Monday, 4 March 2013

Author Interview: Susanne O'Leary

Today I'd like to introduce you to an author whom I've known 'virtually' for a number of years, first from an online forum and now via a Facebook group that we're both members of.  You'd think with a name like Susanne O'Leary that she would be Irish but she's not.  I'll hand you over to Susanne so that she can tell you about herself...

I’m a bit (or, actually, very) unusual among Irish authors as I’m not Irish and, having had four novels published, broke away from both publisher and agent and started to e-publish all my books myself in 2010, when the publishing industry started to decline. Since then, I have written four more books and, as a result, now have ten books out there in the e-book market worldwide. I write mainly in the women’s fiction genre, some chick-lit, some contemporary romance, with two historical novels and two detective stories thrown into the mix.

My books have sold very well with some spectacular months last year and now, I think I have sold close to 40000 books worldwide, counting all my titles. It has been amazing to get into the US, UK and all European markets through this new way of publishing and feel very lucky to have done so well.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Not really. But I have always loved reading. I started writing non-fiction and wrote two books about health and fitness (I am a trained fitness teacher). While writing these books, I discovered how much I loved the actual writing process. My then editor gave me the idea to write a fun novel based on my experiences as a diplomat’s wife. This became my debut novel, ‘Diplomatic Incidents’, published in 2001. Since then, I have written a further nine novels, most of them as e-books.

Have you ever had writer’s block? And how did you overcome it?
I don’t actually believe in writer’s block as such. I can get stuck when writing a story, not quite knowing how to bring the plot forward. But then I take a break, don’t look at it for a couple of days, go for walks or do some gardening. Then, after a while I get another idea and get back to writing. Works every time.

If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow? 

I was going to do medicine but got married very young so that dream went out the window. Then I spent many years as a wife and mother, accompanying my husband around the world in different diplomatic posts.

Being a writer appears to be such a solitary lifestyle, especially when you’re in the midst of writing, so doyou consider the influence of social Media, Facebook and Twitter, a blessing or a hindrance? 

It’s a terrible temptation. I could be on Facebook and various writer’s forums all day long, chatting away. But I have to be disciplined and make sure I don’t get sucked into that too much. But Facebook and twitter are also good ways to get exposure as a writer and to build a platform.

How long did it take you to get your first book published?

It took me a year to write it. Then a year and a half of frustrations, submissions, rejections, tears, screaming, swearing, sending it out again, and again,until the kind people at Blackstaff Press finally told me they wanted to publish my book. I thought I was dreaming.

Do you have a set daily writing routine? 

Yes. I write about four hours a day. Two hours in the morning(in my pj’s), two hours after lunch and then about one hour revision in the evening. My aim is around two thousand words a day and I usually achieve that.

How hard is it to keep coming up with fresh ideas for new books? 
Not hard at all. I have always ideas hopping around in my mad brain. I usually get the idea for the next book while I’m at the end of a current one. 

Would you say that any of your characters are like you? If so, which one(s)? 
I have been ‘accused’ of putting myself into all my heroines. But I don’t really agree with that. I think, however, writers always put elements of themselves in the main character but with many variations. I like to explore thoughts and actions that are the complete opposite to what I would do in certain situations myself and have fun letting the heroine dare to do and say things I would not. That said (about the accusation) I feel that if you don’t use your own emotions, passions, fears and vulnerabilities in your writing, the characters will be very one dimensional.

If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why? 

I have written in other genres, Historical fiction, for example, in ’A Woman’s Place’ and ‘Sonja’s Place’, detective in ‘Virtual Strangers’ and ‘Virtual Suspects’. I enjoyed writing those. But my first love is romantic fiction with a lot of humour and heart.

Have you got a favourite out of all the books you've written, if so, which one and why? 
Probably ‘Swedish for Beginners’. Why? Because in that book, I explored my own feelings and the rootlessness of the ex-pat. And it was set in my hometown, Stockholm. It has been much loved by many, many readers who sent me lovely e-mails telling me how much they enjoyed it.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be? 
Keep writing. Write every day. Have your work edited. Polish, polish, polish. Don’t be upset by the criticism of others. And never give up. 

Do you have much spare time to read books? If so, what was the last book you read or what are you currently reading? 
I love reading. I have to read, or I can’t go to sleep. The last book I read was ‘The Legacy’ by Katherine Webb (historical fiction) I am currently reading a book on my Kindle by my friend
and author Douglas Carlyle. It’s called ‘Boundaries’ and is a psychological thriller. Not published yet but he was kind enough to send me a pre-release copy. It’s excellent.

Do you prefer to read physical copies of books or e-books? 
I read both. I love reading on my Kindle and I always bring it with me.

Are there any books you’ve read that you wish you’d written? 
Not really. I don’t feel like that about other writer’s books

If you could have any of your books made into a film, which one would you choose and why? Who would you cast in the leading roles? 
I’d love to have Finding Margo made into a movie. As to the cast, I have no idea.  I’d leave that up to the casting director.

If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose? 
War and Peace. Any book by Balzac. And a book of poetry with work by all my favourite poets.

What are you working on now? 
I am writing a romantic comedy set in County Kerry about a woman from Dublin who inherits an old wreck of a house. The money pit meets the town mouse/country mouse with a lot of love and passion in the dunes….

To find out more about Susanne and her books, head to the links below:


Blog: (go to the ‘about me’ page)

Amazon author page:

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