Friday, June 22, 2012

Interview: Susan A. Royal

Cyrus: Hey, Everyone. This week on Distant Shores I want to introduce you to someone who helped me along considerably in my writing career. Susan and I first met minds at Critique Circle over my first novel Becoming NADIA, which went on to be published by MuseItUp Publishing. She was an invaluable crit partner, providing new points of view and invaluable feedback, and I’m proud to say her own debut novel Not Long Ago is now available through—guess who? MuseItUp Publishing! Okay, everyone, tap your “insert” keys repeatedly for historical novelist Susan A. Royal.

Susan: First thing I want to do is thank Cyrus Keith for allowing me to guest on his blog.  I met Cyrus way back when we were both newbies on Critique Circle, a great online critique group I highly recommend.  I was immediately drawn to his WIP, which went on to become his award-winning debut novel, Becoming NADIA.  I soon discovered it was not just another action-packed thriller.  It was deep.  I also found myself invested in his main characters, Nadia and Jon.  His supporting cast was just as complex and interesting.  A great book, and if you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.

Cyrus: Wow, thanks for the kudo’s, Susan. I’m glad you enjoyed my work. But we’re here to talk about your book and your characters. So ‘fess up. Let’s have the scoop, as it were. 

Susan:That brings me to one of my favorite things about writing, and that is developing characters.  And not just the main characters, either.  When I first envision things, the hero/heroine are the force that drives the story line.  They have their jobs cut out for them from the beginning, so I have to make sure their personalities match the part they are going to play.  

Not so with the supporting characters.  For instance, in Not Long Ago, which is a time travel adventure with just the right amount of romance, I introduce a character early on who was originally intended to stay on the sidelines and appear from time to time, but only when needed.  “Along with a disreputable shock of orange hair, the gangly, young man possessed an ingratiating smile and a pleasant manner.”  His name was Arvo, and he was the tailor’s son my time traveling heroine, Erin, met on her way to the castle, where she hoped to find answers to why she was transported to this medieval time.  Even though Erin falls victim to Arvo’s irresponsible attitude almost immediately, “the minute the two men left our side, Arvo winked, telling me he’d see me later, and disappeared. His escape was no doubt one of the reasons he and his father clashed so often” she can’t help but like him, because of his wit and cheerfulness, plus the fact that he was privy to castle gossip.

Arvo’s character evolved until he became an integral part of my story.  When I decided Erin needed a confidant, Arvo fit the bill.  Lat on I needed to invent a way for her to attend the ball, once again, the tailor’s son was perfect.  His character expanded and his personality gained dimension.  Arvo kept showing up, and before I knew it, he became a well-rounded character who made my story even better by his presence.

Cyrus: Isn’t it strange how secondary characters can develop so much color? I had that same thing happen to me. Tell us about your big debut.

Susan: A little more about Not Long Ago:  While doing research for a novel set in the Middle Ages, Erin and her employer, March, are transported to a time where chivalry and religion exist alongside brutality and superstition. Things are not quite right at the castle, and Erin and March feel sure mysterious Lady Isobeil is involved. Erin must cope with crop circles, ghosts, a kidnapping and death before the truth of her journey is revealed.

Forced to pose as March’s nephew, Erin finds employment as handsome Sir Griffin’s squire. She’s immediately attracted to him and grows to admire his courage, quiet nobility and devotion to duty. Yet, she must deny her feelings. Her world is centuries away, and she wants to go home. Despite that, Erin can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor.
Arvo is only one of the things that makes Not Long Ago memorable.  Please join me and travel along with Erin while she journeys to another world, filled with other amazing characters
Not Long Ago is currently available through MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon and B&N. 

You can view Not Long Ago book trailer here.       

Cyrus: That’s awesome, Susan. Folks, I can attest this is a book you’ll like. I’m not a fan of *shudders* romance, per se, but Susan managed to crank out a rich, colorful story that doesn’t overpower us with rippling muscles and vivacious curves. Her characters are real enough to touch, and her settings are well-researched. She’ll draw you right into her world and keep you wanting more.

Anything else you want to add, sis?

Susan: Just so you know, you’ll be seeing Arvo again.  Along with some of my other supporting characters, he’ll return in the sequel to Not Long Ago, my current WIP.  Here’s an unedited excerpt:

     I couldn’t believe my eyes.  Gone was the tall, gangly young man with orange hair shooting in every direction at once.  In his place stood a well-dressed merchant whose air of self-assurance fit him like the tailored clothing he wore.  Speechless, I could only gape.
     “Well now.  I did not expect a reaction such as this.  Are ye that surprised to see me again or merely weak from the shock of my appearance?”  He fixed me with his brown eyes and grinned, instantly transforming into the Arvo I knew. 

My thanks, Cyrus, for hosting me on your blog.  It’s been a distinct pleasure to count you among the friends I’ve made on my journey to become a published author.  You are a unique individual in this world, a generous person who always gives more than he takes. 

Cyrus: Wow, how do I follow that up? Thanks to Susan A. Royal, for coming by to show us all a little of herself. You can check out Not Long Ago and a couple hundred other awesome titles at Stop by and see us there.


  1. An interesting point about secondary characters. They can solve the problem and theycan be the problem. Yours sounds like a helper in waiting.

  2. Totally agree on secondary characters (and, yep, Arvo was my favorite in the novel.) They're a lot of fun to write. I quite enjoyed that sneak preview at the end. :)

    Great interview with a great author. Everyone should read this novel. It deftly avoids a number of the cliches of the genre to provide an engaging plot and memorable characters.

  3. Susan,
    I enjoyed your interview and the excerpt. Not Long Ago sounds like a winner.

    Good luck!

  4. Thank you all so much for stopping by. And thanks to Cyrus for having me. It's been a blast!

  5. As always, Cy would never steer you wrong! Wonderful interview and, Susan, Not Long Ago sounds like a terrific read. IMH editor's O, I love unique, well-developed secondary characters--they're always a bit mysterious and you yearn to know more about them, like, what makes them tick. The quirky go-to guy, Purcell Clete, Robicheaux's sidekick in James Lee Burke's great books, Mouse, the lovable psychopath, in Walter Mosley's always unique books (who could forget Devil in a Blue Dress?),and Joe Pike, Elvis Cole's deadly "man of few words" in Robert Crais's killer thrillers...and the list goes on. And on.
    I'll definitely be checking out Arvo as I add Not Long Ago to my towering TBR list.
    Best of luck!
    Joelle Walker

  6. Thanks for stopping by, folks. It was great having you on the blog, Susan.

  7. It was great being here. I can't wait to have you stop in and visit at my place.

  8. Look at you, Brad, rocking the blogosphere. Great interview! :)


  9. Well, maybe not so much Rocking, as gently nudging, anyway! :-D