The Romance Reader Interviews Susan Sey

  The Interviews
New Faces 218
Susan Sey
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by Cathy Sova

Welcome to our New Faces column, where you can meet debut romance authors and discover their books. This time we are visiting with Susan Sey, whose first book is Money, Honey from Berkley. Let’s meet her.

Susan, welcome to TRR! Tell us about yourself.

These days I’m busy being a stay-at-home mom to the smartest, most charming little girls on the planet. (No offense to anybody else’s kids, of course. I’m sure they’re great.) But before I left the work force to provide Mr. Sey with offspring, I was a great many things--an outdoor/adventure educator, a software trainer, a compensation analyst. That’s the great thing about English majors. We have no skills but if there’s a manual on it, we can learn to do it. (And then we’ll probably re-write the manual, because we’re snobby like that.) And when we depart the work force to have babies (the way we do sometimes), we’ll surely turn our critical little eyes to the paperbacks we adore and decide to have a crack writing one of those, too.

Are you coming to romance writing from another job? Do you still have a day job?

Not unless you count the stay-at-home mom gig. Which I don’t mind telling you is a day job and a half. Well, more accurately a day job AND a night job because I had a bed full of 4 year old again last night and sleeping with that kid is like sleeping with a pony. All hooves and thrashing. How old are they when they stop sneaking in the middle of the night, anyway?

What led you to write romance?

Little Women. Seriously. Jo’s rejecting Laurie scarred me for life. I now firmly believe that the two characters I love best in any given book ought to love each other, too, and romance novels agree with me. I spent middle school reading every Harlequin Presents Penny Jordan put out. I worshipped the ground Iris Johansen walked on, and this was before she went the romantic suspense route. This was back when she was writing for Loveswept. Remember The Trustworthy Redhead? Yeah, well, I do. And what about And the Desert Bloomed? I read that book over twenty years ago and I still remember the hero and heroine’s names. (Phillip and Pandora, if you’re interested.) Writing romance has always been the pinnacle of my career expectations. I have never wanted anything more than to write the kind of book that a teenage girl would weep over, then reminisce fondly over twenty odd years later. That’s magic, people.

Tell us about your road to publication.

Oh, I had a whole process: I’d write a book then let my critique partner savage it. Then I’d fix it and send it out onto the contest circuit where it would get savaged again. Then I’d fix it and send it out to agents who would--you guessed it--savage it. So I’d fix it again and send it out to editors who usually didn’t bother to savage it. They just ignored it. So then that book would go under the bed and I’d start the process all over again with a new book. Five cycles of this later, MONEY HONEY won a Golden Heart in July 2008. Not even two weeks later, my agent called with the news that we had an offer from Berkley. I doubt the words exist to describe the pandemonium that phone call unleashed in our house.

What kind of research was involved for your first book?

Nothing that couldn’t be done via the Internet. I’m kind of an introvert and calling strangers on the phone gives me hives. If I couldn’t find it on the web, I found a way to keep it out of my book.

Tell us about your debut book.

MONEY HONEY is the book of my heart. I know people say that all the time but truly, this was…let me think…the fourth or fifth book I’d ever written. At that point I was fairly resigned to the idea that I wasn’t a good enough writer to ever get published. And if I was going to labor away in obscurity for the rest of my days, why not screw the ‘rules’ and write whatever the hell I wanted to? So I wrote a jewel thief hero and a cult-survivor heroine. He’s the femme fatale (gorgeous and mysterious and hiding some dangerous secrets) while she’s the cop (all but married to her badge.) I made my villain a knife-wielding maniac with a score to settle with both of them and cut them all loose in a casino on an Indian reservation in southern MN. And then I threw in a dirty toddler, a nagging sister and a juvenile delinquent just for fun. Go big or go home, right? Wouldn’t you know this is the one that sold?

Who are some of your influences as a writer?

Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie for their patter and their charm. Eloisa James for heroines who are smart and sharp without being anachronistic. JR Ward for writing crackalicious guilty pleasures that will not allow you to put them down. Nora Roberts for style and snap. And lately George RR Martin for world building. I just discovered Game of Thrones and am way in love.

What does your family think of having a published romance author in their midst?

They couldn’t be prouder. Seriously. I thought I’d get at least some blowback over putting my name on a book with sex in it but no. Apparently sex is not just my secret. Everybody knows about it, even my parents. Who knew?

Tell us about plans for future books.

My next book, MONEY SHOT, is due out on June 7, 2011, also from Berkley Sensation. It’s not a sequel, per se, but it does feature a secondary character from MONEY HONEY who just stole my heart. Liz’s friend and partner Goose gets her own story and it’s a doozy. Poor girl gets exiled to a frozen island in Lake Superior pursuing a crackpot case and boy do things get hot in a hurry. Got to say, I wish they’d made park rangers like Rush Guthrie when I was working outdoor education.

How can readers get in touch with you?

There’s my website, of course: www.susansey.com. But I’m far more active on Facebook and Twitter, links to which you can find on my website. Plus you can always email me at susan@susansey.com. I love to hear from readers, too, so don’t be shy!

Susan, thanks for joining us, and best of luck with MONEY SHOT!

May 21, 2911

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