Getting to Know Sue O'Shields!
When did you start writing?
Well, when it comes to story-telling, I think I became interested in writing when I got such positive response to a story I wrote in First Grade. Positive for me, anyway; it created a lot of laughter, and people were paying attention to me. The story went: "This summer for summer vacaton we went to Wiscon. Then we came home. My dog ran away and got hit by a car. The End." Everyone thought it was uproarious. Go figure.
By the way, the dog was fine. He got tapped by the car and in turn tried to bite it.
What gave you the idea for your first book?
Gee, do I want to answer this? Okay, okay, it was fan fiction about my favorite rock star. Back when I was thirteen, ALL the girls were writing about how they would meet Rod Stewart or the Bay City Roller of choice, so I wrote about how George Harrison and I would meet, fall in love and get married. By then, Beatlemania was far out of fashion, and most of my peers at my new school never heard of John, Paul, George and Ringo. It was somewhat awkward until I met another Beatles fan who was somewhat cooler than me. We formed a friendship which led to other friendships and all these people wanted to read what I wrote. Talk about positive reinforcement!
Oh! Were you talking 'as a professional'? My personal hero is Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and I love Civil War history.
What genre do you write?
Well, for years I wrote fan fiction! haha! Currently? Paranormal romance. Before that, I wrote an American Civil War epic romance called Destiny of Honor that I'm trying to split into two books because it's a whopping 226,000 words. As an aside, I must say that it's a strange thing to have one of your beta readers say to you, after reading the even bigger version (237K), "I was so sad to see the book end! I wanted to know what happened to Chamby and Ophelia and Jacob and..." I'm thinking "Ooo! Sequel!"
What do you do to keep yourself focused?
Oooh! A kitty!... I'm sorry...what?
Do you stay with one project or do you work on multiple projects?
I used to be single project fixated. Right now I have several going: the Civil War epic that needs work, the straight-forward paranormal The High Bridge manuscript, and my work in progress called "Grave Message", a paranormal romance/women's issues (involving Postpartum Depression and how it affects a marriage). I'm most definitely floundering with all of these. I think I need to go back to single project fixation, pick one of the above and then move on it.
What is your writing process?
Well...I drink lots of coffee to start... Seriously, I'm a combination of color-coded index cards and seat-of-the-pants-grab-that-muse-before-he-gets-away-dammit kind of writer. It's a controlled chaos, if such a thing exists. I start out so absorbed with keeping things orderly, I've been known to match my colored paperclips to the color of my index cards (blue for scene info, yellow of interesting dialogue, red for conflict building ideas, green for character's info). Once I get to writing, I'm a Pantser, occasionally going back to the cards when I need a jolt of inspiration. My Muse is a drunken lush and those cards are Mead for the Muse, so back he staggers.
What is the theme of your novel?
The theme of the Civil War novel is how terrible injustice inspires change, growth of personal nobility and ultimately great love. The theme of The High Bridge is how terrible injustice inspires change, growth of personal nobil--- hey!
Do you consciously use symbolism in your book?
Yes, especially in "Destiny of Honor." The Victorians LOVED symbolism and I use that. In "The High Bridge," white wild doves figure prominently in a "Oh, thank God they're free!" moment. I also tend to put a few "inside jokes" and "if you knew me, you'd know what that means" situations. For example, in "High Bridge", my female main character is at a Bed & Breakfast in the town of Thomas, which is loosely based on the real Colorado town of Fraser. I grew up in Chicago, and anyone who grew up in Chicago will know of a grandfatherly television personality from the 60's and 70's named Fraser Thomas. Also, my character Sandra is having breakfast with some of the guests, two of whom are a motorcycling couple who are trying to ride as close to the Continental Divide as possible as a wedding anniversary trip. Well, my husband and I spend our wedding anniversaries on motorcycle road trips, staying in B&B's along the way.
What is your latest release?
I’m working on that, actually… Know any good publishers?
What other books do you have published?
Er… some of my caving trip reports are in the Library of Congress. Does that count?
Where are your books available?
Review two questions up, please.