Amicable – definition : characterized by or showing goodwill : friendly.
Today’s word certainly describes my next interviewee, C.S. Lakin. One look at her web site will show you how generous she is with her experience and support for other authors and struggling writers. Susanne is also a prolific author in several genres.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer and why?
I’m sure most authors say this, but I’ve written since I could hold a crayon. I even “published” a neighborhood magazine back when I was about eight called “The Stone Canyon Gazette.” It was in those ancient prehistoric days before copy machines and electric typewriters. I organized a handful of neighbor kids and we hand wrote ten copies of each issue on construction paper, including drawing the same drawings ten times. We charged ten cents. The mothers complained I had too many entries in the magazine and didn’t feature the other kids enough. Already hogging the limelight! After that I helped my mother with her scripts, collating and offering ideas. I got my first rejection letter at age twelve from the producer of Woman from Uncle regarding my script idea. (I was raised in the TV industry.)
Who is your favorite author and why?
Patricia A. McKillip is my favorite author. She is an amazing fantasy writer and is a master at wordsmithing. I try to write as well and as beautifully as she does but I’m sure I fail miserably. When you read her fairy tales, you feel shifted into a different dimension of time and space. I like a lot of writers, but not any as much as her.
What has been your greatest moment as a writer?
I actually had a most exciting experience that few ever had—my book was a finalist in a big contest—the Zondervan First Novel contest at Mount Hermon in 2009. I knew I was one of three finalists, but only learned I had won when my name and book were announced in front of an audience of 400. It was very thrilling. Although Someone to Blame won, it was not the first novel I’d written. In fact, it was my sixth. Shortly after that, I contracted with AMG Publishers for my fantasy series, the first three books I’d already completed. I’m hoping there will be many more to come!
What genre do you read and why?
I’m very picky. I’d make a terrible book reviewer as I tear things apart. Being a professional copy editor and writing coach makes it hard for me not to want to redline all the books I read. And I find mistakes in almost all books, even highly acclaimed releases. I mostly read NY Times best sellers, to study what makes them popular (since that’s what I’m aiming for with all my commercial mysteries). I also read a lot of literary fiction, international authors, classics. I don’t read Romance in any form—not my thing. Otherwise I like anything from historical (not romance) to sci-fi to westerns. I’m a big fan of Walter Moers (who draws really hilarious pictures in his books), and I’d say my favorite books I read in the last year are The Art of Racing in the Rain (Stein), The City of Dreaming Books (Moers), The Thirteenth Tale (Setterfield), This Body of Death (Elizabeth George) and The Shadow of the Wind (Zafon).
What genre do you like to write in and why?
I mostly write fantasy/sci-fi and intense psychological suspense. I suppose both genres bleed a bit into each other, since my fantasy plots always contain mysteries and intense relationships, and my contemporary suspense novels often use evocative language and metaphor. I think my leaning toward literary fiction and poetry seeps into everything I write.
What do you want readers to know about your newest book?
Conundrum is 95% autobiographical. I didn’t really want to write it, but I felt compelled to explore my father’s mysterious death as well as deal with my mother’s cruel betrayal of my family. I felt it important to show that sometimes survival depends upon cutting out family members who are toxic and intent on destroying you, and that it’s the healthy thing to do. I also wanted to show a person cannot just survive but thrive by doing so, however painful. So many people tolerate family members in their lives who are like a cancer, and they feel guilty thinking about separating from them. I wanted this to be a very life-affirming story, and a heartfelt journey about a young woman trying to understand the father she never knew. In the process I felt I got to know my father a bit (he died when I was four) and as my character journeyed, so did I.
What has been your greatest challenge as an Independent Author?
I think handling over twenty years of rejections and frustration over not getting published. Not really a writing problem. I had agents that loved my writing; they just couldn’t sell my novels. As far as the craft of writing goes, I always have minor roadblocks in trying to hone the craft and push myself to be a better writer. Mostly what has helped me is prayer and waiting on God. For example, I’m working on plotting book #11, intended for Harm, a modern-day story of Jacob in a dysfunctional family. Yet, as much as I want to start digging in and writing the book, there are some key elements missing to the themes and I know God is working with me on this. I’m waiting for him to help me finalize the last bits and get that aha moment of the pieces all fitting together. Like all my books, I know there is a reason I’m meant to write it and a message it means to impart. I could just start writing, but I send his hand holding me back. Wait, he says. Not ready yet. I am thinking there is something I’m going to see, some revelation, that is going to smack me in the face and then I’ll have my green light. Writing as a believer is way different than writing when in the world. It’s all about God and what he wants out there. We want to produce much fruit, but Jesus also says without me you can do nothing. Zilch.
How do you come up with your titles? Do you have your title first or the story first?
Most of the time I already have a title in mind, since I start with a basic plot idea and theme. Often I just have the title, and that inspires the entire book, as was the case with Conundrum, Someone to Blame, and Intended for Harm (which comes from the Bible: Genesis 50:20).
Contemporary Fiction – link: http://www.cslakin.com/mystery.php
Fantasy series link : http://www.gatesofheavenseries.com/
Connect with C.S. Larkin
Website – http://www.livewritethrive.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/C.S.Lakin.Author
Twitter – https://twitter.com/LiveWriteThrive