Getting to know Fatastic writing duo Susan Scott Shelley and Veronica Forand
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Amy: How do you co-author a book?
Susan: With a lot of plotting and a lot of communicating.
Veronica: We both need to agree on the plot and the tone. We create each story together, adding our individual voices to the mix. Our personalities complement each other, however, and make for a stronger story.
Amy: What inspired you to write your first book?
Veronica: I had a “perfect’ story that needed to be written. When I was finished, I realized I had a lot to learn about writing. That manuscript remains in a document file on my computer, but will probably never see the light of day.
Susan: I started reading romance novels when I was in college. I loved reading them so much, I thought I’d try my hand at writing down the stories I had inside my head.
Amy: Are the experiences in your books based on someone you know or your own life’s events?
Susan: None of my characters are based on people I know but I have named some characters after friends who have helped me in some way. Some of my characters’ experiences are loosely based on things from my life. The beauty about reading a book is that while everyone may not identify with a character’s particular profession or environment, emotions are universal.
Veronica: The names and places have all changed, but the emotions are real. We’ve all experienced loss and heartbreak and pure happiness and love. When writing, I try to harness the depths of those emotions so that a reader can feel the story as well as read it.
Amy: What actor/actress would you like to play your main characters?
Susan and Veronica: For Jason: Channing Tatum. For Samantha: Alexis Bledel.
Amy: What’s the hardest thing about writing with someone else?
Susan: You need to compromise and be in agreement throughout the entire process, from plotting to writing to publishing to promotion. The hardest part would be if there wasn’t compromise/agreement in each of these areas. The lines of communication need to be open and honest at all times. Luckily, for us, we work extremely well together.
Veronica: With both of our names on the books, it’s important that we’re each satisfied with the finished product. Since Susan and I want the same things in a story, good writing, a solid plot, and great emotion, we rarely disagree.
Amy: What’s your favorite motivational phrase?
Veronica: Per Ardua Sergo, my family motto. “I rise through adversity.”
Susan: You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness. – Zig Ziglar
Amy: Any tips to get through the dreaded writers block?
Susan: Yes. Don’t believe it exists. If it doesn’t exist, you can’t have it! Seriously though, if I get blocked on a story, I start re-reading it from the beginning. That always helps.
Veronica: I tend to have the opposite problem. I have tons to write, and I’ve been so busy lately, I don’t have time to put all the words down.
Amy: What famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet?
Susan: Can I have three? I’d like Audrey Hepburn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and JJ Watt. (If I have to pick only one of the three, I’m taking JJ.)
Veronica: I’m copying Susan and doing three too- Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and MLK, Jr.
Amy: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
Veronica: I play soccer most weekends and try to workout everyday. I completed my first Spartan race this past summer and would love to compete in another.
Susan: I’m a runner, and I dabble in drawing. I manage two fantasy football teams and a fantasy hockey team. I love sports and have favorite players on nearly every team in the NFL and NHL.
Amy: Favorite line from a movie?
Susan: I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. – When Harry Met Sally
Veronica: What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? – Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (although Susan’s quote is one of my favorites too!)
Amy: Any writing rituals?
Veronica: I write most mornings, and I edit and read in the afternoons. I allow myself to hop around Facebook whenever I need a mental break.
Susan: My schedule changes daily due to my day job, so writing times have to be flexible. I can pretty much write anywhere and with anything going on. But whenever possible, I like to have my Pro-football Hall of Fame, Vince Lombardi coffee mug, at my side, preferably filled with something caffeinated.
Amy: In the world of romance novels, sex or no sex and why?
Susan: I’ll read any heat level. So I say, sex if it fits in the story. The first book I wrote was sweet, because it made sense for that plot and those characters. The next one I wrote had sex scenes because it made sense in the story and for the characters. Just as each person/character is different, each development of a romance is different.
Veronica: I write a lot of romantic suspense. Blood and violence are often on the page. No one has ever asked me whether or not to show the violence. I add sex to a story to reveal emotional growth, passionate feelings, and tender moments, so I don’t see the need to hide it behind a door if the story calls for it.
Amy: Favorite pizza topping?
Veronica: New England Greek- feta cheese, kalamata olives, and artichoke hearts.
Susan: Veggies and no cheese. I really prefer tomato pie.
Amy: Just as your books inspire authors, what authors inspired you to write?
Susan: Nora Roberts. The MacGregor Brides was the first romance novel I read. I instantly and completely fell in love with her books. Her writing style and the way she shows the character development and evokes emotions, is perfection on a page.
Veronica: Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Her plots are tight, her characters are unique, and her stories emotional, both funny and heart wrenching.
Amy: When you walk into a room, what song should be playing?
Veronica: Linus And Lucy, by Vince Guaraldi Trio
Susan: Foo Fighters’ No Way Back, or Godsmack’s I Stand Alone, or Gemini Syndrome’s Stardust.
Amy: What do you consider your best accomplishment?
Susan: Completing my first manuscript was a huge deal to me. After typing The End, I felt like a real writer. J Each manuscript gives the same feeling of accomplishment. Of course, publishing the novellas is right up there with best accomplishment too. Seeing a dream come true is very cool.
Veronica: Taking the bar exam in a new state twenty years after graduating law school states and passing on the first try. Then having the guts to turn down work in a law practice and focus on writing full time.
Amy: Tell us a little about your work in progress.
Veronica: I’m writing a sequel to my novella “Code Red.” It’s a romantic suspense that takes place in the Congo, Washington DC, and Paris.
Susan: I’m working on two contemporary series. One is sports-related because I love sports. The other is based on an idea that sparked when I heard a song. I’m having a lot of fun with it.
Amy: What can we expect to see from you both in the near future?
Susan: We have two more co-written novellas coming out shortly. And, we’re reading from one of our novellas at Lady Jane’s Salon on November 6th. We hope to see you there!
Veronica: Our new novellas, which include hot hockey players and the smart women that claim their hearts. The first will be out before Christmas. In addition to the novellas written, I have a romantic thriller “Untrue Colors” that will be released by Entangled Publishing in 2015.