solved by asking: how does your character feel right now? or What is at stake for your character in this scene? Then, pull out the character’s current thoughts and start from there. So, no I don’t believe in writer’s block. 😊
Do you create an outline before you begin? Do you have the end in mind, or do you just wait and see where the story takes you?
I use a method I’ve created called The Story Equation. It’s a method that digs inside a character and pulls out their core Dark Moment Story, and builds a story/plot based on the journey to set them free from the lies they believe. It’s character-first plotting, from the inside-out that then produces and entire plot. I then pull out all the plot elements (Inciting Incident, Quest, Black Moment, Epiphany, etc) and put them into an outline. From there, I loosely fill in the events that will happen in the story. However, I leave that pretty open to letting my imagination take me where it will. So, I’m an outliner in terms of story scope and rhythm, but I’m a pantster when it comes to developing the scenes.
What kind of research do you do? How long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do very in-depth research!
I love researching and I will often travel to a location, or take up a sport or activity for the book (e.g. I once went sky-diving to get the scene right! And, I pulled from my love of skiing to write A Matter of Trust, my newest book) I read a lot of non-fiction how-to books on the topic (e.g. search and rescue stories) as well as biographies from people in that profession. I watch videos (I watched hours of videos on freeriding, the subject of Trust) and will also read novels with a similar setting, profession or scenario, just to get ideas. I do research for a few weeks as I’m developing my ideas, and then throughout the book writing process.
Susan May Warren is the USA Today, ECPA, and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas.