Sunday, July 08, 2007

Introducing Sue Dent

I met Sue through American Christian Fiction Writers. She has become a good online friend. I'm looking forward to meeting her in person.

When I first heard about her book, I didn't think I was interested in it because of the subject matter. However, the Lord showed me some things about the subject matter.

We serve a mighty God, a God who wants to redeem lives. He doesn't like for enemy to have a victory in any person's life. Sue's book is about redemption in a way that many of us never experience, because we don't need it. There are many people who need to understand the kind of redemptive power of God that is depicted in Sue's book. I'm praying that many of them will pick it up because of the cover and then hear gospel of truth in its pages.

Sue, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I honestly can’t say whether I write myself into them. I would say there’s a little of me in each of them. Rodney and Richard are very skeptical, so am I. Cassie’s often too trusting. *raising hand slowly* Ceese is tenacious! Yep! Okay, I guess I do write a lot of myself into my characters.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

*Shock* I cannot go there! Okay, I will. I played foosball professionally for a while. A group of us went to a bar (sorry, the only place one can place foosball in Mississippi is in a bar. Oddly, I don’t drink or smoke.) We drove in search of a place called “Big Daddy’s” where they were rumored to have a table. We found it. It was a small place, with a DIRT floor. Motorcycles were the apparent mode of transportation as they were lined up in front. Us preppy folks proceeded to walk in amongst bearded folk and the like and proceeded to claim the table. We only got to play for maybe ten minutes because bars closed at 12:00 P.M. And this bar didn’t mess around. They actually shut the lights off! I cannot tell you how quickly I found our van!! I don’t know though, is that quirky or just dumb? LOL

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I think it would be more accurate to ask when did I first admit I was creative since I don’t really consider myself a writer. I have ideas that won’t stop coming. I used to express them with my art but it didn’t seem to satisfy quite as much as writing did. The first clue I had that I could actually hold my own as a writer was when the editor I hired told me I could. And then there was being short-listed for a Bram Stoker Award and being picked up by a publisher, all within the span of a year. Not even holding my first book in my hand convinced me. All I thought then was, “great now I’ve got to make the money back I’ve put out on this baby.”

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I USED to read a LOT of fantasy; Piers Anthony, Roger Zelazny. I absolutely loved the Chronicles of Amber. But now I’m a John Grisham fan, more or less and still enjoy a good fantasy now and again.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have at least two stories complete. One is actually a modern day Western/rodeo type novel. (very good I might add) And the other is hard to describe. It would definitely fit into the fantasy/sci-fi category and one particular friend of mine is anxious for me to publish it. But HA! I’ll need a lot more help from any publisher to be encouraged to publish either one as I’ve expended about as much money as I can to get Never Ceese out there.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Hmmmm . . . did someone tell you I was sane? I’d like their name and number as they are sadly misinformed. LOL I ask you, would a sane person write a vampire/werewolf novel and submit it to Christian publishers knowing they’d probably be knocked back at every turn? I think not!

How do you choose your characters’ names?

That’s a good question. I usually let the characters pick. There was a guy in school named Richard. He was very pale and I often speculated about his being a vampire. You must understand, this was Jr. High and my speculating was based on my boredom. I wanted a unique nickname for my female main character and I knew a man once named Cecil. He was often called Ceese. He was also called Red because he had red hair. I usually develop the character first, then the name.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Of course, being on the preliminary ballot for a Bram Stoker award was a highlight. Being invited to the World Horror Convention at the request of Nicholas Grabowsky, author of Halloween IV, was another defining moment because this meant Never Ceese had been accepted into the secular market. And being book club choice for the month of April at the ACFW was also wonderful as this meant Never Ceese was also making its mark in the Christian market. But the accomplishment I’m most proud of, I’m claiming by Faith, and that’s being taken on by a CBA recognized publisher. Why am I so proud of this, by Faith, accomplishment? Because it opens the door for so many other good writers of speculative fiction who are Christians to be considered by publishers who are skeptical to take them on. Oh I can’t wait to see who gets Forever Richard!

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Do not ask someone like me this kind of question as I will sit here all day and try to figure that out. Perhaps I’d like to be a Cheetah, because they run fast, or a bird, because they fly. Both of these things appeal to me. Elephants have great memories but I’m afraid all I’d remember is that I was big and ugly and smelled bad. See, I told you I’d put too much thought into this. :-)

What is your favorite food?

Before my fourteen year old became a vegetarian, I suppose a good hamburger. Perish the thought! Now I’d have to say mushroom quesadilla’s yum yum.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Wondering if anyone could enjoy my writing as much as I did. My editor helped me fix that. Oh, and it’s not fixed yet. I’m still working on that aspect. But making great progress.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Oh I am not a good person to ask that question of. A friend of mine emailed me just the other day to ask me my opinion on sending query letters out to agents. I told her that if it was her debut novel she was referring to, she shouldn’t query agents at all. I told her to target small publishers and new publishers as no one knew who she was or what she was capable of. I told her a small press would take her long before an agency would. She e-mailed me back and told me that this logic went against everything she’d ever heard at all the conferences she’d been to. All I could say was, “well, it worked for me!”

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Oh, it’s gooooooddd! But don’t take my word for it. Get a copy and read it yourself. Or go check out all the wonderful, mostly unsolicited, reviews. I love vampire/werewolf fantasy but get tired of seeing it presented under the guise of the occult. So many young people flock to this genre . . . I just wanted to give them something different to read. It’s even good if it’s not your usual genre or so I’ve been told.

Your book is such a departure from what most people understand to be Christian fiction. How did you get the idea? Why did you write it?

I got the idea when I realized the other two stories I’d been working on required more research. I decided if I wrote a fantasy then I wouldn’t have to do so much research. That I could create things myself if I had to. (and I did!!!)

As to why did I write it, well, because I’m a writer and the story just came to me. Why did I write a vampire/werewolf fantasy? Because I believe God wants to take this genre back. This genre is too dark and good Christian kids are being drawn to it and potentially influenced. Of course whether they’re influenced is up to them, I just decided to give them something different to think about. And it seems Never Ceese has made somewhat of an impact in this area!

Thank you, Sue, for sharing with us today. Readers, you can get to know Sue more on her site at:

Remember, readers, the winner of a free book will be chosen from those who leave comments. If you love fantasy, or especially if you know a young person who is into this genre, leave a comment.

There's still time to leave a comment on Janice Thompson's interview.


Elaine Bach said...

I agree I would normally do a 180 degree turn away from any book that pictured a werewolf and a vampire, but this sounds intriguing. I also know some students who would be attracted to this type of book, and it wouldn't hurt them to accidentally discover a good message along with it. Elaine Bach

Kelley Pounds said...

I really enjoyed reading the interview with Sue Dent, and I'm off to buy Never Ceese. Reading about this book was confirmation for me, because I have my own vampire novel with a Christian message that's been stewing at the back of my mind for years, but I've been putting off writing it because of the subject matter.

Sheryl said...

Great interview Sue & Lena :-)

I missed out on reading Sue's book for the ACFW bookclub, but it is definitely on my TBR list. I'd love to be entered in the drawing to win a copy.


Cherie J said...

I love fantasy and paranormal and like Sue I also hate that werewolf and vampire books are presented like if it were the occult. Paranormal books should not have to be presented this way and I love that you have decided to break into this field and write some Christian paranormal. I hope you do more of this since besides myself, I know so many young people that are attracted to this genre. Would love to win this book.

Kelley, write that book. We need more books like Sue's out there.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I have to admit that I was hesitant about this book, because all of the vampire and werewolf books I knew about were from the dark side. When I was putting my blog up this morning, I realized that I needed to read this book. Since we go the church on Saturday night because James works on Sunday morning, I pulled out the book and started it.

I'm enthralled. I've already read twelve chapters. Whenever I go do something else, the book draws me back to it.

Sue, it's wonderful.

Caprice Hokstad said...

Free book? Did someone say free book? I hear there are copies coming to San Diego for ComicCon (but not Sue herself, *sniffle*). But one copy right to my doorstep to read would be even better!

Best wishes to you, Sue.

Sue Dent said...

Lena, you rock! And you're reading Never Ceese at such a good time. You won't have to wait long for Forever Richard. Some are already very angry (but in a Christian way) hat I haven't got it out yet. But a debut novel takes a lot of time to promote and get out there! Finally I feel like I can make everyone happy!

Keven Lucia had his 8th grad English class read Never Ceese along with Bryan Davis' Dragons in our Midst where he teaches. I got a chance to talk to some of those students and was just overwhelmed by how much the kids took to it! And the responses here have made my day. I'm so glad you're reading and enjoying it Lena!!! I really am!!

Sue Dent said...

Yikes! Ya'll don't hold me to the errors in that last post. I'd just gotten back in from a mini-vacation with my kids. I'm reading it now going, "good grief!" LOL

Deb said...

I rarely post on blogs lately, since I have a WIP that's gobbling up my time--but--this sounds wonderful and I'm going to go look for the book.

And yes, you're right--it's time and past time Christians took back speculative fiction. If we find our readers, I'm sure publishers will want our sf/f stories also. My WIP is a time travel story, and I've been worried about whether there'll be any CBA publisher who will touch it. Thanks, Sue, for lending me some hope at a good time.

Sue Dent said...

Deb, just to help you find the book, I will tell you this. Because it is a debut novel and my publisher is small and new, you likely won't SEE it on a shelf.

HOWEVER, any bookstore can order it and put it on their shelf. I did take the incentive for a while to call book stores myself and ask them to put a few in their stores which they did gladly especially after I was short-listed for a Stoker but this took so much of my time I had to stop.

I don't have a publisher yet where my books will automatically be placed in certain places. If Never Ceese is on a shelf anywhere it's because I called and asked them to go ahead and order a few copies.

Sorry but that's how it works. You can find it everywhere on-line though.

But even though you may not see it on a bookstore shelf, they can order it!


Scarlet Carter said...

Yay for Sue! I loved this interview with her. Especially the animal question. I think I would under the same category. lol.

Joanne Sher said...

I am one of those who is (Christianly) angry at Sue for taking so long with "Forever Richard." GREAT interview, my friend! Sounds JUST like you. I am NOT a sci-fi reader, and Never Ceese was GOOD STUFF!

sherryr said...

I'm so excited about what Sue is doing. I really hope she gets the support she deserves so that she can continue writing books in this genre.

Hope Chastain said...

This sounds so wonderful! I really want to read it, and the sequel, whenever it comes out. Janet Tronstad and I were kicking around an idea for a Christian vampire romance novel. We've even come up with a title and the perfect ending. Sue, FOREVER RICHARD isn't a romance, is it? Please say no! *grin* Well, even if it is, I'm sure there would be differences. I agree, and so does Frank Piretti, I'm sure, that horror doesn't have to be just for the world. After all, we as Christians live on the edge of it, being fought as we are by the dark side. We're told to overcome evil with good, and those stories need to be told! Way to go! Keep up the good work!


Sue Dent said...

Well, now Hope, what story isn't a love story of sorts. :) Not to worry. I'm quite certain ours could be equally enjoyed.

Just don't get discouraged if you're not readily accepted by CBA agents or publishers. They're coming around . . . I think. :)

But put your story out there anyway if you feel led to do so and know that God will make sure it gets where it needs to go and not neccesarily the way you think it needs to be done.

ChristyJan said...

Fun interview ~ I'd love to win this book

Hope Chastain said...

You're right, Sue! And I'm sure our locations and settings will be different, as well. (I meant to comment sooner, but I couldn't remember where to find it! *blushes*) Actually, it was Janet Tronstad's idea, but she's too busy to write it, and when we started brainstorming it, she said I ought to. Since the ideas kept coming, I checked it out with the Lord and knew it had to be from Him. He's the source of all our gifts.

Thanks for the encouraging words. I don't expect this to be an easy sell! It took a while for some of the great fantasy writers, and I certainly don't put myself in that exalted company! Actually, I have a children's book that needs to be sent off again first. (It sold once, but the publishing house was sold out from under the editor...) I haven't been able to find the ms. (we moved!), but I'm still looking. I'll rewrite it if I must.

I'm still hoping to find a copy of Never Ceese, maybe next month. (This month is already budgeted to the hilt and slightly beyond...)

I hope Forever Richard will be out soon! I know all your fans are getting impatient! May the Lord continue to bless you as you use your gifts for Him! MaryAnn Diorio had an excellent Musing on her blog which everyone should read. It's on Reclaiming the Arts for Jesus, in 2 parts. Part one can be reached at
I'm not sure if this will come up as a live link, but it can be cut & pasted (you'll probably have to remove a space that I had to put in order to get the whole URL into the post). It and the second part,
/archives/general/000658.php , are well worth reading. It takes encouragement to a whole new level!

Hope :-)

Sue Dent said...

Ahhh but it should be an easy sell! Or at least no harder to sell than any other story a Christian writes--especially for the Christian market.

Someone, not that long ago, made a comment on a thread that there was some distinction between a Christian who writes for the secular market and a Christian who writes for the Christian market. After following up with them I realized they didn't mean it exactly the way I took it but then in some small way they did.

IMO, if you're a Christian and your gift is writing, why should your work be scrutinized any differently. A genre is a genre and God is God. I was unbelievably astounded to learn that my novel was the undeniably first vampire/werewolf story to go on a Christian bookstore shelf!!!


You've got Perriti writing about Big Foot, Dekker writing about whatever it is he writes about (LOL) and no one has coughed out a vampire/werewolf novel that a Christian could actually enjoy! And the rationale seems to be that it's because these are horror elements and Christians can't write horror.

Yes, it will be a hard sell but only to The agents and publishers who Christian writers want to take their work to. But for Heaven's sake, don't let that discourage you. They'll come around . . . evenutally.

Mr. Eric Wilson is making a valiant attempt. I don't know how much success he'll have with the editors at Thomas-Nelson but I'm praying for him and you should too.

Go Eric!

Also there are MANY Christian Independent publishers and groups (Lost Genre Guild) who are burning a path to get these kind of stories the play they deserve.

Ah, but you pulled my chain!!!

Write on!!!

God Bless!

God Bless!

dez said...

My husband knows my obsession with vampire novels. He found this interview and now I am curious. I am gonna order as soon as I am able and I am excited about the prospect of a Christian Vampire novel...