Sunday, September 03, 2017
Susan A. Royal @susanaroyal author of Not Long Ago #HistoricalRomance #MuseItUpPublishing #TimeTravel
I’d like to welcome Susan A. Royal, author of Not Long Ago to my blog today.
RW: How many hours a day do you spend writing?
SAR: After making some unexpected life changes in the past few years, I’m still getting used to my new normal. That said, I try to do some kind of writing every day. (You can teach an old dog new tricks; it just takes a little longer)
RW: Who are your favorite authors? Who influenced your writing?
SAR: There are so many. My early favorites were Ray Bradbury, Poul Anderson, Robert Heinlein, and Madeline L’Engle. Somewhere along the line I discovered Mary Stewart and Diana Gabaldon. My new favorites are Maggie Stiefvater, Susanna Kearsley, Ilona Andrews, and Jim Butcher.
RW: Who are your favorite characters among the books you’ve written?
SAR: Lara, from my second book, In My Own Shadow. I love her sarcastic wit and stubborn refusal to be pushed around.
RW: What makes a good book? A great romance? Is humor important in fiction and why?
SAR: A good book draws me into the story and invests me in the characters. A great romance lets me feel the characters’ emotions and relate to them. Humor is as vital in fiction as it is in life. Laughing at ourselves helps us survive the bad times.
RW: How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
SAR: There are bits and pieces of me in every character I create. It’s the same with their life experiences. And if I come up against something I haven’t personally experienced, I do the research and imagine how I’d react under the same circumstances.
RW: How do you come up with story ideas? What kind of research do you do for a book?
SAR: I love to put my characters into an out of this world situation and see how they handle it.
RW: How many books have you written, how many have been published?
SAR: I’ve written four and published four. I have two WIPs and an idea for one swirling around in my head.
RW: Which comes first, the story, the characters, or the setting?
SAR: I’m a visual person. I usually start with an opening scene in my head and a vague idea for the storyline. It can go anywhere from there.
RW: What is the single most important part of writing for you?
SAR: I get to escape into the worlds I create and experience an adventure along with my characters.
RW: Bubble baths or steamy showers? Ocean or mountains? Puppies or kittens? Chocolate or caramel?
SAR: Bubble baths (with a good book), mountains, puppies, Chocolate and Caramel
Not Long Ago
Erin has met the man of her dreams, but as usual there are complications. It’s one of those long distance relationships, and Griffin is a little behind the times—somewhere around six-hundred years.
Erin and her employer, March, are transported to a time where chivalry and religion exist alongside brutality and superstition. Something is not quite right at the castle, and Erin and March feel sure mysterious Lady Isobeil is involved. However, Erin must cope with crop circles, ghosts, a kidnapping, and death before the truth of her journey is revealed.
Forced to pose as March’s nephew, Erin finds employment as a squire for Sir Griffin. She’s immediately attracted to him and grows to admire his courage, quiet nobility, and devotion to duty. Only she must deny her feelings. Her world is centuries away, and she wants to go home. But Erin can’t stop thinking about her knight in shining armor.
I saw him the other day. It happened when I cut across Market Street and passed in front of the fancy new coffee shop. On the other side of spotless glass, waitresses in crisp black uniforms served expensive coffee in fancy cups and saucers. One man sat alone at a table by the window. No one I knew, just a handsome stranger who glanced up as I passed. Our eyes met and I froze in the middle of a busy sidewalk crowded with impatient people. Annoyed, they parted, sweeping past me like water rushing downstream.
What I saw left me reeling, as though someone had knocked the wind out of me. My glimpse deep inside the man’s essence unnerved me, but I couldn’t look away. Who was he? The waitress stopped at his table. He turned, lowering his cup into its saucer and shook his head, his mouth curving into a familiar smile that made my heart lurch.
After she left, his eyes returned to mine. A moment before, I thought they’d held a spark of recognition. Now, I saw nothing. I felt cold, as though he’d slammed a door in my face and left me standing outside in the rain.
I had no other choice but to move on.
It wasn’t just recognition—I knew things about him too. Things I had no reason to know. An image flashed in my mind: the curl of hair at the nape of his neck; a scar snaking down his arm. I’d put it there, after all.
I knew the man before me was an excellent horseman, accomplished swordsman, and an honorable man. Beyond the shadow of a doubt. How could I be so certain?
There was something else. A chilling realization crept up my spine. He didn’t belong in my world. Not in the coffee shop, not in the city. Not anywhere. None of this should have happened. We should have been no more than casual observers sharing a moment before going our separate ways. But something went wrong.
* * * *
A year ago, I was unemployed and bordering on panic. I’d filled out applications, sent resumes, interviewed and waited. Nothing. Fresh out of college, I was on my own and without a job. My parents were dead, my brother working out of the country. If I had sent word, Aidan would have wired money right away, but I wanted to do things on my own.
“You are incredibly stubborn.” His words, not mine. I prefer to call it determined. I’ve always been that way. Maybe it helps me survive.
I’d been bugging Angie, the girl at the employment agency. Frustrated, I begged her for something—anything—I could do. I’m sure she wished I’d go away. The last time I called, giving her my best groveling and pleading performance to date. She finally relented. “Okay.” I could hear her pencil tapping against the desk. “There is one position I’ve been unable to fill.” Hesitation filled her voice. “But, it’s only temporary.”
“What kind of work?” I tried not to sound too eager.
“I’ve been asked to find an assistant, a go-fer or whatever you want to call it.” I heard the sound of paper being shuffled. “The man’s a successful author with extreme methods of writing. He’s doing research for a new book and becomes so completely absorbed in his work he has no regard for schedules or meals. It’s not unusual for him to work hours at a time without stopping,” she said. “And he expects his assistant to do the same.”
“So, you’re saying he’s a workaholic?”
“Let’s just say he’s eccentric. He’s rejected most of the temps I sent before they even made it through the door. One or two got a little further, only to quit after the first day.”
I kept after Angie, and she finally admitted the worst. “The last girl I sent called me from the elevator in hysterics. He had bellowed at her in some hideous language before coming at her with a sword. She thought he was about to cut her up in little pieces.” Angie started tapping her pencil again. “Later, he apologized and explained that he was acting out an ancient method of swordplay, so he could get it right before he put it down on paper. It didn’t matter, she refused to go back.”
“Who is he?” I thought if I read up on him, it might give me an edge. I needed all the help I could get.
“He writes under a pen name, and don’t even think about asking him what it is, unless you want to make a quick exit.” Angie gave me a few minutes to let her words sink in. “Well, what do you think?”
“I’d like to give it a try.” I had nothing to lose, and neither did Angie.
“All right, I’ll set up the interview. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Five minutes later, she called back with directions to an elegant, century-old apartment building located downtown. Later that day, I rode the elevator to the top floor of the building. The doors slid open to reveal plush floral carpeting. I made my way past elaborate gold sconces set against dark wood paneling, feeling as though I’d stepped into another century. At the end of the hall I stopped before a heavy, paneled door, took a deep breath and rang the bell.
A gentleman in his fifties answered the door after the third ring. His Scots-Irish ancestry was evident from his reddish-brown hair, short beard and ruddy complexion. He met me with a “whatever it is, make it quick, can’t you see you’re interrupting me?” look.
Flustered, I introduced myself, waving my resume in the air as though it were a magic charm. He took it without a word, ushered me inside and shut the door. Dressed in slacks and a white shirt with the cuffs rolled back, he wore eyeglasses hung on a chain around his neck. He lifted them, still folded, to peer at my resume.
“Aahhh, another lamb to the slaughter.” He spoke with a British accent, while his direct blue eyes bored holes in me. “Call me March.”
I had no clue if it was his first or last name. In a nervous voice, I began to rattle off any of my limited skills I thought he might find the least bit impressive. He paused only to pitch my carefully typed paper atop a stack of mail covering a table in the foyer. I wondered how many resumes like mine gathered dust there. March took my arm. “Let’s continue our conversation in the library, shall we? I was about to brew some tea. Would you care to join me, Erin?” He had a nice smile. I accepted his offer, telling myself Angie had probably exaggerated. March seemed slightly old-fashioned, but in a charming way.
While he went to get tea, I perched on one of the matching chairs placed on either side of a glass-topped table and allowed my gaze to wander around the large, airy room. Overflowing floor-to-ceiling shelves covered three walls. Reference books on history and geography shared space with studies on witchcraft, astronomy, astrology, quantum theory, physics and music. On the fourth wall, large glass doors led to an ornate wrought iron balcony with a view of one of the town’s oldest cathedrals and the quaint little park next to it.
In the middle of the library a huge wooden desk hid under maps, handwritten notes and large, heavy volumes, their pages marked by dozens of post-its sticking out from all sides. I wondered how the man ever managed to write anything in such chaos; however, I’d seen enough to whet my appetite. Working for him would be very interesting. However, I was getting way ahead of myself. He hadn’t offered me the job, yet.
March returned with tea on a silver tray and served from dainty cups and saucers while we made small talk. He studied me as he stirred milk into his cup. “I’m certain my reputation has preceded me.
Susan A. Royal Bio:
Born in west Texas and raised in south Texas, Susan shares a hundred-year-old farmhouse in a small east Texas town with a ghost who harmonizes with her son when he plays guitar. She is a mother of three and grandmother of five unique and special children. Her family is rich with characters, both past and present. Susan’s grandmother shared stories of living on a farm in Oklahoma Territory and working as a telephone operator in the early 20th century. She learned all about growing up in the depression from her father and experienced being a teenager during WWII through her mother’s eyes.
Susan loves taking her readers through all kinds of adventures. So far, she’s written two books in her It’s About Time series, Not Long Ago and From Now On, and is working on book three. They are time travel adventures about two people who fall in love despite the fact they come from very different worlds. In My Own Shadow is a Fantasy adventure/romance. Xander’s Tangled Web is a YA fantasy with romance. Look for her books at MuseItUp/Amazon/B&N.
Want to know more? Visit susanaroyal.wordpress.com for a peek inside this writer’s mind and see what she’s up to. You never know what new world she’s going to visit next.
Contact Susan At:
Susan’s Website: https://susanaroyal.wordpress.com
Xander’s Tangled Web (Fantasy, Mystery)
In My Own Shadow (Fantasy, Adventure, Romance)
Not Long Ago (Time Travel, Adventure, Romance)