Suzanne Hartmann is a homeschool mom of three and lives in the
area. She holds a Bachelor of Arts
degree in Composition & Linguistics from St. Louis . To relax, she
enjoys scrapbooking, reading, and Bible study. She began writing fiction when
her children were young, and four of her short stories were published in a
Milliken Publishing reading workbook. PERIL: Fast Track Thriller #1 is her
debut novel. Western Illinois
Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
They say to write what you know, so I pulled from my personal experience for a few sections in the novel. Like Joanne, I was in a very serious car accident a long time ago. I added bits and pieces of things that happened during and after my accident to scenes to give them more realism. And when I needed to choose a serious illness for one of my characters, I stuck with what I knew and gave him the same illness my dad suffered through. That made some scenes difficult to write, but I knew that if the words I was writing evoked such strong emotion for me as I wrote them, that they would do the same for readers as they read them.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Probably the quirkiest thing I’ve ever done is to write a novel when I had no experience and no idea what I was doing. I had training in writing non-fiction, and had sold a few short stories to a publisher for a reading workbook, but had never considered writing a novel. So to choose to write a full novel based solely on a prompting that I felt was from God seemed very quirky to me. As a matter of fact, I felt like it was so quirky that I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing for about six weeks. The only reason I spilled the beans then was because my kids caught me checking out bunches of books on NASCAR so I could do background research for the novel. Otherwise I probably would have waited until I was pretty sure I was going to finish the project before I told anyone.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I didn’t even think about becoming a writer when I dreamed up many of the scenes that became PERIL. I just created them to occupy myself during my children’s music lessons and sports practices. I had no intention of writing a novel until one day when I was thinking about the latest story while taking a walk in my neighborhood. A thought popped into my head: “Why don’t you write them into a book?” For a while I considered whether I was having a premature mid-life crisis, but finally decided that it was truly a nudge from God. And He has been faithful to lead me every step of the way through this writing journey since then.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read a wide variety of novels, both Christian and secular. Growing up, my favorites were mysteries. In high school and college, I discovered fantasy and read it almost exclusively. For the last twenty years or so, my preferred genre has been suspense. The only novels I won’t read are horror and erotica.
I’m with you on the horror and erotica. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
When things get crazy, I have to take some time for myself. Usually that means setting aside some time to scrapbook or make cards, or spending time in the Word.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I chose character names through a variety of methods. Some characters, like Lady Anne simply have a name that fits. Stuart Jackson, on the other hand, is a composite NASCAR driver, so I gave him a composite name: first name similar to Tony Stewart’s last name, and a last name like Jimmie Johnson’s. For the Arab names, I looked up common names online. And I created one name from the town I live in and the town where I grew up.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’d have to say that training my children to know and love God is the accomplishment I’m most proud of. God called me to homeschool my children, and through our schooling I have had the opportunity to lead all three to Christ and teach them a true Christian worldview. They have learned that God is involved in every subject and every activity, not just church-related things.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I think I would be a dog. Someone feeds them and takes care of them, and they get to lay around and sleep all day. That thought is especially appealing when the pressures of homeschooling and writing feel overly oppressive.
What is your favorite food?
I like food, and a wide variety of it, so choosing only one favorite is difficult.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest roadblock has been not knowing what I’m doing. I was so clueless when I wrote the first draft of Peril, but I followed my husband’s advice to just finish the book and followed God’s promptings, which led me to people who helped me to revise and polish my manuscript.
Tell us about the featured book.
PERIL: Fast Track Thriller #1
A top-secret agent struggles with trusting God to protect her many secrets when she must use her enhanced abilities while escorting a Muslim king-turned Christian to the White house and the Talladega Superspeedway, which not only draws the attention of the media, but also a NASCAR champion…and makes her a terrorist target.
VIEW THE BOOK TRAILER (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5gxeOhAgto)
Please give us the first page of the book.
The moment Lady Anne stepped out of the Mashkoori embassy, the
, heat hit her like a wall. The humidity
wrapped itself around her like a blanket, heightening the tension writhing in
her stomach like a dozen slithering serpents. Only minutes from now she would
enter the White House, where Husam-Jabbar threatened an attempt on the life of
King Ahmad, her companion for the day. Washington, DC
Placing a hand on the arm King Ahmad held out for her, she firmly pushed her misgivings aside. Premonition or not, she had a job to do.
While she settled herself near the king in the rear of the second of two stretch Hummers, two of his personal bodyguards took up positions by the driver’s compartment. She brushed a neatly manicured finger against a miniscule earbud as she tucked a stray strand of curly blond hair into her elegant updo. The wallet-shaped wireless device in her purse would pick up the chatter between the Secret Service agents at the White House. Knowing she would hear if they spotted any danger eased some of the tension that had been building all morning. But would the well-respected agency live up to its reputation and stop the planned assassination attempt against the king, or would she need to display her enhanced strength to protect her charge?
She glanced at the king. Did he know the terrorist group had announced their intentions on the Arab television network Al Jazeera earlier this morning?
“Are you ready, my lady?” Something about the glint in the older man’s sea-green eyes and the set of his jaw told her he was prepared for whatever might come today, whether he’d heard the latest news or not. Perhaps he’d become used to the constant threat. After all, every Muslim terrorist group in existence had pledged to kill the first Arabic king to convert to Christianity.
“Of course, Your Majesty. This isn’t the first time I’ve served as a bodyguard.”
The king opened a cabinet that hid a wet bar and refrigerator, pulled out a long-stemmed glass, and poured himself some water. He waved a hand toward the cabinet. “Please help yourself.”
Grateful for something to focus on, Lady Anne followed the king’s lead. A sip of the water’s coolness washed clarity into her thinking, as though it were a dose of fresh confidence. If this had been a normal assignment, her veins would have pulsed with restrained energy at a reason to unleash her enhanced strength. But nothing about this mission was normal.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My Website – FastTrackThrillers (http://fasttrackthrillers.blogspot.com)My Blog - Write This Way (http://Suzanne-hartmann2.blogspot.com)
Thank you, Suzanne, for the interesting interview.
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Peril - print edition
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