Monday, November 9, 2015

10 Questions for Author Sue Coletta About Her New Book, "Marred"


Author Sue Coletta is always thinking up ways to commit murder…on the page, or so she says. Although we've never met in person, Sue and I have bonded over writing and become long-distance friends who cheer each other on.  

Sue is one of the hardest-working writers I know, so I was especially thrilled when she signed a deal with Tirgearr Publishing for her new psychological thriller/mystery Marred - which will be officially released this Wednesday, November 11! Way to go, Sue!

A four-thousand-word excerpt of Marred also scored first placement in the upcoming anthology, Murder, USA. Sue is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and she generously agreed to answer my questions about her new book and upcoming projects.

The Interview

Eliza: I really enjoyed reading an advance copy of Marred. Tell our readers a bit about the book.

Sue:  Marred is a psychological thriller/mystery. The story is told through three different points of views: Sage and Niko Quintano and Niko’s snarky deputy sheriff, Frankie Campanelli.

Bestselling author Sage Quintano was brutally assaulted by a serial killer, an attack that caused her to lose her unborn child, scarring her in way she didn’t think possible. Niko Quintano, a Boston homicide detective, insists they flee to rural New Hampshire, where he accepts a position as Grafton County Sheriff.

Sage buries secrets from that night, secrets she swears to take to her grave.  

Three years of anguish and painful memories pass. A strange caller torments Sage. She can’t outrun the past. Searching Niko’s case files, Sage finds similarities to the Boston killer. A sadistic psychopath is preying on innocent women, marring their bodies in unspeakable ways. And now, he has her twin sister.

Cryptic clues…hidden messages…is he hinting at his identity? Or is trying to lure Sage into a deadly trap to end his reign of terror with a matching set of corpses?

Eliza: What made you decide to specialize in writing about crime?

Sue: It’s what I love to read/watch. I’ve always been fascinated with forensics and serial killers, so it only seemed natural to write about them.

Eliza: Who are some of the authors who have inspired and influenced you?

 Thomas Harris amazes me. Is there no better serial killer thriller than Silence of the Lambs? The way he dives into the killer’s psyche is mind-blowing. Not many authors can create a serial killer who readers root for, but look at Hannibal Lector. Love him!

Larry Brooks, who’s also a friend, has influenced me the most. Not only are his craft books the best in the business, IMO, but his thrillers are incredible. While reading I never know what’s real or what’s made-to-look real. He’s caused me many sleepless nights.

Karin Slaughter is another author who’s influenced the way I tell my stories. I could go on and on. Good or bad, I think we’re influenced by everything we read, see, and experience.

Eliza: You seem like such a nice person. What motivated you to write about a brutal, psychopathic killer in Marred?

Sue: Psychopathic killers fascinate me. What makes them tick? Why do they kill? How do they choose their victims? These questions and more I’ve pondered most of my life. As such, I’ve done extensive research into serial killers. They all have similar traits, too. Each killer goes through phases… the aura phase, trolling phase, wooing phase, capture phase, murder phase, totem phase, and finally, the depression phase. On this blog I wrote a post about the phases, entitled TheSerial Killer

Eliza: The dialogue and descriptions in Marred feel very authentic. How were you able to achieve such realism in your writing?

Sue: Easy. Wherever I go, I eavesdrop on people’s conversations. No better way to learn dialogue! Once I have it down, I go back and tweak here and there. I did, however, make a conscious effort not to load my stories with paragraphs of description, because that’s not what I enjoy reading. I much prefer a metaphor that nails the scene, or a few lines of description, than to hear about the sun, sky, trees, grass, wind, for endless pages.

Eliza: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

Sue: All novel writing is challenging in one aspect or another, right? Whoever says writing is easy, hasn’t done it right yet. J The hardest part for me was to not give away too much too soon. It’s natural to want to reveal all the goodies we have in store for our readers. To pull back and let the unanswered questions linger, and then unfold slowly takes time and attention to detail. Did you think I’d say the research was the hardest? That was my favorite part!

Eliza: Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will take away after reading it?

Sue: Secrets can, and often will, destroy you and those you hold dear.
There’s also an underlying message that I hope will help someone who’s been suffering like Sage. Please seek help and find the strength to come forward. You don’t have to suffer alone.

Eliza: Your book is already climbing the sales charts, and you’ve gotten some amazing initial reviews. What do you think about this early buzz?

Sue: It blows my mind! Once edits were complete and we had a release date, ARCs went out, and my nerves fired like spit in hot oil. I did an interview with podcast the other day and I described the feeling as standing naked in the middle of the road for all to judge. We pour our hearts and souls into our stories. To release that part of us into the world is terrifying. At least, it is for me. So, the buzz? Words cannot express how thrilled I am that others are enjoying Marred.

Eliza: Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that you left a door open at the conclusion of your book. Will we see a sequel to Marred?

Sue: You sure will!

Eliza: Excellent. What’s next for you?

Sue: I’m polishing a new thriller (a rewrite of my novel, Timber Point). Wings of Mayhem is about a computer forensic specialist, Shawnee Daniels, who moonlights as a cat burglar and mistakenly steals a killer’s trophy box. This novel is also told from three perspectives. Shawnee, Detective Levaughn Samuels, and the killer, who’s been especially fun to write. Wings of Mayhem is more of a cat-and-mouse, with the killer clearly depicted and named from Chapter One. The mystery element is the why behind the murders and, y’know, the twist. *wink* Even though the rewrite has been a nightmare—it would have been easier to start from scratch—it’s also been a rewarding experience. Poor Shawnee, I’ve put her through hell. *rubs palms* Mwah ha ha.

Keep watch for Wings of Mayhem in the coming months. In the meantime, Marred is available at all online retailers. Print versions coming in 2016. To take advantage of the 99 cent pre-release sale go to Amazon (link will work for all countries). Your copy of Marred will automatically be delivered on Wednesday, November 11th. Thank you!

Eliza:  Thank you, Sue, and here's to a fabulous launch of Marred and continued success with all of your projects.

Eliza Cross is the author of nine nonfiction books including her latest, 101 Things To Do With Beans. She blogs at and and is the founder of the bacon enthusiast society BENSA, which—unlike Mensa—welcomes members of all intelligence levels. She is currently working on a book about cooking with beer.


Anonymous said...

Really interesting interview with Sue Coletta. I have pre-ordered Marred and am looking forward to reading it - particularly after reading the interview which gives a bit of a preview and a fascinating incite into both the research and inspiration for the book.

Sue Coletta said...

Thanks, Ellie!