My guest today is author Sue Ann Jaffarian!
Sue Ann Jaffarian is the author of three critically acclaimed mystery series: The Odelia Grey series, the Ghost of Granny Apples series, and the Madison Rose Vampire Mysteries. She will soon launch the Winnie Wilde erotic romance series under the pen name of Meg Chambers. Sue Ann also writes short stories and is a motivational speaker and full-time paralegal living in Los Angeles. Kirkus has said of Sue Ann, "Like Stuart Kaminsky, Jaffarian juggles her franchises deftly, giving each a unique voice and appeal." Visit her at www.sueannjaffarian.com , or on Twitter or Facebook.
R: Welcome, Sue Ann! Tell us a little about your background
SA: I’m a middle-aged woman who lives in Los Angeles with two cats, B & Raffi. I work as a corporate paralegal in a health-care law firm and write, write, write! I began writing about twenty years ago and haven’t stopped since.
R:Tell us a bit about your Ghost of Granny Apples series. Where did the idea come from?
SA: It came about as a fluke. I was talking to my then editor and she said she was looking for paranormal mysteries. I told her about a short story idea I had and she liked it a lot and kept wanting to know more. I didn’t have more so started making up stuff as I went along. By the time our conversation was done, she was ready to buy it as a series!
R: Tell us about your latest release
SA: Ghost in the Guacamole is about two sisters, Lucy and Rikki, fighting over Roble Foods, the family food business. Lucy wants to sell it and Rikki doesn’t . Rikki goes to medium Emma Whitecastle and enlists her help in contacting their deceased father, Felix, to see if he can help convince Lucy to keep Roble in the family. Instead, Felix tells Emma to convince Rikki to sell or she may end up dead like him. Emma, with the assistance of Granny Apples, gets embroiled in the family fight and tries to find out what happened to Felix.
R: How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
SA: I start each book with the usual cast from previous books. As new characters pop in, I’ll write up a short bio for them. When they start behaving on the page with distinct personalities, I let them. I want to see who they are and where they want to go. I seldom try to force a character into a certain mold. Same with recurring characters. They tell me who they are. I don’t tell them.
R: How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
SA: I am definitely a seat-of-my-pants type of writer. I start with a general idea. And I usually know where the book will end up before I start. Once I establish the foundation of the book in the first 100 pages, it’s like a wild ride to the end with lots of surprises, even for me.
R: Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
SA: Both are important. A good plot without good characters can be flat. Good characters without a solid plot can come off as a bunch of people standing around showing off. The plot is the roast. The characters are the veggies and seasonings that make the roast yummy.
R: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
SA: The biggest challenge has been working so hard and not seeing very much in the way of tangible income from it. Sometimes I feel like an indentured servant. I am inspired to keep going because I love what I do and my readers and because I have a master plan.
R: Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
SA: I’m on my 2nd agent. I had the first one, a big NY agent, for 3 years during which time she never sold any of my work. We parted ways over Too Big To Miss, the first Odelia Grey novel, which she did not like. I eventually found another agent. We’ve been together over 10 years and she has sold 12 Odelia books, 6 Granny Apples books, 3 novellas, and 2 vampire novels. Best thing I ever did was to change agents.
R: What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
SA: I am currently working on the 6th Ghost of Granny Apples novel, along with the 3rd Granny Apples novella. Also this year I’ll be completing my 11th Odelia Grey novel. In addition, I am working on a new erotic romance series that I’ll be launching in April under the pen name of Meg Chambers. The first book is titled Running Wilde.
R: What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
SA: I write every weekday morning about 2-3 hours before I go to my office job. On weekends I try to write at least 4 hours a day.
R: If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
1. Stephen King’s On Writing for inspiration
2. A good dictionary/thesaurus (assuming there’s no internet connection)
3. The last book I wrote so I’d remember my goals in case I got side tracked by all the natural beauty
R: What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
SA: Keep your butt in the chair and keep moving forward, and don’t get all caught up in the politics and drama of the writing business – it’s a time suck.
R: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
SA: That’s private. J
R: What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
SA: More private. J
R: What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
SA: I got nuthin’.
R: Where can we learn more about you and your books?
SA: www.sueannjaffarian.com, also on Twitter and Facebook
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat
Beach or Pool? Beach
Steak or salad? Salad
Favorite Drink? iced tea
Favorite Book? To Kill A Mockingbird
Favorite TV Series? Top Chef
Favorite Movie? The Color Purple
Favorite Actor: None
Favorite Actress: None
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Dirty Martini
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Malala Yousafzai.
If I had just one wish, it would be to sell enough books to support myself in retirement.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be … can’t think of anyone; we all have our upside and downside.
Thanks for a great interview, Sue Ann!
Sue Ann will send one lucky commenter a copy of THE GHOST IN THE GUACAMOLE and another commenter a copy of HELL ON WHEELS. To enter, leave a comment in our comments section with your name, email address and which book you’d prefer!
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight, February20!