Please welcome Suzanne Adair, author of the Michael Stoddard American Revolution thriller series (and a forthcoming science fiction series)!
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I have the house to myself to write. A personal chef cooks my gluten-free, dairy-free meals. After a brief Skype meeting with my publicist, who discusses promotional plans for my books, I dive into my work-in-progress. I’m exceptionally productive and exceed my quota for the day by late morning. My personal masseur arrives to knead out the muscle kinks. During the afternoon, I conduct historical research, uncovering exciting and controversial information for the next book in my series. That evening, I attend a performance of the symphony or ballet.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Although my favorite color is green, I seem to have an excess of red in my closet. One of my favorite outfits is a cute, red cocktail dress that I wear to special occasions, like the “Death by Chocolate” party in 2009, hosted by the Kiss of Death chapter of the RWA, where my thriller, Camp Follower, was a finalist for the Daphne du Maurier award. Here I am in the dress at the party, with Tracy Mastaler, Anna Hackett, and Margie Lawson.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
An English teacher named Betty Owen, and my two oldest friends, Brenda Walters and Barbara Berchielli.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Not when I’m actually writing, but while I’m settling my mind to write, I sometimes listen to instrumental soundtracks for movies or Broadway productions.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
It would be deep, dark chocolate, the kind that’s rich and almost black. My books delve into the dark side of human experience. You know how there’s a touch of bitterness to 81% chocolate, and it can almost bite back? That’s what my books are like. They aren’t about the wimpy version of American history that you learned in high school.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
Early during my historical research for Regulated for Murder‘s predecessor (Camp Follower), I learned that in 1781, redcoats successfully occupied the town of Wilmington, North Carolina from January through November. Nowhere in my American history classes was this victory for the Crown forces mentioned. Neither did North Carolina receive much attention when it came to the Revolutionary War–yet the occupation of Wilmington enabled the British to commandeer much of North Carolina and stall the war for almost a year. I wanted to explore this fascinating fact in fiction, in a series.
In addition, a number of historical events in North Carolina prior to and during the war had captured my attention, and I wanted to write about them, too. One such event was the Regulator Rebellion in 1771, ten years before the Wilmington occupation. I wondered, what if an unscrupulous person committed murder while leaders of the Regulator Rebellion were being executed by the Royal Governor, then concealed evidence of the crime in the chaos that followed? What would it take to bring this crime to light and deliver justice ten years later?
I’m always curious how people more than two hundred years in the past dealt with the kinds of issues that have clung to humanity all along. You know, the same old desires for money, power, and sex that fuel modern crimes we read about every day in the news. In Regulated for Murder, I decided to explore narcissism. I also look at how townsfolk might have responded to someone with a physical handicap.
And it was time to let Michael Stoddard have his own series. Michael, a young redcoat officer who’s competent at criminal investigation, appears as a minor character in my first three books. I’ve developed him to show this world conflict from a point of view not commonly taken and to challenge some of the misconceptions Americans have of redcoats during the War of Independence.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
- David vs. Goliath
- Ordinary Joe/Jane thrust in extraordinary circumstances
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Michael Stoddard was born in 1754, the son of a poor stonemason in Yorkshire, England. When he was eleven years old, his blacksmith uncle arranged for him to tend falcons for a neighboring nobleman, Lord Crump. Three years later, Michael discovered that Crump’s gamekeeper and steward were stealing from him.
The two men weren’t poor, and their families had plenty to eat. When they stole from Crump, it was to feed their own greed, and they played Crump for an old fool. Michael brought his observations to his employer. The nobleman and his butler devised a way to track the criminals’ thefts and entrap them. In short order, the gamekeeper and steward were dismissed from his service, none the wiser who had revealed their activities.
Two years later, Michael’s uncle and father approached Lord Crump about assisting in the purchase of an ensign’s commission. Crump had no son of his own. He recognized Michael’s inquisitive nature and logical mind, and he saw the value of Michael making something of himself in the Army as an officer. He responded by helping to fund Michael’s ensign commission. Later, the nobleman and Michael’s uncle also purchased his lieutenant’s commission.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe (but more polished) + Martin Freedman’s Dr. Watson + Daniel Boone. And perhaps a pinch of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, without the magic.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Enheduanna, Vātsyāyana, Hildegard of Bingen, William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, and Stephen Hawking — oh, wait, you wanted mystery authors.
Ellis Peters, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Daphne du Maurier, Tony Hillerman, and Charlotte Bronte.
What’s next for you?
Publishing A Hostage to Heritage, the next novel in the Michael Stoddard American Revolution thriller series. It’s scheduled for release April 2013. Then publishing Child of Two Mothers, the first novel of a new science fiction series.
Award-winning novelist Suzanne Adair is a Florida native who lives in a two hundred-year-old city at the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont, named for an English explorer who was beheaded. Her suspense and thrillers transport readers to the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, where she brings historic towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, dancing, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Quarterly electronic newsletter: http://tinyletter.com/Suzanne-Adair-News
Web site: http://www.SuzanneAdair.com