Susan Lyons graciously agreed to answer a few questions, so check out her interview…and be sure to keep reading for giveaway info!!
Q: Please tell us about your books.
A: I write romance and women’s fiction, from sweet to spicy. Right now I have a dozen “calendar stories” (one per month) with The Wild Rose Press, and they’re very sweet and heartwarming romances. On the spicy end, I write for Kensington Aphrodisia, where I have a novella in an anthology called The Firefighter and I also have a 4-book series. The series stars the Awesome Foursome, four 20-something girlfriends. Think, Sex and the City, set in Vancouver, BC. Lots of girlfriend chats over food and drinks, lots of issues to complicate their lives, lots of sexy romance. Each girl has her own book and her own romance. The first, Champagne Rules, has been winning awards: first place finishes for single title contemporary romance, first book and erotic romance. It’s about an interracial, geographically-challenged relationship between a “family comes first” vet student and a career-driven lawyer. The second book, Hot in Here, is also interracial, where the Chinese-Canadian heroine is torn between respecting her family’s wishes and following her heart. The third, Touch Me, introduces a stressed-out workaholic lawyer to a laid-back Greek god massage therapist, and both are challenged to re-examine their values and priorities in life. The fourth, She’s on Top (out next April), is about a woman with body-image issues who contacts her first love, remembering a gawky boy but discovering he’s turned into a total hottie. How can she believe he’s really attracted to her, and that she’s a beautiful woman who deserves his love?
Q: What inspired your stories?
A: I like romance and happy endings, but I also like to examine contemporary issues. I also love the power of female friendship. Four seems to be the magic number for girlfriend groups – in my own life, and with Sex and the City and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I chose to write about twenty-somethings because that’s the time in our lives when we figure out who we are as women. We’ve grown up, and it’s up to us to decide what we want out of life in terms of romance, home and family, career, friendship and hobbies – and how we’re going to balance it all. It’s an exciting and very challenging time. Setting was easy: I live in Vancouver and it’s a fantastic city. So, I had four 20-something girlfriends in Vancouver, each of whom was going to have a fun, sexy but also challenging romance that would force her to think hard about her beliefs and goals. Then I just had to think about each girl’s personality and issues, and what kind of guy would be her most interesting match. I don’t plot ahead of time; the stories grow out of character. Once I have some idea of who my heroine and hero are, they kind of take over and make things happen.
Q: What is your favorite part of being a writer? Least favorite?
A: I love having a job where it’s okay to hear voices in my head and play with imaginary friends who sometimes take over my mind and my fingers on the keyboard. I love working at home and living a flexible, self-directed life; I’m a person who hates routine and gets bored easily. I love writers and readers – they’re the best people in the world. And it’s absolutely amazing to walk into a bookstore and find my books on the shelves, and know that people all over the world are reading and caring about my characters. My least favorite part is the uncertainty. This is a hard business, in terms of never knowing if you’re going to sell another book, worrying about reviews, scrambling to try to make a living. It never ends. Honest. Ask someone on the New York Times bestseller list and I’ll bet she’ll say the same thing.
Q: What do you hope readers get out of your books?
A: As well as entertainment and distraction from life’s hassles, a laugh here and a tear there, I hope they come away with a little personal growth and a better understanding of, and sympathy/empathy toward, other people. My books have messages about things like interracial relationships, respecting parents yet finding your own path, balancing career and family, learning to love your own imperfect body, finding and honouring your sexy side, and the value of friendship and different opinions.
Q: How long have you been a writer? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A: I loved writing as a kid, but gave it up after high school because it never occurred to me I might actually make a career of it. I rediscovered it maybe 15 years ago – and discovered my true passion.
Q: How many books have you written?
A: I don’t count. Honestly. I decided long ago not to obsess over numbers. I’ve sold four books and two novellas, but there are lots of other manuscripts and proposals on my computer.
Q: Who are some of your writing influences?
A: All the fine writers I’ve read over the years, especially the ones who tell stories that touch my heart and also make me think.
Q: What would you like to tell aspiring writers?
A: Persist. Believe in yourself, as a person and as a writer. Enjoy the process of being a writer; it’s the core of what you do now and what you’ll still be doing after you’ve sold a dozen books, and it’s one of the few things in this business that’s within your control. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Validate yourself on a daily basis for being a writer (e.g., I have a turquoise-covered journal on my desk and at the end of the day I note what “writing stuff” I did that day). Luck comes to those who put themselves in its path, so make sure you toss yourself and your work into a lot of paths: join writing groups, enter contests, submit to editors and agents, attend conferences, pitch, write articles, teach courses. Study the markets but don’t obsess over them because what’s being published today isn’t what’s being bought today (those books were bought more than a year ago).
Q: If you had a time capsule to be opened 50 years in the future, what would you put in it?
A: My books, of course! I think they’re a great picture of life and love in Vancouver today.
Q: What is next for you?
A: She’s on Top, the fourth Awesome Foursome book, comes out in April. And I’ve just finished “Unwrap Me,” a novella for Christmas 2008. (Jude is anti-Christmas – at least until her girlfriend gives her a very special Secret Santa gift: firefighter Nick.) I’ll also have a story in the second edition of Dreams & Desires, a story anthology published by Freya’s Bower, with all proceeds benefiting a women’s shelter.
Q: Where can readers find you online?
A: My website is http://www.susanlyons.ca. I have excerpts, discussion questions, insights into how each book originated, a monthly contest and lots of other good stuff. Readers can also email me through my website.
Thank you Susan for that great interview!
Susan has graciously donated a prize to one lucky winner. If you enter her website contest and mention you heard about it on “Jennifer’s Random Musings”, you will be eligible to win a book of your choice from Susan’s booklist. You’ll also be entered in Susan’s monthly contest and be eligible to win a prize package themed around the heroine of “Hot Down Under” in The Firefighter (which includes an autographed firefighter calendar from Queensland, Australia!).
Winner for the blog giveaway will be selected sometime after December 8.