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Susanna Kearsley
Writer. Dreamer. Traveller. Mom.
Recent Activity
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Susanna here, still settling back to life in the workaday world after a wonderful time at the HNS North American Conference, held this year at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor in Maryland—a beautiful setting, although I have to admit the whole sensation of being in a community enclosed within a glass dome where everything was aiming to look old yet had a futuristic edge felt so surreal at times it had me thinking "Logan's Run" on more than one occasion :) But with so much natural light, it was all but impossible to get the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2019 at Word Wenches
Hi everyone! Apologies for the delay--I was away at a conference and the Internet there wasn't very reliable. I'm home now, though, and can end the suspense for you... The lie is #1. Although it's true that I do make playlists for my novels and characters (and sometimes share songs from these on my Facebook page on Mondays), I only play the songs when I'm not writing, as a way to get the characters moving. I write in silence. Any kind of noise in the background (other than nature) distracts me, and if I'm not alone in the house I put on headphones playing white noise to block out the other sounds so I can concentrate. So, definitely NO music :) I DO get ideas in the bathtub. Whenever I come to a difficult place in my writing, the first thing I do is to run a hot bath. An hour or so of soaking and my characters inevitably stir and start to talk, and I emerge with scribbled water-spotted pages filled with random bits of dialogue and thoughts for scenes, enough to get my story moving. Why I’m inspired in the bathtub I really don’t know, though I privately suspect that the effects of lying neck-deep in warm water with the white noise of the bathroom fan obscuring outside sound comes fairly close to the experience of lying in an isolation tank – sometimes called a ‘sensory deprivation tank’ – in which most people’s brainwaves slow to a speed known as ‘theta’, the daydreaming state that falls somewhere between relaxed ‘alpha’ and sound-asleep ‘delta’. My creative subconscious, in other words, gets time to play. And I DO write some scenes entirely by hand. Usually because they come to me at inconvenient times, in inconvenient places, when I'm away from my computer and have to scramble to find a pen and something to write on before I lose the scene entirely...or sometimes because I'm in the bathtub (see above) and using a computer would be ill-advised...but either way, I just re-type those scenes into the manuscript and file the original paper copy away in the three-ring binder I use to hold all the bits and pieces for that particular book. So there you are. I think I'm off to take a bath... :)
Toggle Commented May 23, 2019 on Two Truths and a Lie at Word Wenches
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Susanna here. This week I'm in New Orleans, at the first ever Booklovers Con, enjoying the time spent with old friends and new ones. Today I'm one of a group of authors taking part in a reader game of Two Truths and a Lie, wherein people try to guess which of the statements we make are the false ones. In preparation for the game, I had to come up with twenty truths and ten lies (I found the truths a lot harder, for some reason...), and without using any of those same ones here, I thought it might be fun... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2019 at Word Wenches
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Susanna here. I don’t read much fiction while I’m writing, so I don’t always have anything to offer for our monthly “What We’re Reading” posts, but I’ve been trying to tidy my files and I came across a not-so-old piece in which I was asked to choose five of my favorite historical fantasy novels. This is one of my favorite genres to read in, so choosing a handful of titles was hard. Since I know a lot of other writers working in this category, I tried to keep my recommendations unbiased by only choosing books by writers from outside my... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2019 at Word Wenches
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Susanna here, with our Ask A Wench post for this month. A few weeks ago, I interviewed Andrew Pyper, author of The Homecoming, for a session at my local library, and while doing my preparation for that interview I came across an article he’d written for the Globe & Mail in 2012, called Crafting the Novel’s Crucial First Line. Here’s an excerpt: “no writerly preoccupation is more universally shared – or has been the cause of more agonized hours staring at the blank page – than the First Line… How we begin a book is widely considered to be a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2019 at Word Wenches
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That used to be me, as well, although I surprised myself a couple of years ago when I went on a cruise and wasn't sick AT ALL. Completely unexpected, because I'm like you--normally it doesn't take much. I can't decide whether to cruise again, to see if I can pull it off a second time, or whether I should simply consider that voyage was charmed.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2019 on By Carriage on the Continent at Word Wenches
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:-) I haven't come across Bourdaloues yet, but I confess I may still be distracted by the active man-servant...
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2019 on By Carriage on the Continent at Word Wenches
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Rabbit holes are the best.
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2019 on By Carriage on the Continent at Word Wenches
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Sue, my parents actually did take off for a time in a pop-up tent trailer. I had no idea where they were, they would just telephone in every now and then from various campsites. They loved it. Looking around my Very Cluttered house right now, that has a definite appeal :-)
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2019 on By Carriage on the Continent at Word Wenches
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Mary Jo, I kept thinking of your characters while I was reading of her travels...
Toggle Commented Mar 25, 2019 on By Carriage on the Continent at Word Wenches
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Carriage In A Landscape, by Gerard ter Borch Susanna here, back at the bottom of another research rabbit-hole. This one’s entirely unintentional. I started off by looking up the land routes into Genoa, which led me quite by accident to Mariana Starke—or, more specifically, the Fifth revised edition of her comprehensive guidebook, Information and Directions for Travellers on the Continent. Being published in 1829, it’s about a century too late for my needs, but it’s still a fascinating read, and when I’m trolling the Internet, coffee in hand, for good primary sources, I’m easily lured down rabbit holes by fascinating... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2019 at Word Wenches
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Susanna here, just back from the sunny south and the wonderful Tucson Festival of Books, where I had the privilege of sitting on two panels—one called "Keeping History Fresh" (pictured above), with Susan Meissner and Kristina McMorris, moderated by Anne Spieth, and another called "Transported by Words", moderated by Victoria Marie Salajko, in which R.O. Kwon, Shobha Rao, and I talked about the use of setting in fiction. Both panels were great, and the questions we were asked could provide the jumping-off point for any number of posts here, but in the panel on setting we were asked, “What writers... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2019 at Word Wenches
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Susanna here, inviting you to join me in wishing a very Happy Book Birthday to THE WOMAN IN THE LAKE by our own Nicola Cornick! This is its American birthday, actually, which will be followed on March 7 by its British birthday, so we will be keeping the celebration going here at the Word Wenches (any excuse for cake, really). It’s a dual-time novel, linking the lives of two women together over centuries through one lovely but ill-fated gown… *** ‘I see it all again: the silver moon swimming beneath the water and the golden gown billowing out about her…’... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2019 at Word Wenches
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Claire, I can completely relate. I was reading Nancy Drew and A.A. Milne and Jan Westcott and Charles Dickens, all at the same time. And Spider Man comics, of course :-)
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2019 on First Loves at Word Wenches
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Janice, The Cockermouth Mail is another of my favourites, but I didn't add it to my shelves until much later, after I'd had my kids. It's an annual Christmas re-read for me, now (again, probably owing to the Very Cool Boots). And aren't libraries wonderful? What would we do without them, honestly?
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2019 on First Loves at Word Wenches
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Kareni, you would probably find that the magic isn't gone. It will be a different experience, reading it, but then every time you read any book it's a different experience. I love sinking into my old favourites, and can still find magic in them.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2019 on First Loves at Word Wenches
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Misti, I'm like you--my favourite Mary Stewart changes with the mood I'm in. But Max, as favourite heroes go, stays up there with the best of them :-)
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2019 on First Loves at Word Wenches
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Mary, My Lord Monleigh is a favourite of mine, too. And even though Jan Cox Speas's books are out of print, her family has made My Love, My Enemy (the one set during the War of 1812) available as an ebook, from amazon: https://www.amazon.com/My-Love-Enemy-ebook/dp/B004NSVQMG/wordwench-20 I'm embarrassed to say I've never read any of Molly Costain Haycraft's books (which is unforgivable, really, since her father and I were born in the same city). I should fix that straight away. Do you have a favourite you would recommend I start with?
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2019 on First Loves at Word Wenches
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Sue, I think I might have found the gothic paperback for you--was this it? Dark Legacy? https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Legacy-Formerly-Happy-Now/dp/B000KEM53G It sounds like a very good book. Thanks for sharing!
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2019 on First Loves at Word Wenches
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Kate, I'm happy to welcome you to the club of Blue Castle lovers--I've learned there are a few of us out here, hiding in the shadows... https://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/overall-b-reviews/b-plus-reviews/review-the-blue-castle-by-l-m-montgomery/
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2019 on First Loves at Word Wenches
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Oh, I love the Ivy Tree, too. And I wish magazines would bring back the condensed novel, don't you? It was such a great way to discover new authors. They don't seem to do it anymore. One of my novels (The Shadowy Horses) was condensed by Readers' Digest way back in the day, which was a fascinating experience (and very humbling, since you could see how the story carried on fine when they took out so much of it :-) but then even Readers' Digest stopped doing it. Such a shame.
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2019 on First Loves at Word Wenches
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Susanna here, and with Valentine’s day approaching, I thought I’d share some of my earliest romantic reads—ones that captured my heart in my youth, and continue to hold it. They’re not all historical, but they all hold pride of place in my bookshelves. And while it’s not, by any means, a full list (there would be too many titles!), here are five of my “first loves” that, after all these years, remain my favourite comfort reads: THE FIRST YEAR, by Lucilla Andrews This is the book that, for several years, made me consider becoming a nurse (I even did a... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2019 at Word Wenches
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Detail of a portrait of Madame Pompadour by François Boucher Susanna here. Welcome to our monthly What We're Reading post! I’ve been reading mostly primary documents and very old letters in indecipherable handwriting, but unfortunately I can’t share any of them here because I don’t have permission to, so instead I’ll share the books that are currently on my nightstand, waiting to be read… Erin Davis, a much-loved radio personality here in Canada, who recently lost her daughter, has written a very personal and uplifting memoir that Olivia Newton-John praises as “a gift of love to others who are seeking... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2019 at Word Wenches
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Susanna here, sitting in my writing room and waiting for my characters to lead me where they will. I remember once listening to a famous Canadian literary writer (and no, I won’t name names) say adamantly, during a radio interview, that characters were mere creations, and as such, were under the complete control of the writer at all times, with the writer firmly laying out what the character would say and do, and the character falling into line—and so any writer who claimed that their characters took on a life of their own was a liar. I remember my reaction... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2019 at Word Wenches
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Sue, maybe the two-year-old you was just declaring a prescient love of Scotland? :-)
Toggle Commented Jan 2, 2019 on Nae Fash, Nae Fear at Word Wenches
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