Today I’d like to introduce Susanne Bellamy, my fellow RWA author.
Born and raised in Toowoomba, Susanne is an Australian author of contemporary and rural romances set in Australia and exotic locations. She adores travel with her husband, both at home and overseas, and weaves stories around the settings and people she encounters. Her Outback series, Hearts of the Outback, and Second Chance Love, one of the Bindarra Creek series with other authors, were inspired by her time teaching in far north-west Queensland.
Her heroes have to be pretty special to live up to her real life hero. He saved her life then married her. They live on the edge of the Range with their German Shepherd, Freya. In another life, Susanne was a senior English and Drama teacher with a passion for Shakespeare and creative writing, but now her two children have flown the coop, she writes full time.
What else can you tell us about yourself, Susanne?
I love the freedom that self publishing allows me to write the stories I want to tell, but having a traditional publisher also allows me to connect with an audience I might not otherwise be able to reach. The thought of seeing my book in print on the shelf in bookshops is incredibly tempting, and has been a goal of mine in recent times. I’m looking forward to taking my first selfie-shelfie later this year!
I think once you establish your symbolic capital (reviews, a back list, a good reputation), the trade off of lower royalty rates from a traditional publisher versus a possible 70% from self publishing is compensated by seeing your book on a shelf in your local bookstore and a wider audience connection.
There has been a lot written about ‘write what you know’. To some extent that idea works, but I love any excuse to research for my stories.
I agree, I love doing research! Now, before we learn about your new book, I’ve got three questions for you. What three things would you say are the most important for an aspiring author to keep in mind as they being their writing journey?
- Read widely, write often, and talk within writing groups for support and encouragement.
- Don’t expect to be an overnight sensation.
- A good editor is worth their weight in gold. Find one and always, always, always edit.
So true! Next question, other than stomping your foot and having a hissy fit, what else do you do when you get a review that isn’t so good?
We’ve all had them, the one-star review that is either ‘hated it’, ‘don’t waste your money’, or ‘the author got it all wrong’. The latter happened to me with my first release with Harlequin Escape and the first review posted on NetGalley was a one-star rant that at x% I’d made an error (which of course neither of my two editors, the publisher, nor me, the author, had noticed; only this reviewer ever ‘saw’ it!).
Seriously, after the initial hissy-fit-want-to-write-and-tell-them-why-they’re-wrong reaction passed, I reached a point where I had to shrug and tell myself that this was one reader who had clearly missed details in her race to post first (I doubted she’d read my book, given that the comments she made didn’t even match my actual story).
But sometimes a reader simply doesn’t like your story or style. It may be that it touches on an experience they don’t want to remember, or it may just not be their ‘cup of tea’. Occasionally a reviewer offers a helpful insight into something that didn’t work for them. Then it’s worth considering what they have said and if it tallies with other feedback you’ve received, looking at whether it’s something you need to work on/out/change.
I agree wholeheartedly–that’s a very wise way to look at negative reviews. Last question, what makes you happiest as an author?
When I embark on a new story; when I write ‘The End’; and when a reader says they couldn’t put my book down and read into the wee hours of morning because they had to know what happened.
Each milestone along the path of each book is worthy of celebrating, and if you happen to enjoy a good single malt whisky, come on over and celebrate with me!
That is awesome, isn’t it, when a reader says they couldn’t put your book down. Makes the whole process worth every moment!
So … enough with the formalities, tell us about your new book.
High Stakes is my first full romantic suspense, although most of my rural romances also include a twist of suspense. Set on the track to Mt Everest Base Camp, it takes the reader on a vicarious trek where the air is thin and the danger – ‘sky high’! **It includes a small amount of ‘clean sex’ and lots of tension.
Dr Marcy Westcott is in Nepal to research a drug that occurs naturally in the Himalayan landscape. When attraction flares with Jake Harris on the Everest track, Marcy is determined to be more like her free-spirited twin sister. Jake believes the attractive doctor is the missing link that will bring down the drug cartel responsible for the death of his brother. He will do whatever it takes to get justice. Unsure who the real enemy is or whether he can trust Marcy, Jake is forced to take on the role of protector. But is Marcy his salvation, or the enemy?
Thanks for joining me here today, Susanne. And I’d love to join you for a drink, but I may bring my own bottle of gin and let you savour the single malt whisky!