Name Susan Buffum
Where are you from Westfield, Massachusetts
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I am almost finished editing and preparing my 2016 NaNo novel Black Knight, White Rook for self-publication. I also have two or three additional novels plus two story collections that I’m in the process of completing for 2017 publication.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I would say I began writing around the time I was in third grade. I was listening to the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight on the radio and wrote a story about a lion in the zoo dreaming about living in a jungle.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until last year, actually. Prior to that I was just indulging myself in a hobby with the purpose of entertaining family and friends.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My daughter inspired me and encouraged me to write a novel. I’d always just written short stories, novelettes or novellas. I didn’t think I had a whole novel in me, but it turned out that I did, and then some!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Well, yes and no. I do not write any specific genre, but I have a writing style I’ve labeled full immersion writing. I create a place that readers will feel they’ve been to or could visit one day, and populate it with characters readers might feel they know, even though some characters can be a little offbeat. They all have their all too human flaws in place.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I have trouble with titles, so any title I do come up with is a bit of a miracle in the making. My Magical Life just popped into my head one morning after lugging the manuscript in its hot pink paper covers around with me for weeks while tinkering with it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Good triumphs over evil; love that’s meant to be will last forever.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I had a black cat once, but that’s about the extent of it. Fantomas did not talk, but he was loaded with “cat”titude like Jazz is in the book.
Fiona: What books have influenced your life most? a mentor?
I have never had a mentor. I do have a muse that lives in my head and is indefatigable. Books that have most influenced my life have been Great Expectations, Raising Demons, The Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe, Watership Down, Pride and Prejudice, The Count of Monte Cristo…basically my entire personal library. Every book I read has some sort of influence over me.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I’ll flip that around and answer who my favorite author is first- I have two favorites- Charles Dickens and Shirley Jackson. Charles Dickens I like best for his ability to put the reader right there into the story. Very atmospheric. Shirley Jackson I admire because she was always able to take the ordinary and give it a twist into the surreal. She was also very funny with her stories about home life and her kids. As for new writers, well, I admit to being a Darynda Jones fan. I have all ten books published so far in her Charley Davidson, grim reaper series. Number 11 is pre-ordered for January 2017 delivery. I also like Melissa Volker, Delilah of Sunhats and Swans.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Artworks Westfield, a fairly new group here in my home town that has formed to support the culture and the arts- including musicians, authors, photographers, artists, etc. The group has been extremely supportive and encouraging.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Maybe one day. I work as a full time medical secretary which I enjoy. I write in my free time after work and on weekends as a hobby at present. I’m not financially prepared to just stay home and write at this point in my life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. I agonize over and tinker with my books until I’m satisfied with them before I publish them. I might go back and fix typos, grammar, and punctuation mistakes, but I’ve never gone back and changed anything in a book.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
In kindergarten my teacher wrote the word ‘look’ on the blackboard. Then she drew pupils in the ohs to make them look like eyes. That was the key that unlocked reading comprehension in my brain. I fell in love with words. They came alive for me. I’ve read a lot of books and that has fed my imagination. As mentioned before, I started writing little stories when I was in third grade and I’ve never stopped. Writing is magic performed with a pen. (Well, now I use a keyboard, but I used to handwrite everything!)
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
My current project is the sequel to Black King Takes White Queen, an urban fantasy with witches and warlocks involved in white magic and black magic. Black Knight, White Rook is set two years after the first book. The main characters have a toddler son now, and this time they have to deal with Ivy’s sister who has married a truly cruel and evil dark arts wizard who wants control of the magical treasure hoard Romney Sharpe is charged with protecting as King of practitioners in this country.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Commas. I really stink at putting them in the right place. The only other challenge is writing a sequel that I feel will satisfy the reader. I really don’t like sequels that fail.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, I’m strictly local at present because I can’t be leaving my regular job every two minutes.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed them using CreateSpace. I’ve been using their standard images, but will be branching out into pictures from my own archives in the near future. I have one future novel that I actually hired the son of a friend to design for me. It’s pretty cool.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Going back to My Magical Life, the most difficult part was writing the scene where the evil vampire eats the dead crow in front of Evangeline. No spoilers here, but that was a tough scene to write because of what it means in the story.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I discovered rather than learned confidence in my own ability to tell a story. The feedback on My Magical Life has been better than I expected.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
Um, this one is kind of difficult for me because I don’t watch TV or see many movies unless I buy a DVD, so I’m really not familiar with actors and actresses these days. I would therefore have to say that I would prefer it be someone as of yet undiscovered, a fresh new face with the talent to play the character as written.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just keep writing. I have grown in leaps and bounds as a writer through the years. I have material from when I was thirteen and on through high school, college, and up to the present day. I can track my growth as a writer by looking back at my earlier work (and sometimes cringing.) I can see the progress I’ve made. Therefore, my best advice to any writer- beginner or professional- is to just keep writing.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I write to entertain, to provide a diversion from ordinary life. Just enjoy my books as little escapes from the real world.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Thirteenth Moon by Melissa Volker. It’s YA but I promised her I’d read it and review it for her.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yes, I do. It was a little Scholastic book from one of those book flyers they’d give you in school to order books from. My Mom always let each of us pick two or three books from these flyers. It was called The Tooth Fairy. I believe I chose it from a flyer in first grade. I still have the book.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The absurd and the ridiculous make me laugh. I cry a lot, so basically anything can set me off. I’m a sentimental sap like that. I get it from my Dad.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
It would have to be Edgar Allen Poe because I’d really like to understand what made that man tick. A lot of people only know him for his horror stories, but he also wrote some wildly humorous stuff.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
The End, because I never write it at the end of any of my books since I could always write a sequel. When my life is over it will really be the end- no sequel forthcoming.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I collect antique and vintage buttons; primarily charmstrings which were a fad in the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s when young girls would collect beautiful buttons and string them. I have a large collection of them. I also collect camel figurines and mohair teddy bears. I like photography. I have a passion for old houses so I have a lot of books on architecture.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I generally don’t watch TV or go to see movies. I watch Murdoch Mysteries on DVD. The last movie I purchased to watch is Now You See Me 2.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music?
Cheesecake. Green. Multicultural, but especially Irish and Italian.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Architect or photographer
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?. http://susanbuffum.blogspot.co.uk/ I also write a blog on goodreads.
Amazon Authors Page https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Buffum/e/B01M99IMYU/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1