Book Nerd Interview
Suzanne writes primarily fiction for young adults but she finds that the lines between genres and bookshelf categories coming down has opened up whole new channels for getting stories into the hands of all readers. Suzanne loves stories and she can’t wait to be a part of connecting the readers of the world with more OddRocket books in the future.
Suzanne lives in Seattle with her husband, young son and the ghost of her border collie, Jake.
There is a reason that the world has always had storytellers, we all have stories to tell. Some people decide to write them down and share them and hopefully reach those readers who can find a little bit of themselves in a character or a plot. I think stories remind us of our shared connections.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I once won a karaoke contest and a trip to Vegas singing Carly Simon’s “You’re so Vain.”
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Be kind. A teacher of mine in high school had this written on her white board. Every year I appreciate the strength and simplicity of this message more and more.
What’s in the future for you?
I see lots of late nights in my future. This month is the launch of OddRocket, an epublishing company I founded with a fabulously talented creative team. “Lie to Me” is one of our launch titles. I’m working on a new book called “Kiss Me Kill You” and revisions for “Ivy Goodnight and the Lost Souls of Florence” which will most likely be an OddRocket winter release. Phase 2 for OddRocket is expanding our catalog and acquiring new writers. It’s an exciting sleepless time.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Two things come to mind. The magic is in revisions, and never give up. They go hand in hand. To get through the revision process and reach the magic, you have to remember to never give up.
What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face and what advice do you have for over-coming them?
This is an exciting time to be a writer. Authors have so many options on how to publish, and all these evolving channels for directly interacting with readers. One of the main reasons we founded OddRocket is to be part of this next generation of publishing, to help writers and authors connect in new and exciting ways. Part of the challenge for all writers now is choosing the best path for their work. I think writers should explore their options and continue to focus on telling the best possible story they can. How a reader gets a book may be changing, but ultimately what matters most is putting quality writing out in to the world, and reaching people emotionally. The story will always trump all.
Can you tell us when you started Lie to Me, how that came about?
Lie to Me is a story about love, loss and ultimately how grief changes a person. My mother died of breast cancer, so I definitely drew from my own experience to power some of the emotion of Cassie’s world. Losing someone you love that much turns you inside out and ultimately transforms you. You have to choose to come out on the other side strong. Cassie’s situation is fiction, but that experience of being outside yourself and set adrift is something I understand.
Cassie’s specific story came to me in pieces. Initially I had this idea about a very good girl in an escalating bad situation and I had a title. Once I had those pieces, the world of San Sebastian came to life.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating RD?
RD is a challenging character for me, even after finishing this book. I think when I started, I had an idea of what motivated him and whether he was “good” or “bad.” In the end, I understood that the answer is never that simple. It’s surprising to find you can learn things from the characters you create.
If you could introduce Cassie to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d like to see Cassie spend an afternoon walking through the woods learning to shoot a bow and arrow. She needs a girl’s weekend with Katniss Everdeen.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Oh, this is a good question. I’d say, be brave. And by brave I mean be beautiful, be yourself, be loud, be sweet, be funny, be nerdy, be smart, be athletic, be quiet, be you. Like Cassie, I think girls can fall into the trap of wanting to be a “pleaser” and the most powerful thing we can do is bravely be ourselves.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I’m not a good liar, but the question “How are you?” begs for a lie sometimes. It’s a question people ask when they don’t always want to know the real answer. So, if someone asks and I know they aren’t really prepared to dip into what is actually going on in my world, I will usually smile and say, “I’m fine, and how are you?”
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
Florence, Italy. I spent some time hiding out there after my mom died and discovered that my life hadn’t ended. I owe the Italians a great debt.
What's the worst summer job you've ever had?
Working retail at a major department store during their half yearly sale. Everyone worked for the discount. I quit one day before mine kicked in. I could not hack it.
When was the last time you cried?
That is an easy one, yesterday listening to a story on the radio. Sad, beautiful and happy things always make me cry, and since having my son, I’m what you would call a super crier.
What's the loveliest thing you have ever seen?
Watching my son run across the grass to play with his cousins. They are ridiculously beautiful together.
Where can readers stalk you?
16 year old Cassie Safire is a very good girl who does some very bad things. Dumped by her boyfriend and betrayed by her best friend, Cassie discovers her mom has a very big secret, and suddenly no amount of niceness can make Cassie’s world right again.
To escape, Cassie takes on a summer job restoring a sailboat with RD, a mysterious college guy living at the marina. Rejected and grief-stricken, Cassie finds herself drawing closer to RD. When their relationship becomes romantic, RD tells Cassie they can only be together in secret.
But on an island this small, secrets rarely stay hidden.
The one obvious thing about this book is how Suzanne manages to mimic the thoughts and opinions of a sixteen year-old girl. This period in a young woman’s life is vastly covered with sensitive situations and almost all of her decisions were emotionally-fueled. The writing is absolutely beautiful as readers get a clear understanding of Cassie’s justifications for her badly made decisions. This book may hit home with some readers as Cassie goes through heart-wrenching moments that many people go through every day. I enjoyed reading the Cassie character, she is real, genuine, and nothing about her seems fabricated. Lie to Me is a perfectly written coming of age book with plenty of twists to keep readers turning the pages.