Meow, today my guest is author Susan Breen!
Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series, published by the Alibi digital imprint of Penguin/Random House. She lives in a small village in the Hudson Valley with her two dogs and two cats. And her husband, Brad.
R: Welcome Susan!Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
Thanks ROCCO! Well, I’ve always loved reading. When I was in the 4th grade, my uncle gave me a dictionary and I lugged it around for years. Let us just say, I scored very well on the vocabulary part of the SATs! When you love to read you can’t help but wonder what it would be like to write your own book, and I have to say, it’s just as thrilling as I ever hoped it would be.
R: Tell us about your Maggie Dove series. How did the idea for that come about?
I love stories about more-or-less ordinary people who are forced to become extraordinary. Maggie Dove is as ordinary as you can be. She’s a 62-year-old Sunday School teacher who lives in a small village in the Hudson Valley. She might have gone her whole life without doing anything remarkable, except that a young man she loves, who was her late daughter’s fiancé, is accused of being a murderer. Maggie has no choice but to defend him, and to her surprise, and to mine, she’s ferocious.
R: Which of (your character) adventures was the most fun for you to write? Were any of them the least amount of fun?
In the second book in the series, Maggie Dove opens a detective agency. I have no idea what it’s like to be a detective and so I enrolled in a course to get my detective license and one of the first things I had to do was follow someone. I work in NYC, near Times Square, and so I picked a family and followed them and it was so much fun. Very thrilling and oddly empowering. As to scenes which were not fun to write, at one point Maggie and her business partner have an argument, and I had to channel my own anger and frustration to write that. It was probably cathartic, but stressful.
R: Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
I met my agent, Paula Munier, at the NY Pitch Conference. I knew right away that she would be a good fit for me because she’s very honest and not afraid to give her opinion. One day she invited me to meet her for lunch at a Mexican restaurant. She ordered margaritas for us, and when I took my first sip she said, “Congratulations I sold Maggie Dove.” Immediately my left arm went numb and I thought I was having a heart attack. But then I drank the rest of the margarita and felt much better!
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
I need quiet. I like to have my two little dogs at my feet. Whenever I get excited, I jump up and they bark.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
I’m very intrigued by Tudor England and I’m working on a book about that time period, so I’d love to see what the people are really like.
R: If a movie were to be made of one of your books, which one would you want it to be and who would you pick for the lead roles?
Judi Dench looks like Maggie Dove, so if she’s feeling up to it, I’d love for her to play the role. Clarie Foy would be great as Maggie’s young associate, Helen, though Foy may be busy right now.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I started off as a reporter for Fortune Magazine and my job was to report on the mining industry. I’ve spent a fair amount of time crawling around in the dark.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
I went zip-lining with my daughter in Costa Rica.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
One of things I love when I’m reading is to feel a real friendship for the characters in a book, and so I hope readers will feel like they’ve made a friend in Maggie Dove.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I always start with character and go from there. So I suspect I’m a pantser with plotting tendencies.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
My web site is at www.susanjbreen.com. I’m also active on twitter @susanjbreen. And I blog regularly for www.missdemeanor.com.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I teach creative writing for Gotham Writers in Manhattan and so I work with beginning writers a lot. I think the most important thing is: Write something. Anything. You have to start somewhere.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) I have two dogs (cockapoos Buster and Bailey) and two cats (Calvin and Brady), so I can’t choose.
Beach or Pool? Beach
Steak or salad? Salad
Favorite Drink? Scotch on the rocks
Favorite Book? Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory, and many others!
Favorite TV Series? At the moment, The Crown
Favorite Movie? North by Northwest
Favorite Actor: Cary Grant
Favorite Actress: Myrna Loy
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Martini
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Eleanor Roosevelt
If I had just one wish, it would be for peace
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Lin Manuel Miranda. He always looks like he’s having fun.
Susan will give away a Maggie Dove tote bag to one lucky commenter!
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
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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! US only, contest ends midnight, Feb. 12!