Your Story

Hello and welcome to 'Your Story'. Joining me today is Susanne Matthews, author of Fire Angel.

This is Susanne's debut novel and one lucky reader will win a copy of Fire Angel, in epub or mobi format, by answering a simple question. Be sure to read Susanne's interview to find the answer to the question.

There is no beginning, middle or end in the questions I've put to Susanne - so I'll let her tell you her story in her own words.

Keeping the romance alive in a relationship is hard work and requires a lot of compromise, but if you’re willing to work at it, it’s well worth the price.
Writer's block?  Do you get it and how do you get over it?
Yes I get it, but not all that often. When I do, I do housework, laundry, and all those boring things, and that gives me the incentive to get back to the computer and write.

Ultimate story you'd like to write? 
That’s a tough question since there are so many ideas rattling around in my head. I suppose the ultimate one would be a historical series that combines romance and suspense —something about early Canada since few people know our history. 
What is your definition of romance? 
I’ve been married almost 42 years to the same man and over time romance changes and evolves. To me romance is physical and emotional support when you need it; it’s remembering my birthday and our anniversary; it’s surprising me with little things like a piece
of glassware for my collection or picking up computer paper before I run out. It’s making sure there is gas in my car, and having it cleaned and detailed when it needs it. It’s also taking a dinner cruise on the Charles river for our 41st anniversary. Basically, I see romance as putting the other one first and doing the little things it takes to make them happy.

What do you read? 
I have eclectic reading tastes – I’ve read almost everything written by Edgar Rice Burrows and Mark Twain, the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen, Daphne Du Maurier, Nora Roberts, and Kathy
Reichs. Just about the only thing I won’t read is horror; I have too vivid an imagination for that.

How do you balance the physical side of your characters relationship with the needs of the line you are targeting?

To me, the physical side has to come after there has been some emotional buy-in. I’m fortunate that the lines I target are flexible and some of my books have deeper physical relationships than others, but on the whole, there has to be an emotional connection. Even in a one night stand, it has to be more than just lust – not that there is anything wrong with that!

What do you do when a flash of inspiration hits you at an inopportune moment? 
Jot a note in a small pad I keep in my purse. I’m trying to learn how to use the note function on my new phone. I’ve gotten up in the night and made notes in a notebook I keep by the bed. 

How do you unwind? 

I’ll admit that I enjoy my wine and beer after a hectic day, so having a drink relaxes me. I’ll sit and watch television or a movie. I’m not much of a party person, so I like to unwind at  home. 

How do you balance the writing ‘you’ with all the other ‘you’s? 
At the moment, the writing me is taking precedence, but that’s because all this is such an exciting roller coaster ride. Come the nicer weather, I’ll have to balance writing with all the  outdoor stuff I like to do. The Grandma and wife me just take over as they need to.

What is the most unexpected place you’ve heard ‘I love you’? 

On my way to the operating room.

How do you deal with the dreaded rejection? 
Well, I cry; threaten to erase the file, and then listen to all my fellow writing friends who support and commiserate with me.

Partners/lovers aside, who would be your ultimate love? 
Tough choice, but bear in mind I’m no spring chicken. Roger Moore as James Bond; I could see me giving up state secrets for him.

Which famous person did you have your first crush on? 
Elvis Presley. I saw every one of his movies; my favorite was Blue Hawaii.

Who do you find strangely attractive and why? 
Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Dr. Spencer Reid on Criminal Minds. I like him because he’s so smart on the one hand and so lost on the other. I cried in the episode where the girl he loved was killed. I guess I’m attracted to wounded warriors. 

What and/or who inspired your wip/publication? 
FIRE ANGEL was inspired by a series of unconnected arsons in the area. Other works have been inspired by things such as my personal ancestry.

When and where are you most productive when writing? 
In my office at home, in the morning. I’m not a night owl.

What's your fave romantic movie/song/book? 
My favorite movie is Pretty Woman, As Years Go By by Mashmakhan, favorite book, Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier.

What was the name of the first story you ever wrote? 
A Gift of Love. I never finished it; Since I have the original pages, I may go back to it and finish it one day.

Have you become more or less romantic as you grow older? 
Perhaps more of a realist; keeping the romance alive in a relationship is hard work and requires a lot of compromise, but if you’re willing to work at it, it’s well worth the price. 

Where did you learn about love? 
From my parents; they’ve been together 62 years and while it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses, they taught me that love means putting someone other than yourself first.

When did you know that what you wrote was good? 
That's a tough question since I’m my worst critic. I think when I sent it to other writers and they liked it. 
If you have been or are about to be published, how did you feel when you were offered a contract? 
I cried. I just couldn’t believe it was really happening. I’ve been over the moon ever since, and I still can’t believe that it’s really going to happen and I’ll have a book people can buy and  read by the end of the month.

What's the blurb for your book? 
A malicious serial killer is out for revenge, and he doesn’t care how many people have to die before he gets it. Using fire as a weapon, he strikes at random, and the bodies are piling up,  leaving the citizens of Paradise wondering who is next. 
Betrayed by the one closest to him, criminal profiler Jake McKenzie has returned from Afghanistan minus a leg and afraid to trust his instincts. When the police chief asks for his expertise in identifying the killer, he agrees knowing this is his chance to prove he can still do the job. 

Sixteen years ago, fiercely independent Alexis Michaels escaped an abusive uncle and a deadly fire, to become one of the country’s top fire and arson investigators. She reluctantly accepts the assignment and returns home to lead the hunt for the killer, knowing she will have to confront the memories she has repressed all these years. Her uncanny ability to put herself in the arsonist’s place is the skill they need to find this maniac.  

When Jake discovers that his new partner is the girl who has haunted his dreams all these years, he finds himself enthralled, but memories of his dead wife make him doubt his emotions. Alexis has few pleasant memories of Paradise, but Jake is one of them. Undeniably drawn to him, she longs for a deeper relationship, but won’t compete with a ghost.

Until they catch the killer, they must set aside their conflicted emotions and work together. The clock is ticking, and the killer has made it clear: Alexis is next. 
Describe your two main characters in 10 words each. 
Alexis independent, courageous, empathetic, hesitant in matters of the heart. 
Jake wounded warrior, determined to prove himself, loyal, protective, courageous.
Why do you write? 
I write because I want to share the ideas that I have with others. I kind of use my books as a soap box, so whatever you read of mine, you’ll learn a little something from it – geography, history, you name it.

Do your characters "tell" you what they want you to write? How? 
Yes; they determine the flow of the story. I just sit at the computer and type what they put into my head; I might argue with them about it, but inevitably they determine the course of the story.

Each author has a unique voice. How would you describe yours? 
Grammatically correct, with some humorous aspects. I think the fact that I’m Canadian and my years of teaching might show up in it as well. I like to think that my writer’s voice is natural, and people find it easy to read.

How do you deal with reviews that aren't as positive as others? 
So far, I haven’t had any bad reviews, but I’ll probably be mortified.

How do you feel you add depth or layers to your story? 
I try to get into the characters minds more. I use a text to voice program and listen to what I’ve written and add where I feel it needs it. I’m told that I’m pretty good at description.

What is the world's greatest love story in your opinion? 
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor – he gave up a kingdom for her—what more could a woman want?

What is the one thing you can't do without when writing? 

Who provided you with the first example of romance in your life? How did you know it was

A boyfriend bought me a necklace for my birthday. It was a silver charm on a chain, an oval with a cultured pearl in the center. I still have it but the boyfriend is long gone. It was the first piece of jewelry I’d ever received, and I’ve always considered getting something like jewelry to be a romantic gift. 
What is more realistic in this day and age, Happy for now to happy
ever after? Explain!

As much as I hate to say it, happy for now, seems to be the norm, but I’m still a strong believer in happy ever after. I think people are reluctant to compromise today; they want everything to be perfect and unfortunately, nothing is perfect all the time. You have to be  willing to take the good with the bad to make it last.

When is it out? 
Fire Angel is out on April 29, 2013.

How long did it take you to write it? 
The original manuscript took six weeks, but there was another four weeks on and off for

Who is your publisher? 
Crimson Romance.

What attracted you to them? 
They were taking Twitter pitches and I pitched.

What's next? 
I have a couple of historical novels and a contemporary Christmas story with other publishers and I’m currently working on another romance/suspense.

Given your current relationship, please give a realistic   definition of love? And a fictionalised definition of love for your characters?

I’ve learned that love is patient and kind, caring and willing to make concessions, but also damn hard work. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. In the books, the characters might have to surmount obstacles to get to their love, but the stories always end before it gets put to the test. I’d like to think that the couples I unite have a fighting chance of making it work.
For a chance to win a copy of Fire Angel, answer the following question:

How long have Susanne's parents been together?

Leave your answer along with your email address below. A winner will be drawn at random by Susanne on Friday 26th April.

You can find Susanne here:

Twitter:           @jandsmatt

Thank you for telling us 'Your Story', Susanne, and good luck with Fire Angel. Tx

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