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Monday, March 25, 2013

Interview of Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Please Welcome NYT Best Selling Author Susan Elizabeth Phillips to RB4U.

Q. We’d love a chance to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what led you to your writing career?
A. It's a fairly long story, which I've posted on my web site, but here's the
mini version. When my sons were small, I began writing a historical romance with a friend. We were doing it just for fun and couldn't have been more shocked when the first publisher we sent the manuscript to bought it.

Q. The Great Escape is releasing in April 2013. How excited do you get for each release? Do you have a special ‘thing’ you do with family to celebrate?

A. I try to restrict myself to running around my office desk doing the happy dance!

Q. Are there any ice breaker games you play when getting into the skin of your characters?

A. Nothing like that. As I’m writing, I’m immersed in the thoughts and actions of each character, getting to know them from the inside out.

Q. Do you storyboard? How do you create these memorable characters that keep us on the edge and waiting anxiously for your next release?
A. I'm sorry, but I don't understand the question. Are you saying there are writers who actually plot their advance? My writing is not in an organized, efficient fashion. I get a glimmer of an idea, sit down, and write until I run down, which tends to happen much too quickly. Then I pull out my yellow legal pad, one of my special pens, and I start doodling away¾jotting down all kinds of stuff until I jot down something that makes sense. I then run back to my computer and write until I run down again. Then I start all over with the yellow pad. It’s a creaky, painful process, but it’s my process and I’ve made peace with it. Sort of.

I certainly draw on real emotions when giving life to my characters. My heroines tend to be women with good hearts who’ve made some mistakes, just like the rest of us. My heroes are intelligent and decent¾although they don’t always act that way because they tend to be very guarded emotionally.

Q. Do you keep any special health smart foods on hand to snack on when you’re plotting the next best-selling novel? How do you keep fit and in shape while pounding out your story?

A.  I’m sort of a nutrition nut. I also walk regularly and do yoga. Writing is such a sedentary job, and I know I can’t give my work my best effort if I’m not practicing good health habits.

Q. Who is your favorite author or do you have someone who inspired you to write?
A. I suppose I was most influenced by Gertrude Chandler Warner’s THE BOXCAR CHILDREN.  I was seven years old when I opened those magical pages for the first time and discovered the power of reading. Life has never been the same since. As a teen, I fell in love with the rich historical romances of Anya Seton and Norah Lofts. Then on to Victoria Holt.

As for favorite authors... Too many to count. I love Kristin Hannah's work, Patricia Gaffney, Jayne Ann Krentz, Jennifer Cruise, Sarah Bird, Ruth Reich, A.J. Jacobs, Rob Kurson. The Harry Potter series. I don’t read thrillers or anything gory. That said, I loved Suzanne Collins amazing Hunger Games trilogy. I'm thrilled that so many of today's wonderful Y.A. novels are finding an adult audience.

Q. Have you ever wanted to change or switch up your chosen genre? If so what would you love to write?

A. It’s what I do, and there can’t be anything more satisfying than knowing you’ve found the path in life you were meant to take. But there’s also something special about this genre. I believe life is too short to make a habit of reading depressing books, and life is definitely too short for me to write them.  I’m basically an optimist, which is what I love about popular fiction in general. In the romance, the lovers will find their happy ending, which means babies will be born and civilization will go on. The great romance novel affirms our core values as a society¾values we may believe are slipping away from us. We write about love and justice, trust and loyalty. About forming families and community. The lovers’ path will be treacherous¾and almost certainly paved with deliciously hot sex(!)¾but our hero and heroine will eventually find their way just as we hope we will find ours. What’s not to love about that?

Q. If you weren’t a writer…what other career path might you have taken? Or what might you choose to pick up later on in life?

A. Probably in my original career as a high school teacher. Or a rock star. I think I’d be good at that.

Q. How important is it for an author to have support of family and friends in this ever evolving craft/profession?

A. It’s difficult to write if your personal life is in turmoil. I’m blessed with my family and friends.

Q. Can you tell us what inspired The Great Escape?

A. Lucy Jorik is last seen at the end of chapter two of Call Me Irresistible as she fled her wedding to Ted Beaudine.  How could I resist telling her story? Most of us can identify with the idea of trying to be all things to all people¾especially to those we owe the greatest debt. This is Lucy’s dilemma. But her privileged life hasn’t prepared her the events that transpire as she makes her Great Escape.  Especially her meeting with a mysteriously sinister man named…Panda?

Q. Call Me Irresistible is releasing soon too. What else can we look forward to in the near future?

A.  I’m currently in the early stages of my next book, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it yet. Visit me on my website, Facebook or Twitter for updates.

A quick note: Call Me Irresistible and The Great Escape don’t have to read in order. The stories happen in the same time frame, and each book stands on its own.

I wish I could thank each one of you personally! I love meeting fans in person, but that doesn’t happen as often as I like. My primary contact with readers is through FACEBOOK, my website, and email.Knowing readers all over the world are responding to my stories has been the single most incredible part of my career. Some days I have to pinch myself to believe my good fortune.

Don't forget to visit Susan's author page at!

Excerpt for The Great Escape:

He had too long black hair that curled past his collar, cold blue eyes set above high cheekbones, and sadistic lips. After so many years of Secret Service protection, Lucy had grown used to taking her safety for granted, but she didn’t feel safe now, and the fact that she dimly recognized the biker as a guest at last night’s rehearsal dinner¾one of Ted’s odd assortment of friends¾didn’t exactly reassure her. Even semi-cleaned up in a dark suit that didn’t fit well, a rumpled white shirt open at the collar, and motorcycle boots that appeared to have received nothing more than a dusting, he didn’t look like anybody she wanted to meet in an alley. Exactly where she happened to be… 

Interview conducted by Mahalia Levey.


Mary Marvella said...


I have followed your career and love the way you use words! So many folks have decided they can tell writers which words we shouldn't use. Why? Would we limit a carpenter by taking away some of his tools?

Mary Marvella said...

Crap. Forgot to say that I adored THE BOXCAR CHILDREN! I discovered those kids when I was in first grade and my teacher read the book to us. By the second grade I was reading that book and "being" those wonderful, resourceful kids!

Vamp Writer said...

Hope all your books sell a million these trying times I think folks need positive stories about overcoming difficulties and dangerous situations. Oh, and lots of love in the relationships! (-;

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you for sharing your insights! I find that I learn so much from other authors. As a teacher, I think you'd be a wonderful one!

Keep writing!

Harlie Reader said...

As a stalker and a major fan I'm glad that Lucy is getting her story. Can I say that I'm glad that she didn't end up with Ted?

Love the Chicago Stars series so much. Match me if you can is my #1 favorite book of yours.

Thank you for your insight onto your writing.


Harlie Reader said...
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Sophia Knightly said...

Susan, you are an inspiration! I am an optimist too, and as a fellow author, I value the power of words and how they can uplift a person.
Your books are delightful and entertaining. I've read many of them and always wish they wouldn't end - they're that good! Thanks for this fun interview. As you can see, I'm a huge fan.

Sandy said...

What a delightful interview, Mahalia, and it was exciting to learn more about one of my favorite authors. I couldn't choose a favorite book if my life depended on it. I love all of them.

Nicole Morgan said...

What a wonderful interview, Susan. Thanks for letting us into your little world and sharing with us! I loved your sense of humor and answer with the storyboard question! I totally related to it and you made me giggle! :)

Desiree Holt said...

Love the interview and have to tell you I read every one of your books. They are my drug of choice. I met you two years ago at RT and you gave out a piece of advice at a workshop that helped me fix a book I was working on. I self-pubbed the book and today It's #78 at Amazon. I owe it to you, Susan Elizabeth Phillips!

Desiree Holt said...
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Cara Marsi said...

What a great interview, and what an inspiration you are. I too love Anya Seton and Victoria Holt. Like you, I want to read stories that make me feel good.

Anonymous said...

thanks for stopping by today susan! i love historical romances and you always deliver! what makes it better is that you are a lovely person both inside and out!

darlene deluca said...

Nice interview. Looking forward to reading the new book!

Sandy said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences. I've read all of your books and just loved them. Can't wait for the next one.

LKF said...

I was so excited to see that you were going to be here. I hated that my day job kept me out so late. :) I am one of your biggest fans and loved getting to know a little bit more about you. Thanks for sharing.

Di said...

I've loved all of Susan's books! Thanks for clarifying the connection between Call Me Irresistible and The Great Escape - those are the only two of your books I haven't read yet. And I'll keep a watch out for when you're ready to let us in on your next book.

Mary McCall said...

OMG! OMG! SEPis here! I'm so glad Lucy is getting her own book. I only wish you could put them out faster! You can't possibly remember me from 13 years ago, but you inspired me to keep writing. Thank you for that and for the many great escapes you have taken me on with your characters and tales.

Elf2060 said...

Great interview, I love the description of your writing and I am delighted to picture you doing the happy dance around your office. Thank you for visiting.

Tabitha Shay said...

Great excerpt...Have read several of your books and loved them all...Best of luck with all your books...Tabs

Gray Dixon said...

Great interview to get to know you more on a more personal level. Thank you for visiting RB4U Blog!

Larion aka Larriane Wills said...

loved your question about some people actually plotting out their stories. lol.

Berengaria Brown said...

I am so with you on the plotting thing. Every time I think I have a book plotted out one of the characters just decides to do something completely unexpected!
Thank you for visiting here today.

Anonymous said...

The Boxcar Children! I fell in love with them when I was, seven or eight years old. I wanted to live in an abandoned boxcar, and have a stream to fetch water from and wash clothes in...that being said, a lot of years have passed since I read that book and it has since become a series. Judging from the middle and high schooler customers that come into my secondhand bookshop asking about them, tthe Boxcar Children continue to be a popular read amongst teens. An exceptional tribute to a writer when after decades of a book released into the world, there are still people, young people, reading it.

I can only hope!

Adelle Laudan said...

How lovely to learn more about an amazing author as an everyday person. I think sometimes we forget successful writers have lives beyond their books. You inspire me to be a better writer. Thank you for that.

Janice Seagraves said...

I read Boxcar Children when I took a Children's Lit class in HS.

Congratulations on your writing success.


Rose Anderson ~ Romance Novelist said...

Susan, I've been a fan for a while and love your philosophy on romances. I feel the same. The hero and heroine have all the human foibles and eventually find their way to love. Best luck.


Dianne Venetta said...

Love you as a writer and a reader!!

M. S. Spencer said...

It's so nice to know someone else writes in fits and spurts with no more than an idea in her head (although I usually start with the last sentence and work my way toward it inch by inch. Thank you! M. S. Spencer

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