Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Welcome Suz deMello!

I want to welcome Suz deMello! My very first guest on There's all this stuff in my head...

I'm excited to start these author interviews I always love learning something new about my favorite authors. I hope you will too!

First, I’d love you to meet Suz. I've asked her to give us her bio so you can get to know her better.

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, A.K.A. Sue Swift, has written over sixteen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press, where she is currently Managing Editor. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trail attorney, her passion is world travel. She left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

--Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com
--For editing services, email her at suzswift@yahoo.com
--Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sueswift, and visit her group page at https://www.facebook.com/redhotauthorscafe
--She tweets her reading picks @ReadThis4fun and @Suzdemello


Tell us about your latest release:
Queen’s Quest is one of my favorite books. I love the characters, the story and the setting. What’s interesting about it is that I wrote it while living in Thailand, but the settings could not be more diverse.

Here’s the blurb:
Janus is a planet which lacks both tilt and spin, and its Shadowlands are the pewter band of dusk dividing the violently hot Lightside of the planet from its Darkside, imprisoned by eternal night. Because of the peculiar conformation of the planet, birthrates are low and indiscriminate mating encouraged.

Audryn, Queen of Shadow has reached that time in her life when she must choose a King to rule with her or fail to bear an heir, casting not only her realm but all of Janus into chaos.
Despite her duty, she is reluctant to share power, even a bit distrustful. Janus’ nobles vie for Audryn’s hand. Although she enjoys trysting with all her suitors, none seize her heart.
Then Storne, the warrior Prince of Darkness, arrives to claim her as his bride.
Will his masterful ways allure or repel the willful Queen?

Now I have a few questions for you, Suz – I have found interviews to be the most fascinating to me so here we go!

1.) Who is your favorite villain – it can be from a book (even one of yours), movie or TV show. And why?
Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham. First off, I love Rickman. Secondly—it’s funny. It’s rare that Rickman gets a comedic role and he nailed this one. He also was so funny in Galaxy Quest.

Humor goes a long way with me.

2.) Who is your favorite character out of your books? Why?
Wow—only one? That’s tough. I write strong, intelligent women, women who are the way I’d want to be. And I always fall in love with my heroes. I feel as though you’re asking me to choose among my children!

I’d have to say Queen Audryn in Queen’s Quest. She’s able, strong and intelligent, yet is smart enough and humble enough to doubt herself. She unexpectedly must rule and she rises to the enormous challenge beautifully. She is thoughtful, poised and kind.

3.) What do genre do you write? What made you pick that one?
I write erotic romance, but my journey to the sexier side of romance was a long one. After my first book was published, a sexy Regency currently entitled Lord Devere’s Ward, I made an about-face and wrote traditional, sweet romances for the now-defunct Silhouette Romance line. When the line closed, I was adrift.

The challenges in my personal life—death, divorce and menopause—brought my writing to a halt until a friend suggested I write erotic romance for the online market. Et voila! A new career.

4.) What are you working on now?
I’ve been writing historical vampire tales set in Scotland. I’ve written three novels in the series plus two short stories. I expect to produce a novella and start on another novel in the series this year. Then I’ll be done.

I don’t know in which direction I’ll go after I finish the Highland Vampire series for Ellora’s Cave, but I’m sure something will come up. Something always does.

5.) What got you to start writing?
I had always sensed a creative wellspring bubbling inside me, but didn’t know how to express it. I tried all kinds of creative outlets—I majored in art at college, sung with rock bands and concert choirs, even refinished furniture. I didn’t think I could write because at age thirteen in middle school, I was a dismal failure at the creative writing assignment set by my then-English teacher.
In 1996, while I was still practicing law as a trial attorney, I took a class called Writing for Publication taught at a local community college. I learned about those wonderful things called “Writers Guidelines,” which are put out by every publisher to tell writers what they want. I looked at the guidelines and said to myself, “I bet I could do that.”

So I did.

I focused on romance because it’s the largest fiction market, and I wasn’t interested in non-fiction. As Rita Mae Brown put it, non-fiction always smacks of a book report. I already had very analytic work, and I preferred to dream sexy dreams about romantic relationships.

Thus, a new career was born. After I sold three books, I quit practicing law. And here I am, with seventeen books out there.

6.) Where do you get your ideas from?
I buy them at Sears. They sell them by the dozen on the lower floor between the barbecues and the exercise machines.

7.) What would people who read your work be surprised to find out about you?
Good question! I don’t consider myself out of the ordinary. Here’s a tidbit: though I write very sexy books, I live with my 84-year-old mother to keep an eye on her—she has Alzheimer’s.

8.) Do you have any special talents?
Other than writing? Not really. I’m considered bright, though.

9.) What was the one piece of advice you received when you were an aspiring author that has stuck with you? Why?
The best piece of advice that I have ever been given about writing was delivered to me by Judy Myers, another writer who I think has retired. She was one of my first critique partners, and when she looked at the first chapter of my first manuscript, she noticed a lot of info dumps. She told me, snippets, not chunks. Weave the information that you think readers need to know—and they need less than you think—throughout the manuscript in snippets, not chunks.

Why is that important? Because a major sin in my line of work is being dull. Don’t bore the reader—that’s fatal.

10.) If you could talk to any famous figure (present, past or fictional) who would it be and what would you talk about?

I’m not religious, but I’d want to talk with the Dalai Lama, Jesus or Buddha. I’m always trying to be a better, happier person, and I’d love to hear their advice.

Thanks so much for visiting Suz! I love your answers and I'll have to check out Sears next time I'm looking for a story idea ;-)

Here's an excerpt from Queen's Quest:


“My seventeenth starturn approaches. On that day, I am determined to crown my mate as king,” I told my ministers at our morning meeting. “Gather the best candidates from the Three Lands so that I may make an informed choice.”
Arrayed at a carved and polished wooden conference table facing the Golden Throne, the Ten grumbled and muttered. Their voices mingled with the crackling fire in the big stone hearth at one end of the wood-paneled and tapestry-clad room. Smoke spiced the air.
“What is it?” I asked. There were moments, I believed, that managing the elderly coterie, the Ten Ministers, was the most onerous task of my monarchy. Dispensing justice was, by comparison, easy. Running the bureaucracy in an efficient manner was also difficult, as was the collection of revenues. These were tasks allocated to the ministries, but even so, they required oversight. They needed one strong hand on the reins of government. My hand.
That I was many starturns younger than most of my ministers was only the beginning of my difficulties with them. When I ascended the Golden Throne, I had not been educated for my role. Nearly four starturns later, the Ten had become accustomed to teaching me rather than obeying my commands.
So I had designed garments which emphasized my authority. High heeled boots and shoes so I stood taller than any of them. Long sweeping skirts, some with hoops and panniers to broaden my slender silhouette. The finest silks and furs, velvet and brocades. Wherever it was moved, the Golden Throne was set on a platform above all.
Still, the Ten were knowledgeable, and had to be handled with every shred of my tact and diplomacy. “What say you, Lord Kloutt?” I asked my uncle, the Minister of the Interior, seated at my right.
He struggled to his feet, and I fancied I could hear the creaking of his arthritic bones beneath his purple and gold-embroidered doublet. Poor fellow. He said, “There are some who believe that an alliance with an aristocrat of Shadowlands would strengthen the Royal House and thereby solidify the government.”
Next to him, Lord Frayn, Minister of the Exchequer, remained silent, but I knew what he wanted.
I fixed a slight smile on my face. “That is a possibility, of course. There are many noble candidates within the Shadowlands. What say you, General Parlous?”
Parlous was my Minister of Diplomacy, and I already knew that he favored an alliance with one of the Lords of Darkness, fearing their military might. “The Royal House has long had the complete allegiance of the people, and because of the tragic deaths of Their Majesties, you are an especial favorite.” He faced the others. Middle-aged but vigorous, with iron-gray hair that curled at the collar of his black doublet, he had a sonorous, impressive voice. “The Queen is beloved already, and the Golden Throne sits on firm ground. I respect the Interior Ministry’s concerns, but there is no need to marry within, and there are many reasons to bring in fresh seed from Outside.”
“Outside,” I said. “That would mean an alliance with either the Darkness or the Light, unless we are so fortunate as to witness a visit from the long-absent Progenitors.”
Chuckles ran throughout the room, dispelling tension.
“Past alliances with the Prince-Scientists of the DesertDwellers have proven fruitful,” stated Caducia of the Health Ministry. She wore healing green, the color affected by all HealthGivers.
“Their technological prowess could also contribute to the welfare of our people.” This was the opinion of the Education Minister.
“And there are always those rumors…” Lady Mercourie, in charge of transportation and communication, said.
“I do not put stock in rumor and myth,” Frayn said. “If the Children of Light possess the secret of eternal life, they have not shared it with us during past alliances. I do not believe it.”
“Nor do I,” Caducia said. “Immortality does not exist.”
I leaned my chin on one hand, gloved today in orange satin. “But it is true that as time moves on, much is lost and forgotten, and we lack the ability to regain the knowledge of the Progenitors or to reinvent their tools and machines,” I said. “The Children of Light excel at such tasks, while we do not, and technology is at an even lower ebb on the Darkside.”
“But an alliance with the Darkside would bring us many advantages in terms of trade,” Geoman of the Elements Office said. “Their lands are abundant in natural resources that we, and the DesertDwellers, lack.”
“We cannot forget that the man selected will not only sit on the Golden Throne, sharing power with Her Majesty, but will be her mate,” Caducia said. “I do not see how a choice can be made without seeing the candidates.”
“Then it’s decided.” I stood, delighted that at least one of this hidebound group shared my opinion. “Parlous, order our emissaries to the Darkness and the Desert. Invite them to send their best. Lady Caducia, attend me.”
I swept out, and Caducia followed. Maia, who had sat silently on a stool next to the Throne, scurried in our wake.
“I wished to thank you for your wisdom and insight,” I told Caducia as we walked.
An older woman with dark hair webbed with silver, she shrugged and smiled. “It is self-evident. Our ruler’s happiness is paramount. How else can you effectively reign?”
I remained silent for a moment. “I had thought that I must subvert my own happiness for the good of the people.”
“The people’s happiness is dependent upon the Queen’s joy, for in the Shadowlands, the people and their monarchs are one. You felt that already, on your first mating day.”
“You witnessed the ceremony?”
“Yes, and your parents’ marriage and first mating as well. The people must be convinced of your contentment and security on the throne with a strong and trustworthy king, or they will lose confidence in the monarchy. And if your house trembles, the Balance will be lost. All of Shadowland, indeed all Janus, will fall, so you must choose well.”
We reached the Dining Salon, where we would take the noontime repast. “Sit with me,” I said. “Speak more of your insights, for I am greatly burdened by the significance of my task.”
“There is little more to say.” Caducia followed me to my seat, set higher than the others. She took the nearest stool, and Maia went to fetch victuals. “It is not my insight but yours which will be crucial. Permit me to speak freely.”
“Granted.”
Servants snapped open serviettes, spread them on our laps.
“Queen Audryn, you are intelligent and deeply feeling. Make no hasty decisions, but at the same time, trust your instincts.”



7 comments:

  1. Thanks for this opportunity, Barb! I enjoyed answering the questions and hope others enjoy my answers :)

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  2. congrats on the new release. I never saw ideas like yours at Sears:D Do you base any of your stories on your foreign travels?

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    1. Thanks for your question.

      Maybe the ideas at your Sears are in a different department. Occasionally they will be found near women's shoes and hats.

      Linda, yes, occasionally I go somewhere that's incredibly inspiring and write about it. A good example is a book I wrote called "Seducing the Hermit." In 2000, my ex and I (he was still my husband then, duh) went to Alaska. We met up with one of his former employees, a woman who had traveled to Alaska to find a husband because the odds there are so good--20 males for each female. So the book was about a woman who went to Alaska for a job, yes, but found herself very excited over the great numbers :)

      Alaska was also inspiring for other reasons--I've never been to such a beautiful place. Knocked my socks off, so so full of natural beauty.

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  3. Great interview and excerpt, Suz. I'll be sure to check out your work!

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  4. Nice interview, ladies. And congrats Barb for launching an awesome blog!

    Ideas from Sears, eh Suz? *snicker* You crack me up... ;)

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  5. Thanks, everyone , for your great comments!

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