Friday, May 25, 2012

TBR welcomes Susan Roebuck

TBR: Welcome to TBR, Susan. Will you share a little bit about yourself?
Sue: Thank you for letting me visit. I’m Susan Roebuck (known to everyone except my mother as Sue) and I’m British but I currently live in Portugal where the sun’s supposed to always shine, but it’s raining like mad just now. My first novel, a non-explicit m/m suspense, is called “Perfect Score” and was published by Awe-Struck Publishing. It was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards in the Mainstream section.
My second novel, “Hewhay Hall” is a dark thriller and has just been published by Etopia Press (on 20th April).

TBR: Tell us about your books Perfect Score and Hewhay Hall and where they’re available.
Sue: Perfect Score can be bought from the publisher here or here at Amazon.
Hewhay Hall is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,

TBR: Please tantalize us with a story blurb or excerpt.
Sue: OK…here comes some tantalizing.
Blurb of Hewhay Hall:
An unsung hero's destiny--Slater's house of horrors.
Fire-fighter Jude Elliott loses part of his leg trying to rescue a family held hostage during a terrorist attack. He journeys to mysterious Hewhey Hall, where it is told there are wondrous, magical cures. Little does Jude know that his destination is Slater The Prince of Envy's lair where a demon resides and courageous souls are tormented... Can Jude escape Slater's house of horrors, or will he suffer for all of eternity?

And a short excerpt (I like tantalizing):
Jude stared down the hill at the glint on the water and then across to the fields baked hard by weeks of sun. He’d followed the directions to the letter, so this was the right place. But where was Hewhay Hall?
A row of swallows balanced on a wire stretching overhead, each facing the same way as Jude, who rested against a five-bar gate. They too seemed to be eyeing the fallen tree trunks that littered the overgrown path down the rocky hillside. They were lucky—they could fly, but Jude had to hobble.
The air moved on the other side of the marshland. He didn’t imagine it. A definite ripple, the kind that alters your vision when a migraine’s about to start. Although the shift was fleeting, he had the idea something was down there after all, very faint and hard to describe. The outline of a building? Or maybe just heat haze. Whatever, he’d come this far—he’d go and investigate.
The latch and hinges on the gate were so rusted, Jude couldn’t open it. Nothing for it, then, but to climb over. He propped his crutches against the wooden bars, placed his hands on the top, and hauled himself up so his right leg got a footing on a lower rung. Now he could sit on the top. He bent down, picked up what was left of his other leg, and maneuvered it over until he straddled the gate. It creaked under his weight. As he swung his right leg over, he teetered, tried to grab the top bar but lost his balance and fell headlong into a bramble patch.
Prickles stabbed him as he lay on his back, his whirling gaze locked on a wiggly jet trail in the cloudless sky. Once the world righted itself, he pushed himself up on his elbows and extracted some of the more painful brambles before rolling onto his right knee. His bum in the air, he hoped no one was looking and that he retained a shred of dignity as he balanced on his right leg and wobbled his way upright. As he tried to stand, his knee locked. He was a second away from landing back on the ground but he grabbed an oak tree trunk for support.
Bloody hell. Wasn’t it about time they gave him a prosthesis? He bent to rub his stump, still raw after all this time. Why wasn’t he healing?

TBR: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Sue: A pantser through and through. I really don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but it opens up a whole new world of discovery. My first novel, “Perfect Score” has twelve different versions thanks to my tendency to change things half way through. However, having said all that, when I begin I do know where my story’s set, which are the main characters and how the story is supposed to end, even if that does often go awry.

TBR: How do you develop your characters?
Sue: Layer upon layer. Just like when I’m painting – a dab of color there, a patch of white here. My characters have to become like real people to me and the more quirks I can give them, the better as far as I’m concerned. I do have problems with names, though. In “Perfect Score” one of my main characters was called Sam Riverdale and then I realized he had the same initials as me – and I didn’t want people thinking he was based on me (he’s far too good to be me). So he became Sam Barrowdale. I do create profiles for each character using checklists of likes and dislikes, greatest fear, likes to eat, dreams, goals. But I also like to give the main ones certain weaknesses so that they’re flawed in some way. In “Hewhay Hall” there’s a spirit medium called Roma who tends to exaggerate everything and says things like, “how unutterably awful, darling.”
My villains tend to be “unutterably awful” with few redeeming features. In “Perfect Score” there’s sociopath Timothy Finch. “Hewhay Hall” features a foul demon called Slater who you really don’t want to meet. Ever.

TBR: Which of your characters would you most/least like to invite to dinner, and why?
Sue: Jude Elliot, my unsung fire-fighter hero from “Hewhay Hall” would be a great guest to entertain me with his exploits and tales of his call-outs. Sam Barrowdale from “Perfect Score” would enjoy being with him and would be able to match Jude’s daring-do with his own tales of life as a street kid. Sam would also be useful if Slater the demon showed itself as we were serving dessert because Sam wouldn’t be fooled by its chest-pounding for one moment. He’d tell it to “g…get real” before burying its amphibian head in the chocolate mousse.

TBR: While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned?
Sue: I uncover all kinds of information when I’m researching – sometimes adding it to the plot. For example, I discovered information on genetic crops and additives in our food (especially fast food) when I was researching “Perfect Score”. I was fascinated about the work of firefighters when I was writing “Hewhay Hall” and it opened my eyes as to just what heroes they are. As my themes seem to be injustice, corruption and cruelty I’m constantly horrified by just how much exists in our world.

TBR: What's next for you?
Sue: I’m working on a third novel that’s currently called, “When the Moon Fails”. This one will be a thriller, set in Portugal. Both main characters fish – Leo comes from Alaska US and Piper (short for Philippa) from Norfolk, UK. In Portugal they discover plans to destroy a fishing village by a huge US/UK consortium and they’ll both uncover secrets to their backgrounds that force them to face their insecurities. At the moment the two – who are obviously so suited for each other – never actually meet up, or if they do it’s only briefly. However, being the pantser I am there might turn out to be more romance after all. Let’s wait and see. As usual, my theme will highlight the injustice of this world.

TBR: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Most rewarding?
Sue: As a pantser I often write myself down a dead-end. However, I’m learning techniques to turn that problem around, such as by changing a point of view, or a character – even a character’s sex. I’m such a disorganized person that the jig-sawing of plot gives me incredible headaches when I’m trying to fit it all together. But the best aspect is the actual writing. When I’m in full flow I disappear from this world and inhabit the one in my mind. I’m astounded at how time passes. It’s a sensation that must beat any drug-induced euphoria (I imagine!).

TBR: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Sue: It’s too early for reviews to come in for “Hewhay Hall”. But I was blown away by many of those for “Perfect Score”. Lena Grey – a reviewer for QMO – said:
“The characters in 'Perfect Score' are superbly crafted, each evoking different, but essential emotions which had me embroiled in the story from the beginning, but
Sam influenced me the most. Life knocked him down so much that anyone of lesser moral quality would have given up, but not Sam. Not only did he overcome disparity, he rose like the Phoenix from the ashes. Sam was an amazing combination of strength, intelligence, gentleness and forthrightness; in the face of injustice, whether for a person or an animal, Sam was there on his white horse ready to do battle.” Reviewers amaze me at their ability to “get” exactly what I’m trying to convey.
TBR: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Sue: I read everything. My favorite authors are (deep breath): Charles Dickens (because of his quirky characters), Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy (characters again), Annie Proulx because her descriptions are like an artist’s palette, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Terry Pratchett (all of his novels), Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (love Scout and Attica). I’ve just read Jim Butcher’s Full Moon and Karen Marie Moning’s Shadowfever.

TBR: Where can readers find you on the web?
Sue: I love to meet new people and exchange different ideas. And if you visit me, I promise to return the favor. My blog:
Twitter: @suemonte

TBR: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Sue: I’d like to ask them what their favorite book of all time was. And also, if they usually only read the same genre of books (for example, only romance, or only fantasy) would they ever be prepared to experiment with another kind.
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Cate!

TBR: Readers, Susan Roebuck will give away a copy of her e-book “Hewhay Hall” to one lucky commenter. She'll pick a winner on Saturday May 26 and announce the winner here. Be sure to leave your email address so she can contact you.
Thanks for visiting TBR, Sue! All the best to you.


  1. Thanks Cate for letting me "take over" today!

  2. Happy to have you, Susan! :)

  3. Susan is awesome! I like the description of creating characters is similar to painting. And my character profiles are very similar.


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