Interview with Susan Elia MacNeal (part 2)

               Part II **  An Interview with Susan Elia MacNealinterviews, authors, writers, Winston Churchill   (Part I * March 5th)

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

A. I do love a good cup of coffee, I must admit—milk, no sugar. No rituals, but if I get anxious about starting, I’ll often just open the document and run spell check—that way, I usually get over any stress. Occasionally, I’ll put on NPR or some sort of talk radio in the background for company. And generally I have a cat or two nearby.

Q. What is your mode of writing? (long hand? Pencil? Computer? Etc.)

A. I like writing directly into the computer, and I particularly love my laptop. Sometimes I’ll do notes or outlining on a yellow legal pad with a pen or pencil (but mostly because we have yellow legal pads around at home, not because of any ritual!).

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative?

A. I like to write first thing in the morning. I think that time in between dreaming and full waking is really good for fiction. So I usually write early in the morning and then do editing and reply to emails and whatnot in the afternoon. That is, until 3 p.m. — then I’m back in the mommy role.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long?

A. Yes, and it’s the most amazing experience in the world when that happens! Usually I find it a hard state to achieve when first starting a novel, because I don’t know my characters and settings as well. But later on, usually when I’m more than a hundred pages in or so, it’s really fun to “get lost” with my characters. That’s the absolute best part of being a writer.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

A. I’ve always loved writing, but I first started taking myself a bit more seriously when I was an editor at Dance Magazine, and then became a staff writer as well. I did a lot of pieces for the magazine and also for the web site. It was at Dance Magazine that I started to think of myself as a professional, and I thank then-editor Richard Philp for taking a chance on me and then giving me so much freedom to pursue and write stories.

Q. How long after that were you published?

A. Well, when Dance Magazine moved to San Francisco, I, with the rest of the New York staff, lost my job. I’d just gotten married, so I had health insurance. So, that was when I decided to freelance. I did a lot of magazine pieces and editing, and wrote two non-fiction books – one about weddings and one about cocktails. But I was always working on fiction.

Q. What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like? 

mysteries, Winston churchill, history, best sellers, authors, interviews         A. Hmm, well, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary took more than ten years, and each subsequent book has taken about two years. (Random House held Mr. Churchill’s Secretary until Princess Elizabeth’s Spy was pretty far along, so they could publish them back-to-back.)  I guess it takes me a few months to immerse myself in research, then a few months to write a beginning, then additional time to realize I hate the beginning and delete it—then back to the drawing board to rewrite.

About nine months later, my editor, the amazing and patient Kate Miciak gets it, and she takes a pass through and gives me an editorial letter. I work on it some more, and it goes back to Kate, who either okays it or sends it back to me, which takes a few months. Then it goes through a six-month period where it goes through a number of passes of copy-editing, then an Advanced Readers Edition, and then, finally, the finished book.


Part III of this fascinating interview will post on March 12th.  Don’t miss it!!                   

Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner” 

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Robert McCammon, Rhys Bowen, Mark Childress, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Sue Grafton, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!

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