Cabinet: Why chickens? And all that land? And how does that affect and/or contribute to your writing?
Suzanne: Chickens because they make me laugh, and keep me entertained. Also, I like their eggs. The five acres because I really do need that much space between me and everyone else while I’m writing. It’s a dangerous process, and spectators need to stand back.
Cabinet: Costuming--you do it big and you do it gorgeous. (I'm thinking of a hoop skirt crushed into a suitcase in Denver . . .) What's the appeal? Do you ever dress up like a character?
Suzanne: If dressing up is reserved for Halloween, the average person only gets twenty to eighty costumes in their life. Where’s the fun in that? I’d dress up once a month, if I could. I was Bellatrix Lestrange for Halloween.
Until the telepathy breakthrough works itself down to people like me, it’s the best way I know of to get outside my own head. When else can I curse all the people who deserve it? I have also made up a character as I created the costume. It’s interesting to think about each piece of bling and imagine what history it would have for the character I’m dressing up to be.
Cabinet: I just heard a great panel of authors say how they're nothing like their daredevil characters--their leading ladies are the daring sort the authors wish they were themselves. You, however, are a martial artist, sword fighter and spontaneous building climber. How does the daredevil in you contribute to your own characters or writing?
Suzanne: Writing is itself a high-adrenaline sport with way too much risk for the probable returns, so it makes sense I’d be a writer now that I’ve stopped risking my neck on a regular basis. As for my characters, I guess I still indulge in a little wish-fulfillment. I’ve never had a zipline for my backdoor, and I’ve never defeated a demon. My characters get to do both. But I have been told that my fight scenes are both entertaining and realistic–I guess the hands on research has paid off.
Cabinet: You write many genres–picture book, adult short fiction, middle grade, YA and (gasp) even a romance novel that’s gathering dust. Do you have a favorite, and why or why not?
Suzanne: I’ve definitely found my favorite medium in middle grades. I guess that should’ve been a no-brainer cause that’s where I migrate to in the library or bookstore. But, I really think that writing on a variety of projects, ranging from science fiction to mysteries and yes, even romance, has helped me develop different skills as a writer and explore my craft. Which is a fancy way to say I can justify my constant dabbling cause it helps me be a better writer.
Cabinet: What is your closest call with a peanut?
Suzanne: Hmm, that would probably be the day I showed up to my son’s school for volunteer time and discovered every desk in the classroom loaded down with a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter. They were making edible teepees, and the peanut butter was the glue. Idiot that I am, I tried to stick it out and help. I got to re-think the wisdom of that decision all afternoon in the hospital, with an IV shooting me full of Benadryl and a big bruise on my leg as testament that my epipen had worked just fine. Nowadays, I carry a double-barreled pen, because my second reaction comes on pretty fast, and I can sniff out peanut butter from across the room. That onerous smell is my cue to leave!
Cabinet: You’ve had a number of short stories published. How does writing short fiction differ from novel length? Any tips on writing short stories?
Suzanne: The truth is, I’ve never figured out how to write short stories, but let’s not tell that to the editors who published them! Mostly I write flash pieces (snapshots that use less than one thousand words) or novels, and when a short story works, I shrug and thank my muse. I do think that becoming somewhat enured to the rejection side of publication and learning to work with editors on rewrites has been invaluable.
Cabinet: And finally, one last question the Cabinet just has to know: When or where do your story ideas come from?
Suzanne: I have a contract with a hive of Polytheneroids on Pluto. They feed me ideas, and I give them our extra chicken eggs. So far they’re buying my story that chicken eggs are priceless and rare. Let’s not disabuse them of that notion, okay?