Monday, July 14, 2014

An Interview with Fiction Crime Writer Susan Coletta

Today's post features a Q & A between two Prose & Cons writers, Susan Coletta and Eliza Cross.

Our genres couldn't be more different. Susan Coletta writes crime novels and short stories, while I write women's fiction and cookbooks. I was curious about Sue's books and writing process, and she generously agreed to answer some questions. I think you'll enjoy hearing about her greatest influences, how she captures her ideas, and why she wrote her first novel by candlelight. - Eliza Cross

Eliza:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?  Did you have any early encouragers?  What writers influence you today?

Sue:  I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was about twenty years old.  But, I have always expressed myself through the written word.  Even as a young child I wrote my parents notes to tell them how I was feeling.  Words, to me, were friends.  They didn’t judge, and I could say what was really on my mind.  I wasn’t much of a reader until my late teens to early twenties, even though I grew up in a household of readers.  The authors that have influenced my writing are Katia Lief, Sandra Brown, Iris and Roy Johansen, Lisa Gardner, and of course, James Patterson.  Especially when I switched from mysteries to thrillers, James Patterson was a huge influence.

Eliza: Tell us a little about your novels.

Sue:  TIMBER POINT is about a prolific, street-smart, loner cat burglar, Shawny Daniels, who prowls into the wrong house.  As she scrambles to escape unnoticed, a hidden camera captures her image.  Now a killer is taunting her with midnight phone calls and deadly packages left at her front door, and Shawny has no idea what to do with the information she possesses.  If she goes to the police, she risks arrest.  If she doesn’t, more people will die.

In the second book, SILENT BETRAYAL, Shawny has tried many times to quit prowling but the
urge is just too strong.  What she experiences during her latest burglary sends Shawny’s life into a tailspin.  Not only will she have to fight for what she believes in, she will have to convince others to take the ride.  But, everything is not how it seems.  The truth is hidden behind silent betrayals.  Sometimes the only way to save yourself is to become as menacing and evil as the killer you are hunting.

During MAD RUSH, book three in the series, Shawny gets herself into a fine mess this time while trying to do the right thing.  A killer has her number and knows where to make it hurt… her family.  Shawny fights to protect her loved ones, comes face-to-face with a killer, and gets framed for a murder she did not commit.  Has she finally met her match?  Only time will tell. Mad Rush is still a work in progress.

Eliza:  When and where do you usually do your best writing?  Do you write longhand, or use a computer?

Sue:  I either write in the living room or the sun room, depending on what my husband is doing.  He’s very good about making himself scarce so I can write.  I wrote my first novel A STRANGLED ROSE longhand by candlelight in the early morning hours.  There was something magical about that time.  Maybe it’s because it was my first or maybe it was the ambiance.  However, I won’t do it again because transcribing it to the computer was extremely time consuming and a lot of extra work that could have been avoided.  There are lots of author who like the feel of pen to paper.  I prefer the computer.  As soon as I flip open my laptop my mind zeroes in on the task at hand.  It’s funny how that simple flip of the screen transports me to a different time and place.

Eliza:  How do you organize a novel?  Are you an outliner?  Story arc plotter?  Or do you find the story as you go?

Sue:  I’ve always said I am a die-hard panster.  I have the premise and know where the story is going but I like to allow the story to grow organically.  However, I do take notes along the way to avoid the dreaded plot-holes.  My handy notebook is with me always in case a great idea comes to me, like Jan Moran suggests doing.  One of my best ideas came to when I was falling asleep.  Her 3 Tips for Creativity really nailed it for me.  Unlike Joe Clifford who knows his endings first, my endings don’t reveal themselves until the middle of the story.  I see where Joe is coming from because I then have to go back and plant clues along the way.  I wish I could outline, but when I’ve tried I stare at a blank screen.  It’s just not my style.

Eliza:  Besides The Prose Cons blog, where can we find you online?

Sue:  I'm very active on social media.  I have a website and blog, belong to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Google +.

Eliza:  Before we end, can you give us a little taste of how SILENT BETRAYAL begins?

Sue:  "The still silence of the night is my addiction.  There's no better drug on earth.  It's an incredible feeling to know I'm the only one awake.  The only person stirring among peaceful, darkened homes.  Alone in the dark I am free.  Alive.  Invincible.  Nothing can touch me."

Eliza:  I can't wait to read your books!


Holly West said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Holly West said...

These books sound great! Good post, Eliza (and Sue).

Anonymous said...

How inspiring!! I am so happy to have these clues for better writing (no pun intended!). I struggle with writer's block and love the idea of the idea notebook--I need to get one and try it out. I am not as familiar with the crime genre, but am happy to have the recommendations for some new nightstand novel reading (and a new blog to go check out, too!). Thank you for this great interview.

Eliza Cross said...

Thanks, Holly - loved your article, too:

Eliza Cross said...

Glad you liked it, and I need to get an idea notebook, too. Plus I want to try writing by candlelight sometime.

Sue Coletta said...

Thanks, Holly!

Sue Coletta said...

I am so glad I could help. Honestly, I couldn't survive without my trusty notebook. I don't know what I would do if I ever lost it-- perish the thought.