INTRO: Susan Sizemore is the author behind the Laws and Blood series, and she is now also releasing her first Science Fiction novel, Gates of Hell.
Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
A: I think I can blame Lewis Carroll for my wanting to be a writer. I can remember my mother reading Alice in Wonderland tome when I was four, and embroidering on the story as my mom read it to me. My grandmother was a writer, so writing seemed like the most natural thing in the world around my house.
Q: How has your background as an anthropologist and former chef affected your writing?
A: I’m not sure my cooking background has been too influential in my writing, but cultural anthropology and a love of history has come in mighty handy, especially for fantasy writing. For example, my vampire series, LAWS OF THE BLOOD is not a series about continuing characters, the element that continues in the series is the vampire culture. Each book features different characters and is set in a different location, but the story is about people who happen to be vampires trying to adapt to a modern world when they must also function within the culture of the Strigoi. The series is about culture clash, and my background in anthropology helped me create the Strigoi culture.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current projects?
A: I’m currently working on the second book of THE LAWS OF THE BLOOD series. Truth is, the second book should have been done in July, but the first idea simply didn’t work and my editor and I agreed to scrap it and for me to start the second book a second time. Another project that I’m very proud of is my work for and with a new small sf/f house, Speculation Press. I’ve written a science fiction book for Speculation Press, GATES OF HELL which will be available in trade size paperback format (order from the Speculation Press website at http://speculationpress.com and I’ll make sure you get an autographed copy! It’s cheaper from their home site too!) in December. GATES OF HELL is my first official foray into the sf genre and quite a dark and edgy story, full of politics and space pirates and power plays. It’s got telepaths and evil aliens and space battles and culture clashes and a hot romance, weird religious cults and all sorts of stuff that I had a wonderful time writing.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of writing a story?
A: The middle. Beginnings are a joy, the end comes in a rush -but writing the middle third of a novel is an endless, plodding wasteland when I’m in it. Plotting and characterization are always a challenge, of course, but I’ve been lucky in my characters. I tend to come up with these elaborate plot outlines, but when I let the characters loose in the world of the story they tend to find shortcuts for me and simplify my convolutions into faster paced more believable ideas. I’m very much a character-driven author and fitting the right characters to the right story is always part of the challenge.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
A: Finish the book (or short story or whatever). Don’t worry about how good it is. Worry about getting published later. The first thing you have to learn how to do is to finish. Many people start to write. Finishing a story is what’s important.Write what you want to read.
Q: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do to relax?
A: I have a young, active, part greyhound dog. When I’m not writing I’m walking my darling Nefer. Then there’s basketball. I am a complete basketball bore. Can and will quote statistics at the drop of a hint. I go to as many games as I can – both NBA &WNBA, and watch a lot of televised games. I love to read, of course, and to cook and to travel.
Q: What has the Internet meant for you as an author?
A: It’s been both an immense help, and quite a hindrance. I adore the internet! It allows me to communicate with readers and writers, to do research, and to publish books (I have three books in electronic publishing format) that might not find a home with print publishers. I know people from all over the world because of the Internet. I’ve contributed articles to electronic magazines and am a member of numerous chatty and supportive email loops. I have my own webpage. I have sent manuscripts to editors via file attachments and have gotten back edits the same way. All these things are wonderful, but the downside is that I spend way too much time online! I can use having to check my email or go looking for a posted book review as an excuse not to write. I tell myself that it’s part of my job when it’s really an excuse not to do a difficult scene.Still, I adore the Internet and wouldn’t give it up for anything.