Forward to Camelot
by Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn
Susan and Kevin will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour and their Super Book Blast Tour.
Hello and thanks for stopping by and visiting with me and the bunnies. It is so nice to have Susan here. Readers I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. Oh, hold on, Susan, every time someone new stops by the dogs and bunnies go crazy.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your book or getting it published that you would change?
I’d be more consistent about my efforts! Over the years I wrote books under contract but kept fiddling with my own stories and couldn’t quite ‘get them right’. Instead of working at them hard and consistently, I just let them lie there, and I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to write some of them! (Don’t ask, but it’s in double digits—and that’s for YEARS.) If I’d settled down to work sooner, I’d be a lot further ahead in my career, but I have no time for regret anymore; just have to be much more consistent about how quickly I get a project done. My goal is to publish at least one major book a year—and maybe a shorter eBook, either fiction or nonfiction—every year for the rest of my life. Let’s see how that goes! (Dick Francis, a writer idol of mine, simply wrote a book a year—but he did it for 40 years, took a short break and then began writing books with his son. Do you know what a body of work you’ll have if you only write a book a year???)
What book would you like to read again?
I read almost all books that I like more than once. In fact, the kids’ books I bought as a child, which I still own (remember all those Scholastic books you got through your schools?), I’ve re-read so many times I can almost close my eyes and see the words on the page anyway! But I love them and I keep re-reading them. Of the books I’ve read lately, I know I’ll be re-reading ME & LEE by Judyth Vary Baker – it’s the story of the woman who claims she was Lee Harvey Oswald’s lover in the summer of 1963 in New Orleans, and it’s fascinating. So much of what we suspected about Oswald when we wrote FORWARD TO CAMELOT originally in 2003 was confirmed by reading this book. It’s amazing.
Do you have a book trailer?
We will. It should be available the day your readers read this, but they’ll have to check our website for the URL; I don’t have it yet.
What are your thoughts on book trailers?
Some of them are incredible. But I find myself mostly attracted to those which are more cinematic, and that really requires someone who thinks in film terms, not book terms. I’ve seen a few that really aren’t all that interesting—they mostly show still photos and the book cover and then a few more stills and have some music underneath. On the other hand, my writing partner, Kevin Finn, has a deep background in film. I saw the trailer he did for a friend and it was incredible. He’s doing ours; it should be up on both our websites AND on YouTube by the time your readers read this interview!
Did you have a favorite toy as a child?
I can’t think of any, but I had tons of favorite books. To this day, almost my favorite was a set of 1961 Childcraft that my mother bought for us. (Childcraft was the children’s equivalent of World Book Encyclopedia – published by the same company – 15 volumes of stories, poems and other information not just for children but also for parents raising children.) I adored that set, but my mother sold it when I was in college; what a loss! I found that very same set again at a book fair years ago, and grabbed it! To this day, if I’m ever in a fire, I want to make sure I save that set!
Do you ever write in your PJ’s?
Constantly! I do some great work sitting in bed, propped up against the headboard of my bed with my laptop on my knees. In fact, I do a lot of Nanowrimo writing that way; the work seems to flow faster like that. Maybe I should try it all the time!
Red, or white wine?
I’m not crazy about either, though if pushed I guess I’d have to say white. Can I change it to champagne? I like that a lot!
What is your favorite gadget?
I’m fascinated with tablets but haven’t invested in one yet. I’m excited to see where they’re going, and the Microsoft Surface is especially interesting, as it looks like the bridge between entertainment on a tablet and actually getting work done on a laptop. Can’t wait to see where that goes!
Do you prefer print books or ebooks?
Print for some books, eBooks for others. I love the Kindle app on my phone; it means I can take most of my favorite books with me everywhere! The stuff that will never make it to eBook, I want to keep on my bookshelves. Besides, holding a new book is something of a holy experience!
What is your favorite color?
Purple and all shades of it. I read once, in someplace like the National Enquirer, that liking certain colors meant something about your personality. Purple as I remember meant that you were original and creative. Nice to know!
Swimming in the ocean or a pool?
The ocean – it’s beautiful here in South Carolina by the beach, especially in the evenings. Hard to resist a quick dip before the sun goes down!
What do you collect? Trinkets? Books? Gadgets?
Disney trading pins, which you can trade with individuals not just in the parks, but everywhere around the globe. They’re beautiful and often unique—created by Disney artists all over the world—at one point I had about 200, but I’ve gotten rid of a lot. I only have around 100 or so now. But on my next trip to Disney World I have no doubt I’ll fill right up again—those pins are hard to resist!
Do you drive a manual or automatic vehicle?
Manual – and my car is the same blue Beetle Cady drives in CAMELOT – guess where I got that idea from?
Do you prefer to live in a big city or in the country?
I’m a suburban girl. I grew up in the New York suburbs, then lived in L.A. for 16 years (and all of L.A. looks like one big suburb), then lived in the western Chicago suburbs Oak Park and Berwyn (do you see a pattern developing here?) Now I live in Mount Pleasant, a beautiful suburb of Charleston, SC, but it looks more country and less suburban—the big development has only happened in the last 10 years or so, and there’s still plenty of the old heritage visible on our streets. I LOVE it!
What is your favorite movie?
I have lots of favorites, but among them, one that stands out is IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, which was enormously successful when it came out in 1934, won Oscars in all major categories (which didn’t happen again till 1976 with ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST). It’s a screwball comedy made during the Depression with Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable, and believe me, the man was never sexier! He plays a reporter who was just fired by his newspaper; Colbert plays an heiress who runs away from her overbearing father to try to reach the man she married on impulse. They’re both traveling on the same bus, and it’s MARVELOUS. If you haven’t seen it and are a sucker for romantic movies, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
Do you play an instrument? If so what?
I used to play piano, guitar and violin. Sadly, it’s been such a long time since I’ve touched any of them that except for playing GUITAR HERO with my sons a few years ago, I’m too out of practice to just pick them back up again. It’s too bad; I did used to enjoy playing the piano just for fun. (My sons didn’t know I’d ever played guitar, so when I started GUITAR HERO they were very impressed with my ‘playing’!)
Besides writing what other artistic talents, do you have?
‘Besides writing’? Isn’t that enough??? Apart from that, I love music and can sing pretty well. I also love to dance but I doubt anyone would call it a talent—no one seems to enjoy watching me!
What types of books do you write?
I’m a multi-genre author. I’ve not only written adult novels but also young-adult fiction and nonfiction, including biography, history, sports, fashion, etc. The adult novels run the gamut from women’s novels like STEALING FIRE (a love story about unlikely soul mates against the background of 1980’s Broadway) to FORWARD TO CAMELOT, which is history, mystery, action, and a little (surprising) romance thrown in, to REALIZING YOU (written with Ron Doades), for which we invented a new genre: the self-help NOVEL, to teach life principles by using a conventional story and characters. So while I hope you’ll get my sensibility from one book to the next, you probably won’t get the same genre too often!
Who’s your main audience?
Women 40 and up for the women’s novels. Men and women (usually older than 40) for a book like CAMELOT. REALIZING YOU would likely appeal to readers 35 and up who are interested in personal development and self-help stuff.
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today, Susan. It’s been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.
WHERE WERE YOU THE DAY KENNEDY WAS SAVED?
On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK’s own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price.
In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible—while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President’s murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald.
Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both.
History CAN be altered …
… Outdoor sounds.
Cars driving past. Car horns blaring. A cool breeze on my face, and something hard underneath me.
Slowly, I opened my eyes.
I was alone, lying outside on a patch of soft grass, and it was growing dark.
My head felt like it was about to split right open.
My eyes were sore.
My body felt bruised and banged up, as though I’d fallen down a flight of stairs and hit a number of hard objects along the way.
Altogether, I had had better days.
For a moment, I couldn’t think what I was doing here… wherever here was.
It came to me slowly, as I lay there, that I had stepped through John’s DNA detector, that I’d sensed a flash of light behind me and heard the tapping of keys on his keyboard. And now… I was alone and outdoors. I could feel a fresh evening breeze on my face and hear the rustle of trees above me.
Where was I? And more important, when was I?
I took a deep breath, braced my hands against the grass, and pushed myself into a sitting position. My head hurt worse when I forced myself to open my eyes.
I sat on a slope of lawn facing a curved street leading down under a railroad overpass. To my left I saw a blaze of light and a cluster of taller buildings. In the distance to the right, I could see dingy, weary-looking freight cars sitting still on a railroad track. Directly behind me, in the darkening sky, I saw the outline of a classic-looking curved pergola. Behind that, on the corner, was an old-looking faded brick building. Wherever I was, it was a city.
I sat still for a moment, gathering my strength and assessing my condition. I did feel pretty beat up, as John had theorized I would. But it wasn’t really debilitating; I suspected I’d feel a lot better as soon as I had a good meal and a decent night’s sleep.
I lifted my eyes, painfully. The light hurt.
My legs, when I tested them, were sore but would hold me, so after a moment I got to my feet. I walked cautiously down the slope of lawn toward the street. I stopped on the sidewalk; cars continued to flow past.
Big cars. Unusually big cars. Some with… I peered at them… tailfins?
I turned to look behind me at the lawn I’d lain on.
… And knew, suddenly, where I was.
I was in Dallas. There could be no doubt about it… because the sloping lawn I’d been lying on was known in my world as the Grassy Knoll, and the entire pretty little park was better known as Dealey Plaza.
The place where Kennedy had been shot.
… Which meant that the seven-story, faded-brick building on the right could only be the Texas School Book Depository, the clock on the Hertz Rent-A-Car sign on the roof telling me it was 6:40 p.m. The curved street in front of me was Elm Street.
John’s program had transported me to precisely where he said it would. The question was… had he also transported me to another time? To the right time?
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
SUSAN SLOATE is the author of 20 previous books, including the recent bestseller Stealing Fire and Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre: the self-help novel. The original 2003 edition of Forward to Camelot became a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in three literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production.
Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which won the silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and a screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.
After beginning his career as a television news and sports writer-producer, KEVIN FINN moved on to screenwriting and has authored more than a dozen screenplays. He is a freelance script analyst and has worked for the prestigious American Film Institute Writer’s Workshop Program. He now produces promotional trailers, independent film projects including the 2012 documentary SETTING THE STAGE: BEHIND THE SCENES WITH THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, and local content for Princeton Community Television.
His next novel, Banners Over Brooklyn, will be released in 2014.
For updates and more information about Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition, please visit http://susansloate.com/CAMELOT.html.