Like most writers, I love the opportunity to learn from established authors who are paving the way for others to follow in their paths of success. In this edition of Meet the Author series, I have the privilege of interviewing the best-selling independent author, Susan Wingate – a versatile and insightful writer we can all learn from. As a fellow writer and lover of the written word, I have long admired Susan’s creativity, insightfulness, attention to detail, tenacity, and ability to draw readers into her stories.
Read on to learn from her accomplishments and be inspired.
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS – AMELIA ALBANESE (AMA)
INTERVIEW ANSWERS – SUSAN WINGATE (SMW)
AMA: What made you decide to become a writer? At what point in your life did you decide that this was what you wanted to do?
SMW: I think I always wanted to be a writer, from the time I was little and realized my Dad was a writer. I started thinking I might like to write too when my future brother in-law began writing. He and my sister were in high school. I was still in grade school.
AMA: How has your writing evolved since the time you started up until now?
SMW: By leaps and bounds. Stories I developed as a kid were childlike with no real roadmap of how to get from a beginning to an ending. My writing back then was embryonic at best. I had no vision of what storytelling meant. For instance, I picked a character, often a horse one that had an uncanny resemblance to the Black Beauty horse. I wrote about the horse but had no clue what to do except maybe have the horse get lost (or run away). Sound familiar? And then show back up with a teary re-acquaintance in the end. I had no clue how to write fiction but admired others who could.
AMA: What’s your favorite story that you’ve written and why?
SMW: Normally, the one I’m writing currently is my favorite story. It’s called Moon Spyer but it’s not yet out. I love them all. They own a piece of me, all of them. For instance, Storm Season (TDOV, The Death of Vultures), my latest fiction release came into being because of something I actually witnessed. I was sitting at our kitchen table which looks out onto the field in back. We have five acres of land on an island in the Pacific Northwest. The island has tons of wildlife, deer, fox, eagles, vultures, raccoons. So, it’s not unusual to see something amazing at any given time of day. When something distracted me, I glanced out and saw two enormous birds, turkey vultures. They were taking turns at the carcass of a fawn. The doe kept jutting out from the woods trying to stop them, but the baby was dead. It was possibly the saddest thing I’ve seen in the wild. The mother of a wild animal mourning the loss of her baby. That’s when the story unfolded.
AMA: What is your all-time favorite book(s) written from someone else?
SMW: There are so many but to land on one, I’ll say Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. Choosing just one leaves out: Anna Karenina, A Handmaid’s Tale, Joyland, and a slew of others. I read a ton. Only allowing for one choice falls under “cruel and unusual” in my book. 😊
AMA: Describe your ideal situation for writing – at a desk, in a comfy chair, a secluded room, with a cup of tea, etc.
SMW: My writing studio. On the couch. Earl Grey tea with creamer. No internet. No distractions.
AMA: Publishing can be a very difficult process. What advice do you have for any aspiring authors? What should they expect?
SMW: Do your homework on who you’re submitting to, both agents and publishers. Expect disappointment and you won’t be disappointed. Expect many rejections and when that one acceptance note comes, be wary. There are many predator publishers around hoping to sign you. Keep your nose into your next story and you won’t think about the rejections or that you’ve submitted. Keep writing. Your break will come.
AMA: You write in many different genres. Do you have a favorite or favorites to read on your spare time?
SMW: I write in many genres because I read in many genres. I love to read. There are few weeks when I don’t have a book in my face. I write in the morning and read after I write. I love mainstream fiction, family drama, mysteries and thrillers, apocalyptic, and dystopian. I read from the classics (Russian to American lit) to contemporary fiction.
AMA: Loss and death also play big rolls in your themes. Is this done on purpose or does it naturally find itself in your stories?
SMW: My website states “Not Your Girly Books” for a reason. Considering death as a part of life has been a focus in my life, which is found in my books. My first experience with death happened as a child. My best friend, Maria died of childhood leukemia. We were eleven. Her mother never got over Maria’s death. She went off the deep-end, my Mom said. Two years later, my paternal grandfather died. At sixteen, another best friend, Robin was killed in an automobile accident. In my mid-twenties, a dear male friend died of melanoma. My Dad died when I was thirty-eight. The list goes on. Not one decade has gone by without someone significant in my life dying. Honestly, I’m amazed that some people shy away from the subject of death since it’s an integral part of our lives.
AMA: Deers – what’s their symbolism to you? You have one book called The Deer Effect and in the book Storm Season there are even more deer playing highly symbolic roles.
SMW: Deer, to me, are the beauty in nature that contrasts so vividly with the stark reality we have when faced with the subject of death. Deer bring me great joy. We have a herd who come through our property morning and evening. They allow me the honor of walking amongst them. They allow my cooing. Sometimes I even touch one. One of my favorite deer (I called her Kitty) just died. She had come around for fifteen, maybe sixteen years. She had twin fawns every season. I’m going to miss her sweet face. She was my friend.
AMA: Near the beginning of Storm Season, you give a sneak peek into the inspiration behind your book – the scene of two vultures eating a deer in your yard. Are your books often inspired by random occurrences like this?
SMW: Two have been occurrences where I saw something happen, Storm Season and also The Deer Effect. In TDE, I was walking my dog, Robert and we came upon a deer that had been hit by a car, a doe. She was dead. I talk about it on my website but, yes, many books have been ignited by actual instances. Many, conversely, have become full-blown stories because of dreams or someone saying something in a certain tone. It can be almost anything that sparks the idea for a story.
AMA: Storm Season has a scene where a character finds the book, The Deer Effect, laying in the room. This reminded me of how Alfred Hitchcock or Stan Lee made cameos in their own movies. Would you consider yourself a fan of Hitchcock or Lee? Why or why not?
SMW: Definitely a fan of Hitchcock. I was never a comic book reader. I liked (and still like) reality-based stories.
AMA: Do you have any questions for me or your readers? If you could ask us readers and fans anything, what would it be?
SMW: My question for readers is this: what do you think makes a great story and why?
ABOUT SUSAN WINGATE
Not Your Girly Books
Susan Wingate is a #1 Amazon bestseller and an award-winning author. Wingate’s dark, gritty writing spans the breadth of genres including mystery, thriller, romantic suspense, paranormal, inspirational and Christian fiction, fantasy, memoir, and nonfiction.
Wingate’s books can be found in libraries across the country, at brick-and-mortar bookstores like Griffin Bay Bookstore, and major online bookstores like Amazon. Her latest book is a memoir occurring over the last eighteen months of her mother’s life, called THE DEMENTIA CHRONICLES, a story based on her popular blog series of the same name.
Want more? Read my book review of Susan Wingate’s Storm Season (previously titled, The Death of Vultures).
Ask a Question!
Please leave comments and additional questions below. Conversations are more fun when they aren’t one-sided.
Thank you so much for hosting me, Amelia! I had great fun answering your great questions.
Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview, Susan! I enjoyed learning even more about you and hope other writers can benefit from your experience.