Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Author Interview with SUE VIDERS

Author and artist, Sue Viders, has been writing and painting for, as she puts it, "a very long time." She writes mystery fiction and non-fiction with titles such as Heroes and Heroines, Deal a Story, and 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters. She recently survived a computer catastrophe, which barely put a dent in her productivity.


You are a writer and an artist. Tell us how you got started with each of these careers.

I’ve always been an artist. My grandmother was a fine watercolorist and she taught me a lot. I did paintings of flowers for the members of her garden club as I was growing up. With a B.F.A. in fine art and a educational minor from the University of Colorado, I began teaching art in the public schools, first in the grades, then in high school and finally for adults.

Married with five small children under the age of eight, I didn’t get a chance to practice my art professionally until my youngest child entered school. Then my art career took off. After several years of exhibiting with a group of other artists, I realized that although I was a competent artist and a great teacher what I really loved was the marketing of art, going head to head with editors and PR people.

About that time, American Artist Magazine published a small monthly newsletter. Looking through one, I realized there was nothing on marketing art. So I did the only thing I could...I wrote to the editor of the newsletter and suggested a column on marketing. Much to my surprise, they loved the idea. So suddenly, I was a writer with a column and absolutely no idea how to do it!

How long have you been writing?

A very long time... After several years of writing columns, I was approached by a printing company, Color Q, out of Dayton, OH. They wanted an art educational director to help their artists sell more prints. I quickly agreed and for many years held semi-annual marketing seminars in the printing plant that were very successful. I also produced a monthly eight page full color newsletter for the artists.

Of course, if you have enough columns and teach enough classes, you have enough material for a book. Several books on marketing followed along with audio tapes, charts and a variety of materials all geared to help artists sell their creative products. However, after many years of writing non-fiction books, I became tired of telling the truth and researching everything, so all the details were actuate and longed to write some fiction where I could finally lie a bit. Make up stuff and in general have fun. But, as in all dreams, reality is different. My hero sucked. Or so said my critique partners. What a blow to the old ego.

I countered with the question “Aren’t there any other types of heroes beside the alpha character?” This, of course, elicited reactions from all the other writers in the group. After much discussion, we arrived at our sixteen archetypes and so the book, The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines, Sixteen Master Archetypes, was born. The book was very successful. Most writers have a copy in their library and the book is used in film schools and in writing classes at universities and colleges across the country.

More books followed and recently I turned the archetypes into a card game for writers. Deal a Story has 101 cards and six different color coded sections. All the writer has to do is pick a card from each color group and...suddenly s/he has the makings of a story.

So to answer the main question, I’ve been writing for over 35 years. A very long time.

In what genres do you write?

In the fiction field, I love mysteries and suspense stories with a touch of romance. My current project is a light paranormal cozy, sort of a Miss Marple with super powers. And of course I still write non-fiction.

Who is your favorite author and why do you like his/her work?

I don’t have a favorite author. I read all genres and all authors as I read a lot, at least a book a day. I have open books in all the rooms, one on the kitchen table, one in the bathroom, and of course one by my bed.     

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Finding the right publisher for the right product. For example, when my new card game, Deal a Story, was finally completed, I thought, this won’t be a problem getting it published...after all I already had two books with Random House in New York.

But of course, it was a problem. Bottom line, it took almost a year from the publisher’s acceptance and the signing of the contract until I had the actual game in my hot sweaty hands.

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

The most recent is 10 Steps to Creating Memorable Characters. It’s a combination text and workbook. Four of us, all in the same critique group, put it together. We came up with the various elements that a writer needs to consider when developing their characters. What is unique about this book is that we came up with three characters--hero, heroine, and villain--and as the reader/writer goes through the factors that are needed to make a memorable character, we use our three characters to illustrate how it is done. The book is available everywhere as is my first book, Heroes and Heroines.

Tell us about Deal a Story and how your writing career helped you develop it.

Several years after Heroes and Heroines came out, I started playing around with the idea that putting the archetypes on cards would be a great way to get young adults interesting in writing. Instead of eight heroes, I took the two styles we had developed for each archetype and used them. That gave me 16 heroes and 16 heroines. Next, I added the most used plots. Luckily, I managed to come up with 16 and then threw in 16 genres.

Then I needed villains, and flaws… Finally, I had 96 cards, six groups, and each set was color coded. Then we decided it would look better if we could say we had 101 cards, so I had to come up with five more cards. My husband gave me the idea of adding a wild card like the one they have in a poker game. The five wild cards were the extra “kick in the pants” the writer could use if needed.

Everyone who has used the cards loves them. They are great for “thinking” out of the box, dreaming up new ideas and sub-plots and a great teaching tool. They can be found at

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

That’s easy. Write. Write every day. Have a plan for your writing. Mine is that I write early in the morning before the errands and chores of the day overwhelm me and suck the time away from the computer.

What writer’s organizations claim you as a member? How has membership helped you writing career?

The first one I joined, over 10 years ago was the Heart of Denver Chapter of RWA. Then I joined RMFW (Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers) and CAL (Colorado Author’s League). The value of any writing group is the camaraderie, the ability to have someone who can help you with a writing concern.

Do you have any upcoming classes on-line? If so, give us all the details.

We have a ton of classes coming up. For a complete list, please go to

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

With a close writing friend, Becky Martinez, we are soon to introduce our monthly newsletter, which is in the form of a Q and A format. Writers send in their questions and we will try to answer them. Since we teach mainly classes on plotting and character development the questions should be related to these two areas. If you would like to join the newsletter group, please send your name, email address to . We also are about to come out with a new product, The Plotting Chart, which is based on our popular class, the Plotting Wheel. We also are working on a plotting booklet.

What are the addresses of your website(s):

1 comment:

  1. I took one of Sue's classes online before and it was very helpful.

    I'm impressed Sue can do visual art, as well as written. I'd love to be able to paint.

    Mystery Writing is Murder