Welcome to December, everyone! We're celebrating the last month of 2013 with the fantastic Susan Dennard! Author of Something Strange and Deadly , A Dawn Most Wicked , A Darkness Strange and Lovely  and Strange and Ever After ; 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.
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