Linda Suzane is pursing her lifelong dream to be a full time writer. Her passions include vampires, murder, and mystery. Her first book, THE MURDER GAME, was published originally as an eBook. THE MURDER GAME is a romantic suspense novel about a mystery game designer whose game goes murderously wrong. In September 2008, THE MURDER GAME was reprinted by Wings ePress, Inc. and is now available in both print and eBook. Like her heroine, Linda enjoys designing mystery games to entertain her friends. You can find her games at the Internet’s largest supplier of downloadable games.
When not writing about murder and mystery, she is writing about vampires. The first in the Darkhour Vampire series, CAPTIVITY, is available from Wings ePress, Inc..
Sometimes she combines her interest in murder, mystery, and vampires as she did in her novel the EYES OF TRUTH, a fantasy mystery which includes two different breeds of vampire, the Wo-nur and the Dolzi, pitting mythical Wo-nur against the stark reality of the Dolzi, exploring how legends and superstition can terrify, but reality can destroy.
Linda lives in a small rural town in the foothills of the Willamette Valley in Oregon with her husband of over 40 years. They share their home with their son-in-law, daughter, and two grandchildren, somehow making a multi-generational family work. The one thing Linda has learned is that a set of good earphones and loud music are essential ingredients to being able to write in a noisy and lively household.
Not a vampire devotee, I had no preconceived notions when I began reading your July release, CAPTIVITY. I’m glad I started it on a weekend, because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened! I know your readers will want to know more about you and how your mind works. So, here goes:
Most interviewers ask where writers get their ideas, until it becomes a cliche. Because of your subject matter--dark vampire novels--it is a very valid question. How did you come up with the premise for CAPTIVITY?
When my daughter was a teenager, I wrote a story I called Mother’s Love about Prane, a mother of two typical teenagers, who just happens to be a vampire, a secret she is keeping from her children. I will let you make what you will of the Freudian significance of such a story, especially if you have raised teenagers. One day a character from the story, a policeman named Wade Kain, demanded that I tell the story of how he was first bitten by a vampire. I’ve heard writers talk about characters taking over, but I’d never experienced it. What a trip! The stories literally wrote themselves. If you would like to know more about how I came to write CAPTIVITY, check out my web site www.darkhourvampires.com.
How much of your personality/experience surfaces in your books?
I am not much into research so I tend to write from experience. In my first published book, THE MURDER GAME, I used my experiences designing murder mystery games and for a location a mansion in Mill Valley where I had stayed on several retreats. In CAPTIVITY, although the settings are fictitious, I drew very heavily from my experience of living in a small town in rural Oregon and some of the picnics we had in the beautiful Santiam Wilderness. Later stories in the series are set in Salem, Oregon, and the surrounding area. When I envision the house where Prane lives, I see the house, the street where we lived in Salem. Her kids go to North High School, the same school my daughter went to. It was my daughter and her friends that gave me lots of ideas for Wade and his friends.
When I write I tend to take some reality and liberally season it with unreality. I like the image of Vampires living next door, struggling to lead normal lives.
On your website, you talk about hidden, secret sides to people. What is your hidden side?
When I was first writing, I took a class from Science Fiction writer Ray Faraday Nelson. One of our assignments was to figure out our passion, our obsession, the thing we kept writing about over and over. He explained that our best stories would always be about that passion. I realized that all the stories I was writing were about people with hidden aspects to their character, a secret past, and the conflict of trying to integrate two disparate aspects of the personality. Wade has a horrifying past, a past he doesn't even remember; the series is about his dealing with the conflicts that arise when he does learn about that past, what he is, and what he is capable of. Prane was made a vampire against her will. She must hide what she is for her children's sake.
So what is my hidden side? My writing side. I am an ordinary, very overweight, past-middle‑age woman, who spends her time plotting murder and writing about vampires, sexy vampires at that. There is the public part of me and the writer part of me and they don’t quite mesh. Sometimes I have problems with that. Whenever a writer writes something, especially of an erotic nature, even if it is just a steamy category romance novel, they must wonder what others will think. Will they think you’re like your characters? Will it change their opinion of you as a person?
It would be a lot easier to write about safe things. But it doesn't work. You have to write about your passion. Joyce Carol Oates said, "Never be ashamed of your subject, and of your passion for your subject. Your 'forbidden' passions are likely to be the fuel for your writing . . .Your struggle with your buried self, or selves, yields your art." I keep reminding myself of that and keep writing about my passion.
I won’t give away the plot of CAPTIVITY, but I can ask about Donovan, a leader of the vampires. Will we see more of him? What about the evil Cassandra?
Oh yes, Donovan and Cassandra both return in later stories. There must be an end to the conflict between the two of them that has been going on for over one hundred years, and in the fifth book of the series, REVENGE, Cassandra, Donovan and Wade meet for one last time.
If CAPTIVITY were made into a movie, who do you see as playing Wade, the kidnapped young man who struggles to stay alive – or should I say, to stay human? Who would play Donovan and Cassandra?
That is a hard one since I see them so clearly in my mind and I can't think of any actor or actress that I could picture them as. I will say that I've always seen Wade as having the rather good looks and those extraordinary eyes of a young Frank Langella or someone like that. Bedroom eyes with loads and loads of sensuality and a wonderful voice.
The vampires in your books live hundreds of years. If you could enter a time machine, what year/era would you like to set the dial to? Why?
Another hard question since I am very content to live in the now. Perhaps San Francisco in the decades after the gold rush. I've studied that era and find it very interesting; besides, I was born in San Francisco so I have an affinity for the city.
You write as Linda Suzane. How did you choose it for a pen name?
Our last name is Melin, which most people mis-pronounce as Melon or something sounding like that. I just couldn't picture people coming in looking for books and asking for an author named melon, especially since I tend to write with a lot of sensuality. My middle name is Suzanne, so I made it Linda Suzane. I really like it and have found it tremendously freeing. I am known on the Internet as Linda Suzane. It is like my hidden, secret self, my secret identity, my identity as a writer. The part of me that likes hidden secret selves really gets a kick out of it.
You’ve moved around the country quite a bit. Now that you’ve settled on the Oregon coast, have you finally found your “home”?
I don't know for sure. We really enjoy it. It is very beautiful and we like the cool, comfortable weather. Right now we live here because this is where my husband has a job and our daughter and grandson are here. I suspect that if she was to move somewhere else, we would probably move to be closer to her. But I do love Oregon. It is a beautiful state. I was a native Californian, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it has just gotten too crowded, too busy. Oregon is more like what California was when I was young, slower paced, fewer people.
With all the irons you have in the fire, tell us how you organize your day to get everything done.
Lists and more lists. But I wish I was more organized. I seem to work from one deadline to the next deadline, one crisis to the next, focusing only on what I absolutely must get done right this moment and there are always far too many items on that list. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and literally go escape into a good book or a long nap.
I tend to tumble out of bed around 6 am when my husband leaves for work and start working on the computer, and I keep working until my brain and bottom are both numb. I know I should take more breaks, do other things, but I am notoriously bad about not being able to stop in the middle of something, and there is always one more little thing to do.
I’ve been so busy lately with the business of being a writer and web designer that I haven’t had the time to be a writer, to experience the joy of creativity, of focusing solely on a writing project. After the furor of getting CAPTIVITY published, I plan to devote myself to just writing about my Darkhour Vampires.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband has always supported my writing. He has been my best critic and editor. He was an English major in college so he always has the answer. Right now he is working two jobs to give me the opportunity to write full time in the belief that someday I will start making money at this writing game.
The hard one was letting my daughter read my vampire series. Who wants to think that their mother writes sex scenes like that? But she’s read them and really enjoyed them. My grandson is only three, too young to read, but someday I hope he will think it is cool to have a grandmother who writes about vampires. Certainly not something that most grandmothers do.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Join a good critique group and learn from them. Recognize that writing is a learning process. It isn't whether or not you are published, it is what you learn from writing that particular piece that is important. Learn enough and eventually you will find yourself a competent writer. Unfortunately nowadays, being a competent writer often has nothing to do with being a published writer. Thank goodness the Internet and quality royalty-paying e-publishers like Wings Press are allowing competent writers to be published.
Thank you, Linda. It was a pleasure “talking” with you. I hope your readers enjoy CAPTIVITY as much as I did.