Welcome, Susan. What do you write?
I write YA Romance novels.
What drew you to writing?
The first novel I wrote was called “More Trouble for Me.” I was about ten years old and it contained thirty handwritten pages. In junior high I moved on to screenplays for movies of which I would one day I intended to star. My parents worried about me because I spent so much time alone in my room. I never told them I was writing. I’m sure they’d have been relieved, but I wanted to keep it a secret. Later on, life got in the way and I buried both my writing and acting dreams. I’d nearly forgotten about them entirely when decades later, while purging junk and cutter, I came across my first novel and was inspired to realize my childhood dream.
What was your inspiration for Cherokee Summer?
I was visiting the Cherokee Indian Reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina and remembered a crush I had on a Native American classmate when I was a ‘tween. I contemplated what might have happened had we been older. I opened my laptop, put my imagination to work, and Cherokee Summer was born.
Tell us about Cherokee Summer.
When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John's friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.
Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.
I entered the Gateway to the Best Contest sponsored by the Missouri Romance Writers of American and won first place in the YA division. Kinan Werdski, an editor for The Wild Rose Press, was the judge and requested a full manuscript. So here, I am.
((what a great story! Skip the query trenches!))
Any new projects on the horizon?
I am currently dismantling a YA Paranormal Romance and rewriting it with an altered plot.
Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:
Learn to take criticism and never give up.
What was the hardest/most unusual/interesting part of the story to write/research?
While I only use a minuscule amount of it in my novel, I’d have to say learning phrases in the Cherokee language.
Inspirational images: Left: the author’s son and dog in the stream and near a bridge mentioned in the story; Right: attending a Pow Wow.
Now for an excerpt:
I invite her into the circle of my arms. She leans against me and rests her head on my shoulder. Above us, the moon is nearly full, casting bluish light across the river. The sky is a starry mess. “Look.” I point to the sky. “There’s Ursa Major.”
“What?” she asks.
“The bear constellation.”
“Where is it? Show me.”
I raise her hand and trace the starry image like I’m
doing a dot-to-dot picture. “There’s the head.” I swoop her hand left. “And there’s the tail.” I finish by pointing out the bear’s front and rear legs.
“The way you do it makes it look like a skinny, headless dog,” she says.
I laugh. “Where’s your imagination?” 130
“Let me try.” She lifts my hand and traces a detailed shape of a bear, describing the air-drawing from ear to toe. “Is that better?”
“Perfect,” I say. “Like you.”
She laces her fingers through mine.
I rub tiny circles on her palm with my thumb as I
speak. “When I was a kid, I used to fear the bear would swoop down from the sky and eat me alive.”
“That’s horrible.” She presses her lips together, and her ribs shake in suppressed mirth.
“I wouldn’t laugh if I were you,” I say. “Elisi says that bear is pretty bad.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect you from Starbear.” She makes a muscle, flexing and releasing her cute bicep.
“You will, huh?” I tickle her side.
She squeals, wiggles around, and digs her fingers into my ribs. We engage in a full out tickle-war. In the middle of our battle, the wind shifts and the earth rotates, and soon we’re on the ground with her straddling me, both of us panting.
Our eyes lock, and I brush a strand of hair behind her ear. She leans over inch at a time until her nose touches mine. She kisses me, only a peck, then runs the tip of her tongue around lightly around my lips. Unable to resist any longer, I pull her to me and crush my mouth into hers.