The bestselling author of over thirty-five Christian inspirational and clean reads, Susan Sleeman has sold more than a million suspense, romantic suspense, and cozy books.
Much to her husband’s dismay, Susan loves to look at everyday situations and turn them into murder and mayhem scenarios for future novels. If you’ve met her, she has probably figured out a plausible way to kill you and get away with it. Don’t worry, she says she’d never follow through on it.
Susan currently lives in Oregon. She and her husband have two daughters, one son-in-law, and a grandson.
Susan, it has been an incredible decade for you as a writer. At the time of my first interview with you in September 2010, you had just released two debut books. You now have more than thirty-five books with more than a million copies in print. What inspires you to turn out so many stories?
Deadlines. LOL In all seriousness, I know many writers have stories that are just begging to be told, but for me it’s the characters whose struggles with life spur me on. I love learning about a character’s backstory and how it has informed their life. To then put them in a situation that forces them to confront those lies they are telling themselves and to share God’s truths as they work their struggles. To find and be all that God has called them to be. That’s what motivates me to write.
In that first interview you mentioned that you have never had a career goal other than writing. Briefly, how did you go about achieving your goal? What, if anything, about your journey would you change?
Hard work and perseverance enabled me to achieve my goal as well as God blessing my writing. I believed He wanted me to succeed as an author and so I learned the craft of writing and then did what every successful writer does. Write, write, write, as it’s in the process of writing that you develop your skills and hone the craft. And the other thing that I did early on in my career was to pivot from writing straight suspense and cozy mysteries to romantic suspense as that was the genre that publishers were looking for at the time. I am SO glad I did as I love to read romantic suspense so it only makes sense that I write it, too.
I’d like to say I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey as I firmly believe God directs our steps and this was the path He has chosen for me. But as I look back I can see many times when I got in my own way and could have made better choices. I’d love to go back and change those, but then again, God used them to grow my writing and me as a person so it was all of value and has led me to this time and place in my career, which might I say is such a wonderful place. God has blessed my writing mightily in the last few years, and I am reaching so many more people with His word. I am humbled and honored by His many blessings.
Let’s talk about your new novel, Seconds to Live (Bethany House, December 2019), the first book in your Homeland Heroes series. The plot sounds fascinating. Please tell us about it.
In Seconds to Live, when cybercriminals hack into the US Marshals’ Witness Protection database and auction off witnesses’ personal details to the highest bidders, the RED Team led by FBI Agent Sean Nichols begins a high-stakes chase to find the hacker. But before he can even get started, the first witness is targeted and barely escapes with her life. Sean believes Phantom, an obsessed hacker who previously outwitted the top minds in the field, is behind the attack, and Sean needs this witness’s help, as she’s the person who has come closest to discovering Phantom’s identity.
Trouble is, she’s a witness under the care of US Marshal Taylor Mills, and Sean is reluctant to work with the captivating marshal who knows his deepest secrets. But Phantom claims he knows where the witness is hiding and will kill her, so to stop the hacker, Sean and Taylor must work through their personal pain and learn to trust each other. . . . The seconds are ticking down before someone dies.
Those who “create” usually tap into a personal “toolbox” of elements to define their style. For example, a painter might use color, light, and/or shadows in s certain way to “sign” his work. A musician might use syncopation, key changes, and/or vocal intonation to set herself apart. What two or three elements most define who you are as a storyteller?
I’m not sure this is what you’re looking for but…
- I always start a book with a bang. Someone is in immediate danger or has had their life upended. And I try to create an opening line that makes it nearly impossible for the reader not to want to read on.
- I try to balance suspense with romance. Not too heavy on either one. I might tip the scales one way or the other in a particular book but an equal balance is my goal.
- I write police procedurals so in every book I like to introduce a new forensic or police procedure that is interesting and sometimes quite eye-opening. This takes a lot of research, but I find it fascinating so it’s a labor of love.
Your faith is a powerful force behind your personal story. Is there a Biblical story, parable, or passage that has been particularly important to you and/or describes your personal journey of faith?
I go back to “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” all the time. I have two chronic illnesses and have days when I’m not sure I can go on. Pain and suffering brings me to the end of my rope, and if I don’t look up I can find myself in despair. But if I remember this verse and meditate on it, I can move forward knowing God has brought me through every adversity in my life so far, and He will bring me through the current one, too. Then I can find the joy in the morning and share everything He is teaching me through my stories.
Thank you, Susan! It’s great to have you back at Divine Detour.
Thank you for having me. I just love your blog!!
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