It’s time for another Indie Interview, and this week, Sue Rovens stopped by to talk about her new novel Track 9.
Hi, Sue. Welcome to Read A Lot.
Thanks for having me!
Q: Had you always planned on becoming a published author?
A: I don’t know if “planned” is really the word for me. I always hoped to be. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was about six. Since that time, I’ve pretty much been writing something or working on something.
Q: What inspired you to write Track 9?
A: The novel was initially inspired by a trip to Germany (back in 2006). However, there are a number of “adult” and difficult themes that run through the story. I gave the characters these types of backstories because I feel that a person with these kinds of flaws and issues are more realistic. I also think that these particular traits and problems (found in Track 9) are seen as “taboo” or “edgy”. I never shy away from subject matter like that. I like to explore those topics – set them out, front and centre.
Q: What made you choose the genre?
A: I’ve always gravitated to horror and suspense; the dark and edgy. You wouldn’t think that to look at me…or even during a normal conversation. But there are layers…
Q: What is the book about?
A: Track 9 (the new novel coming out in spring 2017) is about a couple who gets trapped in a haunted, defunct train station in Rain, Germany. What transpires over the next 12-15 hours runs the gamut from uncomfortable situations to horrific and nightmarish.
Q: Did you find it easiest to write with a schedule or with no time restrictions?
A: I wrote the entire “story” during a Nano (National Novel Writing Month) in 2014. So, I had a base to work from. I reworked about 95% of it over the past two years. You really wouldn’t even recognise it from the first draft to what it finally became. So, the only “schedule” I followed was the initial “write a novel in 30 days” back in ’14. According to Nano, a novel is 50,000 words.
Q: Can you choose a favourite character?
A: Not really. I can “understand” some characters better since I’ve given them more of a backstory and wrote more dialogue for them, but I don’t necessarily “like” one over the other.
Q: Was there ever a point while you were writing your book when you wanted to give up?
A: Pretty much every day. Writing is a difficult and solitary practice. It can be draining. But there is something to be said for perseverance and completing an enormous project. When I finished my first novel, Badfish, I knew it was good. Not that everyone will like it, but I felt confident that it was a solid piece of work.
Q: What is the worst part of the writing process for you?
A: Editing. Going back, draft after draft, trying to make sure that your vision and story arc makes sense to others. Many times, when I am discussing what I’ve written with my editor, I’ll say “well, I know what I meant…” And they’ll say, “Well, the reader isn’t living in your head.” J
Q: How much of your stories do you plan, or do you find it easier to make them up as you go along?
A: With Badfish, I had a good general outline. There were some parts of the story that even surprised me as I was writing it. I’d be typing a conversation between two characters and suddenly go, “OMG! I know what would be cool here!” In Track 9, I had a completely different vision when I started. I think it’s so much better and more interesting now, though. Sometimes, a first draft is pretty bad and convoluted, but it gives you a starting point.
Q: Do you have a favourite piece of writing advice?
A: Don’t write for an audience – write for you. If you write in order to sell books, you’ll be sorely disappointed. (Unless you’re famous already)
Q: Where can people learn more about your books?
Q: What have you learned since you started writing?
A: Oh, my. So, so much… It would take far too long to list everything, but these would probably be some highlights:
- Write what you enjoy. If you like a certain genre, don’t force yourself to write what might sell “commercially” because the process will become a chore.
- Market, market, market – take any opportunity to publicise your writing. You never know who will be listening/reading/taking note.
- If someone doesn’t like what you wrote, see if you can understand why. If it’s just a personal preference, there’s not much you can do, BUT if it’s because of poor phrasing or weak writing, then you can work to change that.
- Don’t give up. In the end, you’ve created something that will last long after the critics are gone.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’d like to begin work on a third novel. I have a very basic idea revolving around a hoarder who lives next to a funeral home. Hilarity ensues…. (Just kidding).
If I didn’t write suspense and horror, I’d write comedy. J