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CENTER STAGE MOMENT: Heather Sutherlin

Sutherlin spotlight

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 the characters we love and want to call friends.

Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Heather Sutherlin!

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Former president of Fiction Writers of Central Arkansas and a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, I am an active speaker at conferences and enjoy teaching others about how they can share their work with the world through self-publishing. My first four novels, all fantasy, for middle grades, teens, or young adults, are exciting adventures filled with quests and new discoveries.

My first novel, A Light in the Darkness, was featured at the Arkansas Literary Festival. 

I enjoy writing in many genres. I am working now on a paranormal suspense series and also just released my very first contemporary romance, Loose Ends. I have also written an original web series, Phone Tag. It is what I like to call a Suburban Comedy and it still makes me laugh out loud even though it never hit the web. From children’s lit to non-fiction, there are few genres I wouldn’t love to explore.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Yes, but I never thought that was a real possibility. It was as much a surprise to me as anyone when I wrote my first book.

Why did you choose to write your genre? I have a little confession, this genre chose me. My books are all based on dreams I’ve had. They just happen to explore the magical and mysterious sides of fantasy and urban fantasy. 

What is the strangest story you’ve ever written? I’ve been writing about demon dragons [that’s different!] lately in the Soul Ties series and that has been wild!

What are you currently working on? I’m finishing up the last book in the Soul Ties series right now, but a spin-off story keeps nagging at me. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of the carnival troupes and their demon-fighting in the future…maybe in France next time. 😉

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What motivated the plot of your latest book? The Soul Ties series came from a really intense dream I had about a really hot guy who was dressed in a suit and a top hat. He was a carnival magician, standing under a streetlamp surrounded by fog, but the fog was transforming into something more sinister. With a wicked grin, he welcomed the darkness, and then dove into the center of it. I woke up gasping. That’s when I knew his secret…and the story wouldn’t let me go. [As my mother would say, ‘What did you eat that night?’]

What was the hardest story for you to write? Most of my books have been written in a month or two, but A Familiar Darkness took me two years. Honestly, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to write about demons, but the characters just wouldn’t let me go. The minute the carnival troupe showed up in my head, the entire series came together. I wrote the book in just two weeks after two years of fighting with it, and it is now my favorite series.

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What process do you use to plan your novels? I don’t plan very well. I tend to write as a reader, which means my characters surprise me a LOT. And that twist you never saw coming? It took my breath away. That kind of writing is addictive because you never know what will happen next.

Who has been your favorite character to write and why? I love Archer because he’s such a larger than life character. But my favorite character is actually Aiden from The Light of Loian series. He was a minor character who had a small part to play for a few chapters in book one, but suddenly I could hear his voice in my head and the guy was hilarious. He’s a serious flirt, and the kind of adventurer who really needs his own series. Maybe some day…

Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? I used to think “No!” but over time I’ve realized that many of my main characters reflect what I’m struggling with at the time I was writing the book. For example, Merrilyn in The Light of Loian series is searching for her true purpose, trying to reconcile the expectations of her past, and her newfound abilities. The conflict she has in the story reminds me a lot of how I felt when I first started writing and trying to decide if I was really a writer, and how that fit in with the rest of my life. As characters struggle with faith/doubt you can see glimpses of what I was dealing with in my own journey. It’s humbling to look back and suddenly see yourself in the work, but maybe that means someone else will find some helpful truth for their own life as well.

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Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? Ugh! Yes. I seem to write like a maniac when the story hits me, but eventually it dries up, or life intervenes, and I may go months without writing more than a few words. That is very painful. I’ve tried everything to make it end, but writing through it seems to be the only thing that really helps. It’s like a faucet shut too tight. If you can get turning, eventually it loosens up and flows. 

If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? I really want to write an epic steampunk/fantasy adventure, but I’ve also got a whole stack of contemporary romance ideas floating around. Either way, it will be something that showcases the countries I’m visiting now that we live in Europe. I’d love to hear what you think. What should I write next? [There’s your invite readers. Drop her a line and tell her what should be next. Just click here and scroll down the page.]

Which authors inspire you? Cassandra Clare, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Madeleine L’Engle, the Bible. Is that too eclectic? [Not at all.]

What novel would you read multiple times? Anything written by the above authors ?

If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? (Person could be a fictional character) I would want to meet Jesus. I’ve got a ton of questions for him, but first we’d have dinner and he’d tell me a great story. He always did his best teaching over dinner or telling a story.

What is your favorite quote? My favorite quote is the reason I write fantasy worlds, and it comes from the author who created the beautiful world of Narnia.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? Pete’s Dragon! I’ve always wanted to have a dragon just like Eliot.

What is your favorite color? Green. I love everything that reminds me of the beauty and mystery of the forest.

When you’re not writing… I am a full-time writer, but I also teach essential oils classes with Young Living.

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Catch up with Heather online at:

Website: HeatherSutherlin.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeatherSutherlin/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/heathersutherli

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Heather-Sutherlin/e/B008RRP19I/

Would you like a free book from Heather? Get book one in the Light of Loian Series free on your favorite e-reader site here:
https://www.books2read.com/u/W4EkM3
You can also sign up for her newsletter and get a free book:
 https://www.instafreebie.com/free/l9ayx

It was great getting to know you! Join me next week when Erin Hayes will be stopping by.

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