MY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR SUSAN K. HAMILTON
What’s your name and what genre would you consider your books to be?
My name’s Susan K. Hamilton, and my latest novel is a dark urban fantasy.
Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
I’d actually never written dark fantasy before, but I was trying to come up with an idea for a NaNoWriMo project. I wasn’t having any luck but then I was out raking leaves in my yard, and I started randomly thinking about Irish fairies and folklore and what they might do in our world. I figured the “light” fairies would be the models, actors, and other beautiful people… but then I thought that if that’s what light fairires would do, then “dark” fairies would probably be criminals. And the idea of dark Fae running Boston’s criminal underworld popped in to my head, and I got really excited about it.
That idea became my NaNo project, and that turned into Shadow King.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, etc.)?
In the past, I’ve written more epic fantasy. I actually really didn’t know a lot of about dark fantasy when I started. I just had an idea and I ran with it. Later, once I had my draft done and was starting to go through the editing process, I started to wonder how I’d market it. I did a little research and realized that it fit into the dark / urban fantasy sub-genre.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
I did a little research on some different types of fairies because I wanted several types to appear in the book. The other “research” was really walking around the area of Boston where I work. There are several locations there that are settings in Shadow King.
Can you tell me about your Series?
Well, this one isn’t a series – not at this point. I have an open enough ending to continue, and I am working on a follow up, but at this point “book two” is really a big pile of notes and comments and scenes that I need to give a little more shape to.
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
Well, I’m up by about 5:15 in order to be at my day job around 7:00. I try to write at lunch, but I’m not always successful. Depending on traffic, I’m home by about 5:00 or so, but then it is either house/yard work or down to the barn (I part-lease a horse so I ride three days each week). Then I try to grab some writing time at night if I’m not too tired.
When I take lunch at work, I try to find an empty conference room to write so I’m not interrupted. At home, I have a computer in the living room and that’s where I do most of the writing. Because I’m not always sure how much time I have to write each day, I don’t usually set a specific goal because I find it really frustrating if I don’t hit it.
Do you have a new book in the making and if so, what’s the name of your upcoming book?
I do have another book that is with Inkshares. The title is The Devil Inside and right now it is waiting for its turn to go to the editor. I’m hoping it will get there in the next few months and then be released either at the end of 2019 or start of 2020.
How important are character names to you in your books? Is there a special meaning to any of the names?
I think character names are important, but I try not to overthink them. In Shadow King, my female lead is named Seireadan (when you say it, think of “Sheridan” without the “h”). Her name has Gaelic/Irish roots and roughly means wild or untamed, and that’s a quality I think she has so I wanted her name to reflect that. Aside from that, I try to pick names that make sense for the character, that feel right, but each one doesn’t have a deep specific meaning.
Is there a genre that you’ve been wanting to experiment with?
I actually just finished a short story that I’m submitting for consideration in a short story anthology, and it is straight contemporary fiction, which is quite a switch for me. I’d love to do harder science fiction or science thriller, but I don’t know if I have the patience to write the hard science part.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
A lot of things about writing are hard, but I find the pressure I put on myself is the really hard.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Probably keeping at it, and getting back on track when I almost got derailed. Quite a few years ago I wrote and self-published my first novel, Darkstar Rising. After that, I struggled for a long time because I tried to make my new ideas be something they weren’t meant to be—and what I mean is that after Darkstar, I told myself I was going to write a trilogy. But I don’t think the idea I had was meant to be a trilogy. The more I tried to force it to be something it wasn’t, the more frustrated I got. I wasted a lot of time trying to make that book work and eventually I took a break from doing original writing… until I got the idea for Shadow King.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
Oh wow. The best thing? Probably when I hear from readers that they’ve read and enjoyed my books. That’s a really cool feeling.
Have you always liked to write?
What writing advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Just write – don’t get hung up that your first draft isn’t perfect. It isn’t. First drafts shouldn’t be. That’s what editing is for. Get the story out of your head first and then go back to polish it.
Cut yourself some slack – we all want people to love our writing, but the reality is, not everyone will, and that’s okay. Remember, no two people will experience your writing the same way. One might love it, another might not. That doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, it just means that you’re not that person’s cup of tea.
Find your tribe – make friends with other writers. They might be in a writing group in your local area or through an online group. These people will be some of your best supporters, and will give you good, honest feedback. And, when you’re really having a rough time, they understand what you’re going through.
If you didn’t like writing books, or weren’t any good at it, what would you like to do for a living?
I’d like to think I’d be a scientist. First thing I ever wanted to be was an astronomer but then I discovered that I was far better at writing than I was at math, chemistry and physics.
Do you read reviews of your book(s)? Do you respond to them, good or bad? How do you deal with the bad?
I do. I know some people say you shouldn’t. As for responding? Well, for some good ones, I might click a “like” button if it is available but I don’t typically interact with the reviewer. Maybe I’ll say “thank you” or “so glad you liked it” but that’s about it.
Fortunately, I’ve not had to deal with too many negative reviews. I don’t respond to them because I understand that I’m not going to be everyone’s favorite. Like I said earlier, anything creative is subjective so one person might love my style, the next person may not. If I find I really am having a hard time with a review, often I’ll talk to a fellow writer and they usually have good advice and perspectives on how to navigate through it.
What is your least favourite part of the writing / publishing process?
How long it takes. Self-publishing is a bit faster, but traditional and hybrid publishing takes a long time. It took nearly two years from when I finished the Launchpad Competition—which is how I got connected with my publisher—to when Shadow King was officially released. That’s a long time to wait. The end result is worth it, though!
Where did your love of books come from?
My family. My parents are both readers – and my grandmother was a reading teacher, so I had books pretty much from Day 1.
Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I’m not going to go into my list of favorite authors, that would take too long. But the Keltiad series from Patricia Kennealy-Morrison has always been a favorite. The books are Copper Crown, Silver Branch, and Throne of Scone. I don’t think they’re in print any more, but I loved how she wove fantasy and sci-fi together really seamlessly.
Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite and why?
Probably my Shadow King male lead – Aohdan Collins. He was the first character I thought of in the book and I just had a really clear idea of who he was. He’s not always the nicest person, I mean, he is a crime boss, but he does have special place in my heart.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. When I get on a roll, I get very energized but eventually you can’t sustain that, and then the exhausted part kicks in.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I probably land on the original side. I think if you write a good story, you’re going to find your audience. There is a certain amount of giving readers what they want but you have to be careful. If you try to please everyone, you run the risk of losing your unique voice.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’ve had the good fortune of meeting many outstanding writers and authors through Inkshares and through social media. I’m honestly not going to name names but that is mostly because there are so many, that I’m afraid of accidentally forgetting someone and I’d feel terrible about that.
But, they’ve made me a better writer by giving great advice, challenging how I’m looking at my characters, and reminding me that I’m not out there all by myself (everyone at Writing Bloc)
Where can your fans find you and follow??
Web site: www.susankhamilton.com
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview ❤️
You are so welcome!