About Suzanne Lilly:
Suzanne Lilly writes lighthearted stories with a splash of suspense, a flash of the unexplained, a dash of romance, and always a happy ending. When not writing, she’s teaching elementary school, except when she takes time off to do things like zipline in Alaska and teach in China.
She is the author of The California Argonauts series of gold rush books, as well as three young adult novels. Her short stories and articles have appeared in numerous places online and in print.
She blogs about teaching and writing at the TeacherWriter blog. She has a Master’s Degree in Teaching, is a graduate of the Long Ridge Writer’s Group, and is a member of the Author Salon writing program.
What inspires you to write?
Like many other authors, I have always been a writer. As a child, I wrote stories for school, kept a journal, and wrote stories for friends. In high school I moved on to poetry and the usual teenage angst. When my children were young, I wrote picture books for them. Later, I wrote for magazines and online companies. I’ve had hundreds of articles and short stories published. Those articles and short stories were the training grounds for my historical fiction. I am in awe of the strength and tenacity the pilgrims and pioneers had in settling the New World. I draw from their stories in history books, diaries, and journals for my inspiration. Of course, none of this would be possible if it weren’t for my family’s patience and support. They are truly an inspiration.
Tell us about your writing process.
I begin with an idea. I then begin developing the main characters from the inside out. What do they want? What drives them? What happened in their pasts to make them who they are today? Then I decide upon some events and I build their story around those events. What would they do in the event of (you fill in the blank.) At that point, I begin outlining. Once I’ve set up an outline, I begin filling in the story with chapter summaries. After that, I move on to fleshing out the story with all the details that make a story real, satisying, and true to the heart. This whole process can take months, and sometimes more than a year.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When I was a new writer, I did. Now it’s more of an internal listening and conversation with my characters. In fact, it’s as if I’m channeling the characters while I write. Lucinda Martin York and George Arnold from my gold rush books are as real to me as any friend I could call on the phone. Except in the case of Lucinda and George, it would need to be a time machine phone that could talk to people from the past! Once I’ve developed a character and character arc, I let them lead the stories by their actions. I find that knowing the characters and how they react to the world around them brings the truest stories, the ones that really come to life on the page.
What advice would you give other writers?
I will give you the same advice so many others have given. Write, take classes, write more, read, write again, read and take more classes, and always, always, write. I once stood in line for a book signing and was lucky enough to be standing behind a best selling author. I love this man’s books, and we had a fabulous conversation. It was years ago, but his words are still imprinted on my brain. He asked me if I was published. I said, “Not yet.” He told me, “Keep writing. You need to write for thousands of hours before you’re ready. Don’t give up. Just keep writing.” That’s the best advice I ever received. Thank you, John!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had hundreds of articles and short stories published. I also write for the educational market. I was first published with Turquoise Morning Press because I wanted the security of having a publisher to guide me through all the steps of publishing. After I gained confidence, I began indie publishing. There are pros and cons to both methods of getting your work out there. My only advice is that if you decide to indie publish, make sure you have a good editor. You can find them by asking other authors whose work you admire. Don’t be afraid to pay them. A good editor is worth his or her weight in gold.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Right now it’s the Wild West of Publishing out there. I believe that eventually, readers will be the ones who decide what books are the best, rather than big publishers deciding what books to promote to the masses. That means that a wider variety of books and more niche books will see the light of day. We see that happening already. However, indie publishing is not for everyone, so I do believe that there will always be a place for publishers as well.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Historical Fiction and Young Adult.
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.