Q&A with Susan Mallery


With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived. Visit Susan online at www.SusanMallery.com and www.facebook.com/susanmallery.

1) You’ve lived in many places across the country—out of all the places you’ve lived, which has given you the most inspiration for your writing? How deeply does your location influence the setting of your books?
I grew up in California, and I’d say that is the state that has inspired my writing more than any other. My fictional town of Fool’s Gold is based on many of the lovely, small towns I’ve visited in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada on the California side but of course has taken on a life of its own.

That said, Seattle, my current hometown, has influenced my writing quite a bit. All that rain keeps me at my desk! And of course, Blackberry Island, the setting for Three Sisters, is near Seattle.

2) What inspired you to create a fictional island off the coast of Seattle for the setting of Three Sisters? How did you come up with such a detailed history about the island (as posted on your website)?
Seattle and the islands in the Puget Sound are breathtakingly beautiful, especially when the sun shines. When you’re out on the water, the sunlight sparkles in the waves, and each inhale feels cool and fresh and liberating. A weekend getaway inspired Blackberry Island, which is both an island and a town, dotted with wineries and quaint B&Bs. (Every getaway should include wine!)

The island has a very interesting history, inspired by real-life events in Seattle and the Puget Sound area. I created the website to enrich the experience of reading the books, as bonus content for my readers. In addition to the island history, there’s a map and lots of great blackberry recipes, including a recipe for Blackberry Chipotle Chicken Tacos that will change the way you look at the world. www.blackberryisland.com

3) Who or what in your past made you decide that you wanted to become a writer?
I majored in Accounting in college. For months, I had been intrigued by a flyer for a night school course called “How to Write a Romance Novel.” I was an avid romance fan, so that class sounded like a lot more fun than my Accounting Theory class. (Columns of numbers weren’t boring enough – now we had to talk about the theory behind them.) Although I was taking a full load of regular courses, I couldn’t resist signing up for the fun class, too. Within a couple of weeks, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. I was a good girl and finished getting my degree, but I never worked as an accountant.

4) How do you come up with such dynamic characters? Do you base the characters in your books, like Andi, Deanna and Boston, on people you know in your real life?
I think my characters feel real to readers because they feel so very real to me. Makes for some confusing dinner conversation. At times, when I’m ranting about something someone said that day, my husband has to clarify, “Is this person real?” (I bet that question doesn’t come up in most marriages!)

No, I don’t base characters on people I know in real life. Part of my job as a writer is to torture my characters, to put them into uncomfortable situations and then ask myself, “How can I make this worse?” I’m too nice a person to do that to people I really know!

Most of them, anyway.

5) What’s the last book that kept you up all night to finish reading?
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins is a terrific young adult novel. I’m not normally into paranormal, but I gave this a shot because a friend recommended it. I loved it. The book has all the wonderful angst of growing up – the issues of trying to fit in, the cute crush, the awkwardness of making friends, along with the trauma of coming to terms with who we really are.

Check out http://blogtoureditors.booktrib.com/2013/02/28/blog-tour-three-sisters-by-susan-mallery/ to check out more stops on the tour.