I first met Susan at the WisRWA (Wisconsin chapter of RWA) Conference years ago. She came as one of the editors taking appointments, as Susan works for Prism Book Group. She accepts romantic fiction, Christian and "clean" or "sweet" romance. We got along great. She and began carpooling to the ACFW-WISE meetings (our local ACFW chapter), and we've become good friends. On a ride home one night, I began telling her about three novellas I wrote, she asked to see them--and contracted them, much to my delight. The "Seasons of Love" collection will release this December.
So now Susan is not only my friend, she's my editor at Prism Book Group.
Susan is also a gifted author. Below is an interview with Susan about her latest release, "Pesto and Potholes" (Prism).
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Why romance fiction? How long have you had the passion to write?
I’ve always enjoyed sweet romances. In my late teens early twenties, I was enamoured of Georgette Heyer and Marion Chesney’s Regency romances. Clean stories without the explicit sex. I guess you could say I’m a romantic at heart and I long for that. My characters get the love and romance I don’t.
What made you choose writing? What keeps you writing? What motivates you?
I believe God led me to writing by telling me in a dream to do write for National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) in 2009. I think I had always been afraid to try and once I started the dam broke and I found out how much I love the process of writing a story. I haven’t stopped. Once the characters start forming in my mind and that first scene or general story concept and I start writing, I can’t stop until I’ve come to the end.
Which writers inspire you?
I admire the wit and whimsy of writers like Jen Turano, Mary Conneley and Karen Witemeyer, Brooke Williams, Sandi Bricker and Jan Thomson. I love the characters that Dee Henderson, DiAnne Mills, Ronie Kendig paint in her writing. Combined with suspense is amazing. Becky Wade and Lisa Lickel . . . I wish I could write like all of them, but I’ve had to learn that I have my own style and I need to be okay with that.
How is fiction writing a reflection of your Christian faith?
I love to encourage others. Jesus told parables and there is power in telling stories that can show the process of sanctification which I hope my characters will go through. I also believe we need to grow emotionally as well as spiritually. I hope I encourage others to persevere in their own journeys, spiritually, emotionally and relationally. And hopefully they see biblical truths in a new light based on the journey of the characters to motivate them to persevere through the trials that come our way.
What inspired the idea for your debut novel "Pesto and Potholes"?
For Pesto & Potholes I actually started with the concept of the potholes based on a concept I learned in my undergraduate studies. The idea that healing—whether emotional or physical—can be a rocky journey out of the pit and not necessarily an upward smooth trajectory.
For the entire Orchard Hill series, for which Pesto & Potholes is the first book, I wanted to explore one of the things I didn’t understand early in my faith journey was why the church was so important. Especially when so many young adults walk away. Beyond worship and teaching, I realized it was about the relationships. While I agree that the theology of origins and understanding how science support Scripture is important, but I believe the disenfranchisement of younger adults is deeper than that.
Peter Scazzerro wrote a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and he posits that when we come to Christ we are born into a new family and need to learn the new rules. Not the “do’s and don’t’s” but how to relate to others in a way that honors God and His other image-bearers. Many times the way we’ve been raised has not been as healthy as the design God has for us in relationships. So . . . I hope that my stories show the value and importance of the new “family” how valuable those relationships are for us to grow up in Christ as well as cope with the ups and downs of life.
How is your writing different from others? What is it similar to?
I’m not trying to write like anyone else no matter how much I admire other writer’s style.
I’m a bit more honest in my writing about sexual tension while keeping my stories clean. I think in our culture the reality of sexual promiscuity and the fall-out of that is very real so trying to encourage purity in the midst of a culture that doesn’t value that, is a core part of my character’s struggle. I love romance, but I don’t want to downplay the very real physical attraction and desire that can be part of a relationship. I push the envelope while keeping it clean. My characters struggle with the temptation of desire but not always acting on it because of a higher principle of seeking to honor God.
When you have spare time (just kidding) who do you enjoy reading? Who's your favorite author? What type of books do you like to read other than your own?
Sometimes I go back to previous books I’ve loved and enjoyed. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade, Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel, The O’Malley Series & Uncommon Heroes series by Dee Henderson. The Discarded Heroes Series by Ronie Kendig. Lady in the Briars by Carola Dunn. And then there are always new books coming out by authors I contract that I have the privilege to read first.
I have so many authors I enjoy for a variety of reasons, so it rather depends on my mood at the time, the reason I need to escape.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write, write, write. Write short, write long. Flash Fiction. Short Stories. Novellas. Write long. Read a lot.
Learn what you can about writing. Attend a writer’s conference! I also recommend On Writing by Stephen King and The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. Connect with the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) or some other writing group to find other writers who can help you grow.
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Keep in touch with Susan:
Read more about her by logging onto her website: http://susanbaganz.com/about/
LIKE Susan on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanMBaganz
Follow Susan on Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SusanMBaganz