This is the moment. A new year, a new book. Deep breath. Everything at the ready. And so it begins…
This novel has the working title Middle Grove. I’ll try not to get too attached to it, as the publisher tends to change my titles. I come up with something gloriously clever, like Falling Awake, and it gets changed to Family Tree. And of course works much better. (The e-book is just $1.99 this month, by the way. Acts of Light will be published as Map of the Heart. Wiser heads than mine will prevail. So stay tuned.
This particular story has a very emotional, larger-than-life feel to it. I’m not sure where that came from. Some ideas simply unfold that way. Some characters are simply bigger and more dramatic. Their problems are bigger and more dramatic. I worry about them as if they’re real people.
The tools of the trade are simple, but my needs are very specific. I can’t just use any old paper and pen. It has to be Clairefontaine (made in France), spiral bound, and graph ruled because I don’t always think sequentially. The pen has to be a Sheaffer (and I did spell that right, FYI) fountain pen with peacock blue ink. If you’re left-handed, you know why. If you’re right-handed, then you don’t worry about dragging your sleeve through the ink.
I’m very lucky to have a beautiful spot to call my own. View out the window, two sleeping dogs, a sense that all is right with the world. However, the place where I am isn’t crucial to the process. I’ve written in cubbies and closets all over the place, from a tiny tract home in Houston to a castle in southern France–and everything in between. On trains. Ferryboats. Park benches.
Photo – Google Photos
Of course, I’m most productive when I fall into a routine. The mug of tea has to be white on the inside. And the type of tea? PG Tips is my drug of choice. I’ve had many fancy brands of tea in my day, and this one is sort of prosaic, but I find it delicious and the scent of it evocative, stimulating creativity. Every so often I will go for a good cup of Mariage Freres Earl Grey with a little bits of bergamot flower, but my go-to, everyday tea is PG tips, or Typhoo in a pinch.
With the tea, the paper and pen, the dogs and the comfy chair, I can go for hours. My husband, who also works from home but in his atelier across the garden, will come and over at sundown to root for something to eat and mix the drinks for happy hour. That’s when I know my work for the day is done.
And so it goes. Each book emerges at its own pace. I asked the publisher for a generous deadline, because at the time, my beloved dad was very ill and I wanted plenty of time with him. He passed away in 2015, and while there’s a hole in my heart, there’s more time for writing. He loved being a writer’s dad. I like to think he’s still close by, cheering me on.
Life in all its beauty, pain, joy, and sorrow is never less than a fantastic adventure. Happy New Year to All!
PS: Speaking of adventures, I really wish you’d join me and Elizabeth George on the Mystery and Romance Cruise this March. You’ll also meet the amazing Deborah Coonts and the incredible triathlete and yogini, Cindy Peters. I never thought I was a “cruise” person until I checked out Silversea. It is THE cruise to take. It will spoil you for all other cruises, what with its butlers, suites, open bar, and Caribbean sunshine. Call 800.828.4813 and tell them Susan sent you. They’ll fix you up good!