Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wednesday Wisdom with Suz De Mello

How long have you been writing? Tell us a little about your writing journey.
I had always sensed a creative wellspring inside me but didn’t know how to express myself, even though I’d majored in art and sung in concert choirs and rock bands. Then in 1996 I started writing with the encouragement of a friend, who taught a class at a local college called “Writing for Publication.” I learned about the business of writing, including about “writer’s guidelines.” Until then, I had thought that people simply wrote a manuscript and sent off their work, or perhaps magazine writers went to work, sat in  cubicles and turned out articles. I hadn’t known that each book and magazine publisher puts out a list of exactly what they want, and freelancers read those lists and write to suit the publisher.
Moreover, I learned that romance novels were (and are) the largest fiction genre. At that point romance publishers put out nearly 2000 books annually, and though I hadn’t read much romance, I found myself saying, “Hey, I bet I can write a romance and get it published.”
It turned out that I was right. I was inspired enough to write four complete manuscripts by early 1999, and sold one by the middle of that year, a historical to Zebra Books. After selling two more books to Silhouette, I quit practicing law and started to write full-time.
I’ve had my ups and downs. After churning out six manuscripts in a few months while my father was dying, I hit a wall built out of writers’ block pretty hard. It’s been a struggle ever since, but I’ve sold sixteen complete novels, plus a number of short stories and articles on writing.
In an effort to inject some life into the writing, I started writing erotica about eight years ago. It’s gone well, but not as well as I’d hoped. These days I feel lucky if I manage to put out one novel and one short story annually, which is a pretty pathetic output compared to a lot of authors. But I struggle on.
You write under two author names with different sub genres. That sounds tricky. What are the benefits of going this way? Do you ever get them mixed up?  (I’m starting to do this now, so I’m curious!)
I never get the Sue Swift and Suz deMello personae mixed up, though since my line at Silhouette folded, Sue Swift has become much more racy. The dubious benefit is that readers know to expect a very explicit story with a Suz deMello book.
If I had it to do over again I would not use a pen name. It’s double the promotional annoyance. I have mitigated it somewhat by being pretty open about the fact that Sue=Suz, so I cross-promote most of the time.
However, if I lived in a conservative community I’d have to use a pen name, so i certainly understand why others need one. As it is, I live in California, where most of us don’t judge others on superficial stuff.
Tell us about your latest release.
At the time of this writing, I anticipate the release of the second novel in my “Clan Kilburn’s Vampires” series for Ellora’s Cave—these books are historical vampire erotica set in the eighteenth century. I don’t yet have a pub date for Desire in Tartan, which is the story of an innocent English governess who takes a job tutoring the four children of a Highland laird in a remote castle. She finds herself in a nest of vampires, in love with one of them.
Where did you come up with the idea for this book?
It’s a sequel, so I simply thought a lot about what would happen after Temptation in Tartan ended. I surmised that after Kieran and Lydia, the H&H in Temptation, settle their differences and got their HEA, they’d start having children—and that someone would need to educate them.
How did you research for your story? Was it fun?
OMG I love historical research! It’s one of the main reasons why I prefer to write historicals. I’m fascinated by the way people used to live, when they ate, how they dressed...everything.
I often set my books in Britain, and have traveled there a number of times. Not merely to do research, but to visit family and “refill the well.” I have amassed a lot of material over the years, but still do some online research when I get stuck. I also know a few experts on the place and time in which I generally write.
Is this part of a series? Any plans for other stories based on these characters?
Yes, as I stated, it’s the second novel in what will be a four-book series. I also have written and put out a couple of short stories, and plan at least one more.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Dealing with my persistent writers’ block, and if anyone has any hints on how to deal with that, do please send them along.
What was the easiest part?
...sigh...right now I feel as though nothing is easy about writing! Here’s one of my fave quotes about writing from Paul Gallico: "It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader."
Favorite Scene?
There’s a fantastic scene in which the formerly shy heroine. Alice, rescues the hero and his compadres from a bloodthirsty band of baobhan-sith.
I especially enjoy stories in which a shy, weak heroine finds her female power and strength. I write them a lot.
Where can readers find out more about you?

I’m highly accessible. Find my books at

     For editing services, email me at
Twitter feed for fave reading: @ReadThis4fun
What are you working on now?
The next book in the series, Two Rakes in Tartan, set in Regency-era London.  It’s a kick! I’m already loving it.
And now for the very very personal questions-
Favourite toy?
My lover’s cock. No, take it back. His mind. No, take it back. His flogger. No, take it back...
Favourite food?
Now , this is a really hard question. I could be up all night thinking about this. I’m a vegetarian, but my favorite food is probably corned beef on rye with cole slaw. No, take it back. Szechwan eggplant. No, take it back. Broiled halibut. No, take it back...
Aha! This is it: dark chocolate and good red wine—an unbeatable combo, especially with a few nuts and a little cheese. This is my midnight snack practically every night, and I love it.
Favourite position?
Woof. hahaha! Love it!
If you could have anyone, famous or not - who do you want to get hot and heavy with in a ménage?
Hm. Well, one of my ex-Doms is pretty great sexually, but he’s such a crap human being that I hesitate to allow him anywhere near my life. My current lover is wonderful. I’ll do anything with him, anytime.
Of celebrities—well, my interests aren’t much different than anyone else’s. Viggo Mortensen is a special favorite, as is Johnny Depp. (Duh. Who doesn’t lust after Johnny Depp?) The vamps in True Blood, but especially Alex Skarsgard. David Beckham. The star of Grimm, David Giuntoli. Major eye candy!

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written over sixteen romance novels in several subgenres, including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Ai Press, Liquid Silver Books and Etopia Press. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, attained the finals of the RITA, won a contest here and there, and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

Here’s where readers can find the latest Clan Kilburn Vampires tale:

Here’s the blurb to Temptation in Tartan
She had to marry a monster…
Rumors had followed the chieftains of Clan Kilborn for centuries. Said to be descended from the Viking Berserkers, they were ferocious in battle, known for tearing off the heads of their enemies and drinking their blood.
But English noblewoman Lydia Swann Williston would marry Kieran, Laird Kilborn, to bring peace to the Kilborn lands after the horror of Culloden and the brutal pacification. A widow, she also brought needed wealth to Clan Kilborn. For her part, eighteen-year-old Lydia wanted children. With her husband killed at Culloden, she would make a new life in the Highlands.
The old chieftain of Clan Kilborn also died in battle, and she hoped that the new young Laird would lack his ancestors' ferocity.
She was wrong.
Published by Ellora’s Cave in June 2012, Temptation in Tartan reached #1 on the All Romance Ebooks bestseller list for historical (other) romance and spent a full week in the top five. Its sequel, Desire in Tartan, will be released early in 2013.


Ashlyn Chase said...

Great Interview!

Victoria Adams said...

Fun interview. Books sound great.

Anonymous said...

Lol! Oh yes, love the favorite position question. Too funny :)
The book sounds great, Suz!


Suz said...

Maggie, thanks so much for hosting me, and thanks for everyone's comments :)

Bebe Balocca said...

I loved this interview too! Your 'take it backs' had me cracking up. And I'm digging the Scottish vamps in your Highland books. I'll definitely check them out. :)