Author Susanne Valenti sent me her new novel Chained at the end of September. (It came out October 1st.) Since then I have read it and her novella Cut Glass. She is a new dystopian author and the second book Linked, in her Cage of Lies series comes out soon. Her novels are fast paced and full of action. Valenti was also kind enough to answer a few interview questions for my blog. I am so excited to share these with you! 🙂
Why a Dystopian?
I’ve got a bit of an overactive imagination and I always find myself thinking things through beyond their realistic conclusion. For example, if I see a news report about an act of war I’ll start thinking about the worst possible way that could end up (nuclear wasteland where society used to be) and then I like to imagine the different ways that people might try to survive in such a world. It’s something I’ve always done and so making one of those words into a reality on paper just felt natural to me.
Where do you begin your writing process? Do you start with an outline or do you free write?
I free write but I do spend half an hour scribbling down a plot in bullet holes in my notebook. Otherwise I’ll just end up going off on a tangent and as I’m writing a series I need to make sure I end up where I need to be. That doesn’t always mean I stick to it and I refuse to consult the outline until I’ve completed a first draft. Sometimes I’ll find things in my original plan which I forgot or I’ll end up going off on a tangent anyway! I like to let the story live its own life and sometimes things don’t feel right or sometimes new ideas take over and I just go with it.
I really love how all of your characters are so diverse in regards to personality. Do you base your characters off people you know? How do you do it!?
Thank you! I don’t base my characters off of anyone I know. I just spend a lot of time with them and make sure I give them all the attention they need. It’s hard to explain really but I don’t like to pigeon hole any of them. I think of them as real people who have real emotions just like anyone else and then I like to think a lot about their back story so that I have reasons for the way they are. So I’ll start with my ‘cardboard cutout’ idea of them and then flesh them out. This probably makes no sense so I’ll try to give you an example: So my cardboard cutout of Coal would be that he’s tall with black hair and eyes, good looking, cocky, tough and strong. But obviously that’s just an outline of a person not an actual living, breathing character. So then I think about him as a person: he’s closed off because he’s had to deal with a lot of loss in his life. He has a weakness for saving people because he couldn’t save his brother. He doesn’t sleep at night because he’s haunted by the things that happened in his past. He’s strong because he can’t bear to rely on anyone else for protection and needs to be able to look after himself and his family. His sense of humour tends to be at the expense of others because he tries to keep a distance between himself and anyone else. He scowls a lot and frowns, a further attempt to block people out. And so on and so on. I like to give them habits too, like Alicia flicking her hair or Maya biting her lip. I also spend a lot of time considering the dynamics of the group and the interrelationships (including things that have happened in their past which will likely never even be written down). So I basically do that with every single character in my mind until I’m really sure of them and then make sure it’s consistent throughout!
Were your books ever rejected? Can you give aspiring authors advice on that?
Yes! I’ve been rejected more times than I can count! The main thing to remember is that it’s not necessarily a reflection on your work. I was lucky enough to get many encouraging responses from literary agents (they tell you they won’t give you any feedback so if you get some that’s a really good sign). The thing to remember is that even if they like it they might not take it on. They still have to think about where you’ll fit in their catalogue of authors, or where your book will fit with the other things that are out there. The main thing to remember is not to give up.
Where do you write and read?
Everywhere! I do all of my writing on my iPad (which I’ve been told is odd) I like the fact that I can just keep it with me and write whenever I can. I tend to sit on my couch in front of the tv when I do most of it (apparently that’s odd too but I hate a quiet room and I like to do two things at once). Reading is pretty much the same, my kindle or paperback will ride around in my handbag alongside my iPad and will make an appearance whenever I can find a spare minute.
I see on your “About Me” page that you have a sister who writes too. Does she write the same genre you do?
She writes ya fantasy which is similar-ish. It’s amazing having a sister who writes too because we really push each other to make our books the very best they can be. We can talk through plot lines and issues with characters and anything else book related. And I’ve got an on-call editor to read, re-read, re-re-read and so on (I do it for her too).
If you’re not writing where can we find you?
I love binge watching tv shows whilst working out when I’m at home or if can find five minutes I’ll be on my Xbox. I’m a big movie fan so I’m often at the cinema (especially for anything with Dwayne Johnson or a film version of a book). I also spend time with my friends who I’ve known since I was at school, and that often involves a glass or three of wine. Or I’ll be hanging out with my husband and our cats and dogs.
(I love Dwayne Johnson… I’m all about the Fast and Furious movies with him in them!)
What’s your favorite book and who’s your favorite author?
This is impossible to answer. I have favourites, not just one (you can ignore my English spelling there) so I’ll go with a few… Brent Weeks can do no wrong in my eyes, neither can Sarah J Maas and as for a favourite book I’d have to go with the Harry Potter series as a whole because it’s definitely what I’ve re-read the most so I can’t say anything else really comes close.
If you had to pick a fictional world to live in which would it be?
I think I’d have to say the Harry Potter world although I’m seriously tempted to be an Elf in Middle Earth, or a vampire because you can live forever but I’m vegetarian so that might cause a few issues… So I’ll go with Harry Potter and magic because that would be pretty awesome.
(This answer made me so happy. I love anything to do with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter!)
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading A Clash Of Kings (Game of Thrones book 2). I’m really late to the party because I was saving myself for the tv show and I didn’t want spoilers. Now that the show has caught up with the books I decided to give in to the temptation and I’m so glad I did because they’re brilliant!
(This series is awesome! I’m so glad you jumped on the bandwagon!)
Buy Chained here 🙂
Find Susanne Valenti here 🙂