Interview with Suzanne Frank

(The photo was taken from Suzanne Franks website:

Isolde: Would you tell your German fans something about yourself? For instance, are you a freelance writer? What does your daily routine look like?

Suzanne Frank: Something about me ... well, I'm not a freelance writer beyond the sense that every author is free to write what he or she will, then try to sell it. I do work with contracts, and my next one is writing a book just for the German audience.

As for a daily routine? I have two speeds: writing and not writing. When I'm actively working on deadline, or hammering out a first draft, I am the soul of discipline. Up early, to bed early, very little contact with the outside world, saving my energy for the page. Word count is my measurement, and every day has a specific goal. On the other hand, when I'm prepping, I'm very social. I sleep late, get in late, overindulge, see movies, read books all day, sketch outlines and scenes, take notes, visit locations, interview people, and spend a lot of time staring blankly into space.

Basically, I do any- and everything that feeds my psyche and creativity. And I do that until the day it feels I might explode with information. Then I slip back into 5 a.m. - 9p.m. and self-imposed silence. "Balance" for me, is the melding of the two extremes over a loooong period of time.

Isolde: How did you get the idea for your time travel novels? Did you plan on writing a series, or did the idea of Chloe and Cheftu making several journeys in time together develop as you wrote?

Suzanne Frank: I've always loved history, and the idea of a woman looking at ancient Egypt through modern eyes was the book I wanted to read. I couldn't find it, so I had to write it. The idea grew, mutated. It didn't spring forth, full-grown. At the conclusion of that book (Reflections in the Nile) I knew I wanted to spend more time with Chloe and Cheftu. My editor, fortunately, did too. In researching RIN, I'd turned up a lot of questions. The answers to those questions became the story of SOA (Shadows) which in turn gave birth to SOM (Sunrise). But truthfully, when the publisher asked me if I had anything else, (while they were considering RIN) I said, "it's a trilogy" and started giving the titles -- off the top of my head ... .On the whole, it was a rather organic experience. It just happened, each part seeming a natural outcropping of the other. TIB is the natural conclusion.

Isolde: How did you research your books?

Suzanne Frank: Research, for me, is to fill in all the gaps and to set the stage. What the people wore, ate, how they bathed, worshiped, buried their dead, what they thought, pondered believed, coveted -- before I start, the "set" has to be complete so I don't stop. I see it, feel it, hear it, in my head, and when I don't know one of the pieces, it shows up as a blank. I have to fill in all of the blanks before my characters step into the world. How? Whatever it takes. But research isn't for you, the reader, to that I tell you all I learn. Nor is all of the stuff I learn in the course of studying a culture necessary. But *I* like to know it, the make the world of the story and its people alive to me, because the more alive they are to me, the more alive they will be to you. As a writer, I believe that if I want you the reader to fall in love, I have to fall in love first. If I want you scared, then I have to shake in my shoes first. If this place (in the story) is to be reality to you, even for a few short hours, it has to be reality to me. Throughout a million drafts. For the mysteries, the research was much more subtle -- how to jam a gun, how to rig a dress. I became a stylist, briefly, in order to get the syntax and lingo down, the mood and priorities, etc. Still research, but not the kind one finds in the library.

Isolde: Can you already tell us something about Part 4 "Twilight in Babylon"? Is there a possibilty of another sequel, i.e. Part 5,  being published?

Suzanne Frank: I say No, that Twilight is really the fourth and final book in the series. Chloe and Cheftu have worked hard. They deserve a rest. (However, who knows? Probably as soon as I know I have no reason to write Chloe and Cheftu, I'll write three more stories. I was seriously considering having short stories on the website. Things that have nothing to do with Chloe & Cheftu in the actual course of the books, but fun ideas that either I had or readers suggested. I don't know. One tends to do what one a) wants to discover and b) what pays the bills. )

The reason for the time gap between SOM and TIB is partially because this author wasn't quite ready to let go. (That makes me sound strange --) and that the conclusion of the series was something I had to grow into. But more detailed than that ... it takes place in Ur, in Sumer, right about the dawn of literacy. And it offers a solution to one of history's and archeology's most fascinating, long-standing mysteries.

Isolde: You write fashion mysteries under the pseudonym Chloe Green. Did you choose another name with the specific purpose of giving yourself the space to explore a new style of writing?

Suzanne Frank: Chloe Green was born of legal necessity. (And I think we all know where the name came from!) Due to the scheduling of my contracts, I wasn't allowed to publish under my own name. However, having a different name for the mysteries has been to my benefit, I believe. The two series are utterly different, with the exception of both having tall, sarcastic, Texas-heritage heroines.

Isolde: How many more Chloe Green mysteries do you intend to write?

Suzanne Frank: There are three at this point, with no active plans for a fourth. (Although I do have a South Beach-based story mostly written -)

Isolde: Your time travel novels are extremely popular in Germany, with huge numbers being sold. Are you as popular in the US? Did you have trouble finding a publisher at the beginning?

Suzanne Frank: It was a Cinderella story. I was blessed to find the perfect editor at just the right time with the exact-right project. I don't know exactly how the numbers compare, but y'all do appreciate Chloe and Cheftu more : )) I'm grateful that my passion is my vocation, that someone pays me to pursue it, and that, as a bonus, I hear from people all over the world telling me how they love the stories. I am very blessed.

Isolde: What do you personally read for your own pleasure, and who is your favourite author?

Suzanne Frank: My favorite author (that I'm reading) changes on a weekly basis. I read a lot of research books, but my "guilty pleasures" tend toward  gory "world-in-jeopardy" medical thrillers, and magical realism. (Two genres in which I'd like to write.) My perennial favorite is Fool on the Hill by Matt Ruff. Current loves are: The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde and Kitchen Confidential (NF) by Anthony Bourdain. The most powerful book I've read recently is The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight (Thom Hartmann). I would love to write a book review column. Reading and discussing and passing on great titles is one of my great pleasures in life.

Isolde: If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?

Suzanne Frank: Besides peace in the Middle East? 1) Perfect eyesight, without glasses, lenses or surgery. 2) Fluency in all languages 3) A beach house (don't ask me where, or this interview will go on for another month!)

Isolde: "Shadows on the Aegean" is set in Atlantis. Was it a real challenge to write the story around an existing legend?

Suzanne Frank: Not that I recall, but I have a choosy memory. The challenge was to piece together the other parts of the culture. Plato gave me the legend as a great base, archeology provided me a physical knowledge, but I had to sift through a lot of different peoples to assemble a plausible, workable societal structure. Oh yeah, then I added the human inspiration for the Greek gods. And those people were not normal ...

© Moments - Höhepunkte der romantischen Literatur und Die romantische Bücherecke, Isolde Wehr, Mai 2002

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Dieses Interview entstand im Mai 2002 zwischen Isolde W. und Suzanne für:

Moments - Höhepunkte der romantischen Literatur Moments - Höhepunkte der romantischen Literatur


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