Writer Wednesdays: Susan Haught

 

This week, I had a chance to chat with contemporary women’s / romance author Susan Haught. Be sure to check out her links at the end of the post!

Tell us about yourself:

Hello? Is anyone there? Oh–there you are! I’m a little nervous even though no one can see me. My name is Susan Haught, but please call me Susie. Sounds younger, don’t you think? I work four days a week at a busy day job and when I’m not holding my eyelids open with a toothpick (I’m up at 4:15 am), I’m writing. Or trying to figure out the cyber-world. Technology and I have a love/hate relationship and often don’t see eye to eye. Or screen to screen as the case may be. The other guy usually comes out the winner. I’ve been around a long time, most of it without technology.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading. I feel a strong writer will also be an avid reader. We learn by reading and besides, what better way to escape the rigors of the real world by climbing into the pages of good book? I also have a tendency to plant too many things in my yard and in the mountains of Arizona with its soil of mostly decomposed granite, not much grows well. So I spend a fair amount of time digging up dead plants and replanting new ones in the hopes someday I’ll find something that works. Probably not going to happen any time soon. The nurseries will continue to fatten their wallets. Maybe I should stick to growing my word count. But there’s one thing I can’t live without. Australian black licorice. I’m an addict. Hubby and our son have made giant leaps into my good graces with bribery of the luscious black stuff. Works every time.

Tell us about your book:

Shall We Dance? is a short novella included in the Halloween Anthology by Dancing With Bear Publishing. This is Rudy’s story, an elderly man who refuses to speak because no one cares enough to understand him–except Rachel, a soft-hearted young nurse who chose to start her career in the nursing home where Rudy resides. When Rachel discovers tidbits of Rudy’s past, she acts on a whim and makes Halloween special for Rudy with surprising results for both of them.

Under the Mistletoe, also from DWB Publishing, furthers Rachel’s adventures with Desmond, whose last wish is to visit the home he shared with his wife. In the path of a bypass, the condemned home reveals links to Desmond’s past that will forever bind the dying lumberjack to Rachel’s future, and cause Rachel to understand the depth of true love. Sometimes the treasure you find isn’t about the gold, but the wisdom of the journey.

And I’m pleased to announce DWB Publishing has contracted Paper Hearts, the third and last of Rachel’s adventures in the nursing home. You’ll meet Dottie–a spunky woman with a speedy walker–briefly in Under the Mistletoe, and her story. Rachel is caught between losing her job and helping Dottie visit a bookshop where a special book appears each year with a Valentine message from her past. With the help of Finn, an enigmatic stranger, the tender story of young love is revealed through the eyes of an old woman. Tentative release date is February 14th.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

halloween-previewYes. But it wasn’t until I saw the movie Finding Neverland, the story of J.M Barrie and Peter Pan, that I realized I wasn’t crazy–that maybe what I was, was a writer. You see, J. M. Barrie opened doors and saw behind them not a normal room, but what his mind dreamed would be behind it–a magical world only he could see. Yep. Crazy. Though I’d never put pen to paper for more than an occasional letter or poem, I knew that somewhere inside of me lurked a writer, because I too, see those things behind doors and inside my head. It’s a constant battle to stay focused.

I didn’t write my first novel until a few years later when I woke from a vivid dream with what I thought was the ending scene of a story in my head, complete with sound effects and in living color. It was 2 am, and I jumped out of bed and began my novel. I finished it only to discover I knew very little about the craft and began to teach myself, attend workshops and read, read, read. Said novel is a mess. No wonder I had so many rejections! But I think it’s salvageable. Now that Rachel’s adventures are over, it’s time to revisit the dormant pages and make them work.

Who is your favorite character from your book, and why?

Wow. Loaded question. I love all my characters, even if there’s a bad guy in there somewhere. It’s hard not to love them because I created them. But I have a soft spot for Dottie. She’s very much mistaken for a snarky, nosey busy-body, when in reality, she’s trying to hide her feelings under a tough exterior–something I think we all have to deal with at some point in our lives. Dottie reminds me of many of the elderly I’ve met all bottled into one personality. I dearly love her.

And then there’s Finn–the enigmatic stranger. He’s mysterious, well spoken, is a dead-ringer for Mark Twain and never seems to age. And he’s one of the main characters in the novel I’m revising. He will return in each of the others I have planned for the series as well, taking on a different name in each, but very much the same man. He’s delightfully fun to write and by far my favorite of all so far. And I don’t have to say good-bye to him. Good-byes are hard. Even fictional ones.

What’s your favorite scene or location in the work you’re currently promoting, and why?

That’s an easy one. The bookshop in Paper Hearts is called The Ages of Pages Bookshop. All bookstores to me are special, but Ages of Pages is magical. You’ll see why when you read the story. If I was to own a bookstore (which my husband thinks I already have the inventory) it would be just like Ages of Pages. And I’d hope Finn would do me the honor of showing up. One can dream, right?

What book or author has been the most inspirational for you, and why?

Actually, there are two. I can’t mention one without the other. I’ve always been a Stephen King fan and in my opinion, there is no one better at digging into the psyche of the human mind and dredging up things a person can and will do when pushed to the limits. He makes me gasp. And that’s a good thing. Then there’s Nicholas Sparks. His timeless love stories tug at every heartstring imaginable. If there’s a story where the characters are the combination of those two styles, I’m so there. Character-driven stories stuffed full of every emotion are what I live for and strive to write. Plot is important, but it’s the characters that drive the story.

If you were to be stranded on a desert island, what non-survival item would you bring along that you couldn’t live without?

Do I have to choose just one? Oh boy. I don’t think a desert island would have wi-fi, so a computer is out. It would have to be an endless supply of paper and pens (does that count as one? Does in my book!). I’m happiest with a blank sheet of paper in front of me where I can put the things I see inside my head into words. In doing so, I would never be lonely because all those characters come to life and live lives of their own until the story is finished. Then later on, I could visit them any time I wanted and maybe create a few more if they told me they were lonely. If I have to choose just one, it would be a magical book that never ended. Problem solved.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

Yes. And no. My first priority at the moment is to get my son moved to California to begin his career. After he’s settled, I’ll begin revising my novel Fireflies. It’s a good story with some great characters, but it needs a sharp knife and some TLC. I also have two other novels in the series that are probably one-third completed that I set aside to begin work on Shall We Dance? I’m not one to normally start and stop projects, but the story behind that is a long one and best suited for another time.

Where can we find you?

I’d love to see you hop on by my website at www.susanhaught.com where you can learn more about me and read my blog; visit my Susan Haught, Author page on Facebook; follow me on Twitter @srhaught; and Susan Haught on Google+. Oh, I almost forgot–I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of Pinterest! Find me here.