Friday, November 30, 2012

Interview with Susan Sleeman

S.S: Tell us about yourself. Five fun facts.
1. Not only have I lived in nine states, but I actually lived in Texas twice. It’s a big state you if you’re going to live there you really need to do it twice. lol
2. I am our church librarian.
3. One day when my husband was at work, I decided to remodel the upstairs of our house and took out all the walls before he came home that night. He was so surprised.
4. I used to have so many Christmas decorations it would take several days to put them all out.
5. I love to bake.

S.S: Tell us about the moment you finally felt like a “real author”?
I felt like a real author on the day I received my first contract to publish a novel. And wow, was that a day I’d love to relive over and over. Warning, long answer coming. :)
At the end of March 2008, I submitted a proposal for Nipped in the Bud to editor Susan Downs for the then newly developed mystery line, Heartsong Presents Mysteries. Within three days, I received a request for the full manuscript. Then within three weeks, I received a positive evaluation of the manuscript with a few suggested revisions. Susan was not able to contract new works until the fall, and she requested I return the revised manuscript to her by August 1 when she was in a position to make a decision. I was pumped. I’d  have to wait until August for any firm answer, but surely this was a good sign. Right?

I made the revisions and sent the manuscript back in late July. I’d completed book two in the Garden Gate Mystery series and sent that proposal to Susan, as well. Now all I had to do was sit back and wait for her to call. She didn’t. No phone call. No email. Nothing. No response. And when I asked my agent about it, he was vague, encouraging me, yet at the same time saying nothing. I whined to my critique group, which at the time included three Heartsong Mystery authors. They tried to encourage me, but when August came and went, I was certain Susan had lost interest in my book.

In September, at the ACFW conference when Susan Downs took the stage to award a contract for the Heartsong Presents Mysteries imprint, I sat back and said, “Man, it’s too bad Susan didn’t like my book. It would be so cool to learn of your book contract in front of 500 fellow writers.” Susan began describing the writer who would receive this contract. She started with vague clues and grew more specific. Imagine my surprise when I realized she was talking about me. I turned to my crit group sitting next to me and learned that they knew about this since April. Ditto for my agent, of course. The surprise is one I’ll never forget.

S.S:  Why suspense? Do you write in any other genres? If so, what?
I write both romantic suspense and cozy mysteries with a hint of romance. I write in these genres because that is what I like to read. I like the action, mystery and unanswered questions that keep me turning the page. I like trying to solve the mystery and figure out the villain and as a writer, I love coming up with intricate mysteries with a surprise twist at the end so the reader can’t figure out the villain before he or she is revealed. Plus I like to have a good share of romance thrown into the mix.

S.S: How does your faith play into your writing?
Faith is integral to my writing as it’s a fundamental part of my life. It’s natural for me to write characters who believe and struggle in their faith walk. Before I begin a book, I pray for guidance on a verse to base the story on. Once I am clear on the verse, I think about lessons I may have learned revolving around this verse or how this verse has changed my life. Then I create a story where the characters struggle with this lesson.

S.S:  Tell us about your current release.
My November release, Dead Wrong is the second book in my Justice Agency series. This is a five book series in the Love Inspired Suspense line about five siblings with a law enforcement background who now work together in a private investigations agency to help people who traditional law enforcement can’t help.

Dead Wrong features Kat Justice a former Portland police officer. When her client and old college friend is murdered, Kat knows the killer will come for her next. Her survival depends on finding her unknown enemy first…and working with homicide detective Mitch Elliot, her onetime crush. It takes all her professional skills to ignore the sparks between them, but Kat can’t allow the handsome cop to get close. She’s seen too many people she loves die, so she vows just to do her job without getting emotionally involved. Yet keeping her distance may not be the best way to protect her heart—or their lives.
S.S: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?
As often happens with my plots, I came upon the germ of an idea for Dead Wrong’s plot while reading news stories on the Internet. The article that sparked the idea talked about people who keep cell phone accounts active for loved ones who had died so they can call the loved one’s voicemail to hear their voice. As usual, my mind took a weird twist, and I asked the question, what if when the grieving loved one called the phone number someone answered the phone? In Dead Wrong, Kat’s friend does just that. Mourning the loss of her brother who committed suicide, she calls the voice mail and a man answers. She knows it’s not her brother on the end of the line, but she’s long thought her brother wouldn’t end his own life, and she’s now certain that the man who answered the phone is her brother’s killer. She hires the Justice Agency to find the man who possesses her brother’s phone.

S.S: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from your story?
The theme of Dead Wrong is about worry. I chose the verse, Matt 6: 27 - Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Kat Justice struggles with worry. Her worry stems from losing family members and worrying about losing another loved one. She has to learn that worrying is a sin. That it’s telling God she doesn’t trust Him to work things out in His way. I hope if readers struggle with worry that they will remember how Kat learns to deal with it and apply the same principles to their own life.

S.S: Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
Aw, picking a favorite character is like picking a favorite child. I can’t do it. That said, I love Kat’s spunky, can do attitude. I also empathize with her need to control situations, as I’m a control freak. But I also love Mitch’s no nonsense approach to life. His tough, be-in-charge-attitude. And I really, really love when they try to work together and their personalities clash and the sparks fly.

S.S: What is your favorite scene you have written and why?
In Dead Wrong, I think my favorite scene is when Mitch kisses Kat. I make the reader wait for this until near the end of the book and because the build up is so intense you get an ah, moment when they finally do kiss. My favorite scene of all times is in No Way Out, book three in the series when the hero meets the heroine in a storming night on an Oregon beach. I love it because we get to meet and learn about Cole’s struggles and why he’s out in the storm and the storm just adds so many visual elements to the scene.

S.S: What are you working on now?
I’m working on a few projects right now. I’m in the edit phase of No Way Out, the third Justice Agency book that will release in May of 2013. This book has been one of my favorites as I love strong, brooding males who also display a tender side in the hero role and that describes Cole to a tee. I’m also writing book four in the series, tentatively titled Dangerous Alliance, and it will release in early 2014. And I am just finishing the first draft of Dog Gone Shame, a cozy mystery for Creative Woman Mysteries, which will release in 2013. Deadly Stitch, the first book I wrote for this series, releases in December

S.S:  Now let’s get a little personal. Name two things on your “bucket list” that you haven’t done yet.   
1. The first is to move back to Oregon to live near my children and grandson. We moved from Portland 10 years ago due to job transfers. Our youngest daughter moved with us and the oldest one stayed. Now our daughter is married and we have a wonderful grandson. Plus our youngest daughter goes to college in Portland, and we are eager to be close to our family again.
2. I would like to publish again in single title format. My dream is to write longer books with more of a chance to expand the characters and events. And to write a bit more gritty suspense.

S.S.: Where can readers find you on the Internet?
The best places to find and learn more about me on the web are -  
Review Site

S.S.: Why did you start the Suspense Zone? Please give us its address.
An avid suspense reader, I searched the internet for Christian Suspense books that I hadn’t read in a time when the genre was much smaller and authors harder to find. After searching high and low, I’d compiled a list of over 300 books. I was ecstatic with the opportunity to find new authors with riveting novels. I couldn’t keep this wonderful news to myself. I had to share.

So I hatched, er, gave birth to The site is devoted to bringing you new releases, new authors, reviews, giveaways, and much more all with the simple click of your finger. Our database of books has expanded in the last few years to over 1200 Christian Suspense tiles. The site is updated on a regular basis with new books being added as the information becomes available so stop by often to discover the wealth of talent in the Christian Suspense market.

Susan wants to give away three copies of the first in the series--Double Exposure. If you want to be entered in the drawing, please leave your email addy with a comment.


  1. I just received Dead Wrong from my Love Inspired Suspense subscription. Am looking forward to reading it. I love this blog and am so thankful for it. These are the types of books I read and of course cozy mysteries. I also loved reading your answers to these questions. Blessings, Susan Fryman

  2. I loved this interview. I would love to win a copy of Double Exposure. I'm a new fan of the Love Inspired Suspense line.
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

  3. Excellent interview. I enjoy the Love Inspired books, easy to read and such a variety. Would love to win a copy of Double Exposure.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Susan, Amy and Karla and leaving a comment! So thrilled you all have either just discovered or already enjoy Love Inspired Suspense. Best wishes in winning Double Exposure.

  5. The Suspense Zone and this Suspense Sisters site and fantastic places to visit. I need all the information I can get to pass on to my customers and these sites are somewhere I turn to find out about new authors, books and happenings. THANKYOU.

    I'd love to enter the contest

  6. Thanks for the nice comment about TheSuspenseZone,com, Lynn! Best wishes in winning Double Exposure!

  7. Great interview, Susan! You're an excellent writer and talented on many fronts. I love looking through the Suspense Zone pages. :)


  8. It was an interesting post - learning facts about you. I love cozy mysteries.


  9. Very enjoyable post. Would love to win.


  10. Wonderful interview, and the book sounds great! Love Inspired Suspense books are great! Thank you for offering this contest!

  11. I laughed out loud at your #3 fun fact! :) Dead Wrong sounds great!

    jswaks at gmail dot com

  12. Thanks for the kind comments Jes, Nancee, Lourdes, and Michelle. Best wishes in winning Double Exposure.

  13. I would love to own one of your books! nat

  14. Great blog ! Thanks for this giveaway !!

  15. Sounds like this would make a good Christmas gift! Please put my name in.
    Maxie ( )

  16. I would love to read your book. Love inspired suspence is my favorate books to read.

  17. Please put my name in for a chance to win a copy of your book. I absolutely love to read Christian fiction.

  18. I would love a copy of this book. I am enjoying the opportunity to read suspense with faith involved! A little romance only makes the suspense better. :)