Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with characters we love and want to call friends.
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Susan Burdorf!
Susan Burdorf is an avid reader, photographer and lover of all things sparkly. Writing is a passion that is only quenched when THE END is written on the last page of a manuscript. Nothing says home to her, though, like the presence of her family. Susan encourages you to correspond with her and is available for public appearances at schools and conferences.
Without further ado, here’s Susan’s interview…
I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Yes. I remember exactly when I knew I wanted to be a writer, too. When I was in third grade, I was sitting at my desk writing my “What Did You Do Over The Summer?” essay that we always had to write at the beginning of the new school year. I missed recess, and lunch, and finally, after ten pages (back and front), I finished my essay. My teacher, looking at another teacher who had wandered into our classroom said, in a beautifully impressed voice, “Look at this novel Susan wrote.” And she held out my paper and the other teacher started to read it. [She] read the whole thing and then, told me I should think about being a writer when I grew up. Not bad praise for a third grader. And from that moment on being a writer was all I ever wanted to be.
Why did you choose to write YA Contemporary? I love the simplicity of the YA Contemporary genre. I like being able to re-explore the things that had been good or scary or difficult when I was that age. I was not a popular kid in high school, nor was I super smart, or a geek, or nerd, or one of the worst picked on kids, or one of the invisible kind. I was kind of average in everything, which was an advantage because it allowed me to float between all the groups in school and observe how we all got along.
What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? You might laugh at this, but before publishing my first novel in May of 2015 I wrote short stories. The strangest one I wrote was the one that got me seriously back into writing and it was a Zombie story. I never thought I would ever write about Zombies. They are not a subject that really interests me. I don’t watch Zombies on tv, or read about them, or even wonder about them. So when I published the short story called, “Catfish Ain’t Brain Food” I had to make it funny to make it interesting to me. And I don’t really think Zombies are funny, but I had to keep in mind my then 6 year old grandson’s advice, which was basically, “remember to shoot them in the head, grandma.” And that cracked me up. (I like that.)
What are you currently working on? I am currently working on a story called “Breaking Fences” which is a YA Contemporary Romance about the way even those who are in pain can help each other heal. Cutter, my heroine, is a young boy living his life on the edge of a knife. He is consumed by guilt over the death of his father and makes bad choices to hide his guilt. Melodie is a young woman who is also hiding a secret that she covers with her long sleeved shirts and ability to disappear into a crowd by not trying to stand out. The two meet through the boy’s uncle and help bring a cattle rustling ring to justice and battle rabid coyotes. There is romance, and tragedy, and humor keeping readers on the edge of their seats.
What motivated the plot of one of your published books? The motivation for the plot in A Cygnet’s Tale, which focuses on the heroine’s decision to discover who she is, even while terrified that she doesn’t want to know, was to let the reader know that they are okay for who they are inside and that they don’t have to be someone else’s idea of perfect. There is some bullying in the book. Helen is picked on by Rachel, who calls her “Duckling” as in the story of “The Ugly Duckling”. At first, the bullying in the book was done based off some of my own experiences as a young woman who was picked on by classmates, but as I wrote and edited it I realized the moral of the story was about accepting yourself for who you are and that it is okay to just be average, or just be chubby, or just be smart, or funny, or talented, or none of those things.
What was the hardest story for you to write? Every story I have not yet finished is a hard story to write. I find the middle and end of a story to be the easiest to write, and the beginning is the hardest. If I don’t like the beginning, I am sure no one else will. So it isn’t so much the story itself that is hard to write – it is more the placement of the first sentence that is hard for me.
What process do you use to plan your novels? I am a plotter. I will get an idea and immediately create a folder on my computer and start plotting out the book right there. I have done as many as ten pages of outlining on a story, to as little as just writing the last scene/chapter of a book and then getting myself there. I love to search the internet for pictures of people who resemble the image I have in my head of the characters, and have actually found new ideas while doing this. I love to put post-its up on my walls with character names on them or scene comments or other things that will inspire me when I am writing their story.
Who has been your favorite character to write and why? Helen (A Cygnet’s Tale). Because she is such a vulnerable person that I think she appeals to every girl going through the awkwardness of their teen years.
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? Absolutely. I think every author puts a little bit of themselves into their characters. Sometimes I feel like Dr. Frankenstein as I build my own version of the Indie Author monster.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? Yes, writer’s block is pretty common among us writer folks. I like to get up out of my writing cave and take a hike, or play with my grandkids, or sometimes I take a shower (for some reason the shower is a great place for me to get ideas—same here!). Sometimes I will add a new character just to get the characters already in the story talking about something and then delete what I have written or sometimes keep it in. Sometimes I will call a friend and get out to the movies, or run to the library, or go grocery shopping. I think the music in the grocery story jogs my mind into refocusing.
If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be and why? I have written short stories in a lot of other genres such as fairy tales (both twisted and regular), horror, paranormal, YA and NA, etc. and I like getting to explore those areas of my writing, but in the end I just plain love YA and mostly Contemporary. Although, I do have a fantasy series coming out next year called The Healer’s Daughter series; and also some Steampunk novels that will be releasing next year.
Which authors inspire you? Just about any indie author. I have so many whom I respect and admire. Heather Hildenbrand; S.M. Boyce; Chelsea Fine; Stacey Rourke; Carol Kunz; Tiffany King; Raine Thomas; Willow Cross; Eva Pohler; Amy Miles; Alison Pensy; and so on. There are so many reasons why I love the indie author – their courage, their generosity, their humor, their willingness to share their knowledge and experiences. I also admire and was inspired by authors like Lucy Maud Montgomery; Robert Heinlein; Arthur Clarke; Neil Gaimen; Stephen King; and others who worked hard at being the best author they could be. One other person who inspires me daily is Eleanor Roosevelt. She was not the most attractive woman in the world, but she used her brain and was wise beyond her years. (Many of these authors are favorites constantly on my TBR!)
What novel would you read multiple times? I have three that I turn to when I need a pick me up or to get lost in another world. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery; Harry Potter (any of them) by JK Rowling; and any of the Hobbit books by JRR Tolkein.
If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? I would love to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. For a woman who lived a life of luxury, she never forgot those who struggled and was kind to everyone she met.
What is your favorite quote? Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Do not follow the path, go instead where there is no path, and leave a trail.” That has always stuck with me. I think it means to make things work for you, to not go a certain way just because everyone else does. Basically, he is telling you to be yourself, something I can relate to. (Good advice for everyone!)
What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? The elephant is the most regal animal in the world. But as a shifter character they don’t work too well.
What is your favorite color? Red
When you’re not writing…. Unfortunately I have not won the lottery yet, so the writing takes a back seat to the real work that I do each day. I am a Volunteer Coordinator for a local Hospice.
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