Special guest, author Suz de Mello
You’ve heard the funny phase, “related by rumor”? It actually happened to me with Suz. I told the story here some time ago without using her name, but if you remember the story, it’s funny…now. Fortunately, Suz is a strong woman with great sense of self and sense of humor.
She started her writing career as Sue Swift, with Regency romances, short stories and “sweet” romances for Harlequin. She moved to, shall we say, ‘spicy’ novels, (which is a real understatement), and now she is back with a new ‘sweet’ romance, “Secret Father.”
Welcome, Sue! I am so glad to have you here.
Thank you! I appreciate the opportunity.
You had a former career as an attorney. I know a number of attorney-cum-romance writers, including the foundress of this blog. Individuals may have their own reasons, but do you think that maybe there is a connection between the two? Like maybe seeing so much wrong that they want happily-ever-afters for their creations?
You’re right. Practicing law is a stressful, depressing occupation. It was a big wrong turn I took on my road through life, and I could hardly wait to escape.
Since I was erroneously informed that you had used one of your relationships as one of your stories, have you ever done so? Do you base characters on people you know? In one of your books that I read years ago, your protagonist was a spy. You have earls and hockey players, sheiks and an amnesiac cowboy. (Please tell us more if you have actually known any of these!)
I do draw from my life to infuse reality into my work. For example, the below is from a short story published with the Naughty Literati, a writing group I help run:
The other two passengers in the balloon seemed normal… Even happy. An older couple, they stood gazing outward, side by side and close enough to each other that they probably shared body heat. The man, who deserved the label “silver fox,” had his hand resting possessively just north of his woman’s derriere. Her honey-colored hair was piled high and bristled with hairpins, no doubt to keep the wind from tangling it into a rats’ nest.
That’s me and my boyfriend. The story is Love in the Air, from our latest anthology, Naughty Lovers.
You’ve traveled extensively. Have you used those experiences or locales in your works?
Absolutely. For example, my ex-husband and I spent a lot of time up in California’s Sierra foothills—he enjoyed panning for gold in the Nevada City area. That part of the world is the setting for Secret Father—the fictitious town I created, Renegade Ridge, is very like Nevada City, one of my favorite places.
Another locale I used for my work is old Havana—I traveled there about a year ago, just after the President expanded travel opportunities there to include research. I could hardly wait to go! It had been on my shortlist for a long time, and I was eager to get there before it became too Americanized. My story, One Hot Havana Night, is set in Havana Vieja, the old part of the city, and could not have been written absent a visit.
I could go on and on about this subject. Setting is very important to me. A lot of writers neglect setting, but it’s crucial for grounding readers into the story. I visit the setting of a new story as often as I can—unless I’ve already been there.
Your resume includes numerous articles and short stories but the majority of your work has been in novels. You have series, but mostly stand-alones. Did you intend to make series or did they just catch on, or left more to be said from the characters?
I’ve written only one series so far, though I’m working on another. That first series, the Highland Vampire Romances, was a conscious decision on my part to advance my career. I had written a successful story, Highland Vampire, for Harlequin Spice, and decided to extend the premise. As it was a contemporary, and I couldn’t see writing a futuristic on the theme, I started writing historicals. At this point, the series consists of three short stories and three novels, each in a different time period.
You went from “Swift” to “Mello(w)” for your hotter romances, why did you choose to use Suz deMello instead of going back to Sue Swift for the return to sweeter works?
I became annoyed at the amount of time and effort needed for promoting two pen names. “Sue Swift” is being phased out.
What gave you the idea for “Secret Father” and a return to PG ratings? Will we be seeing more sweet works from you?
I actually wrote Secret Father a number of years ago when I was still writing sweet romances for Harlequin. At the time, I was writing for a category called “Silhouette Romance.” However, Harlequin discontinued the line, leaving me orphaned. There wasn’t much of a market for sweet romance outside of that company at that time, so I turned then to writing steamier stories.
The premise for the story was “the secret baby,” which candidly I think is a really weird concept. Why on earth would anyone want to keep her pregnancy secret? How? A baby bump is pretty obvious. But because the theme is very popular with many readers, I decided to write a secret baby romance that wasn’t stupid or unbelievable.
Tell us about your editing work.
That’s sort of on the back burner as there’s so much going on with my own writing career right now. But I do edit professionally and have been a freelancer for several companies. Candidly, freelance editors are grossly underpaid for the work they do for publishers, and though I worked my tail off, I still wasn’t making enough money to justify the time spent. When I work with an author directly, rather than through a publisher, I’m able to charge what I’m worth, and my customers generally find it a gratifying experience, I think.
Here’s the URL to my editing site: http://sueswifteditor.blogspot.com/
You played hockey, you are a black belt in karate and you practice yoga…what other tricks do you have up your sleeve?
Wow. Not sure how to respond to that! I actually prefer a very quiet life.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Here are URLs for the stories I mentioned:
Love in the Air, in the Naughty Lovers boxed set: http://amzn.to/1L07LjY
One Hot Havana Night, in the Naughty Escapes boxed set: http://tinyurl.com/NaughtyEscapes
Secret Father: http://tinyurl.com/SecretFather
Where can our readers learn more about you and your works?
–-Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com
–For editing services, email her at http://firstname.lastname@example.org
–Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SuzDeMello
–Her current blog is http:// http://bit.ly/SuzATGoodreads
Thank you so much for joining us today, Suz.
Thanks! I have enough of an ego that I do enjoy being asked about myself.