Susan Mallery is the New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romances and she has yet to run out of ideas!! She has written series romances, as well as single titles, historicals, contemporaries, even a lone time travel and recently a women’s fiction. Always reader favorites, her books have appeared on the Walden’s bestseller list, along with the USA Today bestseller list and, of course, the New York Times list. She has won awards for everything from best single title contemporary, to best Special Edition of the year and recently took home the prestigious National Reader's Choice Award. As her degree in Accounting wasn't very helpful in the writing department, Susan earned a Masters in Writing Popular Fiction.
Susan makes her home in the Pacific Northwest where, rumor has it, all that rain helps with creativity. Susan is married to a fabulous hero-like husband and has a six pound toy poodle...who is possibly the cutest dog on the planet.
I would like to congratulate you on your latest HQN May release, Book 1 Under Her Skin- and the first in your Lone Star Sisters series. Can you tell us about the book and the series?
Susan: Thank you! I’m very excited about the release of the Lone Star Sisters series. The premise for the series started with a question: What would you get if you crossed Dallas with Sex and the City? The Titan sisters and their best friend Dana are like the women in Sex and the City, each unique but with a strong female friendship. They laugh together, cry together, support each other. Their father, Jed Titan, is a Dallas-type figure, a Texas tycoon on a major power trip. Instead of encouraging his daughters to be friends, he pits them against each other in a bid to inherit his entire estate. I was curious to see how these loving, supportive sisters would react with so much on the line. To them, it’s not just money; it’s their heritage.
The cover artists at HQN Books outdid themselves. Each of the covers is fun and flirty and right on point for the book. In Under Her Skin, for example, the heroine is a real girly-girl who loves all things feminine, so the red dress and kicky heels are very true to character. And there she is, kissing Cruz Rodriguez, who she met ten years before the start of the book. Back then, Cruz was a drag-racing bad boy with a wicked kiss. Flash forward ten years, and he’s got his own racing empire. He’s the kind of man who would succeed in any field because he simply won’t accept the alternative.
At the start of Under Her Skin, Lexi discovers that someone is trying to sabotage her luxury day spa by calling in a $2 million loan with just 21 days’ notice. She can’t turn to her father for help because admitting that she got herself into trouble will mean forfeiting her chance at the estate. So she goes to the only other man she knows who has a spare $2 million lying around.
Cruz loves the irony. Once upon a time, Lexi had been too good for him. Now she was coming to him for help. He agrees, but with a hefty price tag. He wants a toehold into the closed society of the Texas elite. He’ll give her the money, but she has to pretend to be engaged to him. And she has to make it look good.
What is your writing style like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Susan: Booklist has described my writing as both “funny” and “bittersweet,” and I’m very proud of both those descriptions. The humor isn’t calculated at all. It rises naturally from the characters’ reactions to the problems they face, the same way true humor comes in real life. My characters are like your friends and neighbors, real people facing life as it comes, dealing with real-world problems with wit and tenacity. And hey, in the midst of these realistic problems, they meet the love of their lives.
As for plotting, I’m such a plotter that I even have plotting parties. Seriously. My friends and I get together on a regular basis to help each other come up with new ways to torture our characters. I read recently that James Patterson writes 50-page outlines for each of his books. I come close to that. I write about a chapter a day, and for me, that means I have to have a detailed roadmap.
Describe a day in the life of Susan Mallery.
Susan: Oh, I lead a very glamorous life! I sleep in silk peignoir with a pillowed eye mask until about noon. After an hour or so of stretching and breakfast in bed, brought in by my hunky manservant, I don my feathered boa, dictate a few pages to my hunky secretary and then relax in the tub the rest of the afternoon.
Meanwhile, back in the real world… Successful writing takes dedication. I usually have a book at every stage of the publishing pipeline. For example, right now, I’m promoting Under Her Skin, Lip Service, and Straight from the Hip, my summer series. (Book four in the Lone Star Sisters series, Hot on Her Heels, will be released in November.) I’m also writing a book, expecting edits any day on my January release, The Best of Friends, and putting together proposals on future stories I’d love to write.
So a day in my life means saying goodbye to my hunky husband as he heads off for work, and then locking myself in my office for hours until I accomplish what I need to accomplish for the day. Did I mention I love it?
What are you currently working on?
Susan: I have a new series coming out starting next year. It’s open-ended, meaning it’s set in a specific place with an infinite number of characters. At least that’s the plan. So far, so good. The first book—Faking Perfect—features a former professional bike racer. Um, Lance Armstrong type bikes, not motorcycles. The town is Fool’s Gold, set in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. I’m having the best time creating my fabulous town.
What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you get to visit the places you write about?
Susan: Most of my books are set in an area where I’ve lived. My husband and I have moved a lot for his work, which has been a boon to my work, as well. In the past year, for example, I’ve released books set in Seattle (The Bakery Sisters: Sweet Talk, Sweet Spot, and Sweet Trouble), California (Sunset Bay), and now Texas (The Lone Star Sisters: Under Her Skin, Lip Service, and Straight from the Hip).
I do a lot of research about my heroines’ and heroes’ careers. Research is a major chore. For example, for Under Her Skin, I had to spend a lot of time in luxury day spas, getting massages, mud baths, and pedicures. For Sunset Bay, I had to spend hour after hour watching Project Runway and shopping for designer clothes. But I think it’s important to be accurate!
What suggestions would you have for beginning writers as far as "breaking into the business”?
Susan: For all writers, the best, most important advice I can give is to write every day, even if you can only squeeze in half an hour. It’s important to exercise those writing muscles. Storytelling is a natural talent, but it’s also a skill that can be improved with study and practice. For romance writers, my additional advice is to join Romance Writers of America (www.rwanational.org) and to take advantage of everything you can learn through RWA.
Of all of your characters, do you have a favorite you identify with and why?
Susan: I get asked this question a lot. Honestly, the character I most identify with is always the one I’m writing about at the moment because I’m so deep inside her psyche as I write. (I say “her” because I tend to identify with my heroines more than with my heroes.)
I love all my characters, but the ones who stick with me the most are the most ordinary. These characters feel like real people, like true friends with whom I shared a lot of meaningful moments. I sat with them through problems and cheered with them when they persevered and found love. That’s why it’s so rewarding to me to write series, because it gives me the opportunity to check back in with these women who have come to mean so much to me.
What would you say has been your most significant accomplishment as a writer?
Susan: In terms of my career, I’d say the brightest moment so far was when I made the New York Times bestselling list for the first time. But my most significant accomplishment is affirmed every day in the emails I get from readers, telling me how my books helped them through a rough period in their lives. It honors me and moves me that I’ve had an impact in the lives of people I may never meet.
Tell us something about yourself that we might not know.
Susan: Even after all these years and all these books and a Masters degree in Writing Popular Fiction, I still consider myself a student of writing. I study the craft of writing on a regular basis. I get a lot of inspiration from how-to books on screenwriting, although I doubt I’ll ever write a screenplay. I like the structure they offer. I also read a lot of psychology books, which help me gain insight into character and personality.
On a humorous note, I’m possibly the worst gardener in the world. Serious, I have the black thumb of death. Plants physically recoil from me when I walk by in the nursery. I can hear their little plant voices screaming “Don’t take me. Take her!” I love flowers and gardens, but I can’t grow anything. I’ve killed air fern before. It’s very sad!
Who is your favorite author?
Susan: Oh, no. I’m not getting in trouble with this question! I offered a list of my favorite authors once and left out my best friend. I’m still hearing about it 10 years later. So no way!
Lastly, do you have any last thoughts you would like to share with your readers?
Susan: Thank you to all of you who have read my books and recommended them to your family and friends. I love hearing from readers, and I hope you’ll check in on me from time to time at www.SusanMallery.com. Writing is a solitary occupation, but when you read my stories and tell me about how they’ve affected you, you inspire me to keep writing. You mean more to me than I can put into words.
Susan, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview and best of luck with your new series, I have my copy and hope to have it read over the weekend. You can see my review soon on Marilyn’s Romance Reviews Blog.
Susan Mallery website
On a personal note, Susan has charmed me over the years with her Desert Rogues, Marcelli Sisters and The Buchanan's and I can't wait for this new Lone Star series. Again, thanks Susan for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview!