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Posts tagged with: Suzanne Turner

Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner

Today we’re welcoming another Persister, 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Suzanne Turner, whose manuscript THE ART OF THE SCANDAL is nominated for Best Historical Romance.

Suzanne grew up in Oregon (Go Ducks!) but has found herself living in Jacksonville with three too-energetic boys, an equally too-energetic husband, and a lot of mosquitoes. She’s a lawyer by training (Dad’s fault), a lover of books by raising (thanks, Dad!), and will argue to the death that a Bloody Mary is a legitimate vegetable (sorry, Mom). 

This is Suzanne’s second Golden Heart final. Her previous historical romance, THE LOST CHORD, finaled in 2017. 

Here’s a blurb for THE ART OF THE SCANDAL:

The art is fake. The love is real. The risk is ruin.

Jilted by her fiancé, abandoned by her father, and scorned by her friends, Lady Lydia Pierrepoint and her pregnant, 15 year-old sister will be homeless by midnight unless she can charm the deed of her family’s home out of the mysterious South African who won the estate in a poker game. 

Grieving over the death of his Jewish father and English mother, Simon has no time for gallantry. He’s out to reclaim his mother’s name from the aristocracy who humiliated her. With an art collection worth millions and the National Gallery begging for a donation, revenge is within reach. 

But when Lydia points out that Simon’s treasure trove includes at least one forgery, they strike a deal. She’ll ferret out the fakes, and if the debut of his collection goes smoothly, she’ll win back her home. If she fails, she will take the blame and go to jail.  

Together, Lydia and Simon will feign an engagement, delve into the world of art forgery, and navigate the narrow-minded prejudices of London society to discover that love is forged, never faked.

Wow! That sounds rich and complex! And a half-Jewish South African art collector—a fresh take on a historical hero. Very exciting!

Okay, folks, come grab a lounge chair under our gazebo (no mosquitos here on the virtual lawn!) and enjoy a tropical drink with Suzanne and I as we chat about what drives her stories and why places matter so much.

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Welcome back to the Rubies, Suzanne!! Thanks for being with us today, and congrats on finaling in historical for the second year in a row!!

Hi, Elisa! I want to say hello and thank you the Ruby Slipper Sisterhood for inviting me onto this blog. The Golden Heart creates such a strong community of writers in what is oftentimes a lonely world. Real truth, I used to write in my youngest son’s closet (mostly b/c he wouldn’t fall asleep unless someone was in the room). With the Golden Heart sisterhood there is leadership and mentorship and camaraderie and wisdom galore and in those moments when the rejection emails pile in, I find myself wandering over to your blog and finding courage and inspiration. Also, Elisa, you always make me sound like I’m actually an interesting person. Appreciate that!

You started writing IN A CLOSET. You are already an interesting person. (And I wish I’d thought of that technique with my own little guy who wouldn’t fall asleep alone….I just sat there in the dark wishing I was writing.) So, to do that, you must have felt a powerful need to write. Why romance? Do you have a core story that drives you?

My novels tend to start with a break-up. My heroine loses her sense of place. She’s betrayed or jilted by someone she loves and she sets out to reclaim her old self. She doesn’t want to change, she wants to be the person she was before she was betrayed. In comes the hero, a fellow who straddles identities, who shrugs off labels and fights not to belong to any place or anyone. 

The heroine and hero push each other further and further out of each other’s comfort zones—the heroine is going to learn, through a lot of trial and error, humiliation, pain and vulnerability, that her true self cannot fit in the tight boundaries she’s let society, family, and obligation draw for her. The hero is going to learn that boundaries are not a prison, that even if he picks a side or a person, he is who he is—he is strong, he is true. 

The true sense of place for both is not defined by geography or family, or social standing, but by the love the hero and heroine build together. Their place in the world is side-by-side.  

Ah—reclaiming the essential self, which can mean reclaiming a place. Liberation by coming (or creating a) home. What about you personally? What is your sense of place? Or experience of dislocation, as the case may be?

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, a world full of hippies and centuries-old pine trees. My high school history teacher lived on a pot farm. My favorite English teacher was a former spy. Another teacher camped out in Canada for a few years because he was dodging the draft. Our postman had a Ph.D. in Philosophy. I spent summers in the mountains, wearing sweaters and mittens.  

Okay, wow! I can see you come by rich and complex narratives naturally. What a point of origin!! But you don’t live there now. What happened?

I “adulted” in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has its own distinct culture, but to me, it was always like Portland’s snotty, stock-grant rich sister. There are still mountains and cold rain. I was still close to home.

And then one day my husband said, “Let’s have an adventure.” And we took our three boys and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, which is geographically, atmospherically (is that the word for the weather?) and culturally the total opposite of Portland. The pine trees are so skinny, they’re like toothpicks. The ocean is warm. The sun is…out.

The other day, someone said, “Rainy season has started. Summer’s here.” And I experienced that weird jolt of realizing I am in a strange place. It’s culture shock. It’s being in one’s own skin, but the skin is experiencing a sensory world it is not in tune with. 

I hear you on that! I grew on the East Coast and live near San Francisco now. I love the area, but I’m still baffled by the bone dry summers, since summer is “meant” to be deep lush Pennsylvania green. (My husband, who grew up in L.A. and who lived with me for awhile in Ohio, freaked out when it rained there in July…he’d wonder why winter was starting.) And I spent years feeling like I was flipping upside down whenever I tried to navigate along the California coast, since the ocean was on the “wrong” side. It’s definitely a visceral thing. A sensory world problem, as you say.

I’m starting to think my sense of place is simultaneously liking and disliking the place I currently am. So much so, that I recently joined the world of Instagram! Where I tell the story of my own sense of displacement. I try to be generous with Jacksonville because it has been great for my family, but no picture can capture the humidity. 

Oy…I will never miss humidity! And I’ll have to check out your Instagram!! It does sound like an adventure you’re having! But back to the question of your inspirations for writing. What’s your all-time favorite romance?

I am going to be a total nerd and say my parents. My parents met during the Vietnam War. My mother, who is Vietnamese, was a translator for the U.S. Army. My Irish-American father was an officer. At heart (and later by profession) my mother is an accountant, no nonsense, all logic. Her favorite love story, I kid you not, is Moneyball! At heart my father was (he passed a few years ago) Irish—you know, romantic, sentimental, a lover of poetry and rhyme. My mother is a vegetarian, my father smoked and ate red meat. To relax, my mother plays with a calculator. My father would fish. I cannot for the life of me figure out how they managed to get along so well and be so in love, when they were so different. But to the day my father died, my parents held hands.  

Aww!! I love it!!! That’s a fabulous inspiration for so many stories! And I can see why Portland, with all its contradictions, would appeal to the two of them. (And adds another interesting layer to the fact that you wrote a hero who’s Jewish/English/South African. So much more interesting than yet another “to the manor born” lord!) So, any other creative outlets in your life besides writing?

I stress bake. Which seems to have backfired on me since anytime my kids want a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies, they do their best to drive me insane. With three boys who refuse to wear shoes even when the alligators are out, I promise you, something’s always in the oven.

LOL! (Though I’ve got to tell you—the phrase “when the alligators are out” guarantees I will never, never be moving to Florida.) I admire your adventurous spirit! So, what question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today?

Where do you go or where do you feel most in your skin?

 

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Connect with Suzanne Turner on social media:

twitter @suziluvvturner

instagram @notajaxgirl

website www.suzannemturner.com 

 

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.

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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? 

 

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