Susan will be awarding a notebook perfect for journaling to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Follow the tour and comment at all stops to increase your chances in winning. You can follow the tour here at Goddess Fish.
“How do you recognize your soulmate?
In glittery 1980’s Los Angeles, Beau Kellogg is a brilliant Broadway lyricist now writing advertising jingles and yearning for one more hit to compensate for his miserable marriage and disappointing life.
Amanda Harary, a young singer out of synch with her contemporaries, works at a small New York hotel, while she dreams of singing on Broadway.
When they meet late at night over the hotel switchboard, what begins will bring them each unexpected success, untold joy, and piercing heartache … until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.
STEALING FIRE is, at its heart, a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the transformative power of love.”
STEALING FIRE was a Quarter-Finalist (Top 5%) in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.
Six-year-old Amanda wandered over to the table and picked up the album cover. The name of the show, The Life and Times, was printed in bold letters across the top, with a pencil sketch of a black top hat and neatly folded white gloves in the middle. A splashy yellow sun, its rays streaming diagonally, filled the rest of the cover. She forgot about it, though, as the record began to play.
She loved it instantly.
“Again, Mommy, again!” she said excitedly when the first song ended.
Her mother shook her head. “Listen to the rest first.”
Amanda sat down on her favorite soft footstool near the big brown rocker and listened. She loved it all.
There was one song especially that she liked. It was about blowing bubbles. She didn’t understand the verse, but she sang along with the chorus:
“… Bubbles bursting, bursting bubbles …
Breaking dreams with every blow.
I’ll remember each dream burst
Till the final bubbles go.”
She didn’t really understand the song, but it seemed sad to her.
As with most show scores, Amanda asked to hear the record again and again. A few months later her older sister Josie, tossing a ball carelessly around the room, smashed the record.
Amanda cried and asked her mother to please buy it again, please. Her mother explained regretfully that the show had been a `flop’ years before. There were no copies around, and Josie hadn’t meant to smash it; it was an accident. “Stop crying now, Amanda,” she said sharply.
She listened to her mother and stopped crying. But she never forgot the song about bursting bubbles.
Hello and thanks for stopping by and visiting with me and the bunnies. It is so nice to have Susan Sloate 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!
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I’m just doing my first virtual book tour, which other authors have assured me are WONDERFUL for getting out the word about your book. Never done it before, but will be happy to share my results if you invite me back in a few months! (I actually have five months’ worth of touring scheduled, because I’m promoting STEALING FIRE in September and October, and my next novel, FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th Anniversary Edition, November-January.) I expect to be a real pro at that point!
I also use Twitter and Facebook, and I have my own website (http://susansloate.com) and blog—http://susansloate.wordpress.com—which is called Let the Word Go Forth. It’s for writers. I have friends with their own blogs, who have given me a guest blog spot with them, and I’m in a LinkedIn group for book bloggers, which I have shamelessly exploited, asking for guest blogger spots.
Locally, I do library talks, book signings, and attend writers conferences when I’m invited. I’ll be appearing on November 2nd at the Cumberland County Writers Conference in Fayetteville, NC. It’s a new conference and I’m a featured speaker. Please, if you’re in the area, do stop by—would love to meet you and chat!
Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version?
The Bridges of Madison County. I didn’t like the book at all, but Clint Eastwood did an amazing job with the movie—he really caught the romantic spirit of the piece (surprising, for Dirty Harry!) and I was impressed that as a director, he allowed Meryl Streep more screen time and more close-ups than he got acting opposite her. Lovely job.
Do you buy a book by the cover?
By the cover art, no. I’m just not inherently a visual person. But by the cover blurb, absolutely. Interesting blurbs never fail to catch my attention. This is especially a problem if I’m, say, wandering around a book fair, where I know prices will be lower. I read the book jackets compulsively and every time something even slightly appeals to me, I take it. No wonder when I moved last year I found 600 books I was able to donate to my local library—I’d been seduced by the book covers, read the books once and was ready to get rid of them!
Do you have a book trailer?
We’re working on it now. I’ll post it on YouTube and my Facebook page, Amazon Author Central Page and website when it’s ready.
What are your thoughts on book trailers?
I’ve seen some that don’t do anything for me. I’ve seen others that are just spectacular. I was in Hollywood, in the film business, for 12 years, so I have a long history of looking at film, and I hope, some idea of what the filmmaker is trying to do with it. Strangely enough, one of the best trailer makers I know is my own writing partner, Kevin Finn, with whom I’m re-publishing our 2003 novel, FORWARD TO CAMELOT, this fall. Kevin’s a really gifted guy; besides having one of the best story minds I’ve ever known, he also works with cable television in Princeton, NJ and has made a number of really special book trailers. They knock me out when I look at them.
Do you write under a pen name?
I have in the past, but it wasn’t a name I chose. When I wrote for a book production company (a company that creates book series for large publishers and supplies all the text, graphics, etc. for the finished book), they had several book series they wanted to use a pseudonym for. My first book contract was for a book in a girls’ series called BLUE RIBBON, about teenage girls training for Olympic dressage (equestrian events like show riding and jumping). The entire series was to be written under a pseudonym registered to the company, Chris St. John (I guess they thought it sounded horsy). When I wrote for the GIRL TALK series, the pseudonym for the whole series was L.E. Blair (though I did get a credit for having written the text, and my name was in tiny letters on the title page). So I never actually wanted to write under a pseudonym, but sometimes the contract I signed required it. Frankly, I prefer building my brand, but I’m finding it’s a lot easier to do that when I create my own books, characters and settings, beginning to end. So STEALING FIRE, FORWARD TO CAMELOT, REALIZING YOU (a third novel I have coming out this fall, with co-author Ron Doades)—those will give you an idea of my own voice.
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
Great question! Being a huge history buff, traveling through time is one of my favorite fantasies. (My next novel, FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th Anniversary Edition, which comes out this fall, is all about time travel back to Dallas in November 1963, which eventually involves saving JFK from assassination in Dealey Plaza.) There are a number of places I’d love to go, some just to be a spectator, some to be involved. I would certainly go back to Dallas in 1963 to save Kennedy, if I could (and make sure the men who killed him were taken out of the picture! And no, Lee Harvey Oswald wasn’t one of them.) Maybe I’d try to stop the Lincoln assassination as well. I’d like to visit Dolley Madison in 1814, the day she saved the famous painting of George Washington and just barely escaped the capitol before the British arrived to burn the White House. I’d love to see the actual stitching of Old Glory by Mary and Caroline Pickersgill and the women who helped them, kneeling on the floor of a malt house and cutting and stitching 400 yards of bunting. (I’m terrible at sewing, so I wouldn’t offer to help!) I’d love to meet John Adams in his moment of despair when the entire southern delegation has just walked out of the Continental Congress, threatening to vote against adopting the Declaration of Independence because they wanted to keep slavery. I’d like to let him know it’s okay that he didn’t win that fight; what he managed to do anyway made possible a magnificent nation.
I’d go to more minor times, as well – would LOVE to have been in a crowded movie theater in September 1939 in Riverside, California, where David O. Selznick went to do a sneak preview of GONE WITH THE WIND—the first time it was shown in public, and the audience didn’t know what movie it was going to see. The response just knocked the filmmakers’ socks off. Wish I’d been there!
I doubt I’d travel to the future, though it would be fun to see—the cool thing about traveling to the past is the sense that you have a little omniscience that the people from that time don’t. Frankly, it makes you feel powerful. The future would be fun, though, if only to see how much more interesting our world becomes through our dreams and creativity. I keep reminding my sons that THEIR children (when they have them) are going to die laughing that they had to TYPE into a computer; I’m sure by that time it will be all voice-activated, if not thought-activated. How cool is THAT?
If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would you choose?
‘Any 5 people’? I assume that means real or not, living or dead. In that case, JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald (they both fascinate me), the Scarlet Pimpernel, Margaret Mitchell (author of GONE WITH THE WIND) and Hugh Jackman (you have your dessert, and I have mine).
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
My library, my computer and my phone (with a clear signal, so I could reach somebody and be rescued!)
What is one book everyone should read?
ATLAS SHRUGGED. I consider it one of the few books that has truly changed my life.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
The ability to travel back in time and be part of whatever landscape I choose, AND affect the outcome. (I hope that all counts as one.) I never thought about it before, but given the time-travel question above, that’s a natural one for me to want. The other super-power I suspect most women would want as well would be the ability to eat whatever we want and maintain a perfect figure. I’m all in favor of that one, too!
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Vanilla – boring but true.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
I usually don’t eat breakfast—my favorite schedule is to eat within a 5-hour window and just have non-caloric liquids the rest of the day. This is called Fast-5, it’s a wonderfully effective way to keep your blood sugar stable and prevent insulin spikes, and every time I get back into the rhythm of doing it I immediately lose 20 pounds. I don’t usually eat till 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and stop eating at 8 or 9, depending on my schedule that day. So if I do have anything when I get up, it’d be just decaffeinated tea.
Night owl, or early bird?
Definitely night owl. I’m usually reading myself to sleep around 1 in the morning or later.
Where is one place in the world that you would really love to visit someday?
Australia. That’s top of my list. Also would like to see the Greek Islands—after Mamma Mia! I realize I’ve been missing a lot of the world!
One of your favorite quotes –
This one is actually in STEALING FIRE, and gave the book its title:
“To love one who loves you
To admire one who admires you
In a word, to be the idol of one’s idol
Is exceeding the limit of human joy.
It is stealing fire from heaven.”
The author is Delphine de Girardin, who lived in the mid-nineteenth century.
What is your favorite theme park?
Walt Disney World. I’m a real Disney freak—love reading about how the parks were created, have toured the Magic Kingdom (and been on the lower level under the streets!), had lunch with an Imagineer (fabulous experience). Would truly love to do a round-the-world trip that would involve hitting EVERY SINGLE Disney park—California (I’ve been many times, since I used to live in L.A.), Florida (been several times as well), Paris, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Each park is unique, and I’d love to experience them all, with an unlimited budget!
Roller Coasters or Water Rides?
Definitely roller coasters. I’m not fond of getting wet on a ride! That happened once at Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom at Disney World—I was totally soaked at 9 in the morning and didn’t dry off for hours. Not thrilling! What’s sad is that as I got older I began to realize I couldn’t do the same stuff anymore—you used to be able to hang me upside down and I’d be perfectly happy. Now I really have to brace myself on a wild coaster ride. It’s not the same.
Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, of course, and watching movies and certain TV shows (totally addicted to HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER—I just love everything about it). I also collect Disney trading pins—it’s a fascinating hobby, and you get to interact with traders around the world because you’re always searching for that one Holy Grail.
Regular or decaf?
I hate to admit this—writers should always be heavy drinkers, smokers, possibly drug addicts and serious coffee drinkers, right? (That’s what they tell us all the good ones are.) I actually don’t drink coffee at all. Never did. Also never take more than one or two glasses of wine per year (I like champagne, but even that doesn’t interest me too much). And I don’t smoke, and (sigh) don’t do recreational drugs either. I’m boring but healthy.
Please tell the readers a bit more about you.
I’m the author of 20 published books, fiction and nonfiction, 17 of which were written for a young-adult audience. Those include four girls’ fiction series, five biographies (Abraham Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Clara Barton, and two on Ray Charles), a history of Alcatraz, a book about baseball, and one on preteen fashion. The mainstream adult books, though, are the ones I’m most proud of. They include STEALING FIRE, which is a love story that comes from my own experience long ago and is set against a backdrop of Broadway musical theater in the 1980’s. Then there’s FORWARD TO CAMELOT, which is being re-published as the 50th Anniversary Edition this fall—that’s a time-travel story about the JFK assassination. REALIZING YOU is a self-help novel with multiple characters and storylines, each one learning a lesson about how to live their lives better. There’ll be a sequel to CAMELOT probably next year, and another standalone novel called THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL, about the relationship between a female campaign manager and the male candidate running for the United States Congress. That’s also based on my own experience (more recent)—when I did in fact run two political campaigns and thought it would be fun to write about. I’ve also written two produced stage plays and optioned two screen properties to Hollywood film companies. I write in multiple genres just because I’m interested in different types of stories—mysteries, history, love stories, sports, whatever. It hasn’t helped define my brand too much, but I do get to write a lot of interesting projects.
How long does it take you to write a book?
That depends on the project, and who originates it. The Y/A books I wrote under contract took about a month or two each. REALIZING YOU, the self-help novel, took 2 years because I was literally inventing a new genre, and that was tough. FORWARD TO CAMELOT took 2 years in the story-building and writing, but another 9 in the research. STEALING FIRE has the record, though—30 years from the time I started it (on an electric typewriter!) in 1983 to its first publication right now. Obviously I wasn’t writing all that time—the book probably took about 3 years to write, total—but for a long time I didn’t think anyone would be interested in reading it, so I kept putting off what I thought would be lots of rejection in the publishing process.
Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite? Why?
Cady Cuyler, in FORWARD TO CAMELOT. She’s smart, gutsy and beautiful—but has no idea she has the power to change history, just by virtue of how amazing she is.
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.
Thank you, Bunny! I’ve really enjoyed being here!
Susan Sloate is the author of 20 published books, including FORWARD TO CAMELOT (with Kevin Finn), an alternative history of the JFK assassination, STEALING FIRE, an autobiographical love story, and REALIZING YOU (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre – the self-help novel. FORWARD TO CAMELOT was a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned for film production by a Hollywood company. STEALING FIRE was a quarter-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including RAY CHARLES: FIND ANOTHER WAY!, which won a silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards, AMELIA EARHART: CHALLENGING THE SKIES, a perennial Amazon bestseller, and MYSTERIES UNWRAPPED: THE SECRETS OF ALCATRAZ, which led to her appearance on a special for The History Channel in 2009, as well as books for five girls’ fiction series. As a screenwriter, she has written an informational film for McGraw-Hill Films and optioned two scripts to Hollywood production companies. As a sportswriter, she’s covered the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets. She’s also managed two recent political campaigns, founded the East Cooper Authors Festival (which put 18 professional authors in 17 area schools in one day) and serves on the Culture, Arts and Pride Commission of the Town of Mount Pleasant.