Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My name is Suzanne McKenna Link. I’m at that time in my life, where I’m not embarrassed of my age, but at the same time, it’s not something I like to open with. Let’s just say, I’m old enough to put the opinions of others behind my own, but old enough to wake up with aches in places I never had before.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m a small town New Yorker, Long Island to be exact—born, raised, and still it call home.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’ve always been a creative type, but I married and stayed home to raise my 2 kids before I embraced it fully. At 35, I got a degree in graphic arts, went to work for a newspaper, and at 46, I published my first book. The kids are in their late 20s, and the hubby and I are still happily married.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am very close to finishing my third book, Finding Edward. I hope to have it out before the New Year. I had beautiful new covers made up for my first two books, Saving Toby and Keeping Claudia, which I plan to reveal very soon.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Too long ago to recall! I was a quiet, introverted kid. At a very young age, I started writing a daily journal as a way to express myself. English class was always my easiest subject. I enjoyed making my family laugh with satirical stories about our relatives.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t know if that was ever a conscious thought until more recently. Over the last six years, I’ve joined writing groups, have author friends, go to workshops and conferences. In short, now, I really embrace it.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was unhappy at my job and quit. I’d been playing around with a story in my head about a young man with a sick mother. With absolutely no pressure, I sat down and started writing it. It was a kind of ‘now or never’ epiphany that I’m so grateful for.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Saving Toby is a working title that felt appropriate to hold on to. Toby Faye is a troubled guy whose story goes from bad to worse. As Toby begins a dark, downward spiral, I wanted readers to wonder, and worry, how and if he’d be able to pick up the pieces.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m a pantser—meaning I draft the story in my head before I sit down to write. I’ve tried writing outlines. They just don’t work for me. Without a written ‘blueprint’ for the story, it can be a little tricky, but it’s what works best for me. I have accepted that I will most likely never be a quick writer. But hey, never say never.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are, and will probably always be, pieces of me in my writing. Experiences, work situations, and people I’ve met. I try to be open to new experiences. I find it gives my writing more authenticity. In Saving Toby, the heroine works for Toby’s sick mother. I used to work for a housebound, handicapped woman, and I was able to draw from that experience. In my new book, Edward, the main protagonist, travels to Italy. I’ve been to Italy twice. While much of it is the work of my imagination, I can write with more precision because I’ve been there. I love Italy, and it’s great fun to write about it.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t travel to write, but traveling does work its way into my writing, as it does with my current work-in-progress, Finding Edward. I think at some point, I will travel to be ‘on location,’ of a book. And, I look forward to that immensely.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Natasha Snow created my new illustrated covers, which I will be revealing soon. Stephanie White created the previous, more romantic covers. Both are talented, artistic women I highly recommend.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
On a surface level, my stories are about finding true love, but on a deeper level, I hope readers will find them inspirational. My characters are on an inner journey to find their true self. They learn to stop accepting the status quo, push away the stuff that doesn’t work, and get busy creating a life that brings them happiness.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Because I read wide and varied, I have more favourite books than authors, but I love Paul Kalanithi’s writing in “When Breath Becomes Air.”Unfortunately, it’s the only book he will ever write as he passed away. Authors I have read more than once and enjoyed are Jane Austen, Sarah Dessen and Anita Shreve.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My membership with Romance Writers of America (RWA). But I cannot overlook author friends, Kimberly Wenzler and Deborah Garland, who provide immense writing support, as well as my closest friends who continue to be my best, most loyal supporters and beta readers.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It’s life to me. I can’t live without doing it, and will be doing thisuntil I am no longer able to. There are elements of this that I need to frame as ‘career’ in my head, like publishing and marketing, but too much time spent treating it like a profession, burns out my creative juices. It’s my goal to get to a point where I canafford to hire a person or company to handle all the stuff other than the writing.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Only that I would have written it sooner.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
In writing, Finding Edward, I’ve realized that storytelling is a process that cannot be rushed. I need time in front of the computer writing it, as well as time away from it, to think and process the projection of my characters and their stories.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Edward is 26, so maybe Logan Lerman or Julian Morris.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Ignore all the rules of writing, and get the story written. Then, go back and heed all those rules you ignored while writing, and make it the best story you can write. If you plan on publishing, hire a professional task force: editor, proofreader, and cover artist. Novels containing typos, inconsistencies and run-away storylines frustrate readers, and you’ll likely lose them. A good editor is possibly the biggest expense for any author, but in my opinion, required. And it is true, people do judge a book by its cover.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I love hearing from readers. It’s superfuel that recharges my writing.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No, but I read a lot of Beverly Cleary books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Sarcastic humour tickles my funny bone. I laugh a lot with my family—a fun crew. I am deeply touched by great happiness or sad situations I cannot change, a beautiful love story.A good book or movie.Sometimes just a sappy commercial.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to spend some quality time with the Oprah Winfrey. I greatly admire the messages in her book, “What I Know for Sure.” The woman is a great humanitarian and deep thinker.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Eating! Besides that, gardening, traveling, and reading.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch much TV, but I have been known to binge watch Game of Thrones and Outlander. I love movies. I’ll watch just about anything.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Pizza and pasta.(Eating, after all, is one my hobbies) I enjoy classic and pop rock, most anything with good lyrics. I am drawn to earth tones, but blue is my favourite.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Read, and wish I could write. I’d volunteer helping others and spend a lot more time outside, gardening.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
In the kitchen with my family, preparing a meal and eating and laughing with them.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Ha, ha! I want to be cremated, but I hope I will be remembered for being kind… and for being a writer who touched many.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Readers can sign up to receive an occasional newsletter from me about book release and sale information.
Saving Toby: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EV6K2AC/
Keeping Claudia: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B071YPHXG8/
Much thanks Fiona!