Q&A: Susan Sleeman (Nipped in the Bud)
Q: The Spyglass Lane Mysteries all have elements of romance, faith, and suspense—which of those facets was hardest for you to write? Which was the easiest?
At the time I wrote Nipped in the Bud, my first cozy mystery in my Garden Gate Mysteries series, the hardest element for me to write was the romance. I am not a romance reader, but I devour mysteries and suspense novels. Sure they often have some romance in them, but it’s not necessarily integral to the plot. So when I decided to write a book for a mystery line that required romance, I started reading more romantic suspense novels to get a feel for combining the two aspects. Now that I write predominantly romantic suspense books, I am much more comfortable with the romance element.
It’s always easiest for me to write the suspense element. I love to come up with an idea for a crime and start asking what if until the germ of an idea becomes a novel where hopefully the reader can’t figure out the villain’s identity until the very end.
Q: As a whodunit writer who is a Christian, in what ways did your faith impact how you write a murder mystery?
I guess the biggest impact on the actual murder mystery part is that there is no graphic violence. My crimes happen off stage and even when or if a horrific crime scene does occur there are no vivid descriptions of the crime. But then, I also let the crime be the catalyst to help the main character work through a spiritual issue in their life.
Q: Tell us about your amateur sleuth.
This character is at the top of my all time favorite characters I have ever created. Her name is Paige Turner—so named by her mother, who was a librarian—is a landscape designer and host of a local call in radio show where she answers questions about gardening. Unfortunately, she has more whacky callers than legitimate gardeners and these callers often misunderstand her advice. Paige is a quirky character who has a habit of thinking of people by the plants they resemble and treating them accordingly. She often says the first thing that comes to mind and later regrets it. She has a knack for finding trouble and there is no trouble bigger than discovering a dead body.
Q: Do you base your characters on people you know or are they totally made up?
My characters in Nipped in the Bud and, in fact, in the whole Garden Gate Mystery series are totally made up. However, I am an avid gardener so Paige’s passion for all things garden and landscaping related is my passion, too. And all of my characters display characteristics that I have observed in people over the years.
Q: Who are the authors that inspire you as an author?
I guess my first ever inspiration as an author was when I read all of Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew mysteries. These are really the first books I remember reading that made me want to write. Then, later in life I was inspired by all the big-name thriller writers like Nelson DeMille and David Baldacci. Now that I am a published writer, I find that anything I read, be it something I like or don’t like, inspires me to want to craft the best book I can and motivates me to write.