Susan Sleeman is a bestselling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense and mystery books. Awards include Thread of Suspicion - Romantic Times Best Book, No Way Out and The Christmas Witness - Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalists, and Web of Deceit - Swoony award winner and EPIC Award finalist.
Susan grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing novels and hosting the popular Internet website TheSuspenseZone.com.
Susan currently lives in Oregon, but she and her husband have had the pleasure of living in nine states. They have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
Suzie: Welcome to The Diamond Mine, Susan. Thank you for spending some time with us today. Let's dive right into the questions. The first one I have for you is an easy one. Name three things you like to have on hand while writing.
Susan: The most important thing I need to write is my computer, but that’s a given so I’ll say, earplugs to mask any neighborhood noises that distract me. Water, because I am a big water drinker. And chocolate. Well, that needs no explanation, right?
Suzie: You never need an excuse for chocolate. One of your resolutions for 2016 was to find time to have more fun. What have you found that you enjoy the most thus far?
Susan: I love, love, love to garden and we’ve had an early spring/summer here. 87 degrees in April—crazy, but I got to spend time outside and that is such a joy to me.
Suzie: The past year has been a busy one for you with a move, three book releases, and writing/editing a few more. So far you’ve had even more of a challenge this year (six book releases slated, a continuing remodel of your new home, and some health issues). What’s your favorite way to decompress when you’ve got a lot going on?
Susan: Wow, it has been a busy year so far, hasn’t it? Really the best way for me to decompress is with how I start my day so I don’t get out of balance in the first place. I start with listening to a Christian message on TV or radio, then do my devotions and pray. If I start the day this way, no matter what is thrown my way, I can handle it. I started adding the message to my morning this calendar year, and I can say that it has done wonders for my state of mind and keeping me in balance.
Suzie: As a writer of romantic suspense, do you find it difficult to balance the suspense with the romance. Do you have a tendency to lean more one way or the other when you write your first draft?
Susan: I started out as a straight suspense writer, but publishers weren’t contracting suspense books back then so I learned to write romantic suspense. At first, the romance part was very hard for me to incorporate, but over time both elements started to feel natural, and they are not out of balance as I write the first draft. When I finish the rough draft, I do go back in the story and highlight all of the romance sections to make sure it follows the arc that the characters need, and if it’s out of balance I add, change, or delete.
Suzie: You attended the Citizens Academy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. What aspect of that did you enjoy the most and what surprised you?
Susan: I loved every minute of the academy, but what was most helpful for me as a writer was to see the mindset and the heart of professional law enforcement officers. To get into their heads so to speak and see why they do the things they do. What surprised me the most was learning about the explorer program. This program takes youths (ages 14- 21) and trains them how to perform search and rescue missions. After they complete the training, the explorers go out to find missing people. And, because they are so good at finding things, they are also used to do evidence search in remote areas. So for example, if the detectives think a criminal has thrown a gun out of a car window, the explorers are called in to search the roadside to find the weapon.
Suzie: Your First Responders Series is about a group of law enforcement employees who not only work together as a team but also live together as a family in an old firehouse that has been remodeled with a common room and individual condominiums for members of the team. Do you know of a setup like this somewhere or was this pure product of your imagination?
Susan: I think it would be cool if such a team existed, but the team is a pure product of my imagination. I love series where the main characters are included in all books, and I can stay up to date on the characters and see their interaction so I continue to try to come up with ways to make that happen. Though each individual job that the team members do exists within a county structure, I don’t know of any county that has a team that works together this way.
Suzie: I just finished reading book four of your First Responders series, Emergency Response, and wow, what a ride! I finished it the same day I started because I couldn’t put it down. This is Darcie’s story, the one member of the team who doesn’t work in law enforcement. How did you approach this differently than the other books?
Susan: Darcie has a different mindset than the other characters in the series. She was a nurse before becoming an EMT and she thinks like a nurse, which to me means she has a helping heart and isn’t as concerned with keeping other people safe and putting away bad guys as much as keeping people healthy. Plus the fact that Darcie lost a child, and she, in addition to learning to love again, has to learn how to accept a child in her heart again. I had a late term miscarriage so I can understand to some extent how Darcie feels, and I tried to put that experience into Darcie’s character and make this book about loss and recovery, too.
Suzie: In each book in this series, you have an interweaving theme of finding peace. Emergency Response also includes the theme of finding joy. Do you find that these two often go hand in hand?
Susan: Yes, I sure do. I don’t think you can have true joy without peace. Sure, you can be happy over events, situations, and things, but truly being joyful means you have to be content or at peace in all situations, good or bad. If you have peace, the true peace that a relationship with God provides, you will have joy. It’s a given in my eyes.
Suzie: The final two books in this series are slated to release later this year (book 5 in August and the final one at the end of the year). Can you give readers a hint of what’s on the horizon?
Susan: The last two books in the First Responders series are Archer and Jake’s stories. In Silent Sabotage, Archer meets and helps Emily Long when her life it threatened as she tries to help her Aunt Birdie keep her bed and breakfast afloat. I really loved writing this story because I love the relationship between Emily and Birdie. It really touched my heart. In Christmas Conspiracy, the last book, Jake comes to the rescue of childcare director, Rachael Long when a child is abducted from her center. I had such fun writing this book because for many years I worked as a district manager for a national childcare company and the story brought back such fond memories of caring for children. And since this is the end of the series, I loved, loved, loved leaving it with a very happy ending that brought both tears and a smile to my face. I hope the readers love the ending as much as I do!
It's been a pleasure having you join us this week. Readers can connect with Susan at any of the following:
Her Website - http://www.susansleeman.com
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/
Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/
Review Site - http://www.TheSuspenseZone.com
Here is more information about Susan's First Responders series and the latest release.
On her way to visit a little girl she recently helped save, paramedic Darcie Stephens is attacked by a stranger dead-set on killing her. She escapes unscathed when detective Noah Lockhart comes to her rescue, but an officer finds a hit list dropped by the assailant—and Darcie's name is next. Now with an assassin constantly on their heels, Darcie and Noah must uncover why somebody wants her dead. Noah fights hard to protect Darcie, but she's determined to keep the cop at arm's length. After all she's lost, she's afraid to love again, especially a handsome lawman with a guarded heart. And a murderer doesn't plan to let Darcie live long enough for any second chances.
First Responders: Brave men and women alert and ready for danger and love.
Susan Sleeman is giving away five copies of Emergency Response to our blog readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below (be sure and leave your email so we can contact you if you win) and tell a friend about the giveaway. Ends June 3, 2016.