Where Readers & Writers Connect
It’s been said that writers must first be readers. Do you enjoy reading?
I love reading. My mother always says even before I could read, I’d try. However, I’d say I began reading avidly in my teens. I practically lived at the local library.
Reading for me is my escape from the pressures of daily life. Through stories, I can be anyone and go anywhere. I can travel across time. I can visit people from the past. I can in essence forget the here and now. Also, reading never fails to teach me something. It spurns in me an interest to learn. I’m always reading something: historical facts, how-to articles, short stories.
Nowadays, it also teaches me how to write. I read one story and ask myself what’s right or wrong about it. How could the author have improved? How did they fail or succeed? And how can I apply that to what I’m currently working on?
What genres do you read most?
Funny story. I’ve always read historical fiction, mostly war stories. I like battles, things to blow up, people to die. I’m this way about movies too. But when I wrote my first fiction story, it turned into a romance, and I didn’t know beans about writing romance. Now, I’m totally addicted to it, though my need for action in the plot always comes back to me. I like romantic suspense the most.
How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?
I have one nonfiction book entitled, Fearless. I have been primarily a nonfiction writer for years, writing about photography or doing devotionals. Fearless came about after I found myself crippled by fear and unable to leave home. When I was well again, I wanted others still in my shoes to know there is a permanent way out. You don’t have to live that way.
I currently have one fiction story, MISSING, self-published. I have the sequel, FOUND, in the works, scheduled to be released in December, and another book, Love & Redemption scheduled for 2013. I am having a blast writing fiction.
Can you tell us what you believe has had the greatest influence on your writing?
Proofreading. I have been a professional proofreader for years. I fell into it when hired at a local office to do typing. Problem is, they never let me type. Instead, I stayed there three years correcting spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. In that, I found my gift. I can spell most anything after seeing it once.
But proofreading has both a positive and a negative effect on my writing. It keeps me from making many of the most common mistakes, yes. But it also prevents me sometimes from letting go. At times, I need to get the basic storyline out, but I can’t because I’m hung up on the sentence structure. I’ve had to learn to ignore the little voice in my head telling me to re-read everything.
How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?
It depends on the subject. For MISSING, I did extensive research. I watched hundreds of hours of film about the various wars in each storyline. I read countless articles. I purchased books and did interviews. Being stories about known conflicts, I wanted to “get it right”.
I have adopted a method, however, I picked up in an article online. When I’m stumped about something that requires research, I use brackets. By placing the unknown item into brackets, I can skip that part and come back later. This has really helped me not waste time searching and thus interrupt my writing flow.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
MISSING is three stories involving someone missing in action during a war: the Vietnam conflict, the American Civil War, and World War II. The stories are independent of each other, but tied together through the characters from different generations of the same family.
In Vietnam War, Adele Davis fails to cope with her MIA husband, John. In searching for answers, she meets another soldier, Stephen Sanders, and falls in love. However, the guilt she feels about John begins tearing her apart.
In Civil War, Amos and Elizabeth Sanders look for their son, Andrew. He went off to fight for the Union Army but never came home. Yet a strange twist of fate brings them something far greater.
In World War II, Doug and Molly Sanders both have secrets. Hers happened while he was away as a paratrooper on D-Day. His happens while he’s missing in France. Years go by and their secrets set out to destroy them both.
What is your writing schedule like? Do you write only when inspired?
I write whenever I find time alone. My family tends to distract me. That said, I also cannot write when I’m not inspired. I get most of my ideas for scenes at about 4 A.M. when I’m half awake and half asleep. I find that I either write them down immediately or they’ll be lost. This can be complicated when I have to go to work, so sometimes even if it’s only ten minutes of free time, I sit down and write.
Are you a plotter or a panster? Explain your writing process.
I am a panster learning to be a plotter. I can sit down and write a short story in a couple hours’ time. In fact, I love writing short stories. This is why both MISSING and the sequel, FOUND, came as good starts for me. Yet for the upcoming story, Love & Redemption, I have had to push myself. I read about authors who can’t keep their stories short, and it blows my mind a bit because reaching 60,000 words is a hurdle for me. Also, the storyline for that book is complicated. I have had to plot it to keep it making sense.
What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have any hobbies?
I am a photographer. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m taking photographs. Photography is as natural for me as breathing and as essential to my daily life because I see the world through photographs. I see my stories that way too. They are a series of images, vividly displayed in my mind, which I simply must put down on the page. I believe this visualization helps me write better.
What one piece of advice would you give to a beginning writer?
Study. Study. Study. Find how-to articles by established authors and read and practice until you learn all the rules and can recite them. Never think you know it all. Be prepared to always learn how dumb you were. Lastly, edit, review, edit, and review. Find good friends and talented individuals to read your work before you hit publish.
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Visit Suzanne at: http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com