Saturday, October 06, 2007

Susan Marlow

Most of our interviews are with authors of books for adults. However, we have featured a couple who write for children. Today, I want to introduce you to another one--Susan Marlow.

Welcome, Susan. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Probably more than I should. My main character, Andi, is who I would like to be in another life. I share a lot of her traits: curiosity, righteous indignation, her love of freedom, and her spirit of adventure. I think living on a prosperous ranch as a kid with her own horse a hundred years ago would have been one of the most exciting things I could have done, even with the hard work involved.

The book already sounds interesting. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I guess it would be going after a coyote with a broom. My eight-year-old daughter came screaming into the house one morning after checking for eggs in the henhouse. A coyote had ravished the hens and had one in his mouth. I picked up the first thing I could find, a broom, and took off after him. I didn’t even think why a coyote was running around inside the city limits. Unable to chase him off, I returned to the house for a better weapon—a .22 pistol. I confronted the coyote in the front yard, where, with a hen hanging from his mouth, he just looked at me. At point blank range I shot at him—four times. I missed every time. Apparently disgusted at my lack of marksmanship, the coyote trotted off. We never saw him again, but the henhouse was a disaster.

Wow! Sounds scary. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I wrote a poem at age nine called “The Reflection” that so impressed my third grade teacher that she posted it in the teachers’ lounge for all to see. The next year I had a teacher who introduced me to the fascinating worlds of outer space. I wrote a story called “Up to Mars” (sadly it’s lost), but I was forever hooked on story writing. After reading a good book, I’d imagine my own ending or different characters, or different plots, and I’d write them down. I shared them only with my younger sister Julie, who liked to write stories, too.

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

I like everything from science fiction to kids books; from action/adventure to suspense. If there are endearing, “real” characters and a meaningful adventure in the book, I’ll read it.

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

I have a number of hand-written, lovingly saved creations from my youth. A story about kids surviving the Tribulation (yeah, I should have thought of submitting it before Left Behind Kids came out. Sigh). I have stories about kids cast away on a deserted island and kids accidentally headed for the star Sirius on an experimental spaceship. I confess I have even written Star Trek stories from the time I was a teenager (when the show first premiered) until now. I know writers should write every day, but sometimes my current book project is just not flowing, or the ideas are not coming. Pulling out a write-just-for-fun Star Trek story really helps get the creative juices flowing for other, more significant book projects.

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

By keeping focused on the Big Picture—the eternal picture. It helps me to slow down and consider why I’m running. I take time to “be still and know…God.” Being still for me usually includes reading a good book that stretches my imagination (like Heaven by Randy Alcorn) or watching a DVD that allows me to explore strange new worlds (sci-fi) or go back to a favorite time in history (Anne of Green Gables).

How do you choose your characters’ names?

For my main character, Andrea, I wanted a name that sounded sort of high-class, since her family is rich, but because she’s a tomboy, I wanted her to have a boy’s name, hence “Andi.” I heard the name on an old western show once and said, “That’s it!” For my other characters, I use names from kids in my classes or from church or from young relatives. No one is safe from my name-gathering expeditions. Sometimes I break down and consult a baby name book. I have, however had one slight problem with naming a character. The antagonist in Dangerous Decision had five different names before I settled on the current one—Virginia. None of the others seemed to fit her. When I stumbled across “Virginia” it was another “That’s it!”

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

In writing: Hanging in there through several publishers who held my first book for a long time before rejecting it.

In life: Having a hand in influencing all four of my children to come to know Jesus Christ.

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

I’d be a kitten. They’re soft, cuddly, frisky, and climb trees very well! And they are easily contented with a warm fire to curl up in front of.

What is your favorite food?

Chocolate in any form—hands down.

I got some interesting new chocolate bars at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas. I'm enjoying them right now. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Lack of self-confidence, and I still haven’t completely overcome it. However, my mentor, Colleen L. Reece, keeps encouraging (pushing is actually a better word for what she makes me do) me into doing all kinds of things—whether I want to do them or not. Everyone needs a cheerleader like that, and she certainly knows what she’s doing. Anyone with over 140 books sold has so much experience that I take a deep breath and say, “OK, I’ll try it.” I credit her with my success in getting my first book published in 2005.

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

Andrea Carter and the Dangerous Decision is the second book in the Circle C Adventures series. It continues the escapades of my well-meaning but impetuous 12-year-old heroine introduced in Book One, Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home. The story opens with Andi nearly trampling her new teacher in a reckless, impromptu horse race down the main street of Fresno, California—not a good way to begin the fall, 1880 school term! The teacher has a long memory for “undisciplined hooligans” and expects Andi to quickly conform to his high standards of behavior for young ladies. Easier said than done. In addition, the teacher’s frail daughter, Virginia, gives Andi nothing but trouble. Every time Andi tries to do something right, it turns sour. Her troubles really start to multiply when an escaped convict bursts into the classroom. Now Andi must decide if she should deliberately walk into a dangerous situation to rescue the teacher’s mean-spirited, trouble-making daughter, who has been taken hostage.

Trivia fact: Dangerous Decision is actually the first book I wrote in the series. However, when I wrote Long Ride Home, it seemed to fit better coming before Dangerous Decision, so I switched them around.

Susan, thank you for taking this time with us.

Readers, you can find Susan on the Internet at:

. . .where you can read all about the other books in this series.

If you want to win a free copy of Dangerous Decision, leave a comment on this post. There are two other interviews you can still leave comments on for a chance to win a free book:

DiAnn Mills - A Texas Legacy Christmas
Sharlene Maclaren - Sarah, My Beloved

You won't want to miss any of the future interviews or announcements of winners, so sign up for FeedBlitz in the right column under my picture. You won't miss a thing.


sreed22 said...

Wow, Lena, you asked some great questions and I even learned a few things about my good friend, Susan. She wants to be a kitten?! More like a tiger cub... :-)

Stephanie Reed

Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing me to yet another new author I'm not aquainted with.

Please enter me to win your contest.

Janna said...

My daughter and I would probably enjoy this book together - please enter me!


Abi Buening said...

I can get into kids books too. I have two daughters that would love it if I won one for them. Count me in.

Susan said...

Hey, Stef, you sure have your ear to the ground. You find me everywhere! Thanks, Lena, for the fun opportunity to talk about Dangerous Decision!

Jen said...

That was a fun interview! Thanks for doing it.

(I guess I might as well be entered in that contest, too!)


Anonymous said...

Great interview, ladies. Don't enter me into the drawing, Lena--I already have the privilege of owning Susan's books, but just wanted to stop by and thank you for allowing us all a closer peek into Susan's writing journey/ministry.

Julie Eller

Kathleen Morphy said...

Thanks, Lena and Susan. A librarian friend of mine at a local Christian school has been asking me about Christian authors of YA fiction. I'll be sure to pass along the name . . . and the book if I'm lucky enough to win it!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Boy, you think you know somebody and then---.
Keep the adventures coming.

Lee Ronshaugen

Anonymous said...

I'd love to win Dangerous Decision. I'd give it to a 14 year old neighbor. We both live in the Cactus Corridor (horse area), so I think she'd love it. I'm trying to encourage her to read - something she isn't crazy about doing.


Caroline said...

I love children's books & love to write them, along with suspense & romance! Great interview; enjoyed it.

tetewa said...

This would be a wonderful book for my neice to read!

windycindy said...

Hello, Please enter me in your contest for this wonderful sounding book! Thanks, Cindi