She was kind enough to take some time out of her schedule to answer some great writing questions. Please give her a warm welcome.
1. How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room with audience members eager to hang on your every word? What would you disclose? What would you keep secret? and why?
Well, if it’s a secret, I wouldn’t tell it here, would I? I’m not a let-it-all-hang-out person, so I’d probably talk about my books and/or the history behind them and crack a few jokes.
The most successful speech I ever made was in law school when as an exercise to get us used to arguing in front of a jury, the professor had us get up and tell a story about ourselves. I told my classmates about the time I had gone to my college library to study for my biology exam and the man sitting in the seat near me exposed himself, which was a bit too much biology for me. My classmates loved it.
2. Do you have any writing routines or habits?
I try to write pretty diligently once the family goes to bed, and I have my writing space all to myself. It’s hard to avoid the temptation to surf the Internet instead of staring at a blank monitor, but I’m getting more disciplined.
3. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?
Aside from medieval history, I’m passionate about Coca-Cola, Barbie dolls, old graveyards, Mini-Coopers (I don’t own one, but I love to admire their sheer cuteness), checking my Amazon ranking, and finding new ways to waste my time on the Internet. (Don't we all have this problem? I know I do.)
4. Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any "writing" books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).
I used to read Writer’s Digest and The Writer every month when I was in my teens and twenties—which was a couple of decades ago--but I finally stopped. I think after a while the advice just started getting repetitive. I began to concentrate more on reading novels and noting what techniques worked for me as a reader and what didn’t work—I found that helped me as a writer immensely.
5. When writing The Traitor's Wife, did you have a specific list of songs that you listened to; if so what would be the top 5? Or if you could choose a list of five songs to represent your work, what would they be?
I don’t listen to music while I write; I find it too distracting, but I did find that I tended to associate certain songs with The Traitor’s Wife. I’m going to be lazy and give you a link to the interview Julie K. Rose did for me, where I listed five songs back when the writing process was fresher in my mind.
Now that I have an iPod like the rest of the civilized world, if I was asked this question with regard to my current work in progress, I could answer in a flash! Back then I was at the mercy of whatever was playing on the radio.
6. In terms of friendships, have your friendships changed since you began focusing on writing? Are there more writers among your friends or have your relationships remained the same?
My core relationships have pretty much stayed the same, but I’ve met some great folks online, writers and readers alike, through my novel. It is nice to have other writers to whine to. (AMEN!)
7. How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer?
I don’t have any of the epic bad habits associated with writing—no booze, no drugs, no cigarettes. It’s awfully tempting when I’ve had a good writing spell to reward myself with a nosh, however—writing can be very dangerous that way. I try to work out once a week, at least in theory, and the dog and I take a nightly walk together. Thank goodness he’s not a cat or I’d never get any exercise. (I've now got a new-to-me word for Wondrous Words Wednesday; can you guess what it is?)
8. Do you have any favorite foods or foods that you find keep you inspired? What are the ways in which you pump yourself up to keep writing and overcome writer's block?
I have an extremely limited diet, with Coca-Cola and pork being the main staples. I’m picky; it’s a family legend.
Having a blog is a great way to avoid writer’s block. If I’m not working on my novel, I can at least find something to blog about, even if it’s just doing a meme.
9. Please describe your writing space and how it would differ from your ideal writing space.
Ideally, I would have a book-lined study in a city brownstone with the soothing noise of traffic outside my window. (I would enjoy this writing space as well)
In reality, I have a corner of the kitchen of my small suburban home in which to write, with no doors to close against the noise from the rest of the house. Because of that, I do most of my writing when the rest of the family is sleeping.
10. What current projects are you working on and would you like to share some details with the readers?
I just finished the first draft of my third novel, which is set during the Wars of the Roses. It bucks a trend in that it’s not particularly sympathetic toward Richard III. It’s narrated by Henry Stafford, the Duke of Buckingham, and his wife, Katherine Woodville, sister to Queen Elizabeth Woodville. It’s been quite fun to write, and I’ve gotten into some great (mostly friendly) arguments during the process.
Thanks for the interview! I loved these questions, once I got into the swing of them.
Thank you, Susan, for answering these unusual questions. What did you think of Susan and her answers?
I have 3 copies for U.S./Canada residents available from Sourcebooks and 1 copy, my gently used ARC, for an international recipient.
1. Please leave a comment here on my review about your favorite historical novel for 1 entry.
2. For a second entry, come back tomorrow and leave a comment on my interview with Susan Higginbotham.
3. Spread the word about the giveaway and leave a link on this post for a third entry.
***Remember to leave your email address and indicate if you are international in your comments***
Deadline is April 22 at 5PM