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Hi, I'm Susanne...


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M.H. Susanne Matthews with Husband John

Biography

Susanne Matthews, née Poirier, was born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. Her parents, Leo and Cecile Poirier did their best to encourage her talents. She has one sister, Michele, who works is a nurse.

Susanne attended St. Lawrence Secondary School, graduating with honors. While in high school she participated in public speaking competitions, winning both the French and the English public speaking awards on the same day. She also participated in the Drama club.

After high school, she moved to Ottawa, Ontario to attend Carleton University, where she achieved a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in English and History.

Susanne met her husband, John, at Carleton. They were married at the end of her second year and resided in Ottawa for the next ten years. They had three children Gregory, Jason, and Angela.

Susanne, John and the family returned to Cornwall, and once the children were all in school full-time, Susanne went to Queen's University in Kingston where she earned her Bachelor of Education degree. She retired in 2010 after more than 30 years as an educator, most of those years spent as a secondary school English teacher.

Today, she continues to live in Cornwall with her husband of more than 40 years. Their children have all left the nest, but she enjoys visiting with them and her five grandchildren: Hannah, Nico, Eleni, Georgia, and Tonio.

Susanne is an Amazon bestselling author and a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America.

When she isn't reading or writing, Susanne enjoys scrapbooking, watching television, traveling, and camping.











Q & A With Susanne Matthews

What made you want to be a writer?

I am asthmatic. In my youth, I spent a lot of time sick and on my own. Back in the day, if you had an asthma attack, you were hospitalized - not so much for your benefit, but to give your parents a break from your constant coughing. To escape from the loneliness and boredom that comes from spending hours by yourself, I read. Nancy Drew, Donna Parker, The Hardy Boys, Annette, and countless other characters became my companions and friends. I travelled the world with them, and participated in incredible adventures in the past, present, and future. I wanted to do the same thing for others, to share the stories and characters I could create, so they would feel a little less alone. I've been writing stories of one kind or another as well as poetry for as long as I can remember. Being able to finally share my tales is 'a dream come true'.

What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

I'll read almost anything! I have an eclectic taste when it comes to literature. I love mysteries, fantasies, and contemporary stories as well as historical novels. I prefer a happily ever after ending, so I'm a romance junkie, but I have read and enjoyed other types of books. I must confess to being a big fan of J. K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, Kathy Reichs, Joanne Treat, and Richard Castle. I have also read a great number of classical authors including, Edgar Race Burrows, J. R. Tolkien, R.L. Stevenson, H. G. Wells, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Daphne Du Maurier.

My Kobo teems with romance novels in all of the sub-genres from a huge variety of authors including Kristina Knight who also writes for Crimson Romance.

I'm not a fan of the horror genre, but I'll read just about anything else. I have a couple of friends who write erotica (blushes) and I've read that too.

Where do you get the inspiration for your characters?

I don't have any particular source of character inspiration although I do use the first names of family and friends. Some of my male characters are based on an aspect of my husband's personality. For example, in FIRE ANGEL, Jake wears plaid shirts. In winter, plaid shirts are my husband's standard mode of dress. In fact, the name Jake is my husband's nickname. I tend to design my heroes and heroines around the character traits I admire in individuals - honesty, integrity, determination, and bravery. My ladies are risk takers, almost all of them extroverts, like many of the women I know and admire.

So, do you prefer your heroes in boxers or briefs?

At first, it was crazy boxers with outrageous sayings, but I think I prefer the bikini briefs - all my male characters wear them now.

And your ladies?

My ladies have impeccable dress sense - no fashion police needed. None of them are wearing granny underwear!

What inspired you to finally put pen to paper, as they say, and write?

I have been writing on and off, for more than twenty years, but I didn't pursue it seriously. I'm rather annoyed with myself that I didn't keep copies of those earlier works, since I probably could have reworked them, but I do still have the jot notes for them, two of which are fantasies, one a Roman Empire historical, and another a contemporary romance. When we came home from our last mini-vacation in September 2012, there was an email on my computer about the HQN So You Think You Can Write contest, so I thought why not? I wasn't doing anything else, so I started writing, and I haven't looked back.

How do you manage your writing time?

Since I no longer work outside the home, I have a lot of time to devote to writing. My writing routine isn't fixed, and some days I will spend 8-12 hours at the computer, with the usual breaks, if I have an idea and the words just flow. Other days, it's 3 or 4. I set deadlines for myself and word count minimums if I'm doing straight writing, usually 1000 to 1500 words a day. If I'm revising and polishing, then I set chapter goals. There are days where I'll do nothing in terms of actual writing, but I might spend 5 or 6 hours researching an aspect of my work in progress.

I tend to prefer working with one manuscript at a time, but I have at least two or three on the go most of the time. If I get writer's block, I'll move onto something else for a while and comeback to the other story when the block's gone. If I've left a manuscript for a few days, I'll start at page one and read through to my stopping point to get myself back into the story.

I keep track of pages and words per chapter to make sure that the chapters are similar in length and I use a screen reader to read the material back to me when I'm in the polishing stage. I find that helps a lot since it readily shows missing and duplicated words, verb tense errors, and repeated words.

Once a week, sometimes more often, I'll write a blog and post it.

Blogs and manuscripts - where do you get the ideas?

Inspiration comes from almost anywhere. The basic idea for FIRE ANGEL came from a series of arson fires in our area - no serial killer was involved, but a lot of damage was done. There was a grease fire that destroyed a popular restaurant and heritage building. The smoke from it was so thick that they had to cancel church services since it was unhealthy to be in that environment.

I also get ideas from the places we visit on holidays and the places I'd like to go. My own ancestral background was the basis for a historical novel I wrote.

I am a romantic at heart, so happily ever after is the goal - how we get there is the novel. Once I start the story, the characters take over, and carry it to the end.

How do you start writing a novel?

For years, as an English teacher, I swore by charts and graphs and all the rest of it that English teachers teach - character, motivation, theme, you name it. Then I started writing and realized that I was a 'fly by the seat of your pants' writer. Basically, I have the idea for a plot floating around in my head; I sit at the computer and the story writes itself. The characters decide where they want to go, how they want to behave, and I let them take the story where it needs to go. I'd like to think that it is my muse controlling things. As a student of Greek Mythology, that muse would be Calliope, the muse of epic poetry.

Do you need to be in the mood to write?

That's a difficult question to answer, since everyone normally needs to be in the mood to do something. Do I have a mood that is my writing mood? Not really, but I have to have an idea, so unless the muse is at work, I'll procrastinate until she gets things going. I might surf the web for information, read someone else's work in progress, or just chat. I have a writing group, ladies who are authors or aspiring authors who really help in that area. I prefer to write in silence, so that my mind can hear the ideas. If I can't get in the mood, I'll go out, run errands, and when I get back, things usually fall into place. If they don't, then I'll read. That always makes me want to write again.

What kind of books do you write?

In a word, I write romance, but a better answer would be that I write several different genres of romance novels. I have a headful of ideas and I want to write them all. Most writers settle into a particular genre; I haven't done that yet. My first published book is romantic suspense, but I have a couple of historicals, a few contemporary romances, a paranormal, and a fantasy begging to be told. I also have more thrillers lurking in my mind. We'll just have to see where the muse and the editors lead me.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a writer?

Read! Read as many books as you can in the genre that interests you and then just do it. Sit down and write your book and most importantly finish it. That sense of accomplishment will get you over the insecurity and then keep writing. There are all kinds of publishers and editors out there looking for new writers, and if you've done your homework by reading, and know your stuff, you can be their next author.

But don't expect your very first book to be a best seller; you need to hone your craft. Write, revise, rewrite and polish - that lesson from my English teaching days is invaluable.

Have confidence in yourself and believe in your abilities. Insecurity will always dog your steps even after your book has been published, but you have to keep believing in what you do. You will always be your hardest critic, but if you want it badly enough...