Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest today, Susan Klaus. Susan was born in Sarasota, Florida and has been published and featured in several magazines including Cats, ELL, and SRQ.
She wrote her first novel, a fantasy about mermaids in 1982. In 2004, she wrote and self-published The Golden Harpy that received rave reviews in the press, The Venice Gondolier saying “…could easily compete with some of today’s best sellers.” It was followed in 2007 by The Golden Harpy II, Feather Lost on the Wind. In 2005 she founded and is still president of The Sarasota Authors Connection Club, presently 230 members and is the web radio host and co-producer of The Authors Connection Show with 15 million listeners in 148 countries.
In 2009 she rewrote The Golden Harpy and re-titled it Flight of the Golden Harpy, and it won the Florida Writers’ Royal Palm Literary award for Best Science Fiction Manuscript of 2010. She also penned her first suspense/thriller novel, Secretariat Reborn. In 2012 Secretariat Reborn was purchased by Oceanview Publishing, and Flight of the Golden Harpy was optioned by Tor and will come out in 2014. She is now working on Shark Fin Soup, the sequel to the Secretariat novel, and another suspense/thriller, A Murder in Sarasota, based on a true story.
Norm: Good day Susan and thanks for participating in our interview. How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
Susan: I’m a late
bloomer, didn’t write seriously until my fifties so I feel I’m
still getting started even though I have the agent and two
publishers, Tor Books for my fantasy and Oceanview Publishing for my
thrillers. I’ve never taken a writing course, but have a lifetime
of adventures, making me more of a storyteller than a fancy writer.
Having numerous editors, a critique group, and author friends, I’ve
found that writing is an ongoing learning process, each book better
than the last.
What keeps me going? The readers when they say they loved my book and want to know what happens next to my characters.
Norm: What is the Sarasota Authors Connection?
Susan: The Authors Connection is a club of 270 members, all author and writers, that I founded in 2005 when I discovered the harsh reality that promoting a book was equally as important as writing it. Now days, an author has to be salesperson. The club helps authors find agents, publishers, and their audience along with how to sell their books.
Norm: Are you a plot or character writer?
Susan: Both, my books have unique plots that builds to a fast-paced read with unexpected twists, and my thrillers are based on timely events. But the job is only half done if a reader can’t relate and feel for the protagonist. In my fantasy, Flight of the Golden Harpy, a young woman named Kari appears to be the main character, but the true protagonist slowly emerges and is the golden harpy, Shail. It’s really his story. So am I a plot or character writer? It’s fifty-fifty. Men like the action and plots. Women fall in love with my handsome protagonists.
Norm: What helps you focus on writing and do you find it easy reading back your own work?
Susan: On your first
question, what helps me focus? Coffee, cigarettes, and a lack of
Second question, I might read back a few earlier pages of a scene to get into the story again, but generally I plow through the first draft. When I have read back chapters, I’ve spent the day rewriting and polishing the sentences, sentences that might never make it into the finished story. The second, third, fourth, and so on drafts are a lot of reading back and fixing.
Norm: Do you write to express something you believe or is it just for entertainment?
Susan: Again, it’s both.
I do express my beliefs in my novels, being an environmentalist but
also a conservative. I love animals yet have no problem with deer
hunting since deer would overpopulate and starve if their numbers
weren’t thinned out.
On the other hand, I have a big issue when a threatened species is hunted and its habitat is destroyed. The ecology message is hard to miss in Flight of the Golden Harpy. The harpies are being hunted into extinction because of greed. Shark Fin Soup, my second thriller is about saving sharks that are currently being wiped out for a Chinese soup. On entertainment, I first write the story for myself, and it has to be unpredictable, action-packed with a great-looking guy so I avoid preaching and let my beliefs unfold within the story.
Norm; Did you read any special books on how to write?
Susan: I read Stein on Writing, Stunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and Writing in Style by Bobbie Christmas who happens to also be my personal editor.
Norm: Is your work improvisational or do you have a set plan?
Susan: No set plan or outline. I get an idea for a story and kind of know the ending. I then turn my characters loose. They take me on their journey. Half of the time, I’m surprised. I just keep asking what if this happens, and what would a reasonable person do? Occasionally, they’re not reasonable.
Norm: What is the best part of being published?
Susan: The best part on a personal level is having a sense of accomplishment. The bigger picture is enlightening people through my novels.
Norm: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing? Do you have a special writing style?
Susan: I’m a Floridian, born and raised and was also a tomboy so I grew up camping, fishing, sailing, and scuba diving. And I’m big on animals. I’ve owned pet grooming shops, worked for vets and dog kennels, raised show cats, and breed and raced Thoroughbred horses. Currently I’m raising rodeo bulls.
I’ve been also called an old hippie and have seen a good portion of this country on the back of a chopper. As a result, my novels are colored with true experiences and my knowledge of animals. My thrillers are set in Florida, and the fantasy takes place on a futuristic tropical planet. A special writing style? No, I’m a “meat and potato” writer, tell the story and try not to use words that a reader has to look up in a dictionary.
Norm: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Susan: Piers Anthony, I’ve always been a huge fan. He read my first self-published fantasy and gave me great advice. Also David Hagberg, he was impressed with my harpy story and loved my first thriller. He hooked me up with his agent. But if I could write like anyone, it would be Dennis Lehane.
Norm: How can readers find out more about you and your books?
Susan: My WEBSITE and on facebook, Susan C. Klaus
Norm: What is next for Susan Klaus?
Susan: I’m currently working on the second Flight of the Golden Harpy that will be a trilogy. And last May, I was in Mexico climbing through caves for research on my third Christian Roberts thriller.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what was the one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Susan: A lot of readers wonder why I dedicated Flight of the Golden Harpy to Brad Pitt, and why both my protagonists resemble a young Pitt. But that’s another whole interview.
Norm: Thanks Once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors