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 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.