Interview with Suzanne Enoch on her latest release, Hero in the Highlands

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

My first writing love was actually fantasy. I received a couple of promising publisher rejections for a pair of fantasy books, got frustrated, and took a bet from my sisters to write a Regency Romance since I clearly loved reading them. (Hey, they still each owe me a dollar.) That was the book that a publisher bought, and so that’s the direction I headed. Eventually I’d like to dig out those old fantasy books and look at them again, but for the moment I’m quite happy to be writing romance. I love a happy ending.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?

Both my parents are big readers, and that’s what I thought every family was like. Every summer we’d go to the library every two weeks and check out a three-foot stack of books from multiple genres. As for the writing gene, I think that came from my great-grandfather, who was a cowboy in his youth. He wrote for a local Texas newspaper, and had a book about his life published (Cowboy Life on the Llano Estacado, by Vivian Whitlock).

How long have you been writing?

That’s a tough question. I started out one-finger typing pages from “Little House in the Big Woods” to give as Christmas presents back when I was six or seven (and before I knew about plagiarism). In elementary school I wrote stories like all the other kids, but I REALLY liked it. After I read Joy Adamson’s “Born Free” and Jane Goodall’s “In the Shadow of Man” at about age ten I decided I would be a zoologist in Africa and write about my adventures. Then when I turned 13 I saw “Star Wars” and it dawned on me that I could make up adventures and not be killed by poisonous snakes. That stayed my plan from then on.

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I mostly write full-length Historical Romance, Scotland-set at the moment, though I also have a contemporary Romantic Suspense series featuring the same pair of protagonists.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I think it’s the humor and the wit – I try to approach a book from the attitude of one of those 1930’s screwball comedies, where everybody is clever and conversations are like intricate dances (or swordfights).

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

My hero, Gabriel Forrester, is a career soldier. I’m not a soldier, but I wanted his point of view to be authentic – the way he approaches problems, the way he views life and death – and that was a little different for me. I’m pretty proud of the way he turned out.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Oh, the banter. I love writing witty, flirty banter. I get to write two characters who make all the quips and retorts that we all wish we could managed on the spot, but that are really tricky to pull off in real life. I love finding ways for the characters to reveal parts of themselves by the words they choose to use, and the ones they avoid.

What did you find most useful in learning to write?  What was least useful or most destructive?

I majored in English in college, so I spent a great deal of time learning story pacing, naming the five parts of a story, point of view, active voice, etc. The most valuable advice I got was from one of my professors, and he told me to read – not just in the genre that interested me, but any GOOD writing. And the more, the better. James Joyce, Mark Twain, James Fenimore Cooper, Jane Austen – books that have stayed in the public eye because they’re well-written. I’ve always been a big reader so I had a lot of that background already, but I found him to be totally, utterly correct.

The thing I was happiest to disregard, even though it took some time and experience to figure out, was the idea that every word I put on paper had to be perfect. Now I go by the rule that anything can be improved, but first it just has to be written down. I call it WTBD – Write the book, dummy.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I’ve been writing full time for about the past fourteen years. It’s weird, but in a way I think I’m a little less focused than I was when I had a much more limited time to write. Overall my production has stayed about the same, but I REALLY don’t miss the stress of my day job. I feel like I have more time to play around with a story now, to see where it takes me.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

All the way through high school and college and thereafter I knew I was going to be a writer, so I looked for “jobs” rather than a “career”. I worked in a movie theater box office, did billing and Girl Friday stuff for two different law firms, served as public relations and alumni assistant for an optometry college, and spent eleven long years as the assistant to the president of a Mercedes dealership. The only bonus to that one was that it gave me writing time most afternoons.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I never seem to have much free time these days, but I enjoy reading English and Scottish history and mythology – you never know what might spark an idea. And of course I read my friends’ books, which I can’t do while I’m writing.

What projects are you working on at the present?

I just finished MY ONE TRUE HIGHLANDER, the second book in this “No Ordinary Hero” trilogy, and I’m starting on book number three, which doesn’t have a title yet.

What do your plans for future projects include?

I’d like to write a few more novella-length stories, because they have more of the pacing and rhythm of the old traditional Regencies. And I REALLY want to get back to work on the next book in my contemporary series, because I’ve already taken a seven-year break. That’s probably a bit much, and I’m really grateful to the readers who keep cheering me on instead of throwing things at me for taking so long.

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

I handwrite my books as much as I can. I go through about five college-ruled notebooks and about ten pens per book. Every afternoon I transcribe what I’ve written into the computer, which gives me an immediate first edit. It’s a little slower, I suppose, but I find that I have way fewer rewrites when it takes a little more effort to do the first draft.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

Names are very important to me. I’ve been known to trash an opening chapter because the hero or heroine’s name doesn’t fit with the world it needs to occupy. I have a couple of baby name books, but I also like to look through indexes and bibliographies of books published during the time period in which I’m writing. I’ve also found some lists of Scottish names and meanings online, along with lists of Highland clans and the septs beneath them. Those are invaluable when I’m staying with a particular clan but don’t everyone in it to have the same last name.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

I love talking in accents. I do it all the time, anyway. My favorite three to listen to are proper English (the one the Shakespearean actors use), Scottish, and Jamaican. Oh, and Cajun is pretty cool, too.

 

abouttheauthor

suzanne-enoch

Suzanne Enoch grew up in Southern California, where she still balances her love for the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer and classic romantic comedies with her obsession for anything Star Wars. Given her love of food and comfy chairs, she may in fact be a Hobbit. She has written more than 35 romance novels, including traditional Regencies, Historical Romance, and contemporary Romantic Suspense. When she isn’t working on her next book she is trying to learn to cook, and wishes she had an English accent. She is the bestselling author ofThe Scandalous Brides series, The Scandalous Highlandersseries, and One Hot Scot.

Connect with Suzanne online:

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Aboutthebook

herohighlands

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Scotland, 1812: He’s ferocious and rugged to the bone, an English soldier more at home on the battlefield than in any Society drawing room. And when Major Gabriel Forrester learns that he’s inherited the massive Scottish Highlands title and estate of a distant relation, the last thing he wants to do is give up the intensity of the battlefield for the too-soft indulgences of noble life. But Gabriel Forrester does not shirk his responsibilities, and when he meets striking, raven-eyed lass Fiona Blackstock, his new circumstances abruptly become more intriguing.

Like any good Highlander, Fiona despises the English—and the new Duke of Lattimer is no exception. Firstly, he is far too attractive for Fiona’s peace of mind. Secondly, his right to “her” castle is a travesty, since it’s been clan Maxwell property for ages. As the two enter a heated battle of wills, an unexpected passion blazes into a love as fierce as the Highlands themselves. Is Fiona strong enough to resist her enemy’s advances—or is Gabriel actually her hero in disguise?

If you haven’t already, then as bestselling author Lisa Kleypas said, “It’s time to fall in love with Suzanne Enoch.”

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