Today’s guest author is another miracle find. Mutli-talented and brimming with experience, wisdom and common sense, it was a joy for me to interview Su Halfwerk. I know every one of you will be similarly touched by her humor, honesty and advice, so I invite you, dear Reader, to have a seat and and meet this wonderful woman…
Dyane, thanks for the opportunity to visit your blog and meet your readers. As you might already know, I’m a big fan of your blog and a very dedicated follower.
Thanks, Su! It’s fantastic to have you here today. Can you start us off by telling us a little about yourself?
Sure. I’m a writer, artist, wife, and mother. Writing became my escape when my son was an infant and I became a super-sanitary-freak, which put painting with oil paint and turpentine out of the question.
Whether I’m writing or designing graphics, Ramona, my son’s cat and my literary sidekick, curls up in my lap. She thinks she inspires my creativity, I let her think so.
What other artistic interests do you have besides writing? Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it? What keeps you motivated/inspired?
I like to paint and design book covers and book trailers. As with writing, they are about creating worlds with words, brushes, or mouse clicks. I found that my creative activities complement and support each other. They also inspire me to research more which in turn leads to new avenues to express myself in my writing and the graphic designs I create for authors.
What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why? What can you never see yourself writing?
Short stories, novels, and novellas are my favourites. In writing, I focus on paranormal romance and horror, while in reading I add suspense and thrillers to the list of genres.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a genre as a No-No for me to write because I refuse to restrict creativity but I did find myself hesitant to intrude on my characters’ private and more intimate time together. Keeping this mind, I think erotica is the one genre I might never write. Nothing against it as a genre, but it might not be my cup of tea.
Then again, we never know! 🙂
I’ve read books which annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw them across the room. As a reader, what do you think makes a good story? What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?
I know, right! I make it a point to finish any book I start reading but it’s a struggle sometimes. A good story is one that doesn’t jar with typos and errors, one that has intrigue and suspense, keeping the readers on their toes, guessing, questioning, and sometimes even hating the author for what he/she did to some characters. A good book stays with you for sometime, pondering sub-plots, remembering touching or funny scenes.
I learned a lot from reading bad books, so I’ll mention two lessons instead. I learned to never ignore the need for fresh eyes to go over my books, best option is a dependable and honest editor. The second lesson I picked up was to avoid what I call “character’s self-pity party.” It’s when a character spends a good portion of the book bemoaning his luck and questioning fate instead of taking action. Action moves the story forward while a plentiful self-searching usually becomes the sagging middle.
As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Elements that revolve around the senses are essential to involve readers. If they don’t feel, smell, hear, and taste with the character, then they’re distanced from the story. They need to feel the afternoon sun warming the character’s skin, the way a mother inhales deeply the scent of her baby’s clean skin, and the voice of a loved one, be it in distress or happiness, can evoke all sorts of emotions in one’s heart.
Weaknesses? I suck at marketing and promoting myself *shakes head*
I guess being an introvert is a big part of it, but I DO love to use my time to create and not promote. Funny enough, I’m quite good at promoting others!!!
Another weakness is nitpicking. I know when a book is finished but I don’t know when to stop going over it since I like to give my editor a clean copy.
My strengths? I’m flexible. If something, say like a scene or an event in my life, isn’t going the way I expected, I pout but I look for other ways to overcome the obstacle.
I also have a tremendous hunger for learning. I learn from everything I watch or read and subsequently, use it.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what you write?
My mood controls my writing. I tend to swing like a pendulum between dark fiction and romance to balance the darkness with light in me. Well, we all have that small devil within us, difference is, I embrace mine fully.
When I’m in a dark mood I write horror, otherwise it’s sweet paranormal romance.
What draws you to your preferred genre? What do you think makes your genre unique? And why is it so popular? (Or perhaps less popular than it could be?)
It’s difficult to choose between horror and paranormal romance since I read heavily in both. I’m drawn to their extreme contrasts…in the destruction of lives and the wooing of the heart.
Horror is unique because as a reader you get to experience that rush of adrenaline from the safety of your home, knowing and believing that it can’t touch you. (Think again.)
Paranormal romance has the allure of mixing the dangerous with the protective, of taming the beasts known for bloodshed and carnage into romantic partners who would do anything to keep their loved ones safe.
Horror is popular within its own circle because it requires a strong heart. It’s an acquired taste really. Because of paranormal romance’s romantic elements it is very popular among adults and young adults. Romance is a winner wherever you go.
Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?
There’s the sweet love story between a ghost and a woman in His to Possess, then there are the spirit hunters who must find their destined ones while battling the possessed in the Unsettled trilogy. I’m currently working on book 3 titled, Beholder.
In horror, I have Intricate Entanglement which consists of 7 short stories (or 8, depending how you look at it) that take place in a mental hospital for the criminally insane. You get to hear/read first hand about what brought each there. Hellbound contains 3 stories that are either from, to, or in Hell. Zuphreen is about a demon that comes bearing gifts, except there are strings attached to that service.
Currently, I’m outlining a book that will have short stories linked by an unnatural thread.
Why is promoting other writers important to you?
Nowadays, literary survival is through connections and networking. Visiting each others’ blogs is one of the most effective tools to help a fellow writer/blogger while spreading your name and keeping it alive on the internet. It’s also the best way to meet new readers and for readers to discover new authors.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
Staying focused and finding the time to write. There are two types of distractions: Family and muse. With family, sometimes, saying you need writing time works. Forget that with the muse. He is stubborn (yeah, mine is male and he is gorgeous,) tenacious, and won’t let go until I listen. A new idea is great, but when it nags to take center stage, it can distract me from my current work in progress. If I give in, I’ll have loads of unfinished manuscripts. I deal with it by writing all I have about the new idea in a file and saving it in my IDEAS folder. This way I reduce the nagging (note: not eliminating. My muse is mighty) and at the same time I have basis for a new story.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
Stephen King in horror. He has a way with words, of gripping your attention until the last word. Sometimes the ending is not to my liking, sometimes it surpasses it, either way, the journey to reach that ending is worth it.
Gena Showalter in paranormal romance. She has an astonishing sense of humour and a solid vault of imagination that she dips in and paints the most rewarding romances I ever read. I love her heroes and heroines, they are strong and witty.
What advice would you give to new writers, especially those looking to break into the horror or suspense genre?
My advice applies to all genres. Like all writers, you will go through moments of self-doubt. It’s cool but do it while WRITING not while sitting and mulling over it. And while at it, find out what caused that self-doubt. Is it the plot? The characters? Errors in continuity? Use that negativity, be it self-doubt or any other emotion, to push forward. You’ll be surprised at how many of your weakness can be turned to strengths with dedication.
Specifically for horror writers, beside the above, read in the genre; connect with other readers and writers on loops and groups to stay up-to-date. Horror’s share in the market might be less than romance but its fans are super devoted.
How can readers get into contact with you?
I haunt these places online:
Please stop by and holler. One of my 14 personalities is bound to answer! Dyane, thanks again for the fun interview.
You’re welcome, Su. I’m just glad you took the time to talk with us about your loves and interests and I just know the Readers each took something valuable away from the interview. Please, Readers, visit Su–or one of her other personalities. We wouldn’t want them to get bored now would we?
Have a great week, everyone! See you soon!