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Interview with Susan Miura

Welcome, Susan. You have a background in journalism. What challenges did that create in your transition to writing fiction? How did your background help?
I believe my journalism background was truly more of an asset than a hindrance. All of my novels required research and interviews with people, both of which I’d done for decades in journalism and public relations. And the icing on the cake was that I had so many resources and contacts – people with expertise on many topics. Additionally, it gave me a marketing advantage because I knew the proper way to write a press release and where to send it.

How was writing Surviving Carmelita different from writing your Young Adult novels?
Easier, in terms of voice, because adult voices come more naturally to me. Of course, I still had to make each one distinct. Also easier in terms of how my main characters would think, and the actions they would likely take. I didn’t have to have teen beta readers like I did with previous novels! The subject matter, of course, was different as well. Most of my characters were coping with parenting issues in one way or another. One lost a child, one left her children, one is an empty nester, and one is a pregnant teen.

What message do you hope readers will take away from this book?
Primarily this: There is nowhere your heart can go that is too dark or too deep for the hand of God. He’s with you even when you can’t feel Him; even when you turn your back on Him. He is always just one prayer away, and He is still in the business of performing miracles.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Lately, the biggest challenge has been the time-suck that is marketing. I’m grateful beyond measure to have had four books published in four years, but I take marketing seriously, and it’s really difficult to market, write, work my regular job, serve at church, and just do life and everything that comes with it.

Where do your story and character ideas come from?
Life. I take bits and pieces of personalities from family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even TV characters, and sew them together to create new ones. Maybe I could call it the Frankenstein Method of character development! Sometimes, I’ll take a trait from someone I know (or myself) and exaggerate it in my book character to make him or her more interesting and three-dimensional.

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
Routine? Hahahaha. That would be nice, but there are too many things to work around, so I make ways to fit it in the best I can. When the kids were little, I’d write during soccer practices or swimming lessons and during my lunch times at work. Now it’s easier. No snacks, no music, no quirks, just tea.

What is your favorite childhood book?
If it had a horse, it was my favorite. If I had to name one … probably Black Beauty. I also loved the Black Stallion series and anything by Marguerite Henry.

If you could have coffee with an author, dead or alive, whose work you admire, who would that be? What would you ask him or her?
My answer used to be Lisa Samson, who mentored me from afar, but two years ago we actually met up for breakfast! Meeting her was wonderful – she’s such a gifted writer and beautiful person, and she’s one of my endorsers for Surviving Carmelita. New answer: John Steinbeck. My question: What’s your secret to character development? (He’s truly the master.)

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?
Get your work critiqued by experienced authors, not just your family and friends or unpublished author buddies. Don’t discard tough critiques. Let yourself be mad or upset for an hour, then take another look at it with an open mind and consider how the suggested changes might improve your work.

What is your next project?
That’s a toss up – either a sequel to Surviving Carmelita or a futuristic YA I started working on awhile back and set aside.


Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland she was born a stone's throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.

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