Dec 3, 2013

Author Spotlight: Susan Dennard

Welcome to December, everyone! We're celebrating the last month of 2013 with the fantastic Susan Dennard! Author of Something Strange and Deadly [2012], A Dawn Most Wicked [2013], A Darkness Strange and Lovely [2013] and Strange and Ever After [2014]; she is also co-writing an online New Adult book with Sarah J. Maas titled The Starkillers Cycle.

I was lucky enough to meet Susan and interview her back in June while she was on tour with Sarah J. Maas, Erin Bowman and Kat Zhang for their Young Authors Give Back tour. She made quite an impression on me during the time I got to spend hanging out with them and then afterward, when she reached out to thank me for taking the time to interview them. First time any author has ever thanked me and it was definitely a humbling experience. Not only do I love her books but she's a spectacular person. When we started this feature I knew right away that I wanted to have her and I asked her probably back in July or August. So, I present you, Susan Dennard . . .

I’m Susan, though you can call me Sooz. I write novels for kids, teens, and adults–novels with quirky characters and a dash of the bizarre (actually, it’s more like a lot of the bizarre). I grew up in the southern US, where I suffered from mosquitoes, humidity, and a desperate desire to live in a castle. Oh, and crazy vegetarian parents who never let me eat meat. Needless to say, I read a lot in those days and often composed wretched stories for my sister’s amusement. (Really, they were very-very-very wretched stories.)

I went to university, got degrees in marine biology and statistics, and thought I would devote my life to saving the world from overfishing. I then moved to Canada, where I got a masters in marine biology and also met a handsome Frenchman. A year later, when it came to pursuing my PhD or joining aforementioned Frenchman in Europe, I chose the latter.

With no oceans nearby, I turned my strong self-motivation (read: crazy OCD) toward learning how to Write For Real. I am truly sorry, fishies, but someone else will have to save you. Ever since I discovered the world of writing novels, I can never do anything else. (It is the best life. Ever.)

I enjoy long walks on the beach–really, I do. Tidal pools are always fun to marine biologists. I also enjoy long walks with my dogs (an Irish setter named Asimov and a terrier mutt named Princess Leia). But even more than walks, I enjoy reading! Science fiction, fantasy, literary, non-fiction, mystery and the occasional picture book are all consumed with enthusiasm.

Oh, and my favorite food is cookies. I consume those with enthusiasm, too.

You recently finished the last read of Strange and Ever After, I can only imagine how emotional that was for you, what was the first thing you did once you hit the end?

I sobbed and sobbed and SOBBED. It’s soooooo hard (or it was for me) to reach the end of a journey. I feel like Eleanor and the gang are my friends and now we’re all done and waaaaaaaaah!

You are one of my encouraging authors I’ve come across since I started blogging, not only were you super awesome when I met you but you also took the time to reach out and thank me for supporting you and the interview but I also see how encouraging you are to up and coming authors, which was the whole point of the YAGB tour – if there was one piece of advice to you could pass on to a reader, writer, blogger, anyone interested in books, what would it be?

Awww, thanks! I try to be encouraging and to share what little I know. Writing for publication can be such a daunting journey, and I just want aspiring authors to know that if I can do it, they can to. Seriously, I’m like the most average-joe-no-idea-what’s-going-on-let’s-marathon-Teen-Wolf-and-K-Dramas, so if I can reach my dream of publication, I KNOW others can too.

You’re writing a New Adult online story with Sarah J. Maas, which is totally awesome because you two are hoot together, have either of you ever considered getting it put in to print? Has any other reader asked this question or made interest in having it upon their bookshelf?

Our plan is to one day compile the chapters, hire an editor, and then probably offer the full cycle as a cheap ebook. The chapters would still be available for free online, but if people want it all compiled, then they can pay a buck or two for the whole thing wrapped up nicely. Otherwise, we really just want this story to stay free and accessible to everyone…which kinda limits it with regards to a physical, printed version.

If you could go on a tour to five cities with four other authors, where would you go and who would you take with you?

Oh boy, I’d love to go to the west coast—to San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, LA, San Diego…I realize those were NOT listed in a logical, geographical order. ;) I would love to do that tour with my YAGB fellows again—Sarah, Erin Bowman, and Kat Zhang—and maybe invite some other Pub(lishing) Crawl authors. We’d have a blast.

What’s the most common question you are asked in interviews? What’s one question you wish people would ask you?

Obviously I get asked about the inspiration of the series a lot…And who my favorite character is. But I can’t say that I mind those questions or ever wish I got asked anything else. Honestly, it’s just such an honor that people care enough to even ask me questions. :D I’m thrilled to get to talk about my series!!

When I interviewed you during the YAGB (Young Author Give Back) tour, it was practically the very beginning of the tour, now that it’s all said and done, what’s something you learned from meeting all these young children who have an interest in writing?

That kids are AWESOME! They have so much unadulterated enthusiasm for writing and storytelling. Their imaginations are explosive and they get so excited over new ideas—something that adults can be scared by. As adults, we think something and say, “oh, that’s too crazy to actually work.” But kids will think something and say, “THIS IS AMAZING AND I LOVE MY IMAGINATION.” It was refreshing to see that.

Since all of your covers have been released, I can finally ask this question, which cover is your favorite and why?

Oh my gosh, I love the newest one! They’ve each gotten progressively more WOW and eye-catching. The cover for Strange and Ever After is just so perfect for the final episode in Eleanor’s story.

Did you know where each book was going to take you (starting in Philadelphia, going to France and then Eygpt) or was it kind of surprise to you ask you wrote more of the first book? And, have you ever visited any of the locations in any of your books?

I knew when I sold the series that the book would go from Philadelphia to Paris to Egypt. But I didn’t quite know or understand HOW until I actually wrote the second and third books. I had planned for Eleanor and the gang to go to a totally different spot in Egypt (Luxor), but I wound up keeping them mostly around Cairo—and I love how that turned out.

And yes! I’ve been to Paris many times (my husband is Parisian), and I visited all the places Eleanor visits. As for Egypt, I went to Luxor—where I thought Eleanor and the gang would go—but not Cairo. Still, I managed to get a feel for the Nile and desert landscapes as well as the Egyptian people, so many of my experiences crop up in Strange and Ever After.

There’s many methods of co-writing something, do you and Sarah write a chapter each or do you both brain storm on each chapter and write it together? 

When we first started drafting THE STARKILLERS, we would alternate chapters. We both write different characters in the story, so we’d bounce back in forth in POV, each of us adding a new scene as we went. But now that we’re drafting/revising for online, it’s more fluid. Whatever POV needs to come next for the story to make the most sense is what we write work on—so less alternating back and forth.

What is harder for you to write; a kissing scene, action scene or dialogue? (Or if none of that, what’s the hardest?)

Hmmm…I do love kissing scenes. And action scenes. And dialogue scenes if the tension is high. I find that the harder scenes are ones when I need to introduce a new setting or provide some critical information/backstory. I usually just leave a blank—like:

**insert setting here**

And then I continue on my merry drafting. I’ll add the setting/information when I revise.

E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical book. Though I do like e-books in place of mass market paperback, which have tiny text. My eyesight sucks, so I like that I can make the font MONDO on an e-reader. ;)

Summer or Winter?

Summer, for sure. I grew up in Georgia, and I like HEAT. Spanish moss, cicadas, humidity that oozes off window panes…

Chaol or Dorian? (I would’ve asked one of your characters but alas, there is no love triangle and I know how good of friends you are with Sarah lol)

Dorian. For sure. Sarah knows I have major love for Dorian. But this is also unfair because I know what happens in the ENTIRE SERIES…and I just love where Dorian goes.

Vampires or Werewolves?

Werewolves. Derek Hale FOR LIFE.

Coffee or Tea?

Coffee. I’ve tried a few times to become a tea person…but I just can’t get into it. I love the boldness of coffee.

Music while writing or No Music?
MUSIC! I can’t write without it.

Writing in the morning or evening?

Morning…and evening. I actually like to brainstorm/plan in the mornings when my head is clearest. Then I sink into the story in the afternoon and draft well into the evening.

Best Friend or Hottie?

Ooooh….Best friend, probably. Hotties are great, but at the end of the day—if we’re talking real life and NOT a sexy times romance novel—then a dependable person with whom I can be 100% myself is really important.

Hardcover or Paperback?

I love hardcovers. They’re just so solid and steady…and last through years of re-reading.

I want to thank Susan again for taking the time to answer my questions. If you haven't read her books, you really should change that. In fact, you'll love our giveaway, whether you're already a fan or someone who hasn't yet read her books! If you're also an aspiring writer, you'll want to follow her on twitter - she's very helpful and supportive to everyone.

This giveaway is open internationally. You can choose between any ONE of Susan's three books (Something Strange and Deadly, A Darkness Strange and Lovely OR Strange and Ever After) - the winner will have the book personalized to them. If you choose the third book, since it's not being released until 2014, you won't get the book until after it's release date. It will be a pre-order. You have until December 23 to enter this giveaway. The winner will be emailed and given 48 hours to respond before we choose another winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I feel like if I were writing I would also use Susan's tactic. *insert blank here* It would seriously get me into trouble though :p

    Elizabeth Richards would be great for a spotlight.

  2. Actually, Elizabeth Richards was our first author we had for this feature! But awesome suggestion!

  3. Love Susan! I was in her First Five Page workshop and she is amazing and nice and I just want to steal her as a friend and writing buddy :P

  4. It's really interesting how she chose the three settings she wanted her books to take place before she even wrote them. It seems like it'd be a huge challenge attempting to transition that without it seeming out of place! Great interview!

    I'd love to see an interview with Susan Ee. Her Angelfall series is amazing and I can't wait to see where she's going to take it!

  5. LOL I'm not a tea person either... but I'm also not a coffee person. Glad that I'm not a book-obsessed coffee addict! Just book-obsessed :D

    Thank you for the feature and the chance to win! I'd love to see Fiona Paul/Paula Stokes featured. Or Robin LaFevers. Or Sarah Fine. Or Alexandra Bracken. LOL.

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  6. It's okay - I'm not a coffee or tea person either. I'll take my soda any day LOL

    Robin LaFevers would be AWESOME as would Alexandra Bracken. I haven't read any of Fiona Paul or Sarah Fine's books (yet).

  7. I liked all of it. I don't know why it wouldn't click that Mr. Dennard is French. Of course he is!

    I'd love to see Robin LaFevers or Rae Carson or Elizabeth Wein!

    - Shae

  8. Great interview! It's good to know that Susan Dennard also like Derek Hale! Some authors I'd like to see featured are Alexandra Bracken, Erin Bowman, A.S. King, or Beth Revis.

  9. I loved the whole interview! The answers about visiting the settings, knowing where the book was going and how Susan is co-writing with Sarah were especially interesting. I always wonder how co-writing can actually work out o.O
    And coffee. I'd pick it over tea any time :P

    I'll be so sad to see this series end, but I'm also very curious to see where it's going!
    As for other authors to interview, I'd love to see one with Kelly Creagh or Holly Black :)

  10. Loved the interview especially the question about which 5 cities would she tour and with which authors!! Thanks you so much for the giveaway.

  11. Um, I love every part of it, but it was particularly interesting for me to see that she picked Dorian!

    Hrmmm...Paula Stokes? Erin Bowman? Rainbow Rowell?

  12. Rosario & PatriciaDecember 11, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    I love interviews with authors, so I loved every single question. But particularly, I'm glad to know that Susan is writing a NA novel with Sara. That would be epic!

    And an author... Mmmm... I'm new to this author spotlight so I don't know who has already been in this section but... Romily Bernard? Alyson Noel? Jodi Meadows? Ooh! Melissa Landers!? Rachel Van Dyken?! haha

  13. I enjoyed it while I was reading this interview,I like every questions and answers :)
    Thanks! :)

  14. Great interview! I haven`t actually read any of her books yet, but I still really enjoyed it. I like physical books better too!

    Not really sure who you have featured because I haven`t really explored your blog, but I think Megan Shepard, John Green and Meg Cabot and Kendare Blake would be cool!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. I love this interview! I love the Vampire vs Werewolf question, and the Coffee vs Tea question! Oh and the Hottie vs Friend, that one is super cute!
    (I would answer the same on all three questions by the way!)
    I read the first book and loooove it! I'm reading the second book during the holidays :)
    x Iris

  16. The 'This or That' section of these are always my favorite! It's so much fun to just ask random questions and see what their answers will be! I'm so glad you liked her first book and I hope you'll love the second (its fabulous, if I do say so myself)!

  17. Megan Shepherd is actually one I'm going to be looking in to. I'm going to ask her after Her Dark Curiosity comes out because I'm sure she'll be swamped through mid to late February! :)

  18. You're in luck! Next month we'll have Jodi Meadows and you don't want to miss this interview! It's probably the most fun I've had interviewing someone via email!

  19. Erin Bowman would definitely be someone I'd be interested in, for sure! I've interviewed her once before but she's awesome so she's someone I'm gonna aim for! I wanna read some of Rainbow's work but she would definitely be great! I'll have to look up Paula Stokes :)

  20. Oh, I know Sana would absolutely LOVE to have Holly Black since she's such a big fan but who knows - maybe down the road we could snag her for a spotlight! :)

  21. I approve of all your suggestions! They're on my list of possibilities :)

  22. Oh MAN! I would love all of them. Especially Rae, since she's the only one I haven't had the chance of meeting in person yet. Such fabulous authors - I do like your taste! :)

  23. I love that Ms. Dennard has visited all of the locales used as settings. Can hardly wait for STRANGE & EVER AFTER! Good luck to the other entrants and happy holidays to all!


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