Hey everyone! Susan Bischoff was cool enough to swing by ParaYourNormal for an interview and giveaway. Read on and find out how to win a signed print copy of her superhero awesome-packed book, Hush Money.
In your bio it says you’re married to your high school sweetheart, which to me is like a storybook romance. Does the relationship with your husband have any influence on the romance in Hush Money?
That’s an interesting one to think about, and I’d have to say yes. A lot of people tend to be dismissive of young love: Oh, you can’t possibly know what you want. I can’t do that, and I think that because I, personally, am inclined to take it more seriously, because I believe, that gives me an edge in writing it. Also, I guess the fact that my high school relationship ended up continuing to be so important helps me better remember what it was like, including how painfully awkward it is when young people are dancing around revealing their feelings for each other.
You are so the opposite of Marco. Who or what did you reference to create such a menacing villain?
First let me say that it’s a comfort to know you think I’m not evil. I’m really kind of taken aback by readers’ visceral responses to Marco. A lot of people love to hate him. That’s awesome. I actually don’t have a secret nemesis on whom I based Marco’s character so…I don’t know. Maybe that means he really is just another side of me.
Marco needs to feel bigger and more important than he is. Making others feel small gives him that sense of power that he craves. And that is pretty typical bully material. But Joss is right, he’s not the usual big, dumb, as seen on TV bully either. Because Joss really needed a nemesis who would force her into action, and someone who could stand up to what she’s been holding back. So while I had the general idea of his role in the story, a lot of Marco was just stuff that came off the cuff. It was just: what’s the worst thing he can do/say and still remain believable as a teen character?
The sales on Hush Money have been going very well for you. For those readers out there that are working on their own paranormal fiction, what advice can you give them on marketing?
I am TOTALLY one of those introverted writers who was terrified I wouldn’t be able to do the marketing. Don’t get hung up thinking that marketing is beyond you. It’s not.
Write a good book. Don’t put something out there unless you believe it was good enough for NY. If you do that, your marketing job will be a lot easier.
Get reviews. One thing I did early on was to give away a lot of review copies. I gave away around 30 copies in a Goodreads event during the book’s second week of release. People took them because I had good art, an intriguing premise, and the first few pages didn’t suck. So that goes back to putting out a good book. Plus, you know, free. I would have given away 100 and not been overly pained by it, because I wanted to establish credibility through reviews as soon as possible.
I’ve got a series on my blog about things I did at the outset that I think helped me get established and sell books. If you poke around at http://susan-bischoff.com, the whole thing is categorized under “Increasing Kindle Rank.”
For the other platform building stuff, I highly recommend Kristen Lamb’s book, We Are Not Alone, A Writer’s Guide to Social Media. It is an easy to read, witty, For Dummies level introduction to what writers need to be doing social media-wise. I recommend running out and buying that BEFORE publishing your book, if at all possible, although I did read it after mine was out.
Reading Hush Money gives me the sense that there is a much bigger story to tell. Is there an endgame for The Talent Chronicles or will this series go on for the duration of your career?
Um…sort of? Yes, there is a much bigger story to tell, I do have things I want to bring out, and I have a sense of where it’s going. But nothing’s set in stone. The Talent world is pretty large and well-populated with characters and story ideas, so I can probably write here happily as long as it has readers.
Plotter or pantser?
Oh you know it, I’m a plotter. All. The. Way.
Was there a scene that came up while you were writing that wasn’t in the plot?
I think what most noticeably changed from the original outline to the final story was what happened at Kat’s party. It was a bit of a blank spot as far as I knew something would happen that would cause a shift in Joss. As I wrote my way toward it, it was obvious that the lame high school party BS I had planned wasn’t good enough. I had written a character who was very much grounded in the way she was raised, to stay on the sidelines. I needed something that would actually force her out of that, figuring that if she was pushed past her boundary once, it would be that much easier for me to keep pushing her in the second half of the story. It was my fab critique partner, Kait Nolan, who suggested bringing in NIAC (the government’s Talent enforcer goons). This scared the crap of me because I had never intended that sort of NIAC vs. Talent confrontation so early in the series. But I didn’t have any other ideas, so I tried it. And the book was so much better for it.
The book cover is beautiful, who designed it?
Thank you very much. That was Robin Ludwig, RLDprint dot com, a very talented graphic designer.
So how does that work? Do you have a vision or do you just tell the artist that you need a cover and he/she takes over?
I had a vision that was way complicated and wasn’t working out. So we talked a lot. I had some things I wanted: like I wanted to have something that would brand my covers as a group, I wanted something that actually related to what was in the book, something that would intrigue, something that would look good at a small size, and I also referenced several covers in my primary genre—the Teen Vampire, um, I mean, Young Adult Paranormal Romance genre to give her an idea what was appropriate. I wanted to fit in and also stand out. Robin pulled all that together for me, because she’s just all that.
I know Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an influence for Hush Money. The main character is named Joss after all. What specific episodes or aspects of the show influenced you the most?
Arg, another good question, meaning I have to think about it. Two elements of Buffy that were on my mind a lot during the writing: how she sometimes really longs to be a normal girl with a normal life, and how she always chooses the hard thing, even when she’s tired, when she’s scared, even when it hurts, even when the people she’s helping won’t know or won’t appreciate her. Buffy always stands up, over and over, because it’s the right thing and that’s what heroes do. Joss doesn’t have a Watcher to tell her it’s her destiny to be a hero, what she’s got is a militantly overprotective dad who’s been training her to play it safe. So if Joss is ever going to be a Big Damn Hero, I felt like she needed to start with this lesson of doing what’s right vs. doing what’s safe.
Susan Bischoff is the author of superhero romance, Hush Money, book one of The Talent Chronicles. Right now she's hard at work on the follow up, Heroes 'Til Curfew.
You can keep up with her and all things Talent Chronicles on her blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads and myspace. If you'd like to get your hands on a copy of Hush Money, it's available for ereaders on Amazon, Amazon UK, Smashwords, Scribd, Kobo, Sony, Barnes & Noble and Borders AU. Print copies are available on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble and CreateSpace.
Now for the giveaway. Real easy to play. First, follow this blog and then answer this question in the comments.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
And that's it! Don't forget to leave a way for us to contact you. (email, twitter, etc) The winner will be announced on the next ParaYourNormal radio show.