Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner!!

Today we’re welcoming the second of our three Rebelle guests this week: 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner, whose manuscript THE LOST CHORD is nominated for Best Historical Romance!

With a degree in anthropology, Suzanne Turner inevitably ended up in law school, where she was voted Most Likely To Start a Cult without Knowing It. Married to a litigator and raising three feisty boys, she knows she’s never going to win control of the TV remote. Instead, she combs the beach for shark teeth and counts a Bloody Mary as a vegetable. Suzanne is thrilled and humbled that her first novel is a Golden Heart finalist. 

Here’s a blurb for THE LOST CHORD:

An earldom cursed by secrets. A family held together by lies. A woman who must choose between love and truth. 

A childhood fever ravaged most of Dr. John Scott’s memories of the dark life from which he and his mother escaped. When on her deathbed John’s mother confesses to arson, he goes to Lillistone Village to search for his real father, but instead encounters a tight-knit family living behind a wall of secrets. John wants to know who he was, but the truth might destroy the man he’s become. 

As a young girl, Alice Hammond could only watch in terror as a fire ravaged the estate of an ancient earldom, burning so fiercely it left no trace of her best friend, a ten-year-old boy set to inherit the estate. Vowing never to be helpless again, she protects her ambitious family from their own mistakes by hiding the ugly consequences. Now, a mysterious physician turns up asking questions, and Alice feels a connection so immediate, so deep, this man must surely be her childhood friend and the rightful heir. Alice has the answers, but can she yield these secrets without betraying those she loves? Most especially, John?

Oh, I love this premise!!! Dark secrets, a hidden past, a doctor hero!! And childhood friends re-uniting as lovers!! You’re pressing all my trope buttons here!! I can’t wait to see this in print!

For today’s interview, I think we’d better all don our dark velvet robes (don’t worry about the heat where you are, folks…it’ll be all cool and foggy in the depths of the dark forest where we’ll meeting. And I’ll bring cake.) Let’s sit down in the shade of some towering sycamores while I ask Suzanne some questions.


Welcome, Suzanne!! As I’ve said, I love the premise for your book. Tell me a little more about how it came to be.

I’ll start with the process. I have three boys who are close in age and there were years when I was either pregnant, nursing, or sleep-training (FYI, they refused to be sleep trained). Then one midnight, I realized that all three were sound asleep, but I was wide awake with nothing to do. My brain buzzed with unspent energy and a scene came into my head. I broke out the laptop, started clicking away, and my historical romance, The Lost Chord was born.

Awesome!!! There are definitely some up-sides to massive, chronic sleep deprivation. And you finished the book!! And it finaled in the Golden Heart!! Huzzah! What was it like when you got the phone call telling you you were a finalist?

The day before the call, I came home from the Pediatric ICU with my youngest son (no worries, he’s totally fine!). I was exhausted and anxious and was trying to right a house that had fallen into chaos. The phone kept ringing. I kept ignoring it. Then I thought it might be a doctor, so I answered. I had forgotten all about the GH! And when I got the news, I was so floored, I babbled incoherently, danced around the house with my kiddo and texted my bestie CP, Kristina Kairn. We did a lot of gasping and shaking and crying together.

The best thing about being a finalist is the company I get to keep. The Rebelles are supportive, funny, and wise. I can ask the stupidest question and am given the biggest FB hugs! This group is full of creative, sassy, spirited, welcoming writers. 

It’s definitely a sassy, spirited group! And I’m so glad it wasn’t a doctor on that phone. Hmm, so you’re trained as a lawyer, raising a bunch of boys, probably not engaging in mysterious acts of arson on the side. Where did the gothic tenor of your book come from? Do you live in the mysterious and shadowy wilds someplace?

I grew up in Oregon, so I’m definitely all about rain and mountains and long, lonely walks. But as an adult I somehow ended up Florida, where it’s too darned sunny and the mosquitoes are deadly. Also, there is an alligator in the lake across the street, wild boars snort around in the woods, and a bear started showing up in May. Without thinking about it, my sense of place and displacement colors my writing, my characters seem to be in search of home. 

Ah, that does make sense! You can answer that yearning in creating the world of your story (also, the idea that alligators and boars and bears are roaming around outside certainly creates a sense of peril that lends inspiration to a mystery story!!!). But you aren’t writing about a contemporary world. Why historical romance?

I love to sink my teeth into research. Every tiny detail is a mystery to be chased down and answered—what was the most popular color in 1869? What was in the vaccine for small pox? How did one get from Bellagio to Dorset? I have spent hours online, at libraries, over dusty books, emailing questions to museum curators. When I read historical, I want to be so fully immersed that I can taste the details. So when I write historical, I want to give my readers that same experience. 

Ah, yes! A historical researcher after my own heart! There’s no substitute for all those hours of sleuthing, and all that dust. Aside from being sure to do the research, what’s the best tip you can give other writers?

Don’t doubt. Don’t stop. Don’t worry.

Tell that inner critic to pipe it. If you’re writing, whether you’re traditionally pubbed, self-pubbed, or storing it beneath your bed, you’re an artist. Celebrate.

Oh, also, drink coffee. Lots of coffee.

LOL, yes. Behind every great writer is a really, really big pot of java. And now a question from left field: whose your biggest celebrity crush?

Don’t laugh–Alan Alda. As a kid, I watched M*A*S*H reruns and fell for that passionate, dry-witted, functioning-alcoholic, war-weary, life-saving, principled Dr. Hawkeye Pierce. At a time when all my friends had posters of Duran Duran and Michael Jackson, I had my autographed poster of Alan Alda. When I hung it up in my room, my dad burst out laughing and said, “I’m never going to have to worry about you.”

I WILL TOTALLY NOT LAUGH about Alan Alda!!! I had a thing for him myself, once upon a time. Smart, righteous, funny, with floppy hair and sparkling eyes…oh, yesssss. (Any other Alan Alda fangirls out there?? It’s safe to come out today!!)

Now, what question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today? 

I just watched Arrival and I sobbed for the first and last 15 minutes. My husband kept scratching his head and saying, “You know it’s an alien movie, right?” And I was like NOOOOOO. It’s a beautiful meditation on the nature of time and motherhood. 

What’s the last thing you read, ate, listened to, or saw that blew your socks off? 


38 responses to “Meet 2017 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner!!”

  1. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Suzanne! I had so much fun interviewing you, and I’m looking forward to hearing from everyone today about something that blew their socks off.

    I haven’t seen Arrival, but I loved the short story it’s based on–so original, and so emotional.

    What’s blown my socks off lately? Oh, my…I should have a good answer to that question, but my family’s been in a medical maelstrom lately, one emergency after another, and I’ve been ignoring my TBR pile and my wanna-watch list. I think I’m finally going to get to watch Moonlight sometime this week, so I’m looking forward to that.

    • suzanne says:

      I need to read the short story it’s based on and I also need to see Moonlight too. Maybe after RWA? And the laundry.

    • suzanne says:

      Thanks, Ellisa for the great questions! I have to read the short story Arrival is based on! And see Moonlight. Maybe after RWA? And laundry.

      • Elisa Beatty says:

        Always laundry. Sigh.

        And the short story is by Ted Chiang, originally called “Story of Your Life” in the collection Stories of Your Life and Others. But there’s a version out now with the “Arrival” title. The stories are all really interesting. Terrific and unique writer!

  2. C.R. Grissom says:

    Hi Suzanne,

    Love your story premise. I can’t wait to curl up with your book and escape into the world you’ve created for your characters.

    Alan Alda was hot. And your dad’s a riot!

    The pediatric ICU has to be the two scariest words bookended by an acronym in the English language. I’m so glad it ended well, especially since we are in the business of happily ever afters, no other alternatives allowed!

    I haven’t read much published stuff lately. I’ve been immersed in critiques, and contest judging. The last book I read—I’m proud to say—was my CP’s ARC copy of her debut novel due to release in nine days: Welcome Home Katie Gallagher by Seana Kelly. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. A romantic comedy with the best one-liners, the sweetest dog and the hottest cop around. I might be biased, but listen to me anyway.

    My last movie at the theaters was Beauty and The Beast. <3
    Prior to that, I think Deadpool held the title. One of my favorite lines from that movie was when he's holding up his treasured Wham! vinyl to explain how it's the album, where they earned the exclamation point. God. Ryan Reynolds. Yum.

    I know! I don't get out much. I've been hiding out in my revision cave working to get my story all buffed and shiny for Nationals.

    But I've had some ah ha moments from the dark recesses of my hideout. I'm floored by the women around me. Well, you know, not quite around, but accessible via wifi. I've been privy to some really excellent unpublished stories of late. Talent abounds.

    I have to leave my cave to go to the day job. And to cheer my son's on at their sporting events. And various other familial commitments. Otherwise, I'm back in my rocky abode where I do writerly things.

    I will brave the unique humidisphere Florida offers its visitors in late July for convention. I look forward to meeting you there!

    Good luck!

    • C.R. Grissom says:

      I wish there was an edit option. Geez. Ignore the typos please. Pretty please?

    • suzanne says:

      I am so excited that your socks are being knocked off by not yet published authors. It means there’s so much talent and more to discover!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I’m so excited that Seana’s Golden Heart book is coming out!!!!!!

      • C.R. Grissom says:

        Seriously!! I know it’s her dream come true, but dang it all, it’s mine too! From contest submission, feedback, redirection—and now the reality of a book signing at Barnes & Noble.

        The very best part of this writer road we travel—applauding your friend’s accomplishments! A year ago she got the call from HQN before we even took off for convention in San Diego. From concept to reality to shelf. I’m thrilled for her.

  3. Suzanne, I love your voice. I feel like I know you. Alan Alda, long walks, and seeking power over the channel changer. (Mama of three boys and a girl here)

    Good luck at Nationals. I think you’re going to wow agents and editors with that great premise. Love it!

    • suzanne says:

      Autumn, you just knocked my socks off with your encouragement.

      Thank you!! I can’t believe you’ve got a girl added to your mix of boys. Which is harder — the 3 boys or the 1 girl? When my 3 were in preschool, I remember sitting in the park with my friend’s daughter, who would tell me all about her day, her favorite book, what was in her mom’s purse. In the meantime, my boys were eating rocks. Literally. Just picking them up and chewing on them.

      Will you be at Nationals? Should we wear buttons with Alan Alda’s picture? Okay, maybe just a gif on the iPhone. 🙂

      • Sorry, no nationals for me this year. I would’ve loved to share battle stories with you.

        Actually my daughter was harder to raise, especially in teen years, than the boys. She became very stronger minded quickly. She still put the boys in their places. LOL

  4. Yes! I loved Arrival! It’s all about the non-linear nature of emotion! And Alan Alda… a man with a brain and a sense of humor? Sign me up.

    Congratulations on your final Suzanne and I love the intriguing, complicated sound of your book – I love things with complex histories being revealed and emotional strings being pulled.

    The last great thing I saw? I went to Wonder Woman last night, so that has to take the prize. Soooo good. All the feels. 🙂

    Good luck in Orlando!

    • suzanne says:

      My boys told me that Wonder Woman was “super good” and so it’s on my list to see. I’m so excited that it’s a knock your socks off experience!

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Oh, I’m so glad the “non-linear nature of emotion” aspect of the story survived into the movie!! Like I said above, I’ve only read the Ted Chiang story the movie was based on (“The Story of Your LIfe”) and wondered the whole time how the movie could possibly capture the same effect. Will have to watch it now.

  5. Tamara Hogan says:

    Suzanne, my husband TOTALLY didn’t understand why I was bawling at the end of ARRIVAL. I had to explain it to him. Yeah, it’s not just an alien movie. 😉

    –> What’s the last thing you read, ate, listened to, or saw that blew your socks off?

    What a fascinating question! “Blew your socks off” is a very high bar indeed. Reading-wise, I have to reach back to 2014, to Sarah MacLean’s fourth Rule of Scoundrels historical romance, “Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover.” The book is an enjoyable standalone read, but when taken in context with other books in the series – and also with MacLean’s previous series, where the seeds of the story are planted! – it’s sheer, bloody genius. At a key ‘reveal’ moment, my jaw literally dropped. *genuflecting*

    Music-wise: the “Hamilton” soundtrack. OMG, the “Hamilton” soundtrack.

    Congrats on your Golden Heart final! And I’m with you on Alan Alda. 😉

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      I’m cheering for all the Alan Alda love this morning!!

      Oh…the Hamilton soundtrack. Everyone I know loves it. Last year, my students kept threatening to smack me (in a caring way) for not having listened yet. I even bought the CD. Somehow I just haven’t played it yet.

      • Tamara Hogan says:

        Oh, Elisa – it’s glorious. Even without having seen the musical yet, I have to agree with Michelle Obama that “Hamilton” is the best art she’s ever experienced. Lyrically, musically, culturally, and from a storytelling/craft perspective, it’s a staggering achievement, larger than the sum of its parts. Listening to it makes me cry. In public. And while mowing the lawn.

        Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of humanity’s treasures.

    • suzanne says:

      I haven’t read that one by Sarah MacLean, so I’m adding it to my list! My kids sing the Hamilton soundtrack so I have to admit, that while I would probably love the soundtrack otherwise, the way my kids have destroyed it, I really can’t get into it!

  6. suzanne says:

    I feel like I’ve found a secret sisterhood of Alan Alda fans! I haven’t read “Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover,” but I agree that Sara MacLean is a master. So now I’m adding that book to my reading list.

  7. Jennifer Henderson says:

    I hear you on the historical research! Sometimes I fall into a google black hole looking up underwear in the early 1800s or how exactly a quadrille was danced. It’s fascinating stuff but can be a major time suck.
    Most recent “blow my socks off” was Wild at Whiskey Creek by Julie Anne Long. I loved her Pennyroyal Green series SO MUCH, but I was skeptical how her voice would translate to contemporary. I shouldn’t have worried. The emotions and connection between the hero & heroine are intense.
    And…Alan Alda in MASH is sexy as hell. Those blue eyes… sigh…

    • suzanne says:

      Now I want you to show me how to dance a quadrille! In exchange, I will tell you what was in the small pox vaccine (chicken pox!) and show you a picture of an old fashioned needle!

  8. Elizabeth Langston says:

    I love your premise too. Like Elisa, they’re all my tropes.

    The last book that blew my socks off: The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie. I’ve blasted through the entire series now–just to see glimpses of him.

  9. Melonie says:

    Hey there Rebelle sister! Yes to the coffee! And double yes to telling the inner critic to PIPE IT. 🙂

    Way to go with all the tropes lady, this is one delicious story you’ve got cooking.

    I too laughed at your dad’s reaction to Alan Alda on your wall (I was one of the legions of girls who had New Kids on the Block all over her walls…literally ALL OVER – the ceiling too).

    Hm…knocked my socks off. That’s a tough one. I’m going to say the Stranger Things series on Netflix. Everything about it from the story to the actors to the way watching it felt like watching something IN the 80’s (as opposed to being ABOUT the 80’s). My husband and I can’t wait for season 2!

    • suzanne says:

      New Kids on the Block!!!! Girlfriend! I haven’t watched Stranger Things, but everyone tells me it’s on their knock their socks off list, so I better get it on mine. Maybe I can watch it while on the treadmill?

    • Elisa Beatty says:

      We’re so excited about Stranger Things Season 2!! I totally agree with you about it genuinely feeling like the 80s….but will all the narrative pizazz and special effects power of the 21st century.

  10. Tracy Brody says:

    Love the fresh idea on your story.
    While I didn’t have a crush on Alan Alda, loved M*A*S*H and even pay tribute to it in my ’17 GH MS.

    Last thing that blew my socks off? Hmm. Wonder Woman and Guardian’s of the Galaxy were great and I’m trying to recreate the Strawberry Cream Cheese stuffed French Toast that I had when I went to visit my ’15 GH sister in PA for a workshop with Michael Hauge – oh, and he knocked my socks off on the whole identity vs. essence concept in writing.

    • suzanne says:

      I saw Guardians of the Galaxy on Mother’s Day. Like everyone, I loved Groot and his adorable toddler-ness, and the way Gamora chastises him in that opening scene while fighting the huge monster, and then tells him it’s because she just wants him to be safe. Totally related.

  11. Jennifer Camiccia says:

    I loved Arrival too! I cried my eyes out, but none of my family seemed to get it. Is it a mom thing? I loved M*A*S*H and Alan Alda was hilarious, but Duran Duran was the poster on my wall – hee hee. The last movie that knocked my socks off was Wonder Woman – I loved it so much. The whole scene in No man’s land. You’ll see – it’s very kick ass. The last book I read that truly knocked my socks off was The Hating Game. It is such a cute hate to love romance. I’ve read it three times now because I adored it so much.

    • suzanne says:

      Anything you’ve read three times has to be fantastic! It’s how interesting how much Arrival resonated with the moms in us. It provokes such an interesting question — would you do it all over again — and the answer is a huge yes. Despite the long nights and the pain and the loss, the love makes it worth it. Oh I think I might tear up again!

  12. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Intriguing name: THE LOST CHORD and a very intriguing blurb…sounds like a “curl up on a rainy day” kind of read!

    As for the last thing that “blew my socks off”?

    Something not so good I saw: Water…water everywhere after the hurricane last October. Ever so thankful it was not in my house, it was within inches, but NOT! & minimal damage.

    Something so good I listen to: The birds talking to each other while I sit on the porch and read each evening. Their songs and “conversations”are as unique as varied as voices and conversations of humans.

    Congratulations & best of luck to you, Suzanne!

  13. suzanne says:

    Cynthia–was it hurricane Matthew? We were in it too. Huge rains and winds, no damage. But then a baby alligator showed up in our lake. Our neighbors named him Matthew.

    What a beautiful thing to listen to — birds talking to each other. I am going to go give nature a listen to. Though the last time I did, that’s when I heard the wild boars snorting.

    • Cynthia Huscroft says:

      Yes, Suzanne, it was Matthew. Thankful you had no damage either!

      “I heard the wild boars snorting….” That made me laugh out loud – truly! Like you, I am “blessed” with alligators (good call on the name!) as well as bears, coyotes, red wolves and more:) BUT, no boars…at least not yet!


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