Today I'd like to introduce author and jeweler, SUZANNE BARRETT. Suzanne is also a friend, mentor and fellow Monterey Bay RWA chapter member. Welcome Suzanne, tell us about your latest book, THE PRODIGAL LOVER.
Suzanne: My latest book, The Prodigal Lover, is set in the fictional Northern California town of Timberlake. Heroine Mary Sweeney, daughter of an Irish immigrant Ohio steelworker, struggles to make ends meet at the home of her employer, Ida Fallon. Turning the old Victorian into a bed and breakfast seems a sensible plan: it provides an income and allows the elderly woman to stay in the home she came to as a bride. Mary has been a companion and a helper to Mrs. Fallon whom she loves like a mother. A decade earlier, shortly after Mary came to work for the Fallons, she fell in love with Mrs. Fallon's grandson Rob. But Rob liked the pretty girls, not plain, sensible Mary, and when he left Timberlake, he took a chunk of her heart with him.
Now Rob's back in town, but for what purpose? Is he missing his grandmother or is he after her property? Mary is determined to protect the elderly woman in whatever way she can. But when Rob turns on his considerable charm, who will protect Mary?
Galen: What was the inspiration for The Prodigal Lover?
Suzanne: I like small town, love Northern California settings. I also love a tortured hero, and while Rob Fallon isn't tortured in every sense of the word, he's a bad boy with a past he can't escape. Mary is practical and pragmatic, yet drawn, almost against her will to Rob. It's a story of high drama. I started out with a small town and two characters with a lot of baggage and then kept throwing in more and more obstacles.
Galen: What started you on the road to writing romanc?
Suzanne: I have always been a reader and a writer—everything from short stories to correspondence with numerous pen pals. However, in the eighties we had an opportunity to relocate to Northern England. The plan fell through and I was devastated, but it was then the germ of an idea grew: if I could write, we could live anywhere. Of course, back then I had no idea how difficult it would be to become published. The actual book that spurred my desire to write a romance was LaVyrle Spencer's Hummingbird.
Galen: Do you remember the first romance book you read? If so, who was the author? What made it stick with you?
Suzanne: Ah, this is going to date me, but when I was thirteen, McCall's magazine (think it was Mccall's) ran a serialized cersion of Anya Seton's Katherine. I read it and loved it.
Galen: If you could have any other job, (not your current writing or day job) what would it be?
Suzanne: I spent nearly three decades in engineering, stayed long enough to take early retirement so I could stay home and write. That is what I love to do, however, once I had dreams of being an interpreter, and I would have enjoyed that. I think I would like to be a master gardener; I love digging in the dirt.
Galen: Where would you like to travel to if you had to research an area?
Suzanne: When I wrote an earlier book (In Love and War), I spent part of a winter in County Waterford, researching everything from castle keeps to dairy farming, cheesemaking and Irish Republicanism, all of which are featured in the story. I loved doing the research. I have also done considerable research in Counties Cork and Dublin for a book set during the Easter Uprising on through the irish Cicil War and the formation of the irish Free State. For Still another story, I spent time in Britain, so I'd say my research preferences definitely lean to England and Ireland.
Galen: Best and worst part of being a writer.
Suzanne: Best part is allowing my mind to open up to creative thoughts. Worst part is having difficulty turning off my internal editor.
Galen: Are you a pantzer or plotter?
Suzanne: A little of both. I know where the story is going but I haven't plotted it out enough to have a complete road map.
Galen: Did you sell the first book you wrote?
Suzanne: You've got to be kidding! My first book was my learn how to write effort, and while I still love it, I doubt it will ever make prime time.
Galen: Describe your workspace.
Suzanne: I am fortunate to have an office. In one corner, two six-foot tables form an “L” where I have my desktop computer, printer, assorted external hard drives. Above the computer are several shelved housing my writing books.
I can look out a sliding glass door onto the deck and a pergola, and on the far wall is a window that overlooks the garden and below the window a comfy sofa where I can curl up with a book or take a quick nap. The wall behind me is floor-to-ceiling books, mostly books on Britain and Ireland, my keeper shelf and a collection of miniature cats.
Galen: What are the three books you’d have if you were stranded on a deserted isle?
Suzanne: The Bible, A Fair Stream of Silver by Ann Moray (folk tales from the Hebrides). Not sure I could name just one more book…there are so many.
Galen: Name two blogs you read everyday.
Suzanne: I don't actually read blogs with any regularity. I read the American Thinker and a couple other online news reports. I also enjoy Pioneer Woman.
Galen: What do you do when you are not writing?
Suzanne: I design jewelry with wire wrap being my specialty, I also garden, love to cook, love staying at home. I am also an editor and a book reviewer.
Galen: What was the best piece of advice given to you?
Suzanne: “Don't wait for something; make it happen.”
You can find out more about Suzanne, her books and jewelry at:
THE PRODIGAL LOVER can be purchased at: