Please welcome Susan Yanguas, author of Bluff.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I wake up naturally, without the alarm—a luxury, because I work full time in an office. My housekeeper (since it’s my perfect day I have a live-in housekeeper) would have already fed my cats so they let me lie in bed as long as I want and do a few puzzles: the NYT crossword, Extreme Sudoku, etc. After exercising my brain, I eat breakfast and go for a walk in the state park near my house. It’s got a nice little stream (technically a river, but it’s a pretty puny one) that runs alongside the walking path, and I love the sound of the trickling water. It’s like a meditation.
Next I would read a good book—make that a great book—by one of my favorite authors. Lunch would be something light and healthy like a big salad with lots of fresh veggies from the local farmer’s market and maybe some marinated free-range chicken (made by my housekeeper, naturally).
After lunch I would do something creative – either writing or painting, and then I’d meet a friend for dinner. Dinner would definitely include dessert (typically something chocolate and gooey). If it wasn’t too late we’d catch a movie (romantic comedy) and I’d be back in bed by 10:00.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Nope. I like variety (as evidenced by my ~500 pairs of shoes), so I tend to mix it up.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
- Leonardo da Vinci is my idol. He had such amazing talent in so many areas! My life’s goal is to be a Renaissance man like him.
- I have had many teachers along the way who have inspired me, but probably one worth mentioning is Mrs. Reuter, my 4th grade teacher, because she instilled a love of learning in me. I still take classes every year in random subjects because I love to learn new things.
- My aunt, Doris. (Does it count if she’s not immediate family?) She has always believed in me and thinks everything I do is wonderful. Everyone needs a Doris in their life to tell them, “Yes, you can!”
- If Doris doesn’t count, then my third inspiration would be Beverly Cleary, who is probably responsible for my great love of reading.
Do you listen to music when you write?
No – I need silence.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Although I love really dark chocolate, my latest book is more of a whipped milk chocolate confection. It’s a crime novel, but light and fluffy, not dark.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
The idea came to me when I was walking around my neighborhood at dusk. I’m nearsighted and one particular spot on my walk was very isolated and a little spooky. It made me realize how vulnerable a nearsighted person might be to some evil person. And thus my main character Abby, a myopic massage therapist, was born.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I do a lot of writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, so I like things with a positive message. Also, alternative and natural therapies are a strong interest of mine, so I like to slip that into my novels to get the message out to people who might not be aware of things like Reiki or the healing power of massage.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her to be the person she is today?
Abby is 27 years old and going through a mid-life crisis. All her life she was a good girl and did what was expected of her. Now she’s realized that the life she was groomed to lead isn’t making her happy. She quits her successful law practice to go back to school and become a massage therapist so she can help people feel better. But she still has a strong desire to see justice served, which leads her to work with the local police solving cases. Abby is very smart but a bit naïve.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Although these women didn’t enter my mind when I created her, Abby could be seen as a mix of
- Gabby Reece (pro volleyball player/model) – tall, athletic, strong and beautiful;
- Alicia Florrick (attorney on The Good Wife) – brainy, ethical, and a little too nice to be in that profession; and
- Kinsey Millhone (does she really need an explanation?) – fearless crime solver.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
- Robert B. Parker – I love his wit
- Janet Evanovich – I’m sure she’d be a hoot
- Sue Grafton – because she is awesome
- William Shakespeare – while not technically a mystery writer, I’d love to pick his brain about how to write a timeless classic
- Ellery Queen – although he’s fictional, I grew up reading and loving his stories
- The other 4 women in my critique group would have to share the last chair
What’s next for you?
I am currently writing books 2 and 3 in my Po-po Poker Mystery series, editing a finance book for a client, working on several shorter pieces, and getting the very first manuscript I ever wrote ready for publication. I had put the last one aside until I became a better writer. I think that day is here.
Susan Yanguas is a writer/editor for a federal government agency where she also teaches writing workshops. She is a tireless crusader against the use of nouns as verbs and other atrocities in bureaucratic writing. When not at her day job, Susan writes fiction and creative non-fiction, paints, and does Reiki energy work. She is a graduate of Howard County, Maryland’s Citizens’ Police Academy and a member of the Eastern Shore Writers Association. In addition to her debut novel, Bluff, her stories have appeared in Baltimore-area magazines and internationally published anthologies. She lives in Maryland with two very needy cats.
Susan blogs as Abby at: http://susanyanguas.wordpress.com