Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so pleased to have young adult author Susan Miura as my guest. She is a fellow traveler and has the same passion for teaching writers that I have. I so much enjoyed her interview and hope that you do, too! Read on to see how you can enter to win TWO of her latest releases!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’ve been blessed or cursed (not sure which) with wanderlust, so travel is a passion that has opened my eyes to God’s amazing creation and the incredible sameness and fascinating differences of people worldwide. It has been a catalyst for unforgettable family vacations that inspire conversations that make us laugh, contemplate, and feel grateful. It has also provided some nice artwork for our walls, since photography is also a passion! Top spot on the travel bucket list is currently Fairbanks, Alaska, to see the northern lights.
A few basics about me: I work in public relations for a Chicago suburban library and began my career as a newspaper and television reporter in the Chicago area and Albuquerque, eventually making my way back to Illinois. To date I have three published young adult novels, with a fourth releasing this October and my first women’s fiction title coming in 2021. I also have a Christian children’s book, Pawprints in the Snow, that features my wildlife photos and animal poems.
I’m married to a retired police sergeant, who’s very helpful with my crime scenes, and have a grown son, daughter, stepdaughter, and Cleo cat. Love them all to pieces!
I’m a longtime member of Willow Creek Church, president of the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Chicago Chapter, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Tell us about your current release. Beautiful Sicily is the setting for the first half of Shards of Light, the sequel to Healer. It is told from the perspectives of two main characters, Shilo Giannelli and her best friend, Melody O’Hara, who was adopted as a newborn and is striving toward a career as a professional ballerina. The story begins in a centuries-old convent on a secluded Sicily mountaintop, where Shilo is spending the summer with her great-grandmother; the only one who can answer questions about the power to heal – a God-given gift Shilo received just before her 17th birthday. While in Sicily, Shilo will discover the horrors of human trafficking and fight to shield the rescued girls living on the convent’s grounds. She will also learn the mysteries of her gift and encounter a force of evil that will take her to the brink of death. An ocean away, Melody will suffer a catastrophic injury that will lead her into darkness as she unveils an unimaginable truth about her Nigerian heritage. Though both girls’ stories involve some heavy issues, there are also touches of humor and romance throughout the book.
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Absolutely! That’s an easy one! If I could look back on my life and know one person accepted Jesus or even took one step forward on their spiritual journey because of something I wrote, that would be huge. That would be worth all the time and effort, for sure.
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Yes, and in a way, I did. Not because of my publisher, though. It was my idea, because the Christian fiction market for teens is pretty small, and I wanted to reach more young adults with stories that tackled tough issues without graphic sex, violence, or swearing. So my upcoming release, Signs in the Dark, is more of a secular book, but still clean and containing Christian values. It’s about a deaf girl who gets kidnapped.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher(or agent or audience if you self publish)? I work hard to push past average with some hard-hitting (and sometimes dark) issues combined with enough action to keep readers turning pages. Shards of Light, for example, tackles human trafficking, adoption, depression, and a really evil guy. But there’s also a cool dog, a couple of very hot guys, and some feisty nuns to lighten the drama now and then. I actually enjoy talking to editors and make sure my pitches include all of the above, which usually results in a proposal request.
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writerís block? Take a walk. It has worked for me nearly every time. My house is on a small lake, which is really a blessing because I have such a beautiful place to walk, think, and pray. Plus, my office window looks out on the lake. It clears my head and soon the block just melts away and I can come back in and start writing.
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I was the nerdy kid in school who loved English class and got excited about writing assignments. I won first prize in my grade school’s Arbor Day poetry contest and it was like a gateway drug! (But, you know, not as bad.) After that I was constantly writing poems and stories, then became a reporter for my high school and college newspapers. In my early 30s, I started getting the bug to write fiction. It took 20 years from the initial thought to getting a publishing contract.
How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel? What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them? I wrote a paragraph. Seriously, I didn’t even know if I’d get beyond that because I had a full-time job and two young children. It was an absolutely insane time to start a novel, but it was there in my head, day after day, and I thought writing the initial scene would clear it out. So, I wrote that paragraph and soon I was writing (in notebooks and on scraps of paper) during lunch hours at work, in my car during soccer practices, on the gym floor during basketball practices – wherever and whenever I could squeeze it in. That book became Healer…and took 10 years of revisions and polishing before a publisher said “yes!” Joining the American Christian Fiction Writers during that time was a real blessing. I learned so much from the workshops and discussions with fellow authors.
What is one thing that you never saw yourself doing and either do it now or have done? If I can change the question slightly…
When I attended my first writer’s conference and sat in my first writing workshop, I watched the presenter and absolutely knew I wanted to do that. I imagined myself up there, providing insight, helpful knowledge, and encouragement to other writers. At that point, I wasn’t even close to getting published and had so much to learn. But…I got there! Now I teach writing workshops and am excited to be one of the workshop leaders for the next Write to Publish Conference. It was supposed to happen last June, but a little pandemic got in the way.
Here is where you can find Susan online:
Susan is giving away a boxed ebook set of Shards of Light and Healer to a reader AND a paper back of Healer to another reader! See below how you can enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway