Welcome, Susan. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I believe there’s a small part of the writer in every character they create. That doesn’t mean the characters’ thoughts, feelings, opinions, or memories are made up of my own personality. But I do think everything that fuels a writer’s imagination comes from the sum of their life experiences. Memories, observation, dreams, overheard conversations, the way a book or movie affects us—each of these things make up who we are and some of that will just naturally leach over into our writing. That does not, of course, mean that the evil or unsympathetic character’s thoughts are my own—but perhaps sparked by something I’ve seen or experienced. We writers just take those sparks and run with them, turning them into something large enough to create characters and hopefully fill a book.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oh boy. People who know me well would probably say “everything.” I’m pretty quirky. Do you think being quirky is a writer thing?
You’re probably right. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I submitted my first story to a publisher when I was nine or ten years old. My friend illustrated it with her crayons. Funny thing, I never did hear back from them….
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
From cozy or quirky mysteries like Murder She Wrote and Monk, to contemporary and historical romances by Susan Meissner and Sharon Gillenwater, with a little bit of Dean Koontz and Tess Gerittsen thrillers to mix things up.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I go to the beach. That is all. That is the most comforting, calming place for me when I need it. And the stormier the water, the calmer I feel. Remember, I told you I was quirky?
When we went to the beach at
, I loved walking on the
beach near midnight when no one was there, except my husband and me. It was so
peaceful with the sound of the waves. How do you choose your characters’ names? Manzanito, Mexico
I did steal one from a car salesman once. In the book I’m currently working on, my character is named after my grandmother. And the last names of both my hero and heroine are from my grandmother’s family tree. The name has to feel right to fit the character, in my opinion. At least it does for me. I can’t just randomly pick a name. I tried to change a character’s name once, and it became so frustrating because it seemed to change the character’s personality. I just couldn’t work with it and went back to the other name.
In one of my books, I had a character who didn’t like the name I gave her, so I had to change it to what she wanted. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My son. He is a caring and compassionate human being. He’s a wonderful person, and I’m so amazed that I had even the smallest part in who he is.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d definitely want to be an orca whale. Swimming in the ocean all day, leaping out of the water in the bright sunshine, the ocean as my playground—it would be a joy.
What is your favorite food?
Lasagna alfredo with extra mozzarella cheese, and garlic bread.
Now I’m hungry for that. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Time. There never seems to be enough. I haven’t overcome it. But I do take my Alphasmart or writing tablet with me wherever I go.
Tell us about the featured book.
True North is about a woman, Lisa, whose marriage is falling apart after the tragic loss of her son. Her husband, Joe, has more or less left the marriage because he can’t deal with his grief. When Joe’s boss tells him he has to take mandatory time off, he decides to use the tickets they had purchased for an Alaskan cruise. Thinking this is the perfect opportunity for her to save her marriage, Lisa decides to go along.
Please give us the first page of the book.
“Cody, are you almost ready?” Lisa Kendall glanced at the clock sitting on the entryway table. Shaped like a catcher’s mitt with a baseball in the center, it reflected most of the décor in their house. Baseball topped her nine-year-old son’s list of passions. Whales and anything to do with the ocean took a close second, so both themes ran throughout the
Kendall household. Not that she minded one bit. There
would be plenty of time to decorate the house her way when Cody grew up and
went off to college.
“Your dad should be here any minute.” She glanced at the clock again then out at the driveway and tried to stem her rising tension level. Joe promised he wouldn’t let their son down today, of all days. Today Cody’s Little League team would play their final game of the season. Cody wanted his dad to be there for at least one of his games.
While Lisa would like to believe the sincerity of her husband’s promise, it looked like work would take precedence over family. Again.
“Just a sec, Mom. I’m getting my glove. Oops.”
A crash came from the direction of Cody’s room, followed by the slamming of the door and the sound of feet scrambling down the hall. Cody skidded to a halt in front of her.
“OK, I’m ready.” He looked up at her and beamed, proudly dressed in his red and white pinstriped baseball uniform. His brown eyes and quirky smile were a miniature version of Joe’s. Small in stature, like Lisa, he also had her blond hair. But the smattering of freckles across Cody’s face belonged to no one but Cody. Lisa felt the same catch in her heart she always did when her son smiled at her. She simply couldn’t imagine life without this precious little boy.
“What fell over in your room?”
“Just my stack of whale books. Nothing got hurt, though. I’ll pick ’em up when we get home.”
Lisa bit back a smile. She’d been after Cody to put those books on a shelf for weeks. Nodding, she peered out the window. Still no sign of Joe.
“I don’t think Dad’s gonna come to my game.”
Something inside Lisa wrenched at Cody’s matter-of-fact tone. He seemed way too comfortable with Joe’s long hours at work. More used to it than any little boy should ever have to be.
Whose divorce interfered with their family time today? Though tired of Joe’s long hours at the law firm, she instantly regretted the direction of her thoughts. Joe worked hard in a demanding profession to provide the best life he could for them. Not only that, he agonized over his extra time at work as much as she did. “Forgive me, Lord.” She took a deep breath and prayed for help with her attitude.
“Hey, Mom, you’re wearing the shirt!”
“I sure am, sweetheart. It’s my lucky shirt.”
Cody grinned, and Lisa’s heart filled with joy. The sweatshirt depicted an orca swimming on the ocean floor. Cody drew the picture when he was in the first grade, after a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium in
British Columbia. At
that time, they still had orcas in the aquarium.
Cody had fallen truly and madly in love.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is: www.susandianejohnson.comMy group blog is: www.inkwellinspirations.com
Thank you, Susan, for sharing this book with us today.
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True North - Christianbook.com
True North - Amazon
True North - Kindle
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