About the Authors
1. How did you get started as an author? What or whom inspired you?
Susan (Mom): I’ve written stories since I was a child, and then I started writing nonfiction. I worked as a news correspondent and wrote magazine articles for several years, and then realized I had a novel running around in my head. I started writing fiction in 1999. Two years later, my short stories began to sell, and in 2004 my first book, Protecting Amy, was published.
Jim (Son): Well. . . . . it kind of runs in the family! I started writing books as a toddler, like many other members of the family, though naturally none of those early works were published, and few if any kept. The mere fact that books existed, and that I was able to write and draw (and scribble before that) inspired me to make early attempts, along with gentle nudges by my favorite author, Susan Page Davis. She has been my greatest inspiration and encouragement, but even without her I probably would have dabbled at it. Other inspiration comes from practically every author I've ever read-- with the ones I like, I say, "wow, I would like to write something like this!" and with ones I don't like, I say, "Anybody could do better than that!"
2. How many books have you written and in what genres?
Susan: I have about 60 novels and novellas published. Many of them are historical romance. I also write cozy mysteries and romantic suspense, and I’ve done two chapter books for young people.
Jim: The Searfaring Women of the Vera B is my first book to be published, and it is inspirational historical fiction. Over the years I have written several yet-to-be published books in fantasy, speculative contemporary, apocalyptic, alternative history, and science fiction.
3. What writing projects are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
Susan: I have two historical novellas about to release March 1. They are in collections called The Cowboy’s Bride (from Barbour Publishing) and Heart of a Cowboy (from Mountain Brook Ink). I’m working on a longer book for Barbour called My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains, and I’m also working on cozy mysteries for Guideposts Books.
Jim: In addition to working on the next book in the Hearts of Oak series, I am working on a pulp fiction alternative history set in a diverged World War II, and a philosophical apocalyptic work in the approximate vein of Animal Farm, 1984, Brave New World, Atlas Shrugged, etc., but with a more positive outlook.
4. What does your writing process look like?
Susan: I usually start with an idea for a situation or event, and populate it with characters I think will make it exciting and fun. I begin with research, character sketches, and a detailed outline of the plot. Then I write the actual book, revise, revise, and revise.
Jim: I snatch minutes and hours from an incredibly hectic and demanding schedule, usually after everybody else has gone to bed. I almost always have as many tabs open as my browser will handle, where I conduct my research on the fly.
5. Where is your favorite place to write?
Susan: I am thankful to have a room which is my dedicated office. It holds my desk, printer table, four file cabinets, six bookcases (full) and piles of references for whatever I’m working on, usually on the floor around me.
Jim: I'm currently stuck with writing at my desk, where I have a laptop with a broken screen set up on an improvised life support with separate monitor and keyboard. Maybe one day I'll have a laptop that is truly portable, in which case I might start doing some of my writing at my favorite coffee shop, etc.
6. How important are the names in your novels? How do you choose names for your characters? Do you have any name resources you would suggest?
Susan: They’re very important. I try to make them appropriate to the setting. Some resources I use are the US census lists of most common names in each year; the phone book; the book Character Naming Sourcebook, and baby name books.
Jim: Names are of a great deal of importance to me. I don't like to use names that are so commonplace as to be forgettable. If I must throw in some ordinary names like John, Tom, Mike, Anne, Jennifer, etc., I usually either, 1. make them minor characters, or 2. give them impressively memorable last names, or 3. Make the character so memorable in other ways that the reader has no trouble remembering who he / she is. I also like using extremely uncommon surnames, especially in historicals.
7. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
Susan: I love mysteries and suspense. I recently enjoyed Stranded by Don and Stephanie Prichard. A few authors I like are Julianna Deering, Randy Singer, and Van Reid.
Jim: I would encourage people to read the Bible, and all the old works--let recent books be about 30-40% of what you read at most. I'm constantly digging up long-gone authors' works and reading them. I have enjoyed Kerry Nietz among Christian authors, and Suzanne Collins among secular work.
8. What period of history interests you the most? Does this effect your writing?
Susan: I love learning about the past. The 19th century and medieval period are my favorites.
Jim: I enjoy writing about almost any period of history, but I have a real affinity for the 1840's through the 1940's. I enjoy writing about wars, conflicts, and other unbalancing historical events, such as gold rushes and new discoveries. I like to try to get a feeling of the "fervor of the moment" into my writing.
9. What inspired the idea for The Seafaring Women of Vera B.? How many novels are you planning for this series?
Susan: I had read about a real woman whose husband was a ship captain and died in a foreign country. She took the ship home. Of course, she had the original crew to do most of the work, but I wondered, what if the crew deserted her? I found the perfect situation: during the Australia gold rush, dozens of ships sat idle in their harbors while the crews flocked to the goldfields. We’re already working on book 2.
10. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Susan: I enjoy reading, cryptograms and logic puzzles, genealogy, and needlework.
Jim: I enjoy reading and playing games with my kids, and inventing new games. I'm working on a board game now that involves international trade and warfare in colonial days.
Check out my review for
THE SEAFARING WOMEN OF THE VERA B.
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