Welcome, Suzanne. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
That’s a little hard to answer because as I’m writing I don’t think I’m putting myself in. As I write, I put myself into the character’s head and try to think like I would if I were that person facing that dilemma. But when I look back a finished piece, I see bits of myself in all the characters, whether it’s a thought I’ve had, an experience I’ve been through, or someone I knew in years past. It’s especially interesting to see bits of myself in a villain!
I don’t think I’ve ever put a bit of me in a villain. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I took sabbatical year from teaching to write a book about grading papers. While I was doing that I apprenticed as a piano tuner. I really loved the repair part of that work and would have liked to switch careers. But I realized one year wasn’t enough to learn the business, and I learned enough about teaching and learning from my apprenticeship that I returned to teaching with an entirely new attitude.
When did you first discover you were a writer?
The third grade. I had written little stories before that, but that year I read a child’s biography of Louisa May Alcott, and I recognized my inner self in her. That’s when I knew I was a writer.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read a lot of nonfiction. When I was writing The Copper Box I read several books about antique furniture and its repair. I’m reading a nonfiction book by Marva Dawn right now called Being Well When We’re Ill: Wholeness and Hope in Spite of Infirmity. It’s a reflective book on dealing with chronic illness with God’s help. It’s giving me a lot to think about with my multiple sclerosis. As far as fiction goes, I love mysteries and romantic suspense. I’m branching out now and reading romances (Christian) for the first time in my life. I want to learn how to put more romance in my own stories.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
That’s been a tough one for me. Because of my multiple sclerosis I’ve been forced to drop out of the run, run, run world. Now I struggle with guilt because I have to say “no” to more things than I can say “yes” to. That’s one of the issues Marva Dawn’s book is helping me with. Her chapter is called “Unproductivity-the Mysterious Workings of God.” I’m learning that when I let go and let God, the things God wants me to do get done on God’s timetable. It’s hard because I’ve always been an overachiever and running at the head of the pack. It’s a wonderful lesson though. When I feel overwhelmed by how far behind everyone else is I lie down, close my eyes, and do a very slow meditation on Psalm 46:10a “Be still and know that I am God.”
Those words have carried me through many things. How do you choose your characters’ names?
I have three resources: one is a Writer’s Digest book called Character Name Sourcebook. Names are listed by nationality with the meaning for each name. I look for tag names that fit the personality of the character. The second is online lists of popular baby names by year. I figure out what year the character was born and look to see what names parents favored that year. The third source is the Bible. In The Copper Box, Marty is short for “Martha” because she was the oldest child and very work oriented. Paul is named for the Apostle Paul because my character must learn to take the Apostle’s advice to forget the past and run the race Jesus is calling him to.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Writing Project (NAWP). It was a public school writing-across-the-curriculum
effort based on a partnership between two departments at Northern
(English-me and Education-Beth Strobe) and the public schools in our area
(Vaughn Delp from ). Every summer we gathered teachers from
all grades and disciplines and wrote together. Then from our experiences of our
own writing, we looked at how to teach writing. It changed all of us. First, it
made us writers so we were more careful with our students as writers. Second,
it made us realize what a complex process writing is so we had to think very
seriously about grading our students’ efforts. I really found my writing voice
working with NAWP. It lasted for ten or twelve years and affected countless
teachers and students (including my own). I think it made us all more
compassionate teachers. Prescott
That’s wonderful. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would be a turkey vulture. They fly the highest of all the birds by riding wind currents. Airplane pilots have spotted them as high as 20,000 feet. Obviously they’re not hunting up there, they’re just enjoying the wind. Their faces aren’t beautiful close up, but when I see one soaring above me, I think they’re beautiful and I wish I could be up there too.
What is your favorite food?
Blueberry cheesecake: the real
New York style with fresh blueberries
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest problem has been (and continues to be) the neurological fatigue that’s part of multiple sclerosis. I used to be a very scheduled person (a teacher has to be), but now I have to go with the ebb and flow of my energy. It’s particularly challenging because each day is a bit different. I used to get up and write two hours early in the morning and then two more hours later in the day. Mornings are very slow for me, so now I find myself writing in the afternoon or even at night and two hours is my absolute max. I can’t say I’ve overcome it, but I’m learning to trust God. I truly believe God wants me to write my stories, so I pray before I sit down to write and go as long as I can and then stop. As a result I’m a very slow writer, but I’ve decided that’s okay. Jesus welcomed the “halt and the lame.”
Tell us about the featured book.
I call The Copper Box mystery shot with suspense and sprinkled with romance. It’s set in
Arizona: the largest ghost town in America.
Antiques expert Marty Greenlaw goes to Jerome to face the horror that haunts
her dreams: did she kill her little sister twenty-two years ago. Historian Paul
Russell is in Jerome to face his own horror: was the car crash that killed his
wife his fault? Their lives become intertwined when an old lady dies on a long
staircase in a dusty Victorian house. As they search the house for a small
copper box Marty believes will unlock her memory and the mystery of her
grandmother’s death, dangerous accidents begin to happen. Someone else wants
the copper box, someone willing to commit murder to get it. As Marty and Paul
face the shadows in the house and in their lives they must learn to put the
past behind and run the race God is calling them to.
Sounds like a wonderful read. It’s on the top of my to-be-read pile. I’ll read it as soon as I finish the book I’m reading now. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Readers can find me on my website at www.suzannebratcher.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorsuzannebratcher, on Amazon at amazon.com/author/suzannebratcher5, on Twitter @AuthorBratcher
Thank you, Suzanne, for allowing me to feature this book on my blog. I love your book's cover.
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The Copper Box - Kindle
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