SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational romantic suspense and mystery novels. Her first romantic suspense title, High-Stakes Inheritance, earned a spot on the ECPA bestseller list and her Garden Gate Mystery series, which features Nipped in the Bud, and Read Between the Lines, has enjoyed time on Amazon bestseller lists as well. And The Christmas Witness was named a finalist in the 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. In addition to writing, Susan hosts the popular Internet website TheSuspenseZone.com. She currently lives in Oregon, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
S.S: How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for 7 years or so.
S.S: Do you write full time? If the answer is no, what else do you do? If you are a full time author, what other jobs did you have in the past?
I am a fulltime author and I LOVE it. My first job started when I was young. My parents owned a grocery store and laundromat when I was growing up. They’d give all the grunt jobs—like cleaning grocery store coolers and washing machines to my brother, sister, and me. Not fun jobs I can tell you, but it taught all of us the value of hard work. I gradually moved up to cashier and worked all through college in another grocery store in the town where I went to school. Since then I’ve worked in management positions for major corporations and taught computers to elementary students.
S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?
I never thought of myself as a real author until I signed my first book contract. And even then, I didn’t really believe it and was sure the editor was going to tell me she’d made a horrible mistake and changed her mind. She didn’t, but sadly the series was cancelled the month before my book was set to release. Wow, was I disappointed. But God had a plan for that book and when the line was revived in single titles, Nipped in the Bud finally came out. Did I feel like an author then? Yes, but only because, I had another book with a different publisher release the month before Nipped in the Bud and it made the ECPA Best Seller list. When I saw my name on a list with authors like Karen Kingsbury, Max Lucado, and Francine Rivers, I started to believe it. lol
S.S.: Who has been your greatest supporter as an author?
Without a doubt it’s my husband, Mark. Though my daughters are super supportive and my other family members have been very supportive and helpful with the sales of my books, my husband is the one in the trenches—cooking dinner and doing just about anything else I need done when on a deadline. In fact, he’s in the kitchen cooking right now so I can finish interviews. Also, he’s always believed I could write a book and succeed in this business. Never once in the many years when I completed manuscript after manuscript without garnering a book contract with a publisher, did he think I should quit. What a guy!
S.S: Why suspense? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?
I write both suspense and mysteries, and my reason is quite simple. It’s what I love to read. A good suspense book keeps my attention and I can’t put it down. Though I enjoy reading well-written books in other genres, too, they don’t keep me riveted in the same way and I often lose interest and go back to the book at later date.
S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?
My faith is such an integral part of my life, I can’t separate it from what I do. I’m a Christian who writes novels so my books are all written from that perspective. My characters’ internal struggles always relate to a spiritual struggle they are experiencing. They work through their internal struggles in part by learning or employing a spiritual truth. Often the truth they learn is something I have struggled with or still struggle with in my own life. This is about to change, though, as I have contracted to write a three book general market FBI series called Agents Under Fire. I will still be true to the principles that guide my life, but the books won’t carry a spiritual message. I’m very excited about this opportunity as it gives me a chance to broaden my readership and provide riveting suspense novels to people who don’t want to read pages filled with sex and profanity and yet don’t want the spiritual message.
S.S: If you couldn’t write, what else would you want to do?
I love to do web design, though I’m a self-trained novice, and create bookmarks and brochures so I think I’d go back to school for a graphic arts degree. I’ve always loved doing things like this. I remember when I would turn in my chemistry reports in high school, I’d get less than stellar grades because science is not my thing, but the teacher would give me high marks for the layout and design of my reports.
S.S: Tell us about your current release.
No Way Out is book three in The Justice Agency series. This five book series features five adopted siblings who work together in a family run private investigation business. Each book in the series features on of the siblings. Cole Justice takes center stage in No Way Out. He’s been plagued with issues from two tours in
seem to work through them. Until Alyssa Wells and her seven-year-old twins come
barreling into his life. Alyssa has uncovered evidence that her police officer
husband was murdered by his partner who wants to silence her before she talks
and she must trust Cole to keep her safe while he brings the officer to
S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
Hmm, that’s a good question. I actually don’t remember where the germ of the idea came from as this book started with the characters. I’d gotten to know Cole in the first two Justice Agency book and I created a backdrop to share his struggles with serving two tours in
while receiving a Dear John letter from home. Afghanistan
S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?
Both characters in No Way Out need to learn to turn their problems over to God and not focus on them. When they focus on the problems, they grow in size and scope and the characters can only find peace when they trust God..
S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
I liked Cole Justice since Double Exposure, book one in The Justice Agency series. All five of the siblings are in each of the books, and Cole played a small role in this first book. I didn’t know him all that well when I started writing Double Exposure, and was pleasantly surprised when he showed me that he was a very wise man. One who’d been through battles, both physical and emotional and had learned from them. He doesn’t always practice what he’s learned, but he’s very wise council for his siblings. I also liked the challenge as a writer of taking him from being a brooding, moody guy to one who embraces life and love at the end of No Way Out.
S.S: Who is your least favorite character in this book? Why?
It has to be Nolan, the former partner of Alyssa’s slain husband. He betrayed Alyssa’s trust, which is bad enough, but he also inserts himself in their lives as a confidant and surrogate father to the twins. Shame on him for betraying Alyssa, but it’s even more inexcusable to betray and hurt children. The lowest of the low, if you ask me.
S.S: What are you working on now?
I’m actually working on three projects right now. First, I’m writing Desperate Measures, which is the last book in The Justice Agency series. I’m so sad to say goodbye to these siblings, as I’ve come to think of them as real people. Don’t tell my hubby or he might think I’ve finally gone off the deep end. Second, I’m working on a mystery for the Creative Woman mystery series. This is the third book I’ve written for this series—www.creativemysteris.com—and has been such a fun book to write as it takes place in a castle in
giving me a great backdrop for a mystery. And lastly, I’m working on Web of Deceit,
which is the first book in the Agent’s Under Fire series I mentioned above.
I’ve long wanted to do longer books and am thrilled that I finally get the
S.S: A tough question: Where do you want to be career-wise in five years? Ten years?
Assuming being a New York Times best selling author is off the table, I want to continue to have a solid writing career, writing suspense books. I know that sounds kind of simple, but career-wise my goal is to write the best books I can and make a decent living doing it. That means growing and learning as a writer. Finding out how many books I can write per year while remaining sane and having time for my family and hobbies. Trust me, this is a delicate balance when you’re writing five books per year and I want to get better at doing it all.
S.S: Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.
I would love to travel to
Europe. After featuring in my latest mystery, I’d make
that my first stop and take ferryboats to explore all of the islands. And I
would love to have the perfect flower garden. Not that such a thing exists, but
I enjoy working toward that goal. Scotland
S.S: What is the silliest thing you have ever done?
I can think of a lot of things that were foolish, but down right silly, I can’t come up with even one in recent years.
S.S: What is the hardest thing you have ever done?
I’d have to say the hardest thing I’ve ever done is trust God and refuse to worry when my husband unexpectedly lost his job awhile back. I was unable to work do to health issues so we had no income. I mean ZERO income with one daughter still living at home. When most people get laid off they’re eligible to receive unemployment. But churches are exempt from paying into the unemployment fund, making him ineligible for any payments. We had a roof over our heads, but we didn’t know for how long. Still, we both decided that we would trust God to provide. And he did. First, with generous gifts from our fellow church members. Second, he provided a new job within six weeks, which, if you know how slow churches are to call workers, you know that was a miracle in itself. We had to move cross-country, but the senior pastor of the new church was so amazing, the church uplifting and healing, and, if that wasn’t enough, the job turned out to be the best one my husband ever held. All I can say is Praise God. He is faithful.
S.S.: Where can readers find you on the internet?
To learn more about me you can stop by any of these locations on the web.
Review Site www.TheSuspenseZone.com
S.S.: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?
Just a big thank you for hosting me on your great blog and thank you to the many readers out there who purchase not only my books, but all the wonderful books in the suspense genre.
Susan is giving away a copy of her book, NO WAY OUT. Just leave a comment, along with your contact information, for a chance to win!