This week we’re jumping over the hump with our featured workshop presenter, speaker, and best-selling author, Susan Mallery!
Susan will be giving a workshop at our conference in October, and is our Keynote Speaker! Screw the Muse, I’m on Deadline is just one of many fabulous workshops we have scheduled.
For more information on our conference, how to register, and other popular questions, please visit our website at http://www.njromancewriters.org.
Please welcome Susan!
How did you come up with the idea for the Fool’s Gold series?
I’d been writing series about families—the Buchanans, the Bakery Sisters, the Marcellis—when the brilliant Debbie Macomber suggested I should write about a town, instead because I wouldn’t be limited to the number of siblings one family could reasonably have. I wanted Fool’s Gold to be a special town, so I needed to create a strong sense of place right from the very beginning. I knew I wanted there to be a lot of humor, and I knew I wanted it to be the kind of small town where people are there for each other no matter what.
While the idea of a town was in the back of my mind, I read a story about the then-upcoming 2010 census. (The Fool’s Gold series launched in 2010, so I was in brainstorming mode in late 2008 and early 2009.) I asked myself, “What’s the most embarrassing thing a town could learn about itself from the census results?” And then I thought, “What if there aren’t enough men?”
Fool’s Gold started out as a town with a man shortage, which really ticked off the women who lived there because they did not want the world thinking of them as desperate, lonely spinsters. They were doing just fine, thank you, and any man who wanted to get with them would have to earn the right.
The man shortage was a comedic hook to get readers intrigued, but the hook that keeps them coming back is that Fool’s Gold is filled with strong, independent women they can relate to. I adore writing these books.
Why did you decide to write contemporary romance?
When I was first published, I had two books come out the same month. One was a contemporary romance for Special Edition, a category line. The other was a historical romance. I’m not sure I ever earned out on the historical romance, but that category brought more royalties with each new statement. I’m not saying that’s always the case, but that’s how it was for me, and I knew that if I wanted to make writing a career, I needed to be smart about it.
What is your process for writing a book? For example, are you a plotter or a pantzer? Do you start at page 1 and write your book sequentially or do you skip around? Do you start with your characters or the plot?
Oh, I’m a big-time plotter. I come up with an idea, then write a synopsis. When I’m ready to start the book, I sit down to write the first chapter. That’s what makes the characters really click for me. As soon as I know them, I stop writing and thoroughly plot the story before continuing.
Do you use any techniques, tools, or aids to help you write? How do you make time to write?
I write 4-5 books per year and have been doing so for some time, and I’ve developed some very effective strategies for getting the pages done even when my brain and spirit stop cooperating. I’ll share these strategies during my “Screw the Muse, I’m on Deadline” workshop at the PYHIAB conference.
Do you write multiple drafts or barely need revisions when typing, The End?
I dream of the day my editor will call me and say, “You’re missing a comma on page 283. Other than that, it’s perfect.” Hasn’t happened yet. Because of all of the prep work I do, my first drafts are pretty clean, but they always need revision after going through editorial. For example, in the first Mischief Bay book, which will be out early next year, my editor didn’t like the character I loved the most. I had to step back and figure out why what I felt for her hadn’t come across on the page.
Why did you decide to become a romance author?
Because I love romance. Let me reword that: I looooooooove romance! I’d been reading romance ever since I’d stumbled across the treasure trove of my best friend’s mom. Romance affirms my belief in the world as a just and loving place. The guy gets the girl and all is right in the world.
What books can we expect to see in the near future?
Next year I’ll continue the Fool’s Gold series with another trilogy. Earlier in the year, I’ll launch a new women’s fiction series set in Mischief Bay, California. The first book is tentatively titled THE BEGINNER’S CLASS, which is very exciting for me. It’s the first time since FALLING FOR GRACIE that my working title has been approved by editorial and marketing. Yay, me!
What do you want your readers to take away with them after reading UNTIL WE TOUCH, the final book in this year’s Fool’s Gold trilogy?
The Fool’s Gold romances aren’t “lesson” books. You might not learn anything! Mostly, I just want to give readers a great time. This year’s trilogy—WHEN WE MET, BEFORE WE KISS, and UNTIL WE TOUCH—are some of the funniest, sexiest books I’ve ever written. UNTIL WE TOUCH is my nod to the boss/secretary trope, which has always been one of my favorites. Larissa is Jack’s personal assistant and personal masseuse. He played football professionally, so he has a lot of muscle injuries. Larissa helps him with that, and they’ve become great friends. But everything changes when Larissa’s mom tells Jack that her daughter is in love with him. Suddenly, he sees her in a new light, and every touch feels… different.
If you could have one special, supernatural power, what would it be?
My first reaction was going to be “the power to think a book and have it be magically written.” But that would be no fun. I like writing books. However, I’d love the power to make all the other stuff go away. Snap my fingers, and the marketing is done and every one of the millions of romance readers would have the book.
What makes a man attractive to you?
A strong sense of honor and self-confidence. He’s a man who does the right thing without thinking about it. He protects those who are weaker because that’s what a man does. He tells the truth because that’s what a man does.
Of course, a killer body doesn’t hurt!
Who’s your favorite hero?
My favorite hero is always the one I’m writing at the moment. Which at the moment is Kipling Gilmore, an ex-Olympian who’s heading the new search and rescue operation in Fool’s Gold.
A favorite reader-fan story?
When people sign up for my mailing list on my website, I ask them for their zip code. I started doing that so I could send an email to readers who lived within 100 miles of a scheduled book signing. However, a couple years ago, I was doing a signing in Atlanta, and we accidentally sent the notice to my entire mailing list. I was shocked to learn that several readers came from a few hundred miles away! They drove 5, 6, even 7 hours to meet me. I was so honored, truly. And slightly bemused. I worry about whether I’m that interesting! You know how it is. I work at home all day every day in my comfy clothes. I don’t get out much.
Anyway, from then on, I started sending notices of my signings to the whole mailing list in case other readers would want to make the drive. I only do a handful of signings per year, so I don’t email the list too often. (You can sign up at www.susanmallery.com.) Usually about once a month.
Okay, get ready, we have our rapid response portion. Don’t think about your answers, just say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?
Favorite color: Pink is my signature color.
Favorite number: Number 1, of course!
Favorite Actor: Keanu Reeves
Favorite Actress: Meryl Streep
Wine or liquor? Wine
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Decaf or caffeinated? Caffeinated, or what’s the point?
Boxers or briefs? Either, or, neither, nor…
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate
Donald Duck or Goofy? Goofy because he doesn’t waddle around without pants.
Frozen (the movie) or Tangled? I can’t choose. I love them both!
Channing Tatum or Johnny Depp? I can’t choose. I love them both!
Want to meet or attend Susan’s workshop? Make sure you check out the information on our conference at http://www.njromancewriters.org and register!