Interview with Susan May Warren

» Posted on Jan 17, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Interview with Susan May Warren

1. What made you start writing?

I’ve always been amazed at the writing journey God has taken me on. I always loved to write, but being a missionary in Russia, I never dreamed about being an author. I just tried to do the best with what God had entrusted to me, and for me that meant writing missionary newsletters. I honed my skills through my newsletter, and then, after a number of years, began to write devotionals and magazine articles. Although I tried my hand at writing novels (I wrote 4 before I ever had one published), I never thought I would get anything published. But I diligently studied craft and analyzed books, even though I was hidden away in Siberia. I’ll always be grateful that Tyndale and later Barbour and Steeple Hill took a chance on me! I’m still learning, and still trying to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to me.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

I guess I’ve been writing all my life, in a way. But writing for publication – about eight years. My first book was published in 2003.

3. How do you handle rejections?

It’s part of the writing process, so I try and really listen to WHY it was rejected, and learn from that. I’m constantly trying to learn and hone my writing skills.

4. Why do you write?

Why do I breathe? *g* I think the mark of a true writer is a person who can’t get away from it, the person who is always trying turns of phrases, new words, searching for new scenes. I think there is a difference, also, between a story teller and a writer – and I try to do both.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

In the winter – snowmobiling or skiing, maybe reading a good book. In the summer, canoeing, fishing, hiking, gardening… anything outside.

6. What are you working on right now?

I just finished book 2 in the Noble Legacy, Taming Rafe. This was SUCH a fun book to write because I took a headstrong, trouble-making bull-rider and paired him with a strong, wise woman who is trying to find out where she belongs – in the world of cowboys, or the New York social scene in which she was raised. And once I put these two together, sparks ignited. So fun to watch Rafe be…”tamed.” (or…not!) The preview chapter is in the back of Reclaiming Nick, and due out in August. I’m now starting Book 3 – Finding Stefanie…

7. You enjoy writing suspense. Why? How did you get into writing suspense books?

I am a very fast writer…but part of that is because I love suspense stories, thrillers that keep me up all night, keep me writing all night! But I also love a good romance. So, writing in that genre is a perfect fit!

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.

I grew up loving all things cowboy – horses and trucks and songs, immersed in shows like Bonanza, and Big Valley and Louis L’Amour books. I dreamed of living on a ranch someday, in love with the land of the west. But I didn’t want to write a western – I wanted a contemporary story, with real-day issues, and today’s “cowboys.” This story sat in my heart for three years before God opened the doors for me to travel to Montana and actually live the ranch life, learn to rope, and peel back the stereotype to peek at the realities of ranch life. I tried to write a story based on these observations and actualities, while still preserving the magic of the west. Reclaiming Nick is the story of a prodigal cowboy who returns to the ranch after his father dies to tie up lose ends and make sure the man who wrecked his life doesn’t get his hands on Noble land. But Nick has left behind secrets and a lot of emotional wreckage, which he has to face. It’s a story of redemption and grace, and discovering that God doesn’t give up those who belong to Him, regardless of how far they stray. I like to say it’s a country music song in a book. *g*

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read and learn from those authors you love – ask yourself why you like their stories and try to put those elements into your own writing. And, write in a genre you love to read. Finally, join a critique group and learn to take feedback. *g*

10. How important is faith in your books?

My relationship with God is the central part of my life – to paraphrase Psalm 73, “there is nothing on earth I desire more than God.” Thus, my writing is about revealing that grace He’s shown me through the lives of my characters and stories. Every story I write, I bathe in prayer, and I spend a lot of time in my Bible as I am writing a story. I really feel that I couldn’t write one word without God giving me the words and the theme. And, while I do read secular fiction, I really think that the faith element in a story makes it three-dimensional, and edifying. In our world today, free time is so valuable, so I try and write a book will bless readers in their spirits as well as their hearts and minds.

11. What themes do you like to write about?

Grace and forgiveness, God’s specialties. *g*

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

Oh, that’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is!! I love Happily Ever After because it is my first. And I love Everything’s Coming up Josey because so much of myself and my adventures are in that story. I love the Heirs of Anton series because I love adventure in Russia, and I love the Team Hope series because I love brave heroes and heroines. The Mission: Russia series was fun because I love to write fast-paced thrillers. But maybe my heart is most into Reclaiming Nick, because like I said, I’m a huge fan of country music and cowboys and the story felt like I was in a country music video!

13. In Reclaiming Nick your cover is wonderful. Do you think a good cover helps sell a book?

Oh, for sure! The cover is the first thing that catches a reader’s eye. And then the back cover copy and the first line. So, those covers need to really pop, and I am thrilled with the Nick cover!

14. I love your opening line. “When the lanky form of Saul Lovell walked into the Watering Hole Cafe, dragging with him the remnants of the late April chill, Nick Noble knew that his last hope of redemption had died.” How important is the first line–first page of a book?

In my writing classes, I really stress the importance of the first line because it not only hooks the reader, but sets up the place, the character and the theme of the story. The first line of the story should really pop, and I write and re-write my first line a few billion times until I get it the way I like it.

Well, readers, Susan May Warren got it right!!! If you want to enter my contest for a free autographed book of Reclaiming Nick, you have until Sunday night to let me know either by posting on this blog (with your email address) or emailing me you want to enter. My email is