Sunday, May 04, 2008

Authors Susan Downs and Susan May Warren - THE SOVEREIGN'S DAUGHTER - Free Book

Today, we're talking to two of my favorite people. They collaborated on a wonderful series, and we're introducing the first book in the series--The Sovereign's Daughter. Our interview is a little different today.

Susan Downs



Susan May Warren
Welcome, Susan and Susan. How did your story come about?

Susan D: For me, the dream began when one of the single mothers whose adoption I facilitated gave me a yellowed, unidentified photo of two peasant-looking women standing at a gravesite. According to this adoptive mother, the photo supposedly included her grandmother right before she fled Russia. This picture, which is still posted over my computer, got the “what-ifs” going in my mind. Readers will discover a scene in The Sovereign’s Daughter that describes this graveside photo-taking.

Susan W: Susan D and I were both fascinated with Russia – we’d both lived or worked in Russia and had a love for the Russian people. We were also intrigued with the mystery of the czar and his family, as well as the Mennonite immigrants who moved stateside. The story came out of a “what if” conversation, and grew from there.

What are you reading right now?

Susan D: As the managing editor for Barbour’s new Heartsong Presents—MYSTERIES! book club line, I spend my work days reading a wide variety of cozy mysteries. (I still can’t believe they PAY me to do this job!) In my “off” hours, I’ve loaded several Janet Evanovich mysteries onto my new Amazon Kindle and am digging into One for the Money now. I’m also enjoying She Got Up Off the Couch, by Haven Kimmel.

Susan W: Light of Eidon, by Karen Hancock.

Is this book a standalone or part of a series? If series, what are the other books in the series?

This book was originally part of a 4-book series, a reverse generational saga that started in the contemporary and spiraled back to the past. Although each book stood alone, a mystery thread wound through the stories to connect them. And, of course, they’re all connected through their family lineage—as the “Heirs of Anton” series. After The Sovereign’s Daughter (originally named Oksana), comes Marina, (set in WW2), then Nadia (set in the cold war) and finally Ekaterina (set in contemporary Russia). We picked time periods that we loved to write about – I especially love WW2 and spy novels, so I loved writing about these unsung heroines.

What is the hardest thing about writing as part of a team?

Susan D: I think the hardest part of writing as a team for me had to be the fear that my work would be a disappointment to my partner. If it was, Susie never said so. That in itself earns her a lifetime supply of Brownie points!

Susan W: I think that Susan and I have a very unique writing partnership – we collaborate on the plots, and they are stronger for our ideas twined together, plus we have a deep friendship. We’ve found that it works best to have one writer slap down the rough draft, and the other polish it. It’s a great way to create a piece that has more body and texture to it.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

Susan D: Beyond the opportunity to share those particular tortures and ecstasies of birthing words, working with Susie on this series taught me the true meaning of friendship. At a time when I didn’t think I could go on, Susie came alongside and carried me over the finish line.

Susan W: Susan probably knows how I work better than anyone – and her editorial insights helped hone some of my rough edges. She knows how to deepen a piece and I’ve taken away many of the things she taught me about creating beautiful sentences and tried to apply them to my (sniff) single-author books.

How did you choose your characters’ names?

Susan D: Anton Klassen, the male protagonist in The Sovereign’s Daughter, is a derivative of the real-life Anton Classen, my grandfather’s brother, who was an Oklahoma pioneer and staked his claim in the famous Land Run. If you do a Google search, you’ll find some interesting tidbits about his life and influence in early Oklahoma days.

Susan W: Susan also named Oksana, the pseudonym for Princess Olga. Of course, Olga, Tsar Nikolai’s and Tsarina Alexandria’s oldest daughter, was the name of the real princess. I chose some of the other names – like Edward, and Nadia, and Vadeem, from the other books.


What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

Susan D: No matter how dark and desperate life may seem at any given moment, God is in control.

Susan W: That God has plan bigger than what we see, and frankly, we might never know the end, but we can trust that it is good.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Susan D: Yes—I believe I’m member #28 or something like that. :-) I promote the cause of ACFW whenever I have a chance to speak to unenlightened authors.

Susan W: Yes – I was one of the original members. And Susan and I both served on the board a few years ago. I love ACFW – it’s the number one place for writers to encourage and help each other, and it’s unique because we all know that God is our agent and we don’t have to compete.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Susan D: Don’t let anyone discourage you from your dream.

Susan W: Write the kind of books you love to read. Find a niche, and become the best you can at it.

Where can we find you on the Internet?

Susan D: www.susandowns.com or www.editcafe.blogspot.com

Susan W: www.susanmaywarren.com; www.mybooktherapy.com

Readers, check out these web sites, and then get a copy of the book. You have a chance to win one if you leave a comment on this post.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sound like a great book from two of my favorite authors. Got to be great.

Mary Ann H.

windycindy said...

Happy Sunday! I love the "Susan and Susan" part!!!!! Their book sounds great. Books in a series are my favorite kind. I like the thread that pulls them altogether. Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks,Cindi
jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

Laine Miller said...

This set of books are among my favorite books of all time. (Really!) I was privileged to give the set to a mother and father (they did short term missions in Russia) who had adopted a girl from Russia. The girl's name is Ekaterina. (As a teen she prefers to be called Katie. Smile.)

It was great to hear how these books came about. Thanks, Lena, Susan and Susan for asking and answering questions that I've long been curious about! It is also very telling about the creative process in coming up with stories to tell.

dolls123 said...

This books sounds very interesting.Count me in.

dolls123[at]gmail[dot]com

Eileen said...

Lyrical words written by two talented ladies! I surely enjoyed reading Sovereign's Daughter. I especially enjoyed hearing how you collaborated. Interesting.... berry interesting!

Thanks Lena, and Susan times two.

Linda Goodnight said...

All right, Double Susan's, you've sold me on this series. I, too, am interested in anything Russia/Russian Empire. My particular interest is Ukraine because we've hosted several orphan children and my daughter does missions' work there, but Czarist Russia is fascinating!

Susan, I didn't know you facillitated adoptions. Another interest of mine.

Gotta buy those books!

Grateful Gramma said...

What a neat book! Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!

lovedandamazed said...

Looks like an interesting book and series! That was a fun interview, too. Count me in!

author_erin(at)lycos(dot)com

soccermom said...

This book sounds like a good one - Thanks!

luv2read said...

Enter me in the drawing. The setting sounds great. spowell01(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Ruth Dell said...

Hi Susan and Susan!

Thank you for an interesting interview. I love the story of the old photo of the grandmother before she fled Russia. There's a story behind every old photo- sometimes I wish they were all labelled, but then we wouldn't be able to use our imaginations.

Please enter me in the competition.

Thank you

Ruth Dell
tonydell@mweb.co.za

bigguysmama said...

Lena, I really like this interview with the 2 Susans. They sound like they work so well together. I liked their answer for what they want people to walk away with when they read this book. It's an answer I need to hear today!!! Please enter me in the contest.

In Christ,
Mimi

mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com

Kathy at Sumballo said...

Thanks for the interview. I really liked the insights about team-writing. Please enter me.

sumballo [at] blogspot [dot]com

Janelle said...

I've read this book and absolutely loved it. The characters jumped out of the page as the story played out right in front of your eyes. I highly recommend it. You'll be blessed.

Susan Page Davis said...

I really loved this book and kept emailing Susan Downs while I was reading it and telling her what I THOUGHT and HOPED would happen to the characters. She was very patient with me. :)

Linda Kozar said...

Really good interview!

Linda Kozar

SusieMay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SusieMay said...

Lena! Thank you so much for posting that fun interview, and for your sweet words! This is one of my favorite books -- I hope readers enjoy it. Thank you to all who said such kind words about it. I hope Susan and I can write another series together someday! Blessings!

Jennifer Bogart said...

Sounds very interesting! I'd love to take a read at it!

Anonymous said...

What an interesting interview Susan and Susie!

I highly recommend SOVEREIGN'S DAUGHTER! I was completely absorbed with the journey of the people who populated this story. (They felt too real to call them "characters.") And the setting? I was THERE.

Nancy Toback

NancyMehl said...

Great interview. Wonderful book. I highly recommend it!

Nancy

Elizabeth Ludwig said...

I like what you said about co-authoring, Susan D. I co-authored with Janelle Mowery, and like you, I always worried that she might not like what I wrote. What a blessing to write with someone who is a true friend and exhibits the kindness and gentleness of Christ!

Anonymous said...

I met both Susans for the first time at the ACFW Dallas conference and was very impressed. Susan D. and I exchanged grandchildren stories at lunch, and Susan W. co-taught a workshop I attended. Two outstanding women whose book sounds very exciting. Hope I win it!
Bonnie E.
bengstrom@hotmail.com

Abi said...

please include me. This sounds like good book.

ChristyJan said...

Doubly fun interview with the Susan's.
Please enter me to win a copy of The Sovereign's Daughter.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Loved the interview and the story sounds intriquing. I especiallly loved hearing how the two collaborated the story. Very fascinating!

Cheryl

Carolynn W. said...

I would love to read this book,please enter me, thanks!

Carole said...

I have wanted to read this book ever since it first came out. And I enjoyed the interview very much. Thank you!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Golden K Parsons said...

Interesting interview and the book intrigues me. Please enter me in the drawing.

Golden Parsons

Norma said...

Sounds interesting - please enter me!