When did you first decide that you were going to get involved in a writing career?
I’ve always said I wanted to write, and I did plenty of it while earning a Bachelor’s degree, a Masters, and a doctorate. Having been in education for 30 years, I wrote academic reports, articles, etc. Now that I’m a recovering academic, I write what I want to for a change. I got serious in 2004 when I decided that I’d retire from education. I’ve been writing mostly mystery with a little women’s fiction thrown in for good measure.
2. What is you background and what part did it play?
I’ve been reading since the age of 4 and couldn’t wait for the Bookmobile to come and bring more books to the rural area I lived in. I’d select the maximum number each time and have them all read way before the vehicle returned. Books were wonderful adventures and it just seemed fitting to try to write one myself. There are bits and pieces of me in all of my books.
3. Please tell us about the first book you got published and the story behind it.
Genesis Beach was my first novel. It started out as a short story, but I soon realized that it would take many more pages to write the complete story of my strong female SBI (North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation) agent. Somewhere in the middle of the book, I had the dreaded block and decided to start another adventure with this same protagonist. The Logan Hunter series was born. I move her around the state to showcase North Carolina’s diversity and in each one she has to prove herself all over again.
4. Has your work changed since that first book? In what ways?
Oh my, yes. Genesis Beach was originally self-published and when I was offered a traditional contract for Hell Swamp, traditional publisher L&L Dreamspell offered me the opportunity to rewrite some sections and then they added their logo and expertise. With each new book I grow and try to challenge not only myself but Logan Hunter. There’s plenty to learn and I certainly don’t consider myself a master. It’s wonderful to have validation though.
5. What is the greatest compliment you have received about your writing? What comments, if any, bothered you?
My protagonist Logan Hunter has been compared to Jane Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, which is a heck of a compliment. I’ve seen a couple of poor reviews for one of my books over the years but I have rhino hide, so they don’t bother me.
6. How do you promote your work?
I have my own web site at www.susanwhitfieldonline.com and I blog at www.susanwhitfield.blogspot.com. I also have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Booktown.ning.com and lots of other book sites. I occasionally give away hand fans with a book cover on it. The ladies like those in the summer time when we’re all sitting at baseball games in 100 degree temperatures or when they’re “flashing”. The ordering information is on the back. It’s a cute way to promote and my current fan has a cracked egg on it which gets attention.
7. Would you advise another person to become a writer? What caveats/encouragements would you like to offer?
Go for it if it’s your passion! Have tough skin and know that you’ll have to do 99% of your own promoting. Advertising can be expensive, so choose cost-effective ways to get the word out. Most online sites are free. Just don’t let promoting pull you away from your writing for more than thirty minutes a day. Network with other writers and industry experts. That’s a big pay off.
8. Can you tell us about your biggest writing triumphs?
Most of the time I have to ask for venues, so it’s really special when a winery, bookstore or festival calls and invites me to showcase my books. I’ve been invited as the special guest to quite a few store anniversaries and one local winery throws a book launch every time I have a new book release…at their expense! When my latest book, Slightly Cracked, released in October, an adorable book store in my home county threw a hen party and we had the most wonderful time! The store supplied fresh fruits, wine, and crudités for everyone. All of my sisters-in-law went and we had a pajama party afterwards. The store was packed and I met many new friends. Isn’t meeting new folks wonderful?
9. Which of your books is your personal favorite?
Geez, Claire, that’s a hard one because I love all of my babies. I guess I’d have to say Slightly Cracked is at the moment my favorite, because it’s the new book and my first attempt at women’s fiction. What I learned is that as much as I love writing mystery, I want to write another women’s fiction.