Monday, July 14, 2014

~Suanne's at the Author's Table ~

Look who joined us at the author's table today !!
You know it when you see it. 
That moment when you stumble upon something special,
a piece of art
the perfect dress
a song that could have been plucked from the pages of your diary
But in this case, it was a book. 

by Suanne Laqueur

I fell in love.
That's what it feels like when 
you FALL into a great story. 
You lose track of time.
Nothing exists but you and the words on the page.
I let myself go 
willing to be swept away 
into the world of

Erik Fiskare & Daisy Bianco

Here's a snippet of the review I left for The Man I Love. This will give you a little hint of what I'm feeling about this book. 

As a reader, I gobbled this story up in giant spoonfuls, like the best homemade ice cream on a hot July day. As a fellow author, I stand in slack-jawed awe saying, "how did she create this magic?" There's no formula. We can't put it under a microscope, peeling away the layers, so that we can dissect it, diagnose it and reproduce it. Magic defies our clumsy attempts at affixing a label. But this story is pure magic simply because the author had the courage to write the truth. She gave us real people, in real moments dealing with the truth about life in all its glorious mucked up mess. And it was beautiful. 

So you can imagine my giddiness, when the opportunity came my way to host an interview with one of my new favorite authors. I'm bouncing up and down like my pre-teen self when I heard David Cassidy was coming to town to film an episode of The Partridge Family. 

But enough about me and my silliness. Let's get serious. Because this is a seriously
great book.

Thanks for stopping by to chat today, Suanne. Let’s start with something basic: why are you a writer? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to authorship?
I write because my mind never shuts off. I write to get things out of my head and stomach so I can sleep. I write to capture moments, I write to create understanding and I write to connect with people.

I’ve written little stories since I was about ten. From a young age, I had very sharp powers of observation which made me retain details of experiences. I was a steel trap. I kept a journal for most of my life and this, coupled with my very strange photographic memory, led me to start recording conversations as dialogue. Complete with quotation marks and “he said,” “I said.” As I got older, I noticed how much people enjoyed when you shared memories of them: what they were wearing, what they said to you and how it made you feel. Or an act of kindness you remembered. Or when you observed them doing something they loved and how it affected you. People love to be noticed. People love to be remembered. People love to connect and that’s what’s inspired me most in my writing—the thought of being able to connect with people emotionally by drawing on my own memories and observations. Letting them know that what they perceived as a throwaway moment was actually a story to be told.
As for inspiration, I set the goal to finish the novel in 2014 and put it out there. And I posted about it to all my friends. Public accountability is a spectacular motivator. 
I know that some authors use outlines, while others “write by the seat of their pants.” So, are you a planner or a pantser? Could you describe your process for piecing together this book?
I wrote The Man I Love using both methods. The characters have existed in my head for years. They were sort of playmates for me. Literary dolls. I just made up little scenarios and vignettes for them but there was no storyline, no arc. In that regard, the universe of the novel was “pantsed.” When I made the commitment to create the story, I had to plan it out and make a start-to-finish outline. So I had a mix of highly-polished, finished work interspersed with what I call “chapter sketches”: raw material, snippets of dialogue or a quick outline of “this has to happen.”
How was the story born?
The Man I Love was written from the outside in.  In other words, I had the story of Erik and Daisy meeting in college. Then I had the story of Erik and Daisy finding each other in adulthood. There was nothing in the middle. And I think this is because I created those two characters when I myself was in college, in a novel I was tentatively calling All the Running You Can Do. I tinkered around with it for years and actually sent it away to an editor, who came back with this breathtaking observation: “You have a 500-page character analysis but no story.”

So I got discouraged and sulky and I put All the Running away for a long time. Sometime in my thirties I picked it up again, and the college storyline was totally boring for me. I had moved beyond that twentysomething drama and just couldn’t relate to it anymore. I didn’t care. But it occurred to me that Erik and Daisy were in their thirties now as well. Where were they?  Were they together?  Suddenly I knew they weren’t together. Furthermore, they were very badly not together. Estranged. Disconnected. But they had never forgotten each other. In fact, the abrupt disconnection was haunting them. They had to find each other again just so they could be free of the past. I wrote that reconciliation. Then I began to wonder what had happened. What drove them apart all those years?  And from there, the story that became The Man I Love began to emerge and take on a life of its own.
I think it was a courageous choice to write this story from the male perspective, what made you decide that was the right course of action?
Originally the novel started out from Daisy’s point of view. It made sense to me: as a woman, to write her story. Why wouldn’t I? I kept writing and writing Daisy but the material seemed strangely stagnant. I’d write chapters and scenes from her adult life and yet nothing was happening. I tried adding in some chapters from other points of view, just to make it interesting, including a few scenes from Erik’s perspective. I didn’t know what I was doing, I still didn’t know what the story was. I took the whole mess and put it in the lap of my friend Ami. And she came back with Daisy’s chapters separated, saying “These are all right.” Then the chapters from other characters and her feedback was, “These are a distraction.” Finally she indicated the few chapters from Erik’s point of view and said, “This.  This is your story.”
I was like Are you kidding me?  Write from his point of view?  But then I realized Ami was right. It wasn’t Daisy’s story at all. It was Erik’s. He had the evolution. He chose to leave and he eventually chooses to go back and the choosing, the deciding to decide—that is the story.  Once I had him in my mind, it was very easy to write from his eyes. It felt very natural to tell his tale. It was fascinating to watch him emerge off the page, take on life and embark on this incredible journey.
 It’s a big challenge, going it alone. How did you come to the decision to self-publish?
Going the mainstream publishing route can be heartbreaking. I am not a thick-skinned person and I sensed shopping the manuscript around to agents and publishers would get me very discouraged. I took a good hard look at the goal I had set for myself, which was to finish the novel and get it out there. I wasn’t after fame or fortune, I simply had a good story to tell and I wanted to tell it. To show people another side of me. I wanted the story to be the best it could be, which is why I chose to work with a professional editor. But I also wanted to retain control of the manuscript and in that regard, self-publishing was the way to go.
The thing with self-publishing is what we refer to as APE: you must be Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur. The latter is where I do not shine. I have an inherent shyness which makes me reluctant to “push.” You cannot be shy or reluctant. You have to talk about yourself and talk about the book at every opportunity because nobody else is going to do it for you. You do not hit the “publish” button and suddenly the phone rings with your lucky break. You have to stop thinking of yourself as solely a writer and start thinking of yourself as a brand. That’s a hard step for authors because you don’t think of writing fiction as providing a service. It takes a lot of introspection and deep digging to find out who is going to be looking for what you have, and what’s the best way to let them know you got it and more. And then you have to kick shyness to the curb and start introducing yourself as a writer at parties and talking about the book any chance you get. You have to work the network like crazy.
Are you working on anything else right now? 
I’m not entirely sure what’s next but I have a feeling I’m not yet done telling Erik and Daisy’s story. There’s a whole new phase of their adult lives to explore. And I’m just as curious as some of my readers to know what exactly happened to Erik’s father. I think any novel I write next is going to be much more thought-out and planned. I’ll have an outline much earlier and an idea of the arc of the story. Nothing is in stone, but let’s just say I’ve checked out some books on Swedish history and Swedish immigrants in America, and leave it at that for now.

 I've been happy to host two new authors within the last two weeks. 
What a wonderful treat for my readers, to be introduced to just talented women on the cusp of their careers. Not only talented, but women with the DRIVE to go out and 
grab their dream with both hands. 
Here's to dreams coming true.
  Thanks for taking the time to share with us today, Suanne. 
And here's wishing you all the best 
with The Man I Love 

You can find Suanne here:



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