Interview with Susanna Ives + Giveaway

Filed in Giveaways , Interview , Susanna Ives , The HEA Lover Posted on September 9, 2010 @ 6:00 am 45 comments
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!

About Caro The HEA Lover

Caroline is a HEA loving, yarn addicted French who's desperately hoping to get a HEA of her own. If she's not reading then she can be found knitting while listening to Audiobooks or watching Tv shows. Her secret addiction is reading websites that make fun at other people's expense (DYAC, Failbook)! Caroline also blogs at the Secret HEA Society with Susi.

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Join the Discussion
  • Kulsuma September 9, 2010 at 6:51 am

    I'd love to read Rakes and Radishes. I haven't read many regency novels unfortunately but this looks really good.


  • jen7waters September 9, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Hi Susanna!

    I've heard so many good things about this book right here on Book Lovers Inc. even before this interview that I have to enter the contest somehow.
    I never considered that thing about marriage being the nineteenth-century women's career, but it occured to me: that is so true.. when the family was poor and didn't have money for them to have a season and meet the most eligible bachelors, it's just like nowadays one can't go to a nice (and expensive) college!

    (And as an European woman myself, I must say, you are too kind 🙂 )


  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Kulsuma — Thank you!! Yes, please read "Rakes and Radishes." It's not a typical Regency. What genres/sub-genres do you normally read?

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Jen — Thank you so much for your kind words. But I hold true to my statement about European women looking amazing. I'm so jealous of their fashion sense. Plus, Europeans have amazing chocolate shops.

    Poor nineteenth-century English women. I think they didn't have the room to make mistakes or experiment like young women can today. I can imagine the pressure was immense. I'll take college.

    Of course, I think the expectations in a marriage were a little different as well.

  • Liz Fichera September 9, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I'm looking forward to reading this book, and the background Susanna provides makes me want to read it even more! 🙂

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Liz — Thanks. BTW – Liz wrote an amazing Native American love story called "Captive Spirit."

  • Taryn Kincaid September 9, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Oh, I just love the title of this book! Always love a fabulous Regency with an out-of-the-ordinary twist, as this one seems to be. Looking forward to it!

  • Misha1989 September 9, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Hi Susanna! The book seems wonderful ! I would love to read it.

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Taryn and Misha1989 — Thank you. The title "Rakes and Radishes" has always drawn interesting responses.

  • Pink Panther September 9, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Love your cover, Susanna! The colour combination is great! Can't wait to read your book! 🙂
    You can reach me at

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Pink Panther — Thanks! Carina Press books have awesome covers. Have you checked out the Carina Press website?

  • Abinormal September 9, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I really love that you acknowledge that for most women of that time Marriage was a big deal, their big career/future choice. It put an enormous importance and pressure on the women of the time. I thing that being aware of this adds to the emotional high stakes of a romance, and I can't stand it when a period writer forgets how important this is.

    Actually, the whole book sounds like it really wratchets up the emotional tension and suffering of the main characters before they get their happily ever after.

    The book sounds great and I look forward to buying it.

  • Delle Jacobs September 9, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I have to say I don't need to win a copy since I wheedled an early one out of Susanna, but I am ALMOST (!) finished with it and totally love it. If people and cats with just leave me alone for an hour or so, I'll finally get through it.

    It's really so rare to find a good historical with genuine humor in it. This one is well worth savoring.

  • pattepoilue September 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @Delle Jacobs Wooot! I'm glad you like it too. I laughed a lot while reading it =)

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Abinormal — I concur. Poor Henrietta is 23 years old and fighting for the life she wants. Edward represents what she wants. I'm afraid there is great deal of suffering in this book.

    Delle — If I can make you laugh, then I've accomplished something. In my estimation, Delle wrote the funniest scene in romance history in her book "Loki's Daughters". I can't even begin to describe it here.

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Abinormal — BTW, I appreciate the "Young Frankenstein" reference

  • Susanna Fraser September 9, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Susanna, I'm really looking forward to your book–it sounds a lot like the old-school Regencies I cut my romance teeth on in the 80's and have been missing for the past ten years.

  • Shelley Munro September 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Susanna, I'm another who is looking forward to reading your book. A little humor is good. I like humor in my stories.

    Your description of traveling in Europe with the stroller and kids and pigeons made me grin. I could picture it so clearly.

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Susanna – you'll have to let me know if this is an old school Regency. I was definitely influenced by that decade's romances. I keep a couple of Lavyrle Spencer's novels around that I can pick up and read passages when I have a small break.

  • Tina September 9, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Reason #3 for reading this book should be Reason #1 — Kesseley is hot. Not just melt-your-loins hot, but melt-your-heart hot. He's on my top ten list of fictional men I wish were real. And he's just as hot in mud-stained breeches as he is all buff and town-bronzed. Read RAKES AND RADISHES and you'll understand — Lord Kesseley is a one of a kind.

  • Susannna Ives September 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Shelley — Thank you. I pushed a Maclaren stroller through Netherlands, France, Germany, and England. Then I lent it to friends who took it to China. If you want to read more about my misadventures traveling with children, I've written about it on my blog.

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Tina — I have to own up that Tina is one of my bestest, coolest, nicest friends. She is an amazing writer and has a rocking mystery coming out next year.

    I am indebted to her for all the help she has given me over the years. She saw Rakes and Radishes grow from a tiny idea to a novel.

  • Scorpio M. September 9, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Hi Susanna,

    I've been very interested in your book ever since it was reviewed here to 5 bookies! I confess that I prefer Beta heroes to the more Alpha types and I love a hero who cares for the land.

    Have you ever read Elizabeth Hoyt's, The Leopard Prince? Harry Pye, one of my all time favorite heroes was a land stewart and he spoke of his connection to the land and his worries over tending it. It was so beautiful reading about a man who cared about such things.

    I am VERY much looking forward to Kesseley now!

  • Scorpio M. September 9, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Oops, forgot my contact info because I WANT this book! =)

    jenma76 at hotmail dot com

    Twitter: @scorpio1m

  • Alissa Davis September 9, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Tina, I couldn't agree more! I'm Susanna's editor, and I fell in love with Kesseley within the first three chapters. He's one of the sweetest, truest, hottest guys I've read in a long time.

  • Seleste September 9, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Great interview, even with the tough question at the end 🙂

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Dear Scorpio M,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. Kesseley is a true farmer at heart. He is very patient and gentle. I hope you will love him as much as Henrietta and I do.

    I haven't read "The Leopard Prince", but I will definitely download some sample chapters (if available). Thanks for the recommendation!!

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Alissa — I'm blessed to work with such a fabulous editor! You took the story I submitted and worked little miracles on it.

  • Susanna Ives September 9, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Seleste — Thanks. I think summarizing my book into a tweet was especially tough. (laughs)

    Congrats on your wonderful review for "Of Course I Try."

  • Bea September 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Caro, that was a really good interview; you asked great questions.

    Susanna, I enjoyed reading your answers and I'm adding this book to my TBR pile. BTW, are you on Twitter? I'd like to add you if you are.

    Thanks ladies! 🙂

  • pattepoilue September 10, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    @Bea Thank you =) Susi my Geeky Lover is(often) the mastermind behind the Qs. I tell her facts and ideas and she always turns it into something intelligible. 😉

  • Susanna Ives September 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Thanks Bea! I am @SusannaIves

  • Barb H September 11, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Very good interview.

    From your description, Susanna, I'd classify myself as a Book Lover–which is hard when I'm trying to write 🙂 I keep wanting to read. I read (but not write) Regencies, so I'm looking forward to Rakes and Radishes–such an unusual title, BTW.

    Kesseley sounds delightful. So does Henrietta.

    Good Luck!

  • Dana September 11, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    What other Authors do you enjoy reading?
    Thanks for the great giveaway.

  • Susanna Ives September 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Barb H – Thanks. I know what you mean about reading and writing. My reading experience has changed since I started writing. I find that I have a little editor perched on my shoulder when I read. I have to stop in the middle of a sentence or paragraph and marvel at the character description or dialogue.

  • Susanna Ives September 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Dana – (smiles)I love the emotional intensity of Mary Balogh, the beautiful prose of Delle Jacobs, and the humor of Julia Quinn. I also like romantic novels such as "The English Patient" and "Persuasion." I'm a big fan of the mystery writer James Lee Burke. Sidney Carton from "Tale of Two Cities" is my favorite hero.

  • Catriona Iams September 11, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Insightful interview. I learned a thing or two 🙂 I'm going to buy the e-book, though I have read it multiple times, and loved it every time! 🙂 I'd say it's a classic Regency, but with some guts. Susanna's ability to tap into heartache is like Dracula's ability to tap into a vein. I think that's out of the norm of trad. Regencies, and quite marvelous for this Book Lover. Nobody asked, but I'll say who my favorite author is currently: Susanna Ives!

    Good luck

  • ClaudiGC September 12, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I haven't read a Regency in ages, but this interview and review are really tempting me.*g* I love the cover and the title. So, is the Regency your favourite time period or are there other time periods you would like to settle a book in?

    claudigc at msn dot com

  • Susanna Ives September 12, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Catriona — Thank you. I know you're a bit biased being my awesome, profound, and insightful critique partner. But I'll take the kind words:)

  • Susanna Ives September 12, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Claudia — yes, do give “Rakes and Radishes” a try! I foisted it on all my non-regency reading friends. I would love to write in another timeframe. I love Big Band jazz and the movie/novel “The Thin Man,” so that era is appealing, as well as the castles and landscapes of Germany and Belgium. Maybe one day inspiration will strike. For now, it is all stewing in the back of my head. Thanks for asking.

  • Beverly September 13, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Thanks for hosting – please enter me.
    question: How do you build your characters? Are they based on people you know?

  • Susanna Ives September 13, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Hi Beverly — Thanks for your question! With Rakes and Radishes, I was drawn to the concept of need, or, more specifically, why the characters need each other. Then I built my characters around that need, creating their histories and setting up internal and external conflicts. Once the foundation was down, the characters pretty much performed on their own. There is a great deal of tension in the book between what the characters perceive that they want versus what they need. Very Rolling Stones…

    None of the characters are based on people I know, but I have borrowed from my own experiences when creating scenes and character reactions.

    I hope that answers your question.

  • Susanna Ives September 13, 2010 at 7:12 am

    BTW — RAKES AND RADISHES goes on sale today. Yay!!!

  • cories September 14, 2010 at 1:36 am

    HAPPY RELEASE DAY! Congrats on your new and debut release!

    Of course, from now on I will hear your characters speak in a Southern accent in my head…


  • Susanna Ives September 14, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Awww thanks Cories! I think the story works in Southern, as well as British English.

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