Sunday, October 9, 2011
Interview with Susan Page Davis - and giveaway of The Lady's Maid
Answer Susan's question to be entered into a chance to win The Lady's Maid. Be sure to include a way to contact you.
What kind of research did you do for The Lady’s Maid?
Starting with the opening scene, I had to do a lot of research on the British aristocracy, and the most critical plot point, the peerage. Anne’s father was an earl, and his title and estate are to be passed on. I THOUGHT I knew how that worked, but after emailing with a couple of very nice and knowledgeable people in England, I saw that I had it all wrong! So I had to adjust my story a little to make it authentic.
I also did a lot of new research on the Oregon Trail, although I’ve done other stories set along the trail. Things changed so rapidly back then, that it’s sometimes hard to keep up with “what was where when.”
How did you come up with the plot for The Lady’s Maid?
I knew my editor wanted a prairie setting. I had just researched a lot of information about royalty and aristocracy for my book Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, and I thought, what if an aristocrat joined a wagon train? I put two English ladies—or, more accurately, a lady and her maid—on the frontier, and it made for a fun story.
Share a brief blurb about the book.
The Lady’s Maid is the first book in my new Prairie Dreams historical romance series. Elise Finster accompanies her young British mistress, Lady Anne Stone, on a voyage to America in 1855. Lady Anne’s father has died, and her Uncle David is the new Earl of Stoneford—if he steps forward and claims the title. But David disappeared into the American West when Anne was a baby. Now it’s up to her and Elise to find him. They join a wagon train in Independence, Missouri, not realizing they’re leading a killer straight to David.
What role have your life experiences played in the characters and/or the situations you develop in your books?
A few things in my books bear similarities to things that have happened to me or to people I know, but most of them are purely fictional. For instance, I once had a horse get stuck in a snow bank. That’s a very small thing, but it might find its way into a story. My sisters and I are quite close, and I tried to bring this feeling into my suspense novel, Witness, but the story itself has nothing to do with real life. My major plot points are not autobiographical.
Do you see parallels or do you try to avoid using your own personal life as a source of inspiration?
I don’t exactly avoid it, but usually I can think up things that are a lot more interesting.
What are your own favorite authors? Genres?
I’m an eclectic reader. For true history, I like Nathaniel Philbrick’s books. For mystery, I love Dick Francis and Ellis Peters. In my “to be read” stack right now are books by Christian authors Tracie Peterson, Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould, M. L. Tyndall, and Austin Boyd. I also like to read classics now and then. I love discovering a “new” old writer. And I like to read authors who were a generation or two ahead of me, like Janice Holt Giles, Dorothy Sayers, or Elizabeth Cadell.
How has your passion for reading impacted your writing?
All writers should read widely. I don’t think I’d have a lot to say if I’d never read books.
Describe how you write a book – with your other responsibilities, does it tend to be something you work into your every day, or do you have to “set apart” time to write with open, undesignated blocks of time?
These days, I am a full time writer. I have a home office, which is a major blessing. I am able to go in there every morning and start work whenever I want, usually six or seven a.m. By seven p.m., I’m ready to crash. Of course, I take some breaks in between.
I generally begin a new book with research and an outline. Then I make a writing calendar, roughing out what I expect I need to accomplish each day, each week, and so on, until the deadline. I like to write for several hours a day, but I also have a lot of writing-related tasks. Those go on my calendar too, so I make sure they are done on time.
What provides your inspirations during that time – i.e. do you go out in nature, do you seek to be in a busy place with people or in a quiet library, etc.?
I like to take breaks during the day to talk to my husband and my daughter, who is a college freshman this year and living at home. I also go out at least once a day, usually more. And I call or email with other writer friends. They and my sisters never fail to encourage me.
How have social networking sites, even including email, etc. impacted your writing? Do you find the internet to be a helpful or harmful resource in research, advertising, reviewing, etc. your books?
Email is huge. I get about 200 a day, and I have to be ruthless or it would take over my life. I’ve disconnected from a couple of “loops” because they ate my time. For this reason, I am very picky what organizations I join. I have a FaceBook page, but I don’t maintain it. My husband and my oldest daughter do. If someone posts a comment that I want to answer, I have to give my reply to them to post. I have no profile and cannot go on FB if I want to. That’s because I know that if I did, I would probably lose an hour or so a day, and I don’t have that kind of free time right now. The Internet is a blessing, but one that must be kept caged.
Do you use these tools such as facebook as a means of observing the behavior of others which could be the basis of a character, or are you of the ‘old school’ that relies more on personal relationships and “human” touches?
No, I really don’t use it for that. Of course, I notice things that happen in my online relationships. But that is not my focus for using the computer. I use email, online chat, etc., as a way to communicate efficiently. Period. If it stops being useful, I’ll stop doing that. One of the most difficult things for me now is guarding my work time.
Share a bio and pictures of the book and yourself as well.
Susan Page Davis is the author of thirty-seven published novels. Prairie Dreams is her new series from Barbour Publishing. A Maine native, Susan now lives in Kentucky with her husband, Jim. They have six children and eight grandchildren. She’s a past winner of the Carol Award and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest. Come visit at: www.susanpagedavis.com . Feel free to contact Susan through her site’s email.
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