Today I am very happy to welcome Susanna Ives on Book Lovers Inc. Susanna’s debut novel Rakes & Radishes will be released on September 13th. I had the pleasure to read and review an ARC of this book and it was a 5 stars read for me. Let us give a warm welcome to Susanna!
Susanna: Thank you so much for having me on your blog. It’s an impressive site and the features are fabulous. I know you are very proud of Book Lovers, Inc.
The HEA Lover: Susanna can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Susanna: I was born in Atlanta, but raised in the rural south in “the states.” When I attended college, I returned to Atlanta and have been here ever since. For a several years I drifted about in corporate jobs doing Multimedia and web development. For the last eight years, I’ve been a full-time mother; however, this year both my children will be in school, so my life is about to change.
The HEA Lover: Describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Susanna: I write when I can. Early mornings, late nights, at my children’s gymnastics or pottery class. I fantasize about long expanses of time and silence.
I’m a planner, but inevitably all my plans fall apart, so I have to make new plans as I go.
The HEA Lover: What do you think is the difference between a reader and a real Book Lover?
Susanna: I think a reader reads on the surface of a book and doesn’t stop to dwell on the perfect words, the amazing character development, or the neat and unexpected turn of a plot. A Book Lover re-reads books, wanting to get lost again in the story and the cadence of the language. The characters seem to dwell as real flesh and blood in some parallel universe. Book Lovers go about imagining the lives of the characters after the book has ended, as if they were friends (or enemies). Okay, maybe this is my own dissociative behavior showing here.
One of my favorite books of all time is Susan Isaacs’ Shining Through. I still shiver with excitement when I re-read it and the “hero” first appears. I still wonder: will they get together? Crazy, I know.
The HEA Lover: I read on your blog that you travelled a lot through Europe with your husband. Did you discover a favorite country? Do you think these experiences changed the way you write?
Susanna: I can’t pick a favorite country because I love them all. I’ve spent a great deal of time in the Netherlands. I love how the Dutch display modern art and statues in their windows.
European women are so beautiful, no matter what their age. They dress so smartly and wear such fashionable shoes. I’m very envious.
I wish I could wander the streets of the older cities like Maastricht and Brugge for hours, stopping to enjoy red wine or sparkling water in a café on a square. But in reality, I was pushing a stroller and the children were squirming in their seats, wanting get out and chase every pigeon or crying for more gelato.
Did traveling change the way I write? Not sure. I feel very rooted to my Southern US heritage when I write. In fact, in my head many of my British characters have Southern accents.
The HEA Lover: What can we expect of Rakes and Radishes?
Susanna: It’s going to be a little different, a little edgy, but ultimately satisfying (I hope). Characters will get emotionally hurt and grow into stronger people from that heartbreak.
The HEA Lover: Your hero Kesseley is not our typical Aristocrat. He enjoys to care for his land and treasures the welfare of his tenants. Not many heroes in Historicals are interested in crop irrigation. Why did you choose to step out of the stereotype? What makes him adorable in your eyes?
Susanna: If I was going to make a rake, I had to start with a “non-rake”. I also needed a hero that represented everything Henrietta didn’t want. Well, she didn’t want to stay in her small village, so it seemed a natural choice to make Kesseley tied to the land, like a farmer. Then I had to create a conflict for Kesseley to resist becoming a rake. So I made his father a cruel rake who emotionally abused his wife and his son Kesseley. Unfortunately, I fell in love with my “non-rake”. Kesseley inherited hard, barren land and nourished the soil, making crops flourish on it. Kind of a metaphor for his life.
The HEA Lover: Your heroine Henrietta Watson has a thing for math and especially her “talent” for counting…ahem…playing cards makes her the star of every party. She turned the rather unusual talent into something unexpected. Is she a scientist at heart or more a social player so to say? What makes her special in your eyes?
Susanna: Henrietta is probably a scientist. Not a cold, analytical one, but a more curious, creative scientist. Both she and Kesseley share an awe of the world. His awe is rooted on the ground, while she gazes at the sky. She is stuck in this small village like a caged bird, wanting bigger things for her life. She wants challenge and stimulation. She is extremely intelligent, yet naïve. Although she watched her mother die, life has been too easy for her. In the story, she will be tested and will grow into her potential, becoming a wonderful woman.
You have to understand, the prototypical heroine burned in my brain is Scarlett O’Hara. A manipulative and striving woman who, when Atlanta is on fire, will deliver a baby, have Rhett steal a cart, and drive Melanie and her newborn back to Tara.
The HEA Lover: In Rakes and Radishes we watch Henrietta mature from a silly girl with a crush on her cousin into a woman with real feelings. What do you think changed her most?
Susanna: Back in the day, a woman’s marriage was her career. So Henrietta sees Edward akin to today’s cool job in the high rise with a view of the city skyline. This is the future she sees for herself, and she’s going to fight for it. Yet, through a series of heartbreaks, she learns that the life she desires doesn’t really fulfill her. At the same time, she sees the true depths of the heartbreak Kesseley has suffered and the selfish love she had for Edward falls away for a selfless, compassionate love for Kesseley.
The HEA Lover: Sensational Gothic novels play an important role in your book. They created an idol- an image of the perfect man most women of that time, including Henrietta, desired. That’s a rather interesting topic for a book in a genre that creates exactly those types of heroes in our time. What do you think is the biggest difference between the old and new type of heroes?
Susanna: Good question. I feel like I’m back in graduate school. I think heroes are cultural ideals of things women want to express in themselves. I think the older Gothic heroes as seen in Rake and Radishes, were emotionally, psychologically darker because many women were intellectually repressed. Heroes dominated heroines, so nineteenth-century women didn’t have to own up to having these unacceptable emotions and wants. Hence, the hero thrusts them upon her, allowing her to experience her repressed side, free of guilt. I could be all wrong. Not unusual.
Heroes today are very sexualized (a good thing) and there is equality of power between hero and heroine.
The HEA Lover: What is next on your schedule? What should we keep are eyes open for?
Susanna: I’m just writing away. I love to write. Hopefully, I should have something soon. Fingers-crossed. A little change of pace. A Victorian romance, mystery, comedy.
The HEA Lover: Now the ‘mean’ questions:
Can you give us 3 reasons why people should read your book?
- It’s a change of pace.
- Funny. (I know the readers of your blog won’t believe that after all the pain and suffering described above.)
- Kesseley is hot.
The HEA Lover: Who’s your favorite secondary character and why? (I loved Kesseley’s ‘color-blind’ valet!)
Susanna: The valet is, as my grandmother would say, “a hoot.” My favorite character is the painter in the park. He is just a laid back dude who has travelled the world. I love that he paints despite being an atrocious artist.
The HEA Lover: Could you summarize your book for us twitter style (140 characters tops)?
Susanna: Kesseley loves Henrietta. She pines for someone else. In Regency London, they will have their hearts broken and redeeming, lasting love will grow.
The HEA Lover: If you were forced to only read books by ONE author for the rest of your life who’s books would it be?
Susanna: Ok, that is a mean question. I could never make such a commitment. But for sentimentality sakes, I will say my Regency inspiration since childhood: Joan Smith.
The HEA Lover: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all are questions and being here today. Rakes & Radishes is one of my top 2010 reads!
You can read my 5 stars review of Rakes & Radishes: HERE
Susanna has generously offered
an e-book TWO (2) e-books of Rakes & Radishes for 2 lucky commenters.
All you have to do is ask Susanna a question or just leave a meaningful comment about the interview.
Please leave us a way to contact you
(email in blogger profile or twitter name is okay- no way to contact you – no way to win).
This giveaway is International! (Vive E-books!)
Giveaway ends on Saturday, September 18th and
we will announce the winners on Sunday.
Good Luck everyone!