Friday, February 08, 2008

Q&A: SUSAN PAGE DAVIS

This week we check in with Susan Page Davis. She and daughter Megan have written a series of cozy mysteries for Heartsong Presents -- Mysteries! -- the MAINEly Murder series. Their first book, Homicide at Blue Heron Lake, is being sent to subscribers now. It will be followed by Treasure at Blue Heron Lake and Imposters at Blue Heron Lake. All are set in a fictional town in northern Maine. You can read about the mother and daughter team and learn about Susan's other books on her Website, SusanPageDavis.com, where she holds a monthly drawing for a free book.

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Q: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR BIG BREAK?
I'm not sure exactly what a "big break" is, or if I've gotten one yet. (smiley face) The success I've had in my writing is due, I am certain, to God's grace. But if there is one critical factor within the writer's control, I think it is persistence. I sent out many, many book proposals and manuscripts before my first book sold. I paid close attention to every word that came back with the rejections. And then one day Jim Peterson called me (he was acquisitions editor at Heartsong back then in '03), and said, "Yes, Susan, it's really me. I wanted to tell you personally that we are buying your book, Protecting Amy." Ahhhh!

Q: HOW MUCH DO YOU WRITE FOR AN "AUDIENCE" VERSUS SIMPLY WRITING FOR YOURSELF?
I'm very aware of the reader. The only things I write for myself only are to-do lists and my diary. Even that, I suppose, is perhaps for others. But when I'm writing a book, I think about how my readers will perceive what I've written. I don't want the readers to think about me, though. I want them to think about my story and my characters. I try to take "me" out of the story.

Q: WHAT FIVE CLASSIC AUTHORS/BOOKS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
1. Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey books (My faves: The Nine Tailors and Clouds of Witness)
2. Agatha Christie's Miss Marples
3. Ditto her Hercule Poirots, especially the ones with Captain Hastings in them
4. Dick Francis -- my personal picks: To the Hilt, and For Kicks
5. Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfaels

Q: WHAT FIVE MODERN AUTHORS/BOOKS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
There are so many, I hate to pick out a few as "essential" because I know I'd miss some. I'd encourage mystery/suspense writers to read a variety of authors. We've had some marvelous writers of Christian worldview mysteries and suspense books as guests on the Keep Me in Suspense blog recently. If you're not sure whose book to pick up next, I suggest browsing the archives there.

Q: BEFORE YOU WERE PUBLISHED, WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION YOU HAD ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR?
Once you sell your first book, you've got it made...
Right.

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Thanks to our guest, Susan Page Davis. Find her online at www.susanpagedavis.com. She is also a contributor to Keep Me in Suspense and has a ShoutLife page at shoutlife.com/SusanPageDavis.

Related links:
"What is a Cozy Mystery?"
Q&A: LISA HARRIS (Recipe For Murder)
Meet the authors of HPMysteries
MURDER, SHE WROTE still going strong
FREE mystery story!
Heartsong Mysteries! Book Club
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