Monday, August 19, 2013

From Canberra, Australia an interview with Susan Lattwein

Image of Susan Lattwein
·       Welcome to 4covert2overt a Day in the Spotlight Susan, Can you tell your visitors a little about  your book ?  

First of all, thanks for having me, Catalina!

And thank you for dropping by Susan.

Image of Susan Lattwein
Arafura can be described as a romantic comedy with a criminal twist. It's not a typical chick-lit book, with a pink cover and mini-skirted heroine in heels with her Prada handbag. Arafura is set in tropical Darwin, Australia, in the build-up. That's the season prior to the annual monsoon rains. The novel is about a schoolteacher, Kat, who plans to marry when her long-term fiancé finds the time. When a magnetic and troubled stranger arrives in town, Kat's predictable life begins to unravel. Now she must wrestle with the pull of instant attraction complicated by post-traumatic stress, loyalty and a dead body. The reader accompanies Kat on an evocative journey, exploring one's self-imposed limits and desire for intimacy. It also touches on indigenous education.

I am already laughing and intrigued!

·       What inspired you to write this particular story (and/or series)?  

Firstly, a commando with post-traumatic stress I once knew. Secondly, insights into people’s search for emotional intimacy. I also enjoyed incorporating other themes into the story, such as indigenous education, domestic violence and the heightened awareness some victims of trauma get, when they are able to read other people very, very well.... 

Written originally as a screenplay, I think Arafura would be entertaining as a two-part TV drama or a movie. On my website there are photos and YouTube music links that accompany the story as a screenplay. For example, this song would be the beginning of the movie

 

·       Describe your writing in three words. 

Contemporary romantic drama

 ·       Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?

 I keep a flowchart of the story, and the characters take over from there. Reading my writing aloud is one of the best ways I keep on track.

 ·       Are your characters in the book based on anyone you know?

 Adam, the commando, started off as someone I knew (as I said before), but has since developed into his own self in Arafura. 


·       Was there any research involved in your work? 

I went to Darwin and took in the setting and specific places my characters went to. Darwin is very different to any other Australian city, very authentic and multicultural, honest and tropical. The city spoke to me. In the attached map, you can see Darwin is in the hot, top-end of Australia, the Northern Territory, land of crocodiles and poisonous jelly-fish. The Arafura Sea is off the coast (see attached image). 
 
 

·       What authors inspire or influence your work? 

Janet Evanovich. At first I was reluctant to combine humor with serious parts of the story, but re-reading Evanovich’s series about Stephanie Plum gave me the courage to try and develop my own style. Humor, drama and action collide even more in the sequel. Sometimes I think I fall a little into the genre of Nicholas Sparks, except my characters misbehave; say and do quirky things. 

·       Do you need visual media to describe people or places? (Some authors use pics. out of magazines)

Going to Darwin and taking photos helped with the various settings. Without knowing it at the time, I went to an open for inspection of a house for sale. It ended up being Kat’s house in my mind as I wrote. There is an actor I have in mind for the male lead. I have had the odd glance at a picture of him when describing Adam. I keep it at work. J 

·       Favorite snack when writing. 

Home-made granola when I’m good. Otherwise champagne and chocolate on Saturday evenings (probably when I do my best work!) 

·       Do you have a Muse? 

I’m still a bit unsure of what a muse is, think it can be a very personal thing. I see it as something similar to Carl Jung’s collective unconscious. Sometimes I meditate, encouraging mental silence, and am astonished what pops into my mind to develop my story.  

·        Once a character is fully developed do you set them free or do they still dance around your mind?

The immersion thing about characters is really strange and I wonder if other writers, even readers, feel it too. You end up feeling very close to your characters. I mean, you’ve been crawling around inside their skin for so long. I think characters come from somewhere inside of you, like a sub-personality, so they can’t exactly be set free. There’s Jung again. J 

·        Is the Thesaurus one of your best writing friends? How did you know? I don't care what Stephen King says. Emoji 

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” I need to be reminded of word alternatives. 

·       Who gets to read your drafts before they're published?  

My husband and girlfriend read the draft of Arafura. Three girlfriends at work read specific love scenes and gave me feedback. But I’m grateful I now have more volunteers to review the sequel prior to publishing. 

·       Share with us your biggest hurdles in the writing process? 

Confidence, confidence, confidence. There is a LOT of information/advice out there about how to write. It takes me a while to absorb it and sift the wheat from the chaff, to see what is a good fit for me. I loved “Bird by Bird’ by Anne Lamott. She gave me the confidence to be me, for better or worse. J 

·       Share the biggest hurdles in the marketing process. 

Still conquering the hurdles there. Perhaps learning that you have to stir the pot to get results. Nothing will happen if you sit back and wait. Very grateful for people like Catalina who are interested in interacting in social media and giving each other a helping hand. 

·       What project(s) are you working on now?  

The sequel to Arafura. The story is in my head but only half written. 

·       Is there anything else you would like to say to your readers?  

I’d like to thank my readers for their feedback and support, and I am thinking of more ways of give back. Without them, I wouldn’t have gone on to write the sequel. It’s so rewarding to hear readers say they feel as if they’re in Darwin and can’t wait to hear what happens to the characters next. It’s all worth hearing that. Oh, and also that they find the book humorous, that’s a bit addictive to hear as a writer. 

·       Where can readers find you and your book(s) online? 

Blog – susanlattwein.wordpress.com
Twitter - @SusanLattwein
 
 
Susan lives in Canberra, Australia, with her husband, two daughters and a couple of villainous dogs. She's thankful for her family, time to play with words, teaching wonderful children and adults, people with generous spirits, rain on a tin roof, mornings, chocolate, public libraries, the rewards of a vegie patch, the humming of cicadas, coffee, and looking at her daughters when they're asleep. Susan has a Bachelor of Economics, and a Bachelor of Education.
Arafura is Susan's debut novel. It was first written as a screenplay for a movie. Please visit www.susanlattwein.com   for intended soundtrack and more information.