Your Name: Susan Wingate
1. Where you are from and where are you now?
I’m from Phoenix, Arizona and now live in Washington State.
2. How did you get started writing?
My dad was a writer and I always toyed with it when I was young but then started writing seriously about 13 years ago with poetry.
3. What do you do when you are not writing?
Well, lately, I’ve been taking care of a sick kitty, Twinkle. She’s been diagnosed with lymphoma and it’s been fully on my mind. She needs subcutaneous fluids twice a day, a steroid injection twice a day, three tube-feedings and several doses of water throughout the day. She’s really ill and I’m holding out on the hope that we can get her well enough to go through a series of chemo-therapy. But, we’ll see.
When I’m not busy with her, I read and clean and do the things most people do when they’re off work.
4. What would readers like to know about you?
I’m an avid fan of animals.
5. What inspired your first book?
My first book was inspired by an argument with my first husband. I was driving a motor home nearly 1,900 miles en route to where I live today and developed the story line over the time I spent on the road.
6. How many books have you written?
I’ve written four total – one short story compilation and three novels.
7. What are the titles of your books and what genres are they?
“Ravings of a Mad Gentlewoman: A Bold Collection of Writing” is the title of my short story compilation.
“Of the Law” is my first novel and it’s a murder mystery with a strong female antagonist.
“Bobby’s Diner” is my second novel (which has just been released) and it falls into the women’s fiction genre.
“The Last Maharajan” is my third novel and I’m currently shopping it around to publishers and agents.
8. How do you decide on that topic or genre? Why are you specially qualified to write about this topic?
Well, for “Of the Law” I had to do a ton of research. I have a stack of reading material about four feet high for the research – books and information I pulled off of the internet. It prepared me to handle the details of forensics and crime scene investigation. That was a blast. Plus, I met some pretty high level people from the FBI and interviewed them.
For “Bobby’s Diner” and “The Last Maharajan” my credentials (that make me specially qualified) are that I’m a woman. I think I know a thing or two about being a woman, a married woman at that and one who has been through the crushing experience of a divorce.
As for how I decide on a genre, well, usually ideas come bubbling up to the surface and if one feels enticing, then I write about it. But, lately, I’m finding I enjoy writing about women in conflict, especially conflict between mothers and daughters. In fact, I’m beginning a memoir that is interwoven through a fiction story.
9. How do you manage to keep yourself focused and on track when you’re writing a book?
I’ve been writing full-time since February of 2004. That’s when I quit my day job! At first, I bounced around from one thing to the other – from working at the computer to cleaning toilets. Really! I cleaned a lot after I quit my day job – cooked too. But, after about six months I settled in.
I get up every morning, Mondays through Friday and sometimes on Saturday, and get to work.
When I’m writing a book, I edit my work from the previous day and then begin writing new work after that.
10. Do you write to make money, for the love of writing or both?
Well, at first it was all about the burning need to get an idea onto paper. Thirteen years ago I never imagined I’d be writing for a living but here we are. So, things changed for me. I went from not making money with my writing to making money with my writing. But, the one constant has been that burning desire to write. I don’t foresee that ever changing.
11. What are some traditional methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful?
Well, I use press releases when anything wonderful happens in my career and I’ve advertised. The press releases are far more successful and cost nothing to nothing much, whereas, advertising is expensive and the dollars spent usually produce nothing much. Also, hiring a publicist (like you, Nikki) is always money well spent. Publicists know markets and the people who make decisions to get your book out. I ALWAYS feel the money spent was worth every dollar when I’ve used publicists.
12. What are some unique methods of marketing you have used? Which were the most successful?
Well, I guess because of the newness of internet marketing I can consider it unique but that’s changing rapidly.
13. Do you sell through a website? If so, what’s the address? If not, why not?
Yes, I have my books available through websites. A reader can buy my first two books through my website, www.susanwingate.com, and my blog, www.susanwingate.blogspot.com, and through Amazon.com. “Bobby’s Diner” is available through the publisher, ebooksonthe.net and also Amazon.com, FictionWise.com and Mobipocket.com. But, there’s a link through my website and blog to get to all of my books.
14. Where can people order your books?
Well, darn, I answered this question too soon!
15. What format are your books – e-book, print, audio etc?
“Ravings” is in print and “Of the Law” is print and ebook. “Bobby’s Diner” has been released in ebook and is expected to go into print later in 2009.
16. Will you write more books?
Of course! It’s my passion.
17. What do you have in the works now?
Right now, I’m working on two books and two screenplays.
18. What does the future hold for you and your books?
Well, I believe it holds the brightest of futures. Everyday my books get in front of more readers. That’s the most rewarding part of what I do.
19. What was the most successful thing you did to promote your books?
Hire Nikki Leigh – oh, wait, that’s you! But, seriously, I feel this is the most successful method of marketing.
20. What was the least successful thing you did to promote your books?
Do the publicity on my own.
21. Tell us about your most recent book.
“Bobby’s Diner” is my latest release and it’s a story of a women in search of what she hopes to find, family and home.
22. What makes this book special to you?
Other than the fact that I wrote it? Well, it’s special because the characters really grabbed hold of me while I was writing it. Plus, I’ve pitted two really good characters against each other. Neither one is what I would call a traditional antagonist.
23. What sort of comments have you gotten about the content of the book?
My ex-husband told me he got teary reading it. That’s good, I thought. Someone else told me that it felt a bit like Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes.” That’s good too.
24. What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?
It’s a story of growth and tolerance which, when I read the news, seems sadly lacking these days.
25. What people NEED to read this book and WHY?
Women. Any woman who has been through the break-up of a love relationship. Any woman who has lost a husband whether through divorce or death.
26. What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own
When I’m involved in a story I like to flex my creative muscles by writing a few poems before beginning my prose. Writing poetry helps me cement ideas with specific words and phrases. Once I feel my creative juices have been properly stimulated, I begin working on my story du jour.
But, when I feel like I want to stand away from my computer and look at it from a distance, I’ll take my dogs for a walk on the beach. It gets me out of my head. It frees my flow and plus it’s good for me and makes my boys happy.
27. What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?
I think people write because they need something to say, to communicate something. And, I also wonder if putting pen to paper and then reading what you’ve written doesn’t feed itself a little. Once I read something I’ve written I want to write more and more and more. It’s an addiction.
The industry came along with the writing for me, quite frankly. If I’d been involved in the industry first, the business side of writing, I’m not sure I would’ve become a writer.
28. Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?
Once I wanted to teach a workshop at a writing conference and part of doing so was to list all the books I’d written. Well, at the time, I hadn’t a single one. So, I made one up. I self-published my collection, “Ravings,” and sent off my title before the conference. When I showed up to teach I had a box-full!
29. If a potential reader thinks that your book wouldn't interest them, what would you say to convince them to buy? I'm thinking something better than "Its the greatest book ever." Give me something more specific :)
You don’t think sex and violence is interesting? And, if they don’t like that:
You don’t think family conflict is interesting? I’d really have to know the person before I tried to sway them, one way or the other. But, honestly, “Bobby’s Diner” is just one darn good read. I think they’d be missing out if they didn’t read my book.
30. Why does the topic of your book interest you? Why would it interest potential readers? Give us a hook to reel in new readers.
The topic is grounded in family unrest and conflict. To me that’s interesting. And, anyone who has grown up in a family (what?) probably feels a bit like spying on someone else’s troubles.
Okay, here’s a hook:
“Bobby’s Diner” is a story of a woman trying to find herself in a town where nobody wants her. Georgette Carlisle, twenty-five when she saunters into the rustic town of Sunnydale, Arizona, snags husband, Bobby, away from another woman, Vanessa Carlisle. After he dies - fifteen years later when the story begins - he leaves his restaurant called Bobby's Diner to both women. But, that's not the only problem. Bobby's Diner, situated on an attractive highway corridor property, is slated as the next boutique tourist site and sits smack in way of Zach Pinzer's dreams and future with Chariot International Incorporated, a large developer headquartered in Phoenix. Even after Zach arranges to destroy their property and fatally wounds their beloved busboy and gardener, he nearly kills Roberta, Vanessa's daughter. Georgette and Vanessa hold fast to the only thing they have, each other, and they fight. Georgette's story tells a tale of life, love, death, grief, pain, loneliness, and redemption. And, she finds her true family with the most unexpected people.
Thank you, Nikki, for this very thorough interview. Your questions were sometimes difficult but always well-thought out. Sincerely, Susan Wingate.
For more information -
Website Address: http://www.susanwingate.com
Primary Blog Address: www.susanwingate.blogspot.com
Ebook can be ordered at: www.ebooksonthe.net/catalog/eBooks_Catalog_NewBooks2.html
For more information about Susan Wingate’s virtual book tour and her full schedule at http://virtualblogtour.blogspot.com/2008/08/bobbys-diner-by-susan-wingate.html