Susan Squires grew up among the giant redwoods of California. She thought she was being practical by changing her major in college from theater to English literature. Immersed in a PhD. Program, she slowly realized that none of her graduating friends had work. So she dropped out after receiving a Master’s degree to take a paying job in the business world.
As an executive in a Fortune 500 company, she returned to her love of writing while continuing to hold her day-job, much to the amusement of her fellow executives. Her novel Danegeld, had already been purchased by Dorchester by the time she accepted a Golden Heart for Best Unpublished Paranormal Manuscript from Romance Writers of America. It was the first of an eclectic group of historical and contemporary paranormal stories known for their intensity. Body Electric was named by Publishers Weekly one of the ten most influential paperbacks of 2002, for blending romance and science-fiction. Book List compared No More Lies to the works of Robin Cook and Michael Crichton, but it was also a Rita finalist for Best Published Paranormal Romance by Romance Writers of America.
Susan’s Companion Series for St. Martin’s Press, continued to garner attention with admiring reviews and several visits to the New York Times Bestseller List. Publishers Weekly named One with the Shadows a Best Book of the Year, and several of the series received starred reviews. Her books have won the many regional contests for published works of paranormal romantic fiction.
Susan no longer has to use tales of romance and adventure to escape budgets and projects. She finally left her day job, and researches and writes her books at the beach in Southern California, supported by three Belgian Sheepdogs and a wonderful husband named Harry who writes occult mysteries as H.R. Knight.
Jann: Today, the amazing Susan Squires is going to share a little bit of magic with us.
Jann: A Romance Writer of America Golden Heart winner, a Rita finalist and a New York Times Bestseller—what a resume. How did these achievements impact your writing?
Susan: I don’t think these affected the writing itself at all. I have always written big, intense books with a lot going on in them to support the romance. Winning the Golden Heart and being a Rita finalist certainly impacted my confidence and my determination to persevere. The Golden Heart looks great in a query letter, too. In my case by the time of the Golden Heart ceremony my book (DANEGELD) had already been acquired by an editor for a NY publishing house. But he found that book by judging a contest I’d entered through the Orange County Chapter of RWA, so I definitely believe in entering contests. Being on the NYT list gave me access to a wider audience. Even when I began to self-publish as well as working with traditional publishers, I had a large mailing list to boost my sales.
Jann: You write historical and contemporary paranormal romance—Time Travel, Vampires and Magic. On February 7, 2018 you released Book 6 in your Magic series, This Magic Moment. Let’s talk a little magic.
Susan: Whenever I try to write straight romance, paranormal elements just seem to creep in. The Tremaines in the Magic series are a big family who live on an isolated bluff over the ocean in a ritzy suburb of Los Angeles. Sounds pretty ordinary, right? But they are descended from Merlin of Camelot, and they inherited a magic gene. Merlin’s powers were dispersed through the ages, but now the magic wants to come together. So when two people who have the gene meet, they are irresistibly attracted to each other, and each gets a magic power. Sounds great, right? But magic has a cost as well as being a gift. Besides, what if your destined lover is someone you just can’t stand? Or maybe you feel trapped because the choice won’t be yours? What if you’re sure your family’s destiny has passed you by? Each book in the Magic series features one of the Tremaine siblings. And of course, there are also those who got their power from Morgan Le Fay. The Tremaines want to do good in the world with their abilities. Morgan’s Clan, not so much.
Jann: Where did you get the idea for the series?
Susan: I wrote a book in my DaVinci time travel series called THE MISTS OF TIME. In it, a romance writer wants to escape her life and return to Camelot, to the age when courtly romance began. Of course, Camelot isn’t at all what she imagined. In fact, she herself isn’t who she thought she was.
Merlin and his son were characters in that novel. I liked them. It occurred to me that what Merlin must have wanted most was to pass his powers down through his progeny in order to change the world for the better. But he didn’t, did he? In the legends he didn’t even have a son. So I began thinking, what if his lost powers did come down to the present day? Who would get them? How would they work? What would those people do with them? That’s when the story of the Tremaines started taking shape.
Jann: You have written such amazing characters for this series. Did you have them all worked out before you started the first book, Do You Believe in Magic ?
Susan: I did have to work them all out in advance. The problem with writing a story about an extended family with an overarching villain plot only resolved in book six, is that you have to know how everything works before you start. The younger siblings have to be, in the very first book, who they will be by the time they get their own story. Of course they will be affected by events in between, but they can’t turn into different characters. So I wrote an extended synopsis that included stories and characters for each book. Not that I stuck exactly to the script, and I certainly embellished, but it was a roadmap.
Jann: Tell us about Tammy Tremaine and Thomas, the main characters in This Magic Moment.
Susan: Tammy is the baby of the Tremaine family. She’s been isolated at the family compound since the family was put in danger by the Clan, so she’s never had a normal teenage experience. Thomas was raised in a monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, sent there when he was nine by his mentor—Morgan Le Fay. Now she’s brought him back to the U.S. to fulfill a purpose. He doesn’t even know what it is. Tammy sees him across a parking lot and knows instantly that she is so, so doomed. Her destined lover is a member of the Clan. Morgan’s plans are coming to fruitio, and both their families will be ranged against them. The question is, will they be able to conquer their differences before it’s too late?
Jann: Will there be another Magic book?
Susan: Well, that’s a bit of a trick question. I have not planned another one. I wrote six, as well as a novella with the Tremaine parents back story. But readers will see that I Ieft at least one trap door, in case I want to come back to this wonderful family. I have grown to love them so much that I will truly miss them.
Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories? What? Why?
Susan: As I look back on my books I think there is a common theme. I guess it would be that you have to embrace what you fear most in order to be whole. It’s expressed in many different ways, but this is how my characters grow and change.
Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received?
Susan: The best writing advice I ever got was one word. Persevere. It takes time to get good at writing. My first book was horrible. So were most writers’ first books. I remember hanging out at the bar with Charlaine Harris after we’d been on a panel together. She was so tired of being asked what it felt like to be an overnight success. She said “What about the 25 mysteries I wrote before the Sookie Stackhouse books? What about the five books before that which were so terrible they couldn’t even be published?” No success is overnight. You have to persevere and learn your craft.
Jann: Where can we get your books?
Susan: All my books are available at Amazon.com in digital format and trade paperback. For a list, you can visit. susansquires.com. You can also find the order of the Magic series books there. While they can all be read as standalone stories, I think they benefit from being read in order, beginning with DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?
Jann: Thank you Susan for spending time with us here on A Slice of Orange.
Jann Ryan grew up with the smell of orange blossoms in Orange County in sunny Southern California, where she has lived her entire life and dreamed up stories since she was a young girl. Never an avid reader, she was in her thirties when she picked up her first romance quite by accident. She fell in love with happily ever after and has been reading romances ever since.
Wanting to put pen to paper, Jann joined of Romance Writers of America®. Currently, she is working on a romantic suspense series set in Stellar Bay, a fictitious town along the California central coast to fulfill her publishing dream.