Welcome, Susan. Thank you for sharing your debut novel with us. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I don’t think very much, but when my siblings read it, they said Jeanine talked like me.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Signing up to take homeschooling taekwondo classes with my sons. It didn’t cost much to add me in and I felt guilty watching them exercise while I sat on the sidelines. Seeing two other moms in the class motivated me and I thought the forms looked elegant.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In second grade. My teacher, Mrs. Calahamer, read my story to the class and they applauded.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Wow. It would be a much shorter list to say what I don’t read. I enjoy the classics, speculative fiction, mysteries, children’s books, Biblical fiction, and more. I like fiction that either affirms my faith and/or challenges my mind. My favorite, not contemporary, authors are C.S. Lewis and Dostoevsky. My current favorite authors are Stephen Lawhead and Bryan Davis.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Do I keep my sanity? My family often questions that. However, I keep functioning by snuggling into God’s lap every morning when I do my devotions, exercising regularly, and reading avidly. In addition, I require music to operate on a daily basis. I can write in the silence of early morning, but beyond that time I can’t think creatively without music.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes, I name my characters after people I know. That’s particularly true of minor characters. My main characters tend to get names I like or ones that pop in my head when I’m dreaming.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Earning a black belt in taekwondo. Physical activity is not something that comes naturally to me, so I really had to work for it.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
My favorite housepets are cats; my favorite animals to watch are horses. However, I don’t act like either. Behavior-wise, I think I’m rather like the mice I had for pets as a child. I keep moving and go through every obstacle until I’m exhausted. At that point, I lean in close to the others in my “cage.”
What is your favorite food?
That varies. I go in spurts with different things. Over the summer, I adored roasted cauliflower. Right now, it’s a raw cranberry nut salad. But my constants are fresh bread, baked potatoes, and homemade soup.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
When I started writing books, I wrote the way I wrote plays—mostly dialogue and action. I had to remind myself to add in the texture that makes it a story. I used a lot of test readers to help me determine where to put it in based on questions they asked.
Tell us about the featured book.
Jeanine is an Army wife and homeschooling mom of Justin and Josie, who has grown comfortable and happy with her husband’s assignment in
she finds out that they will move, she digs in her heels and procrastinates. So
her husband, Captain James Talbott, picks out their new home in Gentle Springs.
It happens to be next to a Civil War cemetery. The “neighbors” intimidate Jeanine
even while James is there. But when he goes away for training and their lovable
bulldog Jelly finds a new corpse next to the tomb of the town hero, she needs
to overcome her fears. To that end, Justin and Josie use their God-given
abilities to help their mom find out why the treasure hunter was murdered.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Homeschooling Can Be Murder
I blame it on soccer. (If I didn’t blame it on soccer, I’d have to blame it on me, and I’m not ready to go there yet.) So, you must understand that if it weren’t for soccer, James wouldn’t have picked out the house on his own. If it weren’t for soccer, he wouldn’t have needed my proxy at closing, and I could have avoided moving into our current home. If it weren’t for soccer, I wouldn’t have found a fresh corpse in the middle of an ancient graveyard. And if it weren’t for soccer, I would not currently be crawling around in the mud with my kids looking for clues to a murder.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you the whole story.
First, you need to understand that I’m an Army wife. James has made the service a career, and I’m proud of him and what he does. But that means every two to four years, we move. To give our kids some stability and to pass on our beliefs, we decided to homeschool.
We are all J’s. When James and I met, he thought it was cute that both our names started with the letter J; so after we married, he decided that should be a trademark for our family. And it is, down to the dog. My name is Jeanine, my ten-year-old son is Justin, and his eight-year-old sister is Josie. Our dog? He’s a slobbering but loyal bulldog we named Jelly.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn and my website is www.sajlyttek.com .
Thank you, Susan, for spending this time with us today.
Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.Homeschooling Can Be Murder
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