Susan Page Davis interview

» Posted on May 16, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Susan Page Davis interview

1. What made you start writing?
The scariest moment of my life was when I had a stroke in 1998 and realized (for about 24 hours) that I couldn’t read or write. God was gracious and allowed me to recover quickly with few residual effects. But it was after this that I decided to write and seriously try to sell fiction.

As a child, I loved stories. I was an early reader and wrote stories in my head, then on paper, since I can remember. As an adult I went through a lengthy period of writing nonfiction—newspaper work, magazine articles. Then I decided to pursue fiction again.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
In 1999 I wrote my first novel (never published). I kept trying and sold my first book in 2003, published in 2004 (Protecting Amy, at Heartsong Presents). Since then I’ve sold 13 more books.

3. How do you handle rejections?
Rejections are much less traumatic than they used to be. In the early days, I’d send something off and wait for months, figuratively biting my nails. Every big envelope that arrived was a crisis. I soon learned to stop waiting and get on with the next project.

But now I have an agent who is not only efficient and supportive, but handles the contacts with editors. If he tells me a certain published “passed” on a project, I don’t worry about it because I know he’s already sent it to someone else. I guess it’s easy for a multi-published author to be philosophical, but the truth is, I know each book will end up where the Lord wants it, even if that means in the drawer. I will say that I still pay close attention to any comments editors send along with their rejections. If a story can be made better and therefore have a better chance of success, I listen.

4. Why do you write?
It’s such an integral part of my life that I can’t imagine not writing. Even before I wrote fiction, I was always writing SOMETHING. Maybe an article, a journal, curriculum for home schoolers, letters, anything. I’m a verbal person, and if I never wrote another book, I’d still be writing.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing? Ha, ha! Probably reading. No, seriously, I’ve had a lot of hobbies in the past that have faded away since I got busier as a writer. Two of them are needlework and genealogy. If time and money were no object, I might get a horse again, and I’d spend more time near water.

6. What are you working on right now?
I have two books in high gear right now, a historical and a romantic suspense. The historical is the first of three New Hampshire colonials for Heartsong. This series is based on captives taken to Canada in the 1689 massacre at Dover, N.H., and their reception when they return home. The first will be published in May 08.

The second WIP is for Love Inspired Suspense, and will come out in April 08. It features a woman who witnessed a murder, but can’t get anyone to believe her.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
Probably. My heroines aren’t “me,” they’re better than me (and usually younger, quicker, thinner, and more beautiful). But of course they have a lot of my feelings and opinions.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
Frasier Island (from Harvest House) is a suspense with a twist. Its main characters are military personnel, but they’re in such an isolated outpost that it has a different feel from most books in this subgenre.

Rachel Whitney lands her dream assignment, working on Frasier Island under the legendary George Hudson. But when she arrives, she realizes George wasn’t expecting a female ensign to replace the man leaving. The two of them have just one other companion on Frasier for the next six months, and poor Pierre spends much of his time keeping the two from tearing each other apart. Just when George and Rachel start to admit their attraction to each other, the island is attacked and Rachel learns there’s a secret beneath the waves that George should have told her about. From there on things heat up on the island.

This book was great fun to write, and I’m told it’s also great fun to read. It deals with some deep issues—forgiveness, grief, honesty—but the relationships and the action pull you along.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes. Learn to write clean. All writers should self-edit before they ask someone else to look at their work, even a friend. Be professional, even if you’re not yet published.

Learn to write well. Study your chosen craft. Listen to others who have succeeded. I’ve heard people say when their writing is criticized, “Well, I don’t really care if this is ever published. I just wrote it for myself.” Hogwash. If it was just for you, you wouldn’t have put it on paper. Make it the best it can be, even if it’s never printed commercially.

Never miss a deadline. Okay, that’s the former news reporter speaking, but submitting your promised work on time (or a little early) will go a long way with editors. A writer who can write beautiful prose AND meet deadlines is a treasure.

Join a local writers’ group if you can and an online group such as American Christian Fiction Writers. ( What you get from each will be vastly different, but both will help you immeasurably.

10. How important is faith in your books?
Most of my books have an integral faith message. Even those not overtly Christian (like my fantasy, Feather) deal with inner conflicts and values that resonate of “right” and “wrong.” But in nearly all my books, the main characters deal with spiritual questions and grow in their relationship to Christ.

11. What themes do you like to write about?
Trust, honesty, truth, forgiveness, reconciliation. These can be dealt with in any setting.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
So far probably Frasier Island. It’s a complex story with a small cast, and I was able to get deep into their minds and hearts.

13. How do you juggle writing for different houses?
With great care. It’s nice to have that problem, but I do have to make sure I have time to complete each project well. My agent is also on the alert when he makes a sale for me. If the book isn’t finished yet, he knows I need a realistic deadline. So far, I’ve had no problems writing for four different publishers.

14. What is your writing schedule like?
I write whenever I can. I try to get a start in the morning, before my kids (still two in “home school”) start school at 8 a.m. But in our house, sometimes I’m not able to start actually writing until after 3 p.m. when my husband goes to work. The earlier part of the day might include shopping, doctor appointments, errands, school projects, or other family business. Some days I’m not a writer at all, I’m an accountant, a chauffeur, a housemaid, or just a mom all day. But most days you’ll find me at my desk for several hours.

15. I noticed you have written for the Fantasy/Young Adult market. How is that different from your romantic suspense and mysteries?

Feather (came out last November) and Sarah’s Long Ride (releasing in mid-May) are different, both from my other books and from each other.

Feather is a fantasy in a world much like this one, but full of ancient ruins, hostile nomads, and people who want to live in peace. It was a challenge to write for the 9-and-up age group. Kids this age want honesty in their fiction, if that makes sense. They don’t want things sugar coated, but they want a satisfying ending and characters they could have adventures with. The kids in Feather have the same fears and needs that real kids have. They want to be loved, to feel secure in their families, to know they are valued. Feather has a harrowing experience when she is kidnapped and enslaved. With a new friend, she tries to escape and save her people from destruction.

Sarah’s Long Ride is a contemporary about a 14-year-old girl whose mother has died. Sarah becomes the ward of her uncle Joe Piper, a horse trainer in eastern Oregon. Sarah takes her endurance horse with her, but Uncle Joe isn’t much for competing, and Sarah isn’t sure she’ll be allowed to continue riding in 100-mile horse races. More important, she’s not sure she and Uncle Joe can build a family together. This book is for slightly older kids, and deals with grief, loyalty, trust, and friendship. I love horses. I’m a certified farrier but no long practice the art of horseshoeing. Nowadays my equestrian thrills come vicariously through my books.

16. Which genre is your favorite to write and why?
Wow. If hard pressed, I’d probably say suspense/mystery. It’s hard to pick, because I love whatever I’m working on. With historicals, I get caught up in the research, and I love that. With fantasy, I can make the story go any direction, and no one can say that’s not realistic. With suspense and mystery, though, I just love doing all I can to make keep the reader guessing.