Hello, everyone! Welcome to today’s author interview with paranormal mystery/thriller author Susanne Leist! Susanne has always had a passion for writing and has achieved her life-long goal of writing her debut novel. Please stick around and discover her and her book, The Dead Game.
Hello, Susanne! Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
After college, I worked in the fields of commodities, financial analysis, and budgeting. I went back to school for an M.B.A. in Finance. But my creative side had been calling out to me for years, wanting to be set free. I finally listened to it and wrote my first book, The Dead Game, a paranormal mystery/thriller with vampires and vampire derivatives.
I am married with two beautiful daughters. My oldest is married and works as a buyer for an internet company. My second is graduating from college and will go on to graduate school for social work.
My life is complete.
What’s your writing background?
My writing background is my love for the written word. I have been reading adult books since the age of ten. When I say adult books, I am referring to the murder mysteries that my older brother was reading at the time. He devoured books, a few each week. I followed him into the magic world of books. He read Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Alistair Maclean and so did I.
I wrote my book to honor his memory. It took me ten long years to hone my craft. I had to begin at step one and teach myself through editing and grammar books the proper way to write. I hope I made him proud.
When it comes to reviews, do you have a thick skin? How do you handle negative feedback?
I’ve never had a thick skin. I’m sensitive about my feelings and other people’s feelings. I find it hard to give a bad review. I could always find something good to say about a book. But I received a few poor reviews, at the beginning.
These reviews were from fellow authors in review groups. At first, I was hurt and discouraged. Then I noticed a trend to them. They were criticizing the same few things about my book. I was telling too much of the story and not showing the reader enough. I was using too many adverbs. I studied these reviews and read more editing books. My book had been edited by Outskirts Press, but I edited it again.
I believe my book is done. I’m happy with it. It is all what I had dreamed it could be. My reviews have been good so far—fingers crossed.
What inspires your stories? What draws you to your preferred genre?
I’ve always loved to read murder mysteries. I’ve read all types of mysteries, from Agatha Christie to Sherlock Holmes. In recent years, I’ve begun to watch TV shows with paranormal themes. My favorites are The Originals and Supernatural. They combine horror with wit.
I have always found it hard to find books that offer mystery in paranormal settings. That’s why I decided to write a paranormal, murder mystery of my own. My book, The Dead Game, has dead bodies, clues, and suspects like a traditional murder mystery. However, it also has humans, vampires, and vampire derivatives. A little humor is added along the way. And don’t forget the haunted house—we must have one of these.
Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?
The Dead Game is the first in a series of three books. The first book resolves the murder mystery, but at the same time, opens a Pandora’s Box of new mysteries. Its surprise ending will lead to more surprises.
Once The Dead Game is established in the marketplace, I will begin my work on the second book. I have an outline and notes all ready to be written. My writing often leads me in unknown directions, so I won’t know how the book will end until it does.
The story opens with a horrific scene at End House, setting the stage for the rest of the book. End House is situated in an idyllic town in Florida, where tourists frolic on its white-sand beaches. But this paradise turns deadly as bodies wash up on shore. The small town is ravaged by winds and dark shadows.
Three young women move to Oasis for its secluded white-sand beaches. What they find is anything but peace and quiet. They and their new friends are invited to a party at a deserted house. That is when the fun and games begin. They are thrust into a deadly game between humans, vampires, and The Dead.
Linda wants to find a new home and to trust Todd, who might be the ring leader of the evil group. Shana wants love with Sheriff Sam, but he is too close with the nocturnal, original residents. And Louise finds that she doesn’t fit into this small town of secrets and intrigue.
Do they uncover The Dead and save their town? Or are they sucked into the descending realms of the supernatural?
The Dead Game has begun.
Can you tell us one or two quirky thing about yourself? Other hobbies besides writing?
Besides reading and writing, I enjoy shopping, mostly for handbags, and swimming. Swimming gives me the strength to shop and write.
What’s one thing about writing you would have liked to have known before getting behind the computer?
I hadn’t realized beforehand that writing a book was so hard. Characters have to move around and speak at the same time. They can’t sound the same. After all the rewrites, the plot and story of my book has remained the same. Only the dialogue and grammar have changed. I believe I could edit for the rest of my life and still not be satisfied.
The writing and publishing process has been a steep learning curve for me. But I would not have had it any other way.
Did you go traditional or self-publish?
I published through Outskirts Press.com, which is a do-it-yourself type of self-publishing house. Once my book had been improved, I was offered a menu of services to choose from. Most of these were expensive. I picked editing and their publishing service. Everything else had to be chosen a la carte.
One day, the publisher informed me that my book had been published. I thought that this meant it was printed. Not only was it printed, it was sitting on Amazon and Nook without a description or bio. It looked sad. I panicked. I had to learn how to use Google. I opened blogs. I found Facebook and Twitter. Luckily, I found some nice authors who helped me with my countless questions.
Advice to those looking to break into your genre? On marketing and selling?
It is important for an author to have everything in place before launching his or her book. I learned the hard way after I self-published. Blogs, websites, and social sites like Google and Twitter should be ready and waiting. Summaries and bios should also be prepared in advance. After the book is released, it should be announced everywhere with bold pictures and words. People will be ready and eager to read it. That’s my goal for my next book, which will be the second book in The Dead Game series.
How can readers get into contact with you?
My readers can find me through my blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Google. I respond to all questions and remarks. I love to interact with my followers and read their opinions.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Please let Susanne know how much you enjoyed her interview by leaving a message below, or visiting one of her sites. Have a great week, and tune in next Monday for our next interviewee.