After receiving a journalism degree, Susan was an Undercover Private Investigator, worked as an outside Sales Rep for Dun & Bradstreet, and then spent five years in pharmaceutical sales. Today, she is living her dream with her high school sweetheart and their two daughters in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, Arizona, where she spends her days unleashing her rampant imagination and documenting all the crazy places it takes her.
1) How did you come up with the idea to write a book like Abithica?
My vacuum, Thomas Moore and my very persistent imagination were the inspiration behind Abithica. Maybe I should explain that. You see, all my best thoughts have come while pulling a vacuum. Now enter Thomas Moore. He wrote a book called Care of the Soul. In it, he asked a very profound question: what is your worst fear? Hmmm, what is my worst fear, I wondered. Naturally, I grabbed said vacuum and unleashed my imagination.
Losing my husband and children was the answer. Oh, but what if I was taken from them without their knowledge and they didn’t even know I was gone? Ouch! That would definitely hurt. But what would be even worse is if another soul took my place and I was there, unseen, invisible, watching their lives continue as if I had never existed.
I was getting closer to my worst nightmare, but I wasn’t quite there yet. It needed a little something more. Got it! What if the body I was in had never really belonged to me in the first place? What if it was me who had been the intruder all along? I had been borrowing the woman’s life… and now… she wanted it back.
The question became an obsession, and my vacuum and I spent a lot of time together. Soon, the idea of “switching” was born. It grew legs and arms and even acquired a face, Abithica’s face.
2) How long did the whole writing process take?
I didn’t have an outline the first time I sat down to write Abithica and I ended up re-writing the first chapter 30 different ways and every one of them was the beginning of a completely different story. I had no idea what Abithica was or how she was going to fix her problem, or how the story was going to end. I was like an artist standing over an empty canvas. Was I going to use pastels, pencil or paint? Was it going to be a nature scene, or a portrait? Why not an elephant? Did it even have to be on a canvas? Why not the side of a building or a sidewalk? I had no idea so I kept trying a little of everything, until eventually, nothing worked and I found myself pinned to the ground, screaming uncle.
Once I worked out an outline summary, the story started to progress. From that point on, it took about a year until my publisher took it on, and then another year before it was released.
3) Will there be a sequel to this book?
There is a sequel in the works. The title is going to be Echonyza. (I think) The sequel centers on The Legnas and how Abithica is tied to them. Echonyza is a mysterious character who “awakens” to help The Legnas find the missing Sarah Cummings. Like a snowflake, no two people see him the same. He has the ability to be whatever you need him to be. There are huge plot twists that will keep you on your toes, and Lane and Abithica’s love is challenged on the very opening scene in a huge unexpected way.
4- How did you come up with the name Abithica?
Abithica is a name I made up. Without giving too much away, it had to be unique and sound otherworldly. My husband and daughters liked it immediately.
5- Do any of the characters pertain to you or any real life people?
All the characters are fictional. I made the mistake early in my writing career of placing my family in a story and using our real names. Every single one of us was perfect in every way imaginable - beautiful beyond words, highly talented and unusually bright. Boring didn’t even come close to describing the outcome. Stephen King would have puked after the first page!
6- If you could hang out with any character from Abithica who would it be and why?
The post-Abithica Sydney would be fun to hang out with. She’s got spunk and a wicked sense of humor, but boy could I use some of Marge’s wisdom….
7- Where’s your favorite place to write and do you listen to music as you do it?
I write in my office, and music turned out to be my secret weapon. Listening to certain songs before I sat down to write did amazing things for my writing. I was immediately transported smack into the middle of Abithica’s world where I found it much easier to step aside and let her take over. Somehow it connected us. I ended up creating a playlist on my iPod that I’d turn to for inspiration. Here are some of my favorites:
“Bring me To Life” by Evanescence
“All That I’m Living For” by Evanescence
“Starlight” by Muse
“Amazing Grace” by Neil Diamond
“Lightning Crashes” by Live
“Save Yourself” by Stabbing Westward
“You Complete Me” by Stabbing Westward
“Moment of Surrender” by U2
“Heavy in Your Arms” by Florence & The Machine
“Voodoo” by Godsmack
“Living Dead Girl by Rob Zombie
8- Who’s your inspiration?
I grew up reading Stephen King so he’d be way up there on my list. If I had to pick one of his books, it would have to be The Stand. I fell asleep every night to Neil Diamond telling the story of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I’d love to get my hands on that record! Yup, let’s add Richard Bach to the tally. The Time Traveler’s Wife was the first paranormal romance I’d ever read. When I was finished, I thought to myself, hey, why can’t I write something like that?—Susie style, of course. So, let’s put Audrey Niffenegger somewhere near the top, and while we’re at it, let’s make some room for Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. When my husband first read it, he actually thought (probably did some serious wishing too) I’d written it under a different name. Bryan and I met our freshman year in biology. He was my partner. (No he’s not a vampire! Sheesh!!!) But there were fireworks. Long story, but it was the excitement I saw on his face for that brief second before I rudely crushed his fantasy that keeps me at the computer even on days I don’t want to be there.
9- Writing takes up a lot of time, what do you do in your spare time?
Exercise keeps me sane. I love tossing a football with my family, kicking around a soccer ball, riding our bikes up and down the mountain road we live on, rollerblading around the U of A campus, yoga (but I still can’t finagle my legs into the lotus position!), weight lifting, hiking, scuba diving, and my latest passion is indoor rock climbing. Oh man, is that fun. We’re working our way up to outdoor climbs. The one activity I don’t care for is golf. It’s not a sport unless you have to beat the ball to the hole!
10- Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate all the way!!!
Abithica just came out yesterday on June 15, please go check it out!
click here to buy it from Amazon
You can also buy it for your kindle for only $2.99!
my review for Abithica: My review