Susan Grant Flies High With Her New Out-of-This-World Series e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (July, 2006)
Susan Grant tossed aside all thoughts of becoming an artist after watching an Apollo launch on television. Flying became her new passion and at eighteen she entered the US Air Force Academy. Hers was only the third class in history to include women. She graduated from the Blue Zoo in 1982 and went on to pursue jet pilot training at the Laughlin air force base in Texas. Next she learned the in's and outs of Fighter Attack Reconnaissance and has shared that knowledge with students from all over the globe. Now she flies 747 Jumbo jets to dozens of exotic locations as a pilot for United Airlines.
Susan decided to pursue another aspect of her creative side in 1997 and by 1999 had sold two books. Her historical time travel Once a Pirate was an immediate success and The Star King ranked as a finalist for a RITA award. In 2003 she did receive a RITA for Contact, a near future thriller where a jumbo jet is hi-jacked in mid-air by a space craft. Since then she's thrilled readers with her 2176 series and now blazes back on the radar with two new releases. Her novella Mortal in Mysteria, is part of a June anthology titled Mysteria, and on July 25th, Your Planet or Mine? hits bookstores. It's an absolutely engaging story about an earthling and an alien who must join forces to save the planet. Of course, in between assassination attempts, car chases and ferreting out the real location of Area 51 they take a little time for romance too!
Susan says that 'whether it's writing, flying, or mom-ing, I'm grateful for the diversity of my life, and the adventures I've had, and continue to have, because I love weaving those experiences into my stories. And whether it's a swashbuckling time travel, an adventure to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, or a humorous contemporary, I promise that my books will steal you away from the chaos of everyday life'.
Q: It's been a while since your last book was published; did you decide to take a hiatus from writing?
A: Actually, the year and a half without a new release was due to my switching publishers as opposed to any kind of 'rest break'. That's pretty standard when authors make such a major career move. It was a very scary time because I made the jump from my former publisher without a sure place to land. I simply walked away from a great contract, switched agents, and began submitting. The process took about four months from first phone calls to accepting a final contract. Four months not knowing if I'd ever sell another book. But taking a risk professionally can be exhilarating, too. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think how happy I am I took the chance. It revitalized my writing and my spirit. You can't ask for more than that. Now that I'm happily settled into my new 'homes' I'll have releases out every 6 months or less. Probably less. In my time off the shelves, so to speak, I've learned to write faster and better so that will be good news for readers!
Q: Why choose time travel and fantastical romantic stories over the more traditional romance genres?
A: I grew up devouring science fiction and fantasy books and TV shows, so writing in this genre was a natural fit. Thinking about it, I'd say I'm most fascinated by the 'fish out of water' concept. Un-put-down-able to me is a story where someone is torn out of their comfort zone and dropped where they never expected to find themselves: another world, another civilization, even another time. Combine all this with the exotic angle of falling for someone not of your world makes a developing romance that much more emotionally compelling. I think this angle is vastly appealing to many readers and something many paranormals share.
Q: Do you find any differences between the writing discipline and military discipline? Has the latter helped you achieve your writing goals?
A: Great question! Yes, there are a lot of similarities. Face it, discipline often means doing something you don't want to do but that you have to do anyway. I definitely had more discipline when I was younger and find these days it's a struggle at times placing my butt in the writing chair and keeping it there! The past year especially has been a challenge. During the past six months, I wrote two full novels while flying the most I've ever flown plus being mom to two teenagers. There were moments nearing the end of the deadlines when I'd sit down with my laptop at home and felt like I could barely focus on the screen because I was so exhausted. (Or it could be just because I need glasses and my ego won't let me admit it.)
Q: How did your new series starring the political Jasper family come about? How many books or spin-offs do you have planned?
A: Truly? Out of the dozen ideas we submitted to publishers, this was what I ended up selling. I had some dark, political thrillers on that list, too, but funny and sexy was what they wanted, so funny and sexy is what I ended up writing! You do what you gotta do to stay in the game, the publishing game, that is. But I remained true to my 'alien' roots.
I always wanted to explore the idea of what would happen if you found out your imaginary childhood friend wasn't imaginary. Your Planet or Mine? grew out of that 'what if'. For me, Jana's family made the book. I loved the idea of this big, loving extended family all involved in each other's lives -- for better or for worse. Her brother Jared and sister Evie blossomed right before my eyes even as I wrote them as children in the opener of Your Planet or Mine?. I'm happy to say that they each have their own books -- Jared's story is My Favorite Earthling and will be out in March 2007. Evie's book is tentatively titled How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days (I hope they let me keep this one!) and will likely be out sometime during the fall of 2007.
Q: Jana has a real knack for looking at life and her current crop of life altering disasters with a large dose of humour. Did you plan on incorporating more humour into this series - or did the characters travel down that road on their own?
A: I gave them the ball and they ran with it! In other words, I sold the series as 'romantic comedies with aliens' so humor was definitely always planned to be part of the mix. I've always had humor in my books to some degree. Now I just get to let it rip! It's fun.
Q: Jana is very concerned with conservation and protecting endangered species. Are these topics close to your own heart?
A: While I do care, this is definitely Jana's issue-of-the-heart as a politician. She is very passionate about it, whereas I am not to the degree she is.
Q: Cavin sacrifices everything for love without even knowing if Jana will accept him. How important do you think this aspect of his character is to the story?
A: Oh, it's huge. There is nothing more romantic to me than a man determined to save the woman he loves no matter what the personal danger. Cavin took a tremendous risk in going forward with his plan, although I don't think he ever intended to throw his life into complete ruin. I think he hoped to have it both ways -- Jana and his career -- but once it was apparent he would have to give up one or the other, the choice for him was easy.
Q: Even though your REEF assassin was only onstage for short segments of the story, you instill this genetically engineered killer with some real humanity as he begins questioning his mission to eliminate Cavin. You left the REEF's fate rather ambiguous - will he be back, possibly as a main character?
A: (whispering: yes) I love this guy. He deserves a happy ending, don't you think?
Q: You also make numerous Terminator references and comparisons - some of which are truly hilarious. Should we assume this is your nod to Arnold and his Terminator movies?
A: Thank you! Yes, it's definitely a nod I hoped other fans would see. I'm a huge Terminator fan. It's my favorite movie of all time.
Q: Humans tend to shoot first, and ask questions later, a reaction particularly inherent for anything we don't understand. Jana makes that very point as she becomes more and more concerned over Cavin's safety if he should fall into the wrong hands. Do you think we'd succumb to this human reaction if the day ever comes when we make first contact with an alien species?
A: Not all humans. I think if there were to be a situation of first contact, you'd have the shoot-firsts versus the shoot-laters, just like I portrayed in Your Planet or Mine?.
Q: Do you believe some of the strange disappearances that have happened throughout history could be attributed to alien abductions?
A: I don't know. I'm too skeptical. Why are people always abducted from small towns in New Mexico? How come it never happens off the streets of New York City, for instance? Why in the age of digital photography are the saucer pics always grainy and blurry? However, I do like to imagine we may have been visited long ago in the past and such sightings or interactions influenced religion, architecture, and folklore, such as dragons.
Q: Have you ever seen anything odd or unexplainable while flying?
A: You mean besides the captain in his pajamas? Nope.
Q: As a former member of the military what's your take on Area 51? Or will the MIB come and take you away if you reveal too much?
A: Well, it depends how cute and sexy the MIB are! Boy, I wish I knew if it were urban legend or real. What I portray in Your Planet or Mine? is pretty much how I feel it went down, if it did happen, that not even the presidents know where the ship is hidden now, or if there even was a ship, only a few guardians of the secret.
Q: In the second book in the Jasper series, Jana's pilot brother Jared gets involved with Keira, Queen of the Galaxy - she demands him as her consort in exchange for peace. Should readers expect a story that's just as engaging and action-packed?
A: The next book in this series is titled My Favorite Earthling; it'll be out in March of 2007. It's my favorite of all the books I've written and I believe my best. It's the first book I've written where my editor said she loved it just the way it was, no changes. Wow! I absolutely adored this mismatched couple. It's way hot, too. Whew!
Q: Your novella, Mortal in Mysteria is part of an anthology called Mysteria and is set in a small Colorado town where witches, goblins, demons and other assorted otherworldly creatures outnumber humans 1000 to 1. Do you and your co-authors plan on revisiting this weird little town any time soon?
A: Yes! We'd love to do more. Next time, I'd like to explore Dr. Fogg and Jeanie Tortellini, the town sheriff, and their penchant for elves.
Martina: Thanks for taking the time to share some insights with us, Susan -- best of luck with your new releases!
Susan: Thank you so much for having me! It was a delight.Find out more about the author and read her blog at SusanGrant.com.
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