"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Love by the Light of the Moon!
NEW! PNR Poll: We Want More............Vampire Romance!
Susan Squires grew up among the giant redwoods of California. She thought she was being practical by changing her major in college from theater to English. But, immersed in a Ph.D. program, she slowly realized that none of her graduating friends had found work. So she dropped out to take an actual paying job in the business world. UCLA gave her a Masters degree as a consolation prize.
She uses writing as a balance to the balance sheets in her workaday world. Now she researches and writes her books at the beach in Southern California, supported by three Belgian Sheepdogs, a thoroughbred mare and a wonderful husband named Harry who writes occult mysteries. She writes dark romances that incorporate just a touch of the paranormal.
Her debut novel DANEGELD won contests all over the country and was a finalist in the 2000 Golden Heart. Ms. Squires loves to hear from her readers.
PNR: What inspired you to write romance novels, and why paranormal in particular? Your husband Harry writes occult mysteries. Do you bounce ideas off of each other? Critique each others writing?
Susan S.: I grew up on Jane Austen and Wuthering Heights and historical novels like those of Thomas B. Costain. It was my husband who first read me a Georgette Heyer novel (These Old Shades). I was hooked by the fact that she had updated the classics and brought them into modern popular literature. I had read lots of Sci-fi and Fantasy early in my reading career, and a love for created worlds stayed with me. I use the paranormal in my stories to set up more extreme circumstances than would be possible in a straight contemporary, say, and make my own rules for the world of the novel. Paranormal elements are pretty handy that way. Harry is at least as good a writer as I am, and it was he who encouraged me to get serious about writing during one of my many mid-life crises. Believe it or not, our marriage has survived being in the same critique group together for several years. Now, he is my chief reader and commentator, and we have "story sessions" over dinner or cocktails when we get stuck. He came up with the title for Sacrament, and I helped him with his current offering, What Rough Beast, about Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle.
Your debut novel Danegeld, a Historical
Viking Romance with paranormal elements, won the Golden Heart Award
for 2000. That's quite an honor and an
Susan S.: I was enormously excited. And by the time the Golden Heart Awards came around, Dorchester had already purchased Danegeld and rushed it into production. That first sale is the fulfillment of a dream of being published. But I can't say I think I've made it as a writer. That is a process that continues with each book you write. I learn from every book I read, since there are lots of writers who are farther along the path than I am. By the way, for aspiring authors, I am an absolute believer in contests, since Danegeld was bought off a contest from my own Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America.
Sacrament, your newest release is a Gothic Romance,
set in the Regency era. It is already getting raves from the readers.
The hero, Julien Davinoff, is a
Susan S.: I wanted to come up with a reason for vampires that we could understand, in order to make the hero sympathetic. I decided on a medical explanation, knowing that myths would have grown up around what the outside world would have perceived as a dreadful disease. Some of those myths would have basis in fact, and some would just be "stories." In that way, vampirism would be like the experience of understanding AIDs in the modern world, where so much rumor and untruth about the disease was spread in the early days. To answer your question, the Companion is actually a symbiotic organism which shares Julien's body. Human and Companion join to become a single being with greater powers than humans alone could have. The Companion rebuilds damaged cells continuously, thus the long life, and it is the Companion who requires blood cells on which to feed.
PNR: Companion aside, Julien is otherwise human. He's never been dead. He eats, drinks, makes love, how did the Companion come to be a part of him?
Susan S.: Julien is the last of his line born to a mother rather than created by ingesting the Companion from the blood of another vampire. He got the Companion right along with his mother's milk. (Actually, there was a female child born at the same time. Her name was Beatrice, but she got cut from the final draft due to length. Now you can read her scene only on my website in the "outtakes from Sacrament" section).
Vampire or no, he is a force to be reckoned
with. He has returned to Bath for a reason. What is the reason and
what problem has his return created for his
Susan S.: For reasons of his own (which I won't give away) Julien has decided to acquire the land adjacent to his ruined Thornbury Abby. The estate he covets is Sarah's only means of income, and she has just managed to clear it of the debt her father left her. Someone has stolen the deed that granted her ancestors the right to the land. Without the deed, Julien can leave her ruined.
PNR: To resolve her problems, Sarah is forced to travelto London to consult her solicitor. Along the way she and her traveling companions happen upon the scene of the crime. What is going on?
Susan S.: There has been a series of murders in London where blood has been drained from the bodies. No one can understand how it was done. Sarah's carriage comes upon the aftermath of one of these murders. And at the edge of the crowd, she sees a fascinating and frightening man, one she is sure is capable of murder.
PNR: Later that evening, at a fete thrown by the Prince Regent, Sarah encounters her nemesis in the flesh. What is her response to him?
Susan S.: Of course, Julien is the face she saw at the scene of the murder. He even matches the description given by witnesses. When she realizes that this is the man who is contesting her right to her land, she is frightened, and a little angry that he thinks he can do whatever he wants.
Sarah's long time friend, Corina Nandalay is quite
taken with him. Sarah's friendship with Corina is paradoxical. Sarah
both wishes she could be more like
Susan S.: In some ways, Sarah's relationship with Corina is pivotal to Sarah's spiritual growth during the story. Corina is beautiful, magnetic, outrageous, rich, daring. I wanted her to be a female rake--somewhat like Letty Lade in the 1800s. She is a widow, and therefore freed from the constraints of unmarried women of the time. She also has a very dark side, one that, while we understand that she was abused as a child, we cannot forgive. Sarah has always stood in Corina's shadow. She does not see herself as strong as Corina, as attractive, as magnetic a personality. She discovers Corina's dark side during an adventure in Italy as young women. But she is mesmerized by the dark mirror image of herself. Before she can be whole, she must understand who she is apart from Corina, and also understand what is truly wrong, and what is simply part of the rich mixture of dark and light in the world. In other words, she must accept her own sexuality.
PNR: How does Corina's determination to captivate and dominate Julien affect Sarah?
Susan S.: Oh, dear. I'm afraid she finds it very depressing. She is fascinated secretly with Julien herself, but she is very sure she can never compete with Corina. She resolves NOT to be fascinated with Julien, since the result of any contest between her and Corina is a foregone conclusion. And we all know how well those kind of resolutions work out.
Julien's been around long enough to have a pretty
good grasp on human nature. When he refuses to play the game by Corina's
rules, she takes her revenge. It falls to Sarah to rescue him. We
wont spoil the story by revealing any more (and theres
lots more <g>. I will say that Julien's experience will have
the readers riding an emotional roller coaster. Sarah shows considerable
courage in her dealings with Julien from this point on. Does the experience
Susan S.: I think the resolve to rescue Julien starts Sarah on a difficult path to self-knowledge. She doesn't realize at first just how difficult it will be. (Do we ever?) But as she comes to know who she is, she also begins to know what she wants, and to realize what courage it will take to try and get it.
PNR: Your next release, BODY ELECTRIC, is expected to be on the shelves in August. Tell us a little about this book. What is next for Susan Squires?
Susan S.: Body Electric is another complete departure. This one is set in the near future. Vic Barnhardt is a brilliant programmer and hacker working to create an artificial intelligence after hours on her computer at work. When Jodie comes alive, he begins to expand exponentially in ways Vic could never have forseen and can't control. It is only a matter of time until her boss realizes that what she has created is the product of the new millenium, one he won't rest until he possesses. And when Jodie's program starts to degrade, there is only one solution. Vic has to find him a body.
I have just agreed to do an anthology for Dorchester, where I will be sharing novella space with Christine Feehan and Susan Grant (lucky me!) The theme is "The One and Only," where a man shows up to claim a woman for some reason, and we see her journey to accept him.
I'm also just completing the draft of Danelaw, a sequel to Danegeld to be out in 2003. This one revisits the formation of England under Alfred the Great, through the eyes of Val, an outcast Viking mercenary, and Epona (Pony) who just might be the last Druid priestess in Wessex, or might be something even older. I loved the chance to write about horses, and the darkest days of England, and the melding of two cultures once again.
SACRAMENT- THE SEDUCTION OF SARAH
It began in Sienna, with an illicit kiss stolen under a hot Mediterranean sun.
It made the bllo sing in her veins, burn in her body in ways -- in places -- that she had never felt before. It was a pulsing need to be someone else ... something she didn't yet understand.
It was embodied by Davinoff. The dark lord was the epitome of beauty, of strength. He was feared by the ton, and even by fleeing to Bath, Sarah could not escape him. His eyes were ageless, held a sadness she could hardly fathom. They pierced her, struck so deep that she felt penetrated to her very core. What they offered was frightening ... and tantalizing. Was it evil that lurked within this foreigner's unnatural kiss. or was the communion he offered something else entirely? All Sarah knew was that the sacrament of his love would either be the death of her body or the salvation of her soul. And she could no more deny it than she could herself.
Golden Heart Winner
DANEGELD - It was the silver the Saxons would pay to keep the dreaded Viking marauders from their shores. It was the price a half-Irish beauty would pay to keep the murderer of her father and mother at bay, to keep the powerful magic of her forebears from overwhelming her, to keep the stirrings of her womanhood in check. It was all that one mighty Viking would give to remain to a man, to be whole, to retain the respect of the jarls and the might of his sword arm. It was DANEGELD. In England's Dark Ages, sometimes it was all that stood between what a person was and what he should be. And it was the only thing in the way of true love.
BODY ELECTRIC - Victoria Barnhardt set out to create something brilliant. She succeeded beyond her wildest fantasies. With one keystroke her program spiraled out of control and something was born that defied possibility: a being who called to her.
He spoke from within a prisonseeking escape, seeking release, seeking her. He was a miracle that Vic had never intended. More than a scientific discovery, or a brilliant coup by one of the worlds most infamous hackers, he was life. He was beauty. He was genius. And he needed to be freed, just as Vic needed to be released from the shadows of her past. The world might rise against them, but on one starry Los Angeles night, in each others arms, they would find a way to have each other and freedom both.
Featured in this Issue: