Dear Readers, Susan May
Warren and I first got acquainted online
while her family were missionaries in . I love missionaries and
have many missionary friends in other countries. We also shared a love of
writing. We met face to face at the first ACFW conference in a Russia hotel. I love Suzie, and I love
her writing. I’ve watched her grow from that first novel written in Kansas City to a
national bestseller. She loves to mentor other authors as much as I do. I’m
eager to read this new series. Russia
Welcome back, Susan. What genre(s) do you write and why?
I’ve been blessed to write in four major genres—Romantic Adventure/Suspense, Thrillers, Historical Romance, and Romantic-Comedy. I love to keep it fresh, to challenge myself as a writer and frankly, I just love reading all these genres, so writing in them allows me to do tons of research!
If you were to choose one superpower, what would it be?
Flying. Hands down.
Do you ever get stuck when you’re writing a book? What do you do to get unstuck?
Yes, of course! To get unstuck, I arm myself with a few key questions: What does my character want right now, and why? What stands in his/her way? What is the worst thing that could happen to them right now? What is their secret desire? Then I take these questions and call my writing partner, Rachel Hauck, or my in-house book doctor, my son, David (who works for me) and they can usually help me brainstorm my way out of the corner.
How great to have a child who can share your love of writing and help you. I raised a marvelous hairdresser, so my hair always looks good. What is your least favorite part of writing?
Wow. I have a love/hate relationship to every part. I love creating…but it’s exhausting. I love editing, but it’s tedious. I love research, but I get antsy to start writing, and I love promotion, but I’m eager to start on my next project!
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Either homemade pizza (which I’m pretty good at), or perhaps a crock pot pork chalupa, served over rice, with beans and lots of fresh veggies. Or, if I’ve been writing all day, steaks on the grill, a chopped salad.
I could eat the first one and the last one, but I can’t eat pork. They all sound yummy. What is your typical day like?
Up early, walk the dog, make coffee, have my quiet time, read the news (I read the Daily Skimm) then attack my email. I will then give feedback to student homework (I have an ongoing writing course, the Online Storycrafter Program). After that, I turn to my current writing project, whether it be writing a class, a book on how to write or my current novel. I usually end the day with some more email and perhaps some PR for an upcoming book. Hubs comes home around 7, so we usually eat late. I usually take a book to bed, and read a couple chapters before I go to sleep.
What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict, or emotions? Why?
Probably the spiritual thread. I need to get that just right, so weaving that in correctly takes a lot thought and contemplation. It’s the core of the story, so it can’t be tacked on—it has to start on the first page, albeit subtly, and continue throughout the story with the right momentum and depth. I spend the most time on this aspect of the story.
How likely are the people you meet going to end up in your next book?
Not super likely unless you’re in a field that I’m writing about. But, I’m always watching people. More likely to end up in a book is a subject or big story question that I’ve read about recently.
Tell us about your hero. Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.
My hero in Where There’s Smoke is a man named Jed Ransom. He’s been the crew boss of a group of Hotshots for a number of years, and just recently got asked to lead a team of Smokejumpers whose boss (and six others) died in a terrible fire nine months prior. On this new team that Jed must lead is the daughter of the man who died, a woman who he’s been in love with for years. She’s a legendary smokejumper, very capable, but the last thing Jed can do is watch her jump into danger…
Jed is a complex character. On one hand, he admires and respects Kate—on the other, he feels like she is going to get hurt (it’s almost inevitable), and he doesn’t want to watch that happen. So, he has a lot of inner turmoil that comes out in how he reacts to her, not only when he first meets her, but later, as she joins the team. He was challenging to write because of his “two” minds—but then again, don’t we all have beliefs that seem to contradict? I love Jed because he’s capable and a great leader and still the guy who just wants to save the girl he loves.
Please give us the text on the first page of your first chapter.
She’d come three thousand miles to burn to death.
“Kate, if you don’t deploy right now, you’re going to die!”
Kate Burns could hear Jed, his voice muffling around in the back of her brain, but the roar of the fire simply had her by the throat. Three-hundred-foot flame lengths chewing up the pristine Alaskan wilderness, torching Fraser firs, white pines, black spruce. The blaze candled along the tops of the birch trees, the fire storm churning up its own wind.
It felt like that hand of God, reaching out to grab her in a paralyzing chokehold. It kept her brain from firing, from reacting to Jed’s words.
From reaching for her shake-and-bake fire shelter, folded and tucked in the pocket of her jump pants.
Because, what would it matter? They were in the green, a highly combustible area, and they’d bake to death under the thin tinfoil even if the fire didn’t scurry underneath and scorch them.
And that vivid picture had her knees buckling.
Her father would be so angry.
Hands on her shoulders shook her, jerked her around. “Get your shelter on!”
Kate got a glimpse of Jed a second before he threw her to the ground. Face blackened, his eyes fierce, red bandanna pulled up over his nose. And balancing hard on a makeshift crutch she’d fashioned for him only hours before.
He looked like she felt—wrung out, broken, and on the edge of unraveling.
Except, he wasn’t standing still, waiting for the wall of flame to hit him. In fact, he had his shelter out, already unfurled, and now shook it over her. She fell to the ground, an old, dry riverbed, filled with gravel and rock, moss and brush. But, where he pushed her down, mostly sand and dirt.
“Pin it down! Remember your training.”
Training. Oh—the three years as a hotshot—a wildland firefighter—and her last six weeks with the Midnight Sun Smokejumpers where, two weeks ago, she’d passed her final exam.
Don’t die. Her training boss said it as he’d handed her the Midnight Sun patch. Laughter. She’d grinned.
Jed landed in the dirt next to her, having apparently yanked her shelter from her pocket. He wrestled with it in the superheated winds, his teeth gritted as he yanked it down to the earth. Pinning it there with hands, elbows, knees, feet.
Except, in a flash that struck her in the heart, she knew the truth.
She might not die, but Jed Ransom didn’t have a prayer of holding down all four corners, not to mention the edges, of his shelter. Not with his injured leg.
Not with those bare hands.
Kate threw off her shelter and, in a second, it caught the wind and flew—no turning back now.
“What are you doing!”
She didn’t answer him as she rolled herself under his tinfoil, grabbing a corner, drawing it over her. She clamped down her side with her hand, elbow, and leg.
He caught on fast. Or maybe not as much as she’d hoped, because even as she nailed down the side with her limbs, he covered her upper body with his, protecting her.
She felt the length of his body against her, his powerful arms, honed from chopping through the dense forest, digging fire line with his fire ax, aka Pulaski. For a second, her heart just stopped with the sense of it. She’d spent the last decade wishing she might end up right here.
In Jed Ransom’s arms.
Hopefully right before he kissed her.
Except, maybe she’d omit the part where they would bake.
Jed secured the top of the shelter with his hands, the other side with his elbow, knee, his good leg.
Then, her helmet crushed next to his, he said in his low baritone, “Dig us a hole to breathe into.”
Outside, the fire cycloned around them, exploding through the trees into a storm of flame, the sound of it a locomotive ready to drive over them.
Kate started to shake as she clawed at the ground, scrubbing away pebbles and stone, finding the cool riverbed. She widened the hole for him, and his whiskers brushed her face as he fought to find cooler air.
“Deeper. We need to protect our faces.” He balanced his helmet on the rim of the hole, his breath on her skin as he turned to her. “We’re going to live, Kate, I promise.”
She longed to believe him.
The ‘shake and bake’ flapped, the fury of the fire starting to bake them. Sweat dripped down her face, saturated her body under her jumpsuit and turnout jacket.
And then Jed’s breathing caught. Tiny sounds, a deep groan as the heat began to sear his skin. But she couldn’t lift her head, because suddenly the fire washed over them, a wave of heat and flame and fury that made her press her face to the earth.
She didn’t know who screamed first.
Wow!!! What comes next??? Tell us about your next book and when is it being published?
The next book in the series, Playing With Fire, came out July 5th, and the third book, Burnin’ For You, hits the shelves August 2, 2016. It’s a summer trilogy that jumpstarts my next big novel, Wild Montana Skies, out in October.
Where can my readers find you online.
or, on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/SusanMayWarrenFiction/
Thank you for having me!!
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Where There's Smoke: inspirational romantic suspense (Montana Fire Book 1)
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