Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Interview with Susanne O'Leary

with Susanne O'Leary, 
Author of 
Hot Property

Questions: R. Murry

Can you tell me a little about yourself?  I was born in Sweden and live in Ireland (married to an Irishman). I started my writing career by writing non-fiction and wrote two books about health and fitness (I am a trained fitness teacher). While writing these books, I discovered how much I loved the actual writing process.

My then editor gave me the idea to write a fun novel based on my experiences as a diplomat’s wife. This became my debut novel, ‘Diplomatic Incidents’ (the e-book version is called ‘Duty Free’), published in 2001.

I wrote three further novels, ‘European Affairs’ (now as an e-book with the title ‘Villa Caramel’), ‘Fresh Powder’ (2006) and ‘Finding Margo’(2007). The latter two were published by New Island Books in Dublin.

In 2010, when the publishing industry started to decline, I broke away from both publisher and agent and e-published my back list, along with two novels that were with my agent for submission. Since then I have written and e-published five further novels and, as a result, now have twelve books out there in the e-book market worldwide.

I write mainly in the women’s fiction genre, some chick-lit, some contemporary romance, with two historical novels and two detective stories thrown into the mix. I enjoyed writing those but my first love is romantic fiction with a lot of humor and heart.

Do you remember the first story you wrote?  I wrote my very first story when I was twelve. I didn’t actually remember it, until I came across the wrinkly pages stuck into a book in mother’s apartment in Sweden recently. It was a little story about a schoolgirl. But my first adult story was Diplomatic Incidents that became my very first published novel in 2000.

Were you inspired by someone or something?   When I started my first novel, I thought it would be fun to write about my experiences as the wife of a diplomat and make it into a novel. And it was hugely enjoyable to poke fun at all those politicians and diplomats to whom I had to be oh-so-polite…I used fictional names, of course. Now, I’m mostly inspired by Ireland, its stunning landscape and people.

What do you like about writing a story?   It’s mostly the escape element. While I’m writing, I go into another world, where I mix with the characters I have invented. It’s also very much the setting in beautiful, magic places.

Can you tell us about your book?   Hot Property is about a woman who inherits and old house in County Kerry. At first, daunted by the huge and costly prospect of doing it up, she decides to sell it. But an unearthed old family scandal — and unexpected passion with a handsome solicitor — may keep her there just a little longer…

What genre best fits for the book?  It’s a Romantic comedy.

Are you working on something new at the moment?  Yes. I have just published the follow-up to Hot Property. Not exactly a sequel, more like a follow-on with some of the same characters but a new heroine and new people center-stage. 

This one is called Hot Gossip and it’s getting a lot of excellent reviews already. And now I’m working on number three in this series, which will be published in the late spring of next year.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?   Write from your heart in the genre you enjoy. Go slowly. Enjoy the writing and don’t worry too much about sales. Get your work read, edited and proofread. Polish, polish, polish. Don’t be in a hurry to publish. And, above all, find true joy in your writing. That is what makes it shine in the end.

Do you have anything to add?  I discussed my writing recently with a friend who told me my writing should be more commercial and that I had to plug into the ‘zeitgeist’ out there in order to sell more books. But I didn’t agree, that’s not why I write.

I feel I have to be true to myself and not glance sideways or upwards and then write to suit the market, whatever that is. I have to stay true to those who read my books and love them. If that’s a small circle, so be it.

I write from my heart and my experiences -  My observation of people and my surroundings. Little things spark ideas. Landscapes, light, nature, sounds, smells, fun dialogue, funny one-liners and quirky characters. All of that make up the rich fabric of my stories.

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