Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Q&A with Susan Donovan

I am very excited to share with you all the questions and answers from Susan Donovan, but before we do, I want to introduce you to her.

Susan Donovan grew up in a small town outside of Cincinnati.  Since Susan was young, she wanted to go to a "Big City" and did not care which one.  She went to Northwestern University and received her bachelors and masters degrees in newspaper journalism.  To read more about Susan, go to her website.


Here you go:


1. I love series about small town and everyone knowing everyone and their business.  How did you come up with the characters and town in the Bigler, North Carolina series?  Is Bigler, North Carolina written in honor of a small town you visited or lived in?

The town of Bigler, N.C. and its residents are products of my imagination. I love the beauty and history of North Carolina's
western hills, so when I decided to write a trilogy set in that region, my BFF and I looked at each other and said, "Road trip!" We spent a week exploring the small town of Waynesville and surroundings, including the Great Smoky Mountains and Asheville. We interviewed locals, enjoyed a lot of good Southern cooking, and took in the spectacular scenery of the area.

2.  I read that you moved to a small town in New Mexico where it has inspired you to write.  How has moving to a small town helped inspired your writing?

Though I am at home in the city, I was born in a small town and have lived in small towns for much of my life. About eighteen months ago, I moved from Maryland to a town in the northern foothills of New Mexico's Sandia Mountains. It's a different world. I pass through a two-hundred- year-old Spanish land grant village on my way to the post office. Roadrunners run through my yard. Snakes sunbathe in my driveway. A hawk has made his home on the roof of my guest casita.

I would have to say that my recent writing inspiration comes from the peace I feel here in my high-desert surroundings. Every morning I enjoy my coffee on the back patio, where I get to watch the sun rise east of the Sandias. Every evening I get a front-row seat to a dramatic sunset over the Valle Caldera and Jemez Mountains. Life here is uncomplicated and soothing, though I'm close enough to take advantage of all the cultural/creative resources of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, where many of my friends live.

3. In the Bayberry Island, there is a myth about a mermaid statue allegedly grants true love to the pure at heart.  How did you come up with this?  I have put this series on my to be read series.  I can not wait to read all 3 books. 

I came up with the Bayberry idea while on my annual writer's retreat to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. If I recall correctly, I had the first inkling of the idea while sitting on the beachfront deck with my friend and writing partner Celeste Bradley, a glass of wine in my hand, watching the dolphins play in the surf. I wondered -- what if an entire island believed in the existence of mermaids? What if their local economy was built upon a mermaid legend and an annual festival? Are you wondering exactly what kind of wine I was drinking that day? I wish I could remember.

4. What do you prefer to write stand alone books or series?  Why?

I didn't really think about writing a series until 2009, when I began to write the first of my San Francisco Dog Walker books (Ain't Too Proud To Beg, which was followed by The Night She Got Lucky and Not That Kind of Girl.) I love being able to return to familiar characters and an established world, and I think readers enjoy that as well. Both writer and reader can immerse themselves deeply into a place and time -- and get a fuller picture of characters' lives -- with a series.

On the other hand, I've always loved being able to tell a self-contained tale and move on to another character, another love story, and another conflict. So I'd have to say I enjoy both equally.

5. I am disable.  It happened 8 years ago with a back injury then a failed back surgery.  I read your blog and I am so inspired by what you have gone through.  Back 8 years ago when I got hurt,   I wonder why did this happen to me.  You see, I already had a child with a progressive neurological disease.  What was I to learn from being disabled, too?  The time after my surgery was my darkest time.  6 months after my surgery, I got news that I never thought we would get.  I was pregnant with our third child, who has brought so much joy in our lives.  I firmly believe that if I did not get hurt, have surgery, we would not have Ethan.  I was working 60+ hours a week. What would you say to those who are going through the same thing you went through?

I was struck down by a mysterious infection at the end of 2011 and my family members were told my chances of survival were less than ten percent. I did not die, obviously, but after three months in intensive care and twenty surgeries -- including the amputation of my left leg -- my life was forever altered.

I don't possess any special wisdom or strength. All of us must face the unthinkable at some point in our lives, whether through tragedy or illness, and we all must ask ourselves this question: do I keep fighting or do I give up? I chose to keep fighting, and it sounds like you did, too. As you well know, it's a commitment that must be made on a daily basis. All I can say is that this morning I woke up and promised myself that I would find a way to keep going -- and keep writing -- so that's what I'll do.

6. I have wanted to write a book for 2 years now, but life keeps getting in my way.  This school year once all 3 of my kids are in school, I am going to write that book.  What advice would give you for anyone wanting to write a book?

My only advice would be to write something every day and focus on whatever increment works for you on that given day. This could mean writing one scene, or one page, or one paragraph, or even just one sentence. What I've learned over sixteen years of writing novels is that every little bit adds up. Think of it this way: if you write about one page a day for a year, you've completed a first draft of an entire novel! How many people can say they've accomplished that?

I do know that anyone committed to completing a novel needs to carve out a piece of the day for writing and then do whatever he or she can to protect that allotted time. It's difficult when you're raising children, running a household, holding down a fulltime job, and dealing with the inevitable life crises. I know. I've been there. So have many other authors I know. But it can be done. We are proof of that.

Ms Susan Donovan,
Thank you for allowing me the honor to have this Q&A.  I love reading about small towns and series.  I am looking forward to reading more books of yours in the near future.
Happy Reading!

No comments: