Be glad in the Lord and rejoice! Psalm 32:11

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Five Questions with Susan McBride, author of "little black dress"

Today, author Susan McBride stops by to talk about her writing, upcoming projects and her charming new book, "little black dress."

  1. At what age did you know that you wanted to be a writer? 
Susan:   I loved books from early on, and I wrote lots of stories in grade school.  I still have three books I penned in fifth grade.  But I never consciously said, “I want to be a writer,” until I was 19 and taking some time off before transferring from the University of Texas (where I’d been pre-business taking economics and Calculus classes, ugh!) to the University of Kansas (where I enrolled in the School of Journalism and took lots of creative writing classes, yay!).

In the interim, I wrote a 600 page historical romance called THE THORN OF THE ROSE, which I submitted to agents and editors directly.  I received such encouragement (and even requests to resubmit after revisions) that I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  It took at least a decade after college (and a manuscript a year!) before I signed a book contract.  But it was worth it.
  1. What three important facts do you want readers to know about your books?
Susan:   Hmm, first, that I pour my heart and soul into every book I write.  I love what I do, and I fully immerse myself in every story I tell.  So know that when you pick up a novel with my name on it, I worked as hard as I could to make it the best it could be.

Second, that I don’t have much control over anything besides the words on the page. I don’t pick my own covers so I’m ecstatic when I love them as much as I love the cover of LITTLE BLACK DRESS.  Sometimes I have a say in the back cover copy, and it’s cool when that happens.

Last but not least, know what a thrill it is for me to think people I’ve never met—who aren’t related to me—are reading my books.  That’s something I will never become blasé about.  And if my stories give you some escape from your hectic life—even for a few hours—then I am one happy camper.
  1. Who are some of your favorite authors? Who inspires you?
Susan:   One of my favorite authors is Sarah Addison Allen.  I got hooked on her books after reading GARDEN SPELLS, her debut, and she’s had three more since.  She just has such a sweet, lyrical style, and her stories all contain messages of hope and redemption.  I love that. 

I also adore Kate Morton’s blend of history and mystery, most recently in THE DISTANT HOURS (though my favorite of hers is THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN).  She has a way of drawing the past together with the present that’s completely engaging.
  1. What do you have coming up in the future?
Susan:   I just finished the first draft of DEAD ADDRESS, a young adult mystery for Random House/Delacorte, and I’m about to start on LITTLE WHITE LIES, another women’s fiction book for HarperCollins/Morrow to follow LITTLE BLACK DRESS.  It’s about a woman whose lies catch up with her when a tornado dumps a man from her past smack into her lap (well, into her walnut grove anyway). I had such an incredible experience with the magical element of LBD that it will be great to revisit that territory again with LWL. 
  1. What advice would you have for anyone wanting to break into writing today?
Susan:   Read a lot, and not just in one particular genre.  See what books are striking a chord with people, even if they’re not your cup of tea, and pick one up just to see if you can figure out why. 

Write as often as you can, even if it’s keeping a journal.  You only get better with practice, so the more you write, the stronger your literary muscles will get.  Don’t expect the first thing you write to get published.  I have ten manuscripts in my linen closet that may never see the light of day.  But they all taught me something, whether it was how to write in a particular point of view or voice; how to structure a mystery vs. a historical novel; how to keep the pace moving so I don’t lose readers.  I think we’re so used to having things happen instantly in our tech-dominated fast food society that we forget that becoming proficient takes time.

Go to author events in your community, meet other aspiring authors and published ones.  Learn more about how the business works, because there’s a lot to it beyond sitting down and sweating out 90,000 words.  Understand that passion is what will keep you motivated—and what will sell your books—so never lose that. Network online with others in the book community even before you’re published.  You can do a lot to kick-start your career that way!

Thanks so much for letting me visit with you and your readers, Sharon!  If anyone has any further questions, they can always reach me through my web site at http://SusanMcBride.com. 

Thank you Susan!  And thank you to William Morrow Books and Stephanie Kim for the review copy of "Little Black Dress."

A Short Review of "Little Black Dress" by Susan McBride:

About The Book:

Two sisters whose lives seemed forever intertwined are torn apart when a magical little black dress gives each one a glimpse of an unavoidable future

Antonia Ashton has worked hard to build a thriving career and a committed relationship, but she realizes her life has gone off track. Forced to return home to Blue Hills when her mother, Evie, suffers a massive stroke, Toni finds the old Victorian where she grew up as crammed full of secrets as it is with clutter.

Now she must put her mother’s house in order—and uncover long-buried truths about Evie and her aunt, Anna, who vanished fifty years earlier on the eve of her wedding. By shedding light on the past, Toni illuminates her own mistakes and learns the most unexpected things about love, magic, and a little black dress with the power to break hearts . . . and mend them

I was absolutely enchanted with "Little Black Dress."  This tale, following the lives of Evie Ashton, her daughter Toni, and her long-lost sister, Anna, is one of the most creative storylines I've had the pleasure of reading in a long while. Elements of magic and mystery float lightly in an ongoing story of the age-old mother/daughter struggle to understand each other. I highly recommend this book to kick off your late summer/fall reading!  You'll be so glad you did!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. I was not compensated for my opinion.

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