Friday, January 17, 2014

Interview with Susan C. Muller Author of Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte

What inspired you to become an author?

I’ve been an avid reader since I first learned to piece letters into words and words into sentences. I was a very shy child and considered books my friend. I’m still shy. I can lead a meeting of my RWA chapter, hold my own in a panel discussion, or speak in front of book clubs, but I have trouble talking to just one person. Books took me away to some magical land. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that world?

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’m what many called a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants instead of having a fully plotted outline. That doesn’t mean I have no idea what’s going to happen.  The most important factor in a story isn’t how good the hero is, but how bad the villain appears. Since I write stories with an element of suspense, I not only know who the villain is, but what motivates him. The best villains are not just evil for the sake of being evil, they have a spark of humanity. They have something that, even though you don’t approve, you at least understand.

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

I usually come up with a title after I’m well into the book and have a good feel for what’s important. With Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte, I started with the premise that Remy Steinberg could probably get into some kind of trouble in Louisiana and it would likely have to do with voodoo. From my first two books in the series, I had already given him an ex-wife and a child. So how could I combine all these elements? Give him a deep-seated hatred of the swamp and send him there in search of his kidnapped daughter. As soon as I named the fictional bayou, I had the name of the book.

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

My books are completely fiction. They are not based on any person or event. That said, everything an author writes reflects on things they have seen, heard, or read about. It might be the uniform a waitress is wearing or what the person at the next table is eating. I might ask my granddaughter for the name of a singer or group someone her age would like. I keep a small notepad in my purse. If I hear an interesting phrase, I shamelessly steal it.

What book are you reading now?

I am reading both Hell is Empty, by Craig Johnson and Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. I have one on my nightstand and the other in my den. I have never been one to read in bed but this is a new habit I’m learning to enjoy.

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

Although I may go back and write a fourth book in my Occult series, at the moment I have started a new series called Season Pass that is more of a straight mystery. The first book is Winter Song, and I have barely started the second, Spring Thaw. I had to stop work on that series temporarily after being asked to participate in an anthology.

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

I live in Houston, and most of my books are set here. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to do research. I have driven downtown to look at the jail and walk the tunnel system. I have called the police media department and asked incriminating questions. I’ve stopped a sheriff’s deputy to ask about shotguns. My son is an attorney and I often ask him legal questions.  Google is a wonderful source for finding out what type of trees or wildlife inhabit an area.

Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte is set in Louisiana, and I have been there many times, even taking a swamp tour before I knew I would be writing about the bayou.

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

Rae Monet is the cover artist for Soul Mate Publishing.  She has won several awards, including one for my last book, The Witch on Twisted Oak, but that one has Jimmy Thomas on the cover so who wouldn’t vote for it? Still, I like the way she captured the feel of the swamp in Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte, yet managed to make it blend with the other two covers.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep learning. Keep writing. Keep submitting, both to agents and editors, but also to contests. That’s the best way to see where you need to improve. And always need to improve, even if you are a New York Times bestselling author.

Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte
Occult Series
Book 3
Susan C. Muller

Genre: Paranormal romantic suspense

Publisher:  Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: Jan 2 , 2014

Word Count: 80,000

Cover Artist: Rae Monet

Book Description:

A frantic phone call leads Detective Remy Steinberg racing through the night toward the one place he vowed never to return. With the life of his kidnapped daughter at stake, he willingly faces shotgun-wielding drug dealers, corrupt law-enforcement officials, and a raging hurricane.

Scouring the seedy back alleys of New Orleans for information, he goes undercover at a sinister voodoo ceremony, and struggles to understand the forces of black magic that hold his daughter hostage.

With time ticking down, he battles for his life against a high voodoo priest, but can he face the two things he fears most: the swamp that terrorized his childhood, and the ex-wife he’s never stopped loving?

Detective Remy Steinberg must return to Louisiana in search of his kidnapped daughter. Can he save her before the swamp swallows her up and he loses any chance at happiness?


About the Author:

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a fourth generation Texan and I attended Stephen F. Austin State University where I majored in Business Administration, but took creative writing classes on the side because that’s where my heart was.

I have always loved reading and if it’s true that God doesn’t subtract the hours you spend reading from your life span, then I should pass the century mark with flying colors. I first tried my hand at writing when I was eleven, but the sun was shining and I had a new bike so that effort was doomed to failure.

I didn’t try writing again until I was well into my sixties. People ask me why I took it up then and my answer is simple, because my husband retired. If you don’t understand, just wait, you will.

My first novel, The Secrets on Forest Bend, won several awards. After that, I was hooked.

I’ve been blessed with two great kids and four grandkids. My late husband and I loved to travel and we saw much of the world. Kenya, New Zealand, and the Galapagos Islands are a few of my favorite places. After he passed, I thought my traveling days were over, yet I’ve since been to Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.

I live in Spring, Texas where I currently serve as president of the Northwest Houston chapter of RWA and volunteer at a local hospital. I also enjoy speaking to book clubs and writers groups.

Twitter: @susancmuller

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Susan M said...

Thanks for inviting me on your blog today, Roxanne. Your interview questions were great!

Bethany Averie, author said...

Great interview ladies! Susan, you do an awesome job at leading our meetings.

Susan M said...

Thanks,Bethany. I appreciate that. :)