Author Interview: SUSAN OLD
I'm pleased to welcome a vampire-loving, self-published hippie author to the blog today to find out more about their journey to publication!
Here you go...
Susan is from Southern California and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire in the late ’70s. She went on to earn her master’s in psychology and started in the field of Mental Health/Addictions at a street emergency shelter. She worked several years at County Mental Health, a University Medical Center, and at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She and her family moved to the cornfields of Illinois and became a therapist at a V.A. Medical Center.
She became a widow at a young age, battled Lupus, and is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Her children, family and friends always encouraged her to pursue her dreams. She believes there is a Miranda in each of us struggling to make sense of an insane world.
She married a widower who helps with editing and all the technical stuff. They live north of Seattle on the banks of the Stillaguamish River with two rescued tabbies, a Black Lab Retriever with criminal instincts, and a Pug who has a very high opinion of herself. She is a volunteer at an animal shelter, a Veteran’s museum, and the Unity Museum in Seattle. She loves Barbacoa tacos and consumes an inordinate amount of coffee.
The Miranda Chronicles Book I: Rare Blood
Miranda Ortega moves from the cornfields of Illinois to L.A. to pursue fame, fortune, and a writing career. Her rare blood type and a Knight Templar ancestor put her at the center of a well-orchestrated plan by the Magus, the centuries-old vampire who rules over the undead. Baron Tristan Mordecai, a powerful, seductive, billionaire book publisher, draws her into the nocturnal society of Lamborghini driving, Chanel wearing, egomaniac assassins with a strict liquid diet. Miranda shocks the vampire world with her rebellious behavior. Copious amounts of her favorite adult beverage, coffee, helps her hang onto her sanity.
The Miranda Chronicles Book II: Rhapsody in Blood
Miranda is fed up with the insanity of vampire society. She takes her triplets to the small Illinois farm town where she grew up, to get away from nocturnal maniacs like her husband Baron Tristan Mordecai. A rebellion within the undead world, jealous lovers, and crazed monk vampire hunters challenge her ability to protect her family. Conflicts with her seductive, unfaithful, arrogant husband are complicated by the arrival of a handsome and charming Mongolian bodyguard. Miranda’s coffee intake increases as she fights the centuries-old vampire patriarchy.
Who are you and what do you write?
I’m a hippie with a dark sense of humor. Working as an addiction therapist with people from all walks of life I began to see worlds within our world, some invisible to most. My job was stressful, and my personal life included a loving husband who was deteriorating due to Multiple Sclerosis plus our bright often surprising children. Writing about the secret world of nocturnal maniacs was a fun escape for my mind. I had completed my first book once, but the computer was fried during a lightning storm and I hadn’t made a copy. Through many life changes, including becoming a young widow and surviving breast cancer, I finished my first book thirty years later. Never give up on a dream, especially if it involves vampires. I published Rare Blood, then Rhapsody in Blood and Gift of Blood will be out this summer.
Where did your obsession with writing about vampires begin?
Blame it on watching Bela Lugosi movies, the godfather of the undead. So many great vampire movies since then. One of my favorites is Blade. Vampires are the rock stars of the horror genre. I could not imagine dating a zombie, but Count Dracula was easy. I would sit in my office after an emotionally draining counseling session and turn my thoughts to what if I had a vampire as a client. How would they like living in the modern world, etc. Would they think Blood Banks were the greatest achievement of our era? Wouldn’t computers make it easy to create new identities, protect their wealth, find deserving victims, or as they say “dinner”?
How has your writing journey been?
Like fireworks going off in my brain. I had no idea when I started how much it would add to my life. I started tearing up with joy when I got my first reviews. I laughed my ass off when my best friend said, “So this is what goes on in your head!” I really enjoy the company of writers. There’s something delightfully off about us.
What are the hardest, and the most enjoyable parts of writing/publishing?
Marketing and editing are time consuming but important. I was able to turn a marketing setback into a positive. A local market cancelled my request for a booth at the last minute saying they were church sponsored and vampire books were not appropriate for their event. Seriously? A policeman I was chatting with at a fair in another city said, “Use it! Put a sign up saying your book was banned.” Now I have a “Banned in Marysville” sign on my table and it has helped me sell a lot of books! People say things like, “I’m buying your book ‘cause it was banned. That’s so ignorant.” It turns out banned books are popular.
The best part is when a nocturnal maniac fan sees a stack of Rare Blood and their eyes light up, “I love vampires!” A young woman with a goth look bought my book one morning at a fair and came back in the afternoon before closing to say she had difficulty putting it down.
Would you go back and change anything?
What are your plans for your nocturnal maniacs?
Vampires are narcissistic, brilliant and easily bored. They hate to be ignored so I’m currently working on my fourth vampire book involving the next generation of mortals that are struggling to stay sane and alive while dealing with them. I wrote a story in a horror anthology, Tasting Evil, published by the Writers Coop of the Pacific Northwest last year. I’ve submitted another story for the new anthology, and some friends have encouraged me to write a fantasy novella. I’ve started the novella but somehow a vampire turns up to annoy the fairies, elves and witches.
What advice would you like to pass on to writers?
Go for it! No one else can tell your stories. Write what you enjoy reading. Have fun with it. Not everyone will be into your stuff, but some people will. If someone says only write about what you know ask if Tolkien knew a dragon. I’ve had people say they’d never read a vampire book, that’s okay, I’m writing for Dracula, Twilight, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, etc. fans. Whatever your genre, there’s someone out there who digs it.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Mayo
Day or Night? - Night
Inside or Outside? - Outside
Dogs or Cats? - Dogs and cats, my Tabby brothers, Lab Retriever, and Pug run my life. They are all around me while I write this.
Facebook or Twitter? - Twitter
ebook or Paperback? - Paperback
Sun or Rain? - Rain (I live near Seattle)
Keyboard or Notebook and Pen? - Keyboard with the cloud for back-up
Comedy or Drama? - Comedy, always
Chocolate or Chips? - Chocolate and coffee are essential to my existence
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