I would like to welcome Susan Coryell to my blog today.
Welcome Susan, please start by telling us a little about yourself, including where you are from?
I am a native Virginian–born and raised in Northern VA, where I spent my career as an English teacher and raised my family of three children. Upon retirement, my husband and I moved to Smith Mountain Lake, in south-central VA. We love hosting our three married children and seven grand children at our lovely lake.
Can you tell us about your books and how did you get started?
When I was teaching middle school, I wrote an anti-bully book, EAGLEBAIT, which won several awards. It is now in its third edition, which I updated with cyber-bullying. It is available in both print and e-book.
Since retirement, I have written a Southern Gothic/cozy mystery trilogy with a fictional setting akin to our current location. The first book, A RED, RED ROSE has been picked up by Amazon Encore and is selling well both in America and other parts of the world. The second novel, BENEATH THE STONES, takes place five years later and the third, NOBODY KNOWS is under contract with The Wild Rose Press–release date to be announced. Each of the novels has a contemporary setting and a Civil War history background concerning the historic Overhome Estate.
What made you decide to write books?
I have always been a writer. My maternal grandfather was a published poet; both of my brothers are well-published and all three of my children are writers. At least one grand child (age 8) has already declared herself a writer. I believe writing runs strongly in our gene pool. My mother always said I was born with a pencil in my hand.
What was your inspiration for your books?
EAGLEBAIT – my anti-bully novel–was inspired by my observations as a middle school teacher. No research required–my classroom was my laboratory.
The Overhome Trilogy was inspired by an old house rumored to be haunted. My writer’s antennae perked up as I explored the lovely ancient estate and when I retired to Southern Virginia, I knew I had found my muse. The South is ripe for age-old conflict.
How do you create your characters?
I visualize my characters and “live” with them a while before they grow alive on the page. I love to enrich them with back story and allow them to mature as they face conflicts and challenges. And, I talk about them at great length–with my husband and other family members. I appreciate their patience and indulgence!
How do you get your ideas for writing?
I am a curious observer of life around me. I delight in plowing my own experiences–no matter how far in the past–into my plot and theme.
If you have a publisher, what has it been like working with them?
The Wild Rose Press is a wonderful, caring publisher–professional in every aspect. I have an excellent editor, a top-notch colleague support group, skilled cover artists and responsive staff members who are quick to answer questions and solve problems. I am blessed!
Do you have an agent?
Not currently, although I have used agents in the past.
What challenges do you face as you write?
The extent of historical research is always a challenge–although I do have access to several excellent local sources–museums, libraries, universities, and literary societies. Sometimes it’s hard to find a stopping place for research in order to actually write the novels.
How do you cope with writer’s block?
Like William Faulkner, I lower my standards and keep writing. Next day may elicit pages of deletions, but I never quit writing.
Which writers influence you the most?
I love the “old” Gothic writers like Daphne DuMaurier, Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart. Southern writers, Lee Smith, Sharyn McCrumb, and Adriana Trigiani are also favorites.
What is the hardest part of being an author?
Hands down,the hardest part of being published is maintaining the promotion/marketing required of today’s electronic media. Three email accounts, two author loops, Twitter and Facebook, not to mention guest blogs and my own blog gobble up my time. It’s the modern conundrum for any writer–balancing actual time to write with promo duties.
Where do you write? Is there something you need in order to write (music, drinks)?
I grabbed the best room in our lakeside cottage for my writing–a tiny loft that overlooks a charming cove. Whenever I grow weary from writing, a long look over my left shoulder revives me.
You have told us what you like to write but when relaxing what do you like to read?
A member of two book clubs, I read everything! Fiction is a favorite, but I also enjoy non-fiction and biographies. I frequently have several books going at the same time–one in the car, one in the house and one on the dock.
What plans have you got for future books?
Now that the Overhome Trilogy is finished, I may venture into adult/new adult fiction in which I can use my experience as a career educator for setting and theme. You can imagine a mother lode of quirky, poignant, downright ridiculous encounters I have had in thirty years of classroom teaching, spanning grades seven through twelve. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?
I vividly remember the first time I held each of my three children in my arms, stroked their sweet cheeks, counted their fingers and toes and hugged them close; without me they would never exist.
Holding my published book for the first time evoked a similar emotional response : my own finished work of art, conceived, nurtured, and thrust into the world with all parts intact.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for the opportunity to participate on your awesome blog!
Thank you for being my guest Susan and good luck with your future books.