Thursday, April 16, 2020

Suzanne Redfearn

Suzanne Redfearn is the award-winning author of three novels: Hush Little Baby, No Ordinary Life, and In An Instant. Born and raised on the east coast, Redfearn moved to California when she was fifteen. She currently lives in Laguna Beach with her husband where they own two restaurants: Lumberyard and Slice Pizza & Beer. In addition to being an author, Redfearn is an architect specializing in residential and commercial design.

My Q&A with Redfearn:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I care a great deal about my titles, and an incredible amount of thought and angst goes into making the final choice. In an Instant was a title my editor came up with. Initially the book had been called Wreckage, but that title had already been used by a recent release. Lucky for me, since In an Instant turned out to be a much better title. In three catchy words, it conveys there’s going to be a life-altering event in which the characters are irrevocably changed. The only working title for any of my novels that ended up being my final title is the book that’s releasing in January, Hadley & Grace. The irony is it was the only working title that I never intended it to be the final title. The inspiration for the story was to write a modern retelling of Thelma & Louise, so I just plopped my two protagonists onto the first page and started to write. I assumed we’d come up with a title later, but my editor and the sales team liked it, so it stuck. While In an Instant gives a real sense of the story, Hadley & Grace relies more on the cover art and the tagline (“Move over Thelma & Louise…Hadley & Grace have arrived.”) to let the reader know what they’re getting into.

What's in a name?

I love naming characters. Most of the time there’s no deep thought behind it beyond that’s the name that popped into my head and it fit. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun with it. Bob in In an Instant is based on a real person, my “uncle” who neglected my brother and me when we were stranded with him in a blizzard and only attended to his own kids. The incident was the inspiration for the story, and “Uncle Bob” deserved to be in the book as himself. In Hadley & Grace, the very first character I wrote is based on a fictionalized version of a remarkable man from our town, Skipper Carrillo, also known as “Mr. Baseball.” I asked his family for permission to use his name as a tribute, and they agreed.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage self would be astonished I wrote a novel. She’d be like “What?” Then she’d read one of them, and she’d go “Whoa, how’d you come up with that?” And I’d scratch my head and say, “I have absolutely no idea.”

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

I never really know where my stories are going to take me, but usually by the time I get near the end, I’m flying along at breakneck speed and it feels like the story is telling itself. The beginning on the other hand is painful. I have no idea who my characters are or what I’m trying to say or why I’m trying to say it. It sucks. I suck. The writing really sucks. I usually end up lopping off the beginning or rewriting it entirely.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Every character comes from me, so I identify with each of them, but they are definitely not me. I actually know them as people, in the same way I know my friends or my family. It’s always strange when people think one of my characters is me because I so know they’re not.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

People. Every story I’ve written has come from an observation of someone or a relationship that made me ask a bigger question. Every morning, until Coronavirus struck, I wrote at Starbucks, and part of the reason was to listen to the chatter and conversations around me. People are endlessly fascinating.
Visit Suzanne Redfearn's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Coffee with a Canine: Suzanne Redfearn and Cooper.

My Book, The Movie: Hush Little Baby.

The Page 69 Test: Hush Little Baby.

The Page 69 Test: No Ordinary Life.

Writers Read: Suzanne Redfearn (February 2016).

My Book, The Movie: No Ordinary Life.

My Book, The Movie: In an Instant.

The Page 69 Test: In an Instant.

--Marshal Zeringue