Thursday, January 14, 2016

Introducing: Suanne Laqueur

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview a "new to me" author, Suanne Laqueur.

Hi Suanne, thanks for agreeing to let me pick your brain!

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was once a professional dancer, and taught ballet for many years. Now I choreograph words on paper. I ran a blog called EatsReadsThinks for a while, mostly writing about what was going on in my kitchen and home, about books I was reading or random thoughts. And every now and then I’d throw in a random scribble, a little piece of flash fiction, a moment in time captured. People would say to me, “You need to get your writing in front of a wider audience.” I shrugged it off until one day in 2013 when it wouldn’t shrug off. I had a story to tell and the time had come to tell it. I published my first book in 2014, the second in 2015 and my third is coming out on January 14th.

Four facts about yourself that we can’t find in your bio:

- I’m surrounded by redheads: my mother, my husband, both my children, my in-laws and many of my extended relations are all gingers.
- I am the world’s best napper. And if you want to challenge that I am more than happy to take it upstairs.
- I can’t drive stick shift. I can happily die without ever knowing how, too.
- My favorite breakfast is potato chips. It’s….bad.

I have yet to read your book, so give me your best sales pitch to hook me into reading them. (I am planning to anyway, but it couldn’t hurt to hear.)
The Fish Tales tell the love story of Erik Fiskare and Daisy Bianco. They meet and fall in love in college and their young lives are forever changed by a shocking act of violence on their campus. They end up estranged for over a decade, during which time both of them go on emotional journeys of recovery. Erik’s story is told in The Man I Love and then we follow Daisy’s side of things in Give Me Your Answer True. Each deals with both emotional trauma and the burden of unfinished business until, in the third book Here to Stay, they face the past, find each other and see if anything of their unique love can be salvaged.

What is something that makes The Fish Tales Series unique?
The story spans fifteen years and it bucks the romance trend in that the main couple are apart for much of the books. Still, the presence of one is always with the other, as the books explore the notion of soulmates and love that transpires tragedy and lasts a lifetime. Erik and Daisy’s ordeal is something sadly prevalent in our society today. But I’ve chosen to take a different slant by focusing on the victims and the effect trauma has on relationships. This love story set at the center of a tight-knit circle of friends. It’s not only Erik and Daisy’s impact on each other, but everyone who came into contact with them. So it’s a love story on many different levels.

You’re releasing the third book in this series, tell me honestly, which book was the hardest to write?
Give Me Your Answer True, the second book which is told from Daisy’s point of view. The challenge with an alternate-POV story is that the reader already knows how things are going to turn out. There has to be a reason for the retelling and something new for the reader to take away from it. So the chapters that retold the college years were extremely difficult to write. They were ruthlessly edited and chopped unless I could tease something new and necessary out of them. Once I came to the place where Erik and Daisy parted ways, it was then a brand-new story and it became easier. But outlining the book and deciding how I would tell and retell was a huge challenge.

Do you have any strange rituals regarding your writing? Something you do before, during, or after?
I don’t know if it’s strange, but my books all start with pen and paper. I flood the pages, mind to hand, with no thought as to whether I’m going to use what I’m writing. I just turn on the faucet and let it flow. Whether it’s clear water, murky, sludge or sewage. I let it spill until I have a huge build-up of material. Then I start to sort it out and put it into order.

Favorite line you’ve written so far? (Who said it and which book?)
“I love us.”
Erik and Daisy first say it to each other in The Man I Love. They say it more often than they say “I love you.” They don’t look at themselves as two halves becoming a whole, but rather two wholes building a greater structure. And the structure is never finished. The “us” is continually built and includes the imperfections as well as the joys.

Strangest thing you’ve ever needed to research for these books:
All the medical hoopla got to be pretty hilarious. I had a certain idea of how I needed Daisy to be hurt. I needed her critically injured without it being life-threatening. And I needed her dancing to be impacted without it ending her career. I called up a friend from high school who’s a surgeon, and had worked for years as an EMT. I explained what I needed, he bounced it off some colleagues. When he got back to me he was practically cackling and rubbing his hands with glee, “Oh we are going to mess her up. It’s gonna be gross. You’ll love it…”

What is your preferred genre to read?
Regardless of genre, I just like a good story. I like atomospheric writing with great characters and a lot of descriptive detail, especially food. I don’t like to read anything too twisted or disturbing. Life makes me anxious enough without me deliberately looking to freak myself out.

What is your biggest pet peeve when you’re reading?
It’s so peevy but I hate exclamation points. And this is more a preference than a peeve, but I’m not a fan of first person/present tense narrative. I think because I like to be told a story, not be the main character. And I like to know what happened, not what’s happening right now.

Do any of your characters share your dislikes or belief?
LOL, all of them to one degree or another. There’s a bit of me in every character.

What has been the hardest part about being an author?
Overcoming inherent shyness and putting myself out there. Walking the thin line between self-promotion and obnoxious. Growing thicker skin and learning to separate my work from myself. Remembering that negative feedback on my books is not negative feedback on ME, although it often feels that way.

What was the biggest surprise for you?
Fan mail. When a reader emails or messages me to tell me what the books meant to them, I constantly look over my shoulder and back and point to my chest like, “…..Me?”

If you could pick one author to sit with, dead or alive, who would you want to talk to and what is something you would ask?
I don’t want to sit with Catherynne Valente, the author of the Fairyland series and a dozen other amazing books. I want to insert myself INTO HER HEAD and live as her for like a week. I want to see the world through her eyes and witness first hand how she thinks of the things she writes.

Do you have any advice for the struggling authors or the new authors?
Well it depends what you’re struggling with but let me say this: I published my first book at 46. It is never too late to reinvent yourself or follow a dream. If you want to write a book, do it.  You will never regret the accomplishment, ever.

Last question, what can we expect to see next from you?
I do have an idea for a fourth book in The Fish Tales but right now it’s time to peel my fingers off that universe of characters and do something that scares me. That is, to write new characters and create a new universe. This is scary because first of all, I don’t have another 20 years to mess around. Second, The Fish Tales were well-received and now it’s time to write the inevitable Next Thing and will it measure up, will it be what readers want, will it flop, will it fail, am I out of my mind, who do I think I am?! That kind of thing.

So anyway, I am reading as much as possible because when your craft is words, you have to feed the beast. I have my notebook and my pen and I’ve turned on the faucet. It’s been a lot of sludge and sewage, but little by little the water is becoming clearer and I’m getting ideas that are starting to fit together.

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Author: Suanne Laqueur

Title: Here to Stay (Book 3 of The Fish Tales)

Pages: 350

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Date published: January 14, 2016

Suanne Laqueur’s Fish Tales series follows the extraordinary romance of Erik Fiskare and Daisy Bianco. When they meet in college, she is an aspiring ballet dancer and he is learning the behind-the-scenes art of stagecraft. Quickly they are drawn into a romance both youthfully passionate and maturely soulful. Their love story thrives within a world of creativity and artistry until it is changed forever by a shocking act of violence on their campus.

Laqueur has chosen a unique slant on an issue sadly prevalent in today’s world, by focusing on the victims of violence and the effect of trauma on human connection. The first book in the series, The Man I Love, won a gold medal for realistic fiction in the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Awards. Told from Erik’s point of view, it follows his emotional journey to salvage the relationships he destroyed, including his estrangement from Daisy which never ceased to haunt him. He equated the end of a love affair with desertion, but now he sees leaving isn’t the end of loving. He must go back and finish, or he will never be free to go forward and start again.

The second book, Give Me Your Answer True, inverts the narrative and tells Daisy’s side of the story, as she works to separate her evolution as an adult from the unresolved guilt and grief of her youth. The loss of Erik’s love weighing heavy on her heart, she must learn to hold onto her accountability without letting it become her identity. To find and give her answers true.

The third book, Here to Stay, is a continuation of Daisy and Erik’s remarkable love story, as they begin a new phase of life together, knowing now that happily ever afters are built, not found. Though separated for twelve years, the extraordinary bond forged in their youth has endured. But when your soulmate has caused you indescribable pain, how easy is it to forgive? How much trust is needed to place your heart back into the hands that once broke it? How much faith does it take to ask the question, "Do you still want me?" and believe in the reply: “I still want us.”

This gripping series has been hailed as a new kind of “emotionally intelligent romance.” The books explore themes of love and sexuality, the effects of trauma, the burden of unfinished business and the power of reconciliation. Through Erik and Daisy’s experiences, we reflect on what it means to be a soul mate, a partner and a lover. What it means to be a hero, not a victim, and fight for what you love. What it means to live the truth of who you are and what you feel.

Excerpt from Here to Stay

It’s a strange thing to find a lost lover in your hands again. Like finding your childhood baseball glove in an attic box of memories. You’re sure it won’t fit. But the heat of your palm, a flex and a bend. A cautious knead of the leather and a tentative reach into the furthest recesses… It knows you. It remembers you.
It fits you.
“Do I feel the same?” Daisy asked, her voice a silken caress.
After twelve years, Erik thought, of course not. He had loved a girl. It was a woman’s body up against him now, with the heft of wisdom and the weight of experience. He ran his fingers up her backbone and felt all the bits of new fused steel, overlaid with the strong assurance in her muscles and the soft aplomb of her skin. She was a hundred times more beautiful. A thousand times more thrilling.
And as her blue-green eyes stared into his, he was keenly aware of her vulnerability.
“You feel more,” he said, his hands moving along her body, trying to remember how she felt when he last touched her. Thin. Beyond ballerina thin—she was drugged thin at the end of their days in college. Yet beautiful to him. Never anything but stunningly easy on his eyes and liquid in his embrace and sweet in his mouth.
“You feel right,” she said, her own hands gliding along his limbs, in and out of him. “Maybe a little thinner.”
“I probably am. I lost and gained weight over and over. Depending on how I was feeling at the time. When the dark times came around, I’d stop eating.”
“I know, but…” Her delicate, arched eyebrows flickered in her brow. “I think over the years, in my head, I made you bigger than you were. Or maybe I beat myself down into something smaller. But now I remember your body. I remember mine with it.”
She was kissing him, pulling him to roll on top of her again. The digital clock on her bedside table read 2:06 in the morning. They had been going at it like possessed demons for hours now and no matter how tight he held or how hard he clung, Erik could not get both arms around making love to her. Too much feeling grabbed at him, clamoring for attention and precedence. Euphoria, lust, guilt and sadness were four wild stallions chained to each limb, intent on tearing him apart. Yet at the center of the jerking, pulling emotion, his heart was calm and accepting. Quietly riding out the storm, safe in the knowledge he was living his truth, living the life he was born to live.
“Don’t leave me,” she whispered under him.
“I can’t,” he said. “I’d never breathe again.”

About the Author

Suanne Laqueur’s first novel, The Man I Love won a gold medal in the 2015 Readers' Favorite Book Awards. Its other 2015 accolades include the Beverly Hills Book Award, a gold medal from the eLit Book Awards and a current finalist with the Kindle Book Awards.

Suanne graduated from Alfred University with a double major in dance and theater. She taught at the Carol Bierman School of Ballet Arts in Croton-on-Hudson for ten years. She lives in Westchester County, New York with her husband and two chil-dren. An avid reader, cook and gardener.

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Giveaway – 1 Signed Copy of Here to Stay