Today our guest blogger is Susan Schreyer. Susan is a writer with whom I’ve enjoyed getting acquainted with the past few years. I have read her second novel and enjoyed it very much. Her characters are interesting. Thea’s mother can drive you nuts at times. Her sister, well, at times you want to tell her to straighten up and fly right. But you can’t help but love them.
DHG: How long have you been a member of SinC and the guppies?
SS: I joined Sisters in Crime when I was completing the first draft of Death By A Dark Horse back in 2007. I joined Guppies shortly afterwards.
DHG: How long have you been writing?
SS: I've been seriously dedicated to writing mystery novels for about seven years. I've always been writing something, though, like most people who finally get around to admitting they really really really want to write a book.
DHG: How many novels have you completed?
SS: I've completed three full length novels. A fourth is in the works.
DHG: Tell us about Death By A Dark Horse & Levels of Deception
SS: Death By A Dark Horse introduces Thea Campbell, her horse Blackie, and her family and friends. She lives in the town of Snohomish, Washington, has her own accounting business and loves to ride her horse. They have a very special connection, by the way. At least her aunt believes so. She thinks Blackie has a psychic connection to Thea that lets him know when she is in trouble. In this first book, Blackie is stolen and the person who appears to be the thief is found murdered. Clearing Blackie of the crime is far easier than Thea convincing people she didn't do it. Of course nothing goes smoothly. She's juggling scary people, and a disaster of a love life right along with family and friends who are behaving rather mysteriously.
Levels Of Deception is the second in the series and finds Thea in a new relationship that isn't going all that smoothly. Paul, the sexy paleontology professor from the first book, is at a dig in Montana when a colleague at the University of Washington is murdered. Thea discovers evidence that valuable fossils have been stolen, and hears that the police are connecting the murdered professor as well as Paul to the thefts. Paul warns her off the case, immediately raising her suspicions that he's hiding something from her. Unwilling to see him framed for crimes he didn't commit, Thea launches her own investigation. Then an attempt on her life lands her in the hospital. Everyone, including Paul, insists she run to his protection at
his dig site in Montana. But what she finds there is far from a refuge. The levels of deception are more personal and extend farther than she could have imagined. The price of her pursuit of truth will be blood.
DHG: How did you get the ideas for these books?
SS: The first one was the hardest. I wanted to write a mystery with a horse as one of the characters. It finally occurred to me that I really needed a crime and a reason for my protagonist to become involved in order to get things rolling. I stared at the ceiling for many nights pondering this until I had an epiphany; the best motivation for a horse owner to step outside her safe existence would be to have something happen to her horse. Since I didn't want the horse injured, I had him stolen. The story took off from there.
The second book was easier. I got the idea while I was finishing up the first. It was like a cork had been pulled from my "idea bottle." I could barely keep up with what my muse was throwing at me.
DHG: Characterization: How do you form your characters? Do they remind you of people you have met?
SS: Some character jump fully-formed into my mind, like Juliet. Others, like Paul, I have had to coax to reveal themselves. I suppose you can say that each character is a composite of people I've known, and of my own characteristics (since they are my creation, that's inevitable). However, when all is said and done, they are as unique and individual as anyone in real life. They often take their part of the story in a direction I hadn't planned, or say and do things that surprise me, but are at the same time totally "them." It's one of the reason I love to write. If I want the characters to be compelling to my readers, they have to be compelling to me.
DHG: In your books, you have a horse that is psychic. Is Eddie, your real horse, like that?
SS: Well, Eddie is very smart and handsome, but psychic he is not. I have to admit, however that when dressage is done right it is exactly like the horse is reading the rider's mind. Getting back to the psychic-thing -- I wanted to give Blackie the extra quality, or connection to Thea, who loves him, that horse-lovers everywhere fantasized about as children. I hope when people read about Blackie and Thea that they reach back into their own childhoods and pull those lovely daydreams to the surface.
DHG: Why did you decide to self publish?
SS: Ah, now this is a question with a very long answer, but I'll try to make it short. I had a long talk with myself a little over a year ago when e-publishing was taking off and causing a huge stir in the industry. I asked myself what my goals were, and what I would be willing to do to achieve them. Then I did my research and made my decision. At the time I thought I was giving up something, but I don't feel that way anymore. I'm very glad I chose to self-publish. I love the whole adventure!
DHG: How are your sales doing?
SS: Sales are slowly improving. Remember, I'm an unknown author, so I have to put a lot of effort in not only letting people know who I am and that I write books, but that my books just might possibly be entertaining enough to spend a few dollars on and a little time investigating.
DHG: Have you done a lot of promoting, and if so, how and where?
SS: I have done a lot of promoting, but there is always more to do. AND it's a huge learning curve for me, as well as a step or three outside of my comfort zone. I do the usual social networking, have two of my own blogs, and contribute to a third in order to connect to my audience. In addition, I've formed an Author Tour group where I live in Western Washington. Our aim is to take the many talented local authors to the readers who might not otherwise go to book events farther afield. I've also joined a group that helps form business connections and helps solve business related issues -- which is what selling one's books is really all about. It's not an easy thing to marry the creative side that writes the books with the business
side that promotes and sells them.
Susan Schreyer, author of the Thea Campbell Mystery Series, lives in the great state of Washington with her husband, two children, and a variety of animals or various species. The horse lives within easy driving distance. When not writing stories about people in the next town being murdered, articles for worthy publications, or blogging, Susan trains horses and teaches people how to ride them. She is a member of the Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime and is co-president of the Puget Sound Chapter of SinC.
Susan Schreyer Mysteries web site http://susanschreyer.com
Things I Learned From My Horse - blog http://thingsilearnedfrommyhorse.blogspot.com
Writing Horses - blog http://writinghorses.blogspot.com