That’s almost always the first question I’m asked after a reader has told me how much he/she loved WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD (Or on a few occasions, what he or she did not like). I’m flattered beyond words that as soon as they’ve finished one of my novels they want to begin another. I do wish I was a little speedier in my process so I could say that next month you’ll be able to read my upcoming title. Alas, I am not that writer who can turn out three to four books a year. One a year is taxing my comfort level. I have had years with two book releases and those years gave me more gray hairs than my children ever did.
I am a writer who likes to wallow in a story as I create; hone and revise and expand and explore. I like to think that allows me to be the best writer I can be, and I hope it makes for greater reader satisfaction. Because I am a tortoise not a hare, I’m going to stick with that justification. WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD is the shortest novel I’ve ever written and it took the most time—nearly two years from start to final accepted manuscript.
I am working on a new novel. It’s in the early stages, a time when my story idea is in a steady state of flux and my main characters and I are just getting to know one another. Those secondary characters are still unseen and will be met on the road as my main characters and I make our way through their story.
So, this is what I can tell you about my work in progress. I have chosen another era of great social and economic change in our country, the early 1920s. This part of the decision making took some time in itself, with lots of reading and research to find the just-right backdrop for my characters’ journeys. This is a story of three people from very different backgrounds: a sixteen-year-old orphaned son of German immigrant tenant farmers; a young woman of privilege whose family has lost their fortune; and a WWI veteran pilot. These people have all been set adrift by life-altering circumstances and find themselves bound together by mutual need. Their tumultuous journey is fraught with drama fueled by blind obsessions and conflicting goals. They criss-cross the heartland, exploring the rapidly expanding role of aviation from barnstorming to bootlegging, from a wildly popular flying circus to the newly founded and dangerous sport of air racing. Their lives entwine with farmers and tycoons, tent revivals and rum runners. Love will blossom, unrequited and otherwise. Betrayals will threaten. Danger will come in many forms. These three will be tested … and I’m not yet sure exactly who will find solid ground and who will falter.
What’s next is a question I will ask myself a thousand times between now and typing THE END. A book is a journey. And not just for the reader and the characters, but for the author, too.
►►► Susan will begin her southern US book tour for Whistling Past the Graveyard today, July 8, in Jackson, Mississippi at Lemuria Bookstore. Check her Appearances page to see when she will be in a city near you.