Susan in her own words:
I’m just a girl who wants superhero romance! Is that so much to ask? Why must it always be a tragedy? Why does Angel walk away? Why does Spike—what did happen to Spike? Why did Wonder Woman go back home after the end of season 1 and WWII, then come back, work with Steve Trevor’s grandson, and still not hook up? Seriously! And let’s not even talk about Superman Returns, OK? Let’s. Just. Not.
- Tell us about the ‘Talent Chronicles’.
The Talents are mostly teens that have been born with supernatural abilities. No one knows (yet) why this started happening, but as the kids started to exhibit powers and some of them got out of hand, people got scared. The government set up an agency to “deal with the issue,” and of course gave them too much power and free reign. So now, when the evil government agency finds out about these kids, they remove them from their families and put them in special research facilities where they can be studied and taught to control their abilities. Or turned into human killing machines for the government. Potato, potahto, right? Anyway, the kids naturally want to keep their abilities secret to avoid prison, so a lot of the Chronicles is about their attempts to do that.
- Why are you writing this series, and what do you hope to achieve with it?
Right now I’m kind of into gas and groceries. These days, being able to afford those things feels like an achievement, right?
In a more writerly sense, there are a lot of reasons I wanted to write the series. I love superheroes, and I longed for more super-powered stories with an emphasis on romance—not to mention with some Happily Ever Afters. I wanted to try my hand at writing something with a lot of characters and threads, where people’s lives kept intersecting—like in a soap opera. The characters have these cool abilities, the kind that makes you think, ooh, I could totally use that. But for these guys, it brings them a lot of grief. And both the ability and keeping the secret go far in shaping each character. For some reason that really speaks to me.
- Is there an underlying message in ‘Hush Money’?
I think there are, like, fifty underlying messages in Hush Money. And that’s part of the fun for me in reading what other people get out of it is that I can go: Yes! You totally got that!
If I had to pick out just one to mention, it would be this idea that what makes you a freak is the thing that makes you awesome. The series is YA and I think that’s something I’d like kids to understand. There’s so much pressure to fit into categories and to be like everyone else, or at least a subset of everyone else, and if you’ve got something about you that makes you stick out somehow, it can be really uncomfortable. But if you can take that thing, own it, make something out of it, be who you are, there’s freedom in that. And maybe more.
- You have more than a passing interest in computer games. Has this influenced your writing, and if so, how?
Computer games are kind of a new obsession for me, but because I always like to make connections I am seeing lessons as far as the kind of video game stories that appeal to me. For those interested, I’ve talked about that on my blog in a post called Zelda, Dragon Age, and the Power ofChoice.
- Of the characters you’ve created, do you have a favourite? If so, why this particular character?
It’s a lame answer, but I love all the characters. Every one of them contains some facet of my personality and my experience. I’ve spent a lot of time now writing as Joss and Dylan, so I’m very attached to them, but I have others who are dear to me I have yet to introduce.
- How is writing superhero stories different from writing other genres?
At the end of the day, it’s probably not. We all have our rules. Sometimes I get jealous because I’ve restricted the superpowers in my world to things I can sort of wrap my brain around. So I don’t have some of the super-creative and how does that even happen?? Stuff like you’d see in X-Men. And I can’t just whip out some new kind of magic, magic object, or whatever to make a scene more interesting or get me out of a tight spot like writer friends in other genres. But they’re probably just making it look easy.
- Why do you think romances, within the superhero genre, often end in tragedy?
One explanation, perhaps, is the serial nature of a lot of superhero fic. If you’ve got a guy wandering around battling evil issue after issue, it might be inconvenient for him to have a family in tow. I guess there’s probably some basic belief that the life—and “with great power comes great responsibility” to lead that life—is incompatible with a relationship.
There’s also something terribly romantic about that lonely hero thing. It’s just that in romance we like that to be the beginning of the story, not the end.
- What do you find most rewarding in the writing process?
All the surprises. Like the things that just come out unexpectedly and totally work. Or going back and reading something I’ve written and having that feeling of, “Holy crap, I wrote that?”
- What do you find most challenging, and how do you overcome it?
Getting out of my own way. Getting over myself and all my insecurities to just sit down and do the work. I’m still working on this one, but having a designated ass-kicker does help.
- What have you done to promote and market your books, and what advice would you give to other authors?
Start here: Kindle Rank: Unknown to top 1K in 8 Weeks
And then keep clicking for the next post.
- Who, do you imagine, would be your ideal reader?
I usually think of my readers as people like me. We spend a lot of time daydreaming to change the course of relationships in our favourite TV shows because things just didn’t end right. We don’t understand why “a slayer is always alone.” We were horrified by deadbeat dad Superman in Returns. Those of us who are my age probably watched Steve Trevor’s admiration for Wonder Woman and Diana’s obvious interest in him and desperately wanted to see that go somewhere, only to be disappointed. And then there was Batman and Catwoman…
- What advice would you give to help others build the confidence required to write their first book?
Just write it for yourself. Because if you’re the only one who’s ever going to see it, it doesn’t so much matter what you do. Making it “perfect,” releasing it, finding readers… That’s all stuff that can come later. But you have to write it first.
- Would you like to see your books adapted for the screen? If so, do you have any aspirations, or reservations, regarding this?
I would love to see a Talent Chronicles TV series. Not something that follows the books, but something based on the idea, maybe with a new set of characters. And of course I’d love Joss Whedon to show up for that.
- What are you doing now?
I’ve just released the second novel in the series, Heroes ’Til Curfew, so I’m trying to get the word out about that. I’m deep in the planning phase for the third book, Heroes Under Siege. And, having decided to keep Talent Chronicles and independent endeavour, at least for now, I’m trying to come up with an idea for something new to share with my agent and New York.
- Describe the ‘Talent Chronicles’ in one sentence.
If Buffy led the X-Men—it’s teen angst drama, action, and romance; kids with super powers trying to become the people they were meant to be—without getting caught.
- Where can we find you and your books?
Hush Money, the first novel, is available in eBook and paperback pretty much everywhere you’d expect.
Impulse Control, is a short story available for free on Smashwords or as part of an eBook anthology called Kiss Me, Kill Me, where you can get it with the works of several other awesome authors for a great price and good cause.
Heroes ’Til Curfew, the second novel, is currently available in eBook at select retailers with a paperback in the works and coming in the next few weeks.