Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Author Interview with SUZANNE ADAIR

Suzanne Adair is a native Floridian who currently lives with her family in North Carolina. In second grade, she wrote her first fiction for fun after the eye of a hurricane passed over her home, and she grew up intrigued by wild weather, stories of suspense and high adventure, Spanish St. Augustine, and the South's role in the Revolutionary War.

You write historical and have an affinity for the Revolutionary War. Why is that?

Growing up in Florida, I was exposed to the common misconception that history in Florida started with railroad barons Flagler and Plant in the early 1900s, or perhaps with Osceola and the Seminole Wars in the 1800s. But Florida is actually the site of the oldest European city in the United States, St. Augustine, established by Spaniards in 1565, well before the British founded Jamestown. Another widespread misconception, that the Revolutionary War was fought mostly in the North, exists possibly because history texts and fiction minimize the importance of the southern colonies, Florida, Spain, and the Caribbean during the war. Many scholars now believe that more Revolutionary War battles were fought in South Carolina than in any other colony, even New York. North Florida was, in fact, held strategically by Britain throughout the Revolutionary War. So the weight of those centuries of Florida history influenced my interests from childhood, gave me an affinity for the Revolutionary War, and later provided me with the inspiration to sneak in history lessons with my fiction.

The road to publication was a long one for you. What is the single most important thing you did to make your dream of publication come true?

I think it was a combination of persevering through rejection, knowing when and where to let go, and never ceasing to look for ways to improve my craft.

Research is an important part of the writing process for you. How do you find the balance between doing enough research and doing too much?

I always perform too much research. Just about every author I know is the same way. You find the balance when you a) figure out how much of the fun stuff you've learned thorough research is actually necessary to the story, and b) weave it in on a need-to-know basis rather than as a boring, expository lump.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?

Getting through the first draft. If I've developed momentum on it and can sustain the momentum, I can complete a first draft in less than two months. But many things interrupt that momentum.

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.

Camp Follower is available as a trade paperback from chain and independent bookstores as well as the publisher ( and online retailers such as Amazon. You can also purchase it in electronic format from the Kindle Store and Smashwords. Here's the description from the Kindle edition.

As the year 1780 draws to a close, the publisher of a loyalist magazine in Wilmington, North Carolina offers an amazing assignment to 29-year-old Helen Chiswell, his society page writer: pose as the widowed, gentlewoman sister of a British officer in the Seventeenth Light Dragoons, travel to the encampment of the British Legion in the Carolina backcountry, and write a feature on Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton. But Helen's publisher has secret reasons for sending her into danger. And because Helen, a loyalist, has ties to a family mistaken by the redcoats for patriot spies, she comes under suspicion of a brutal, brilliant British officer. Filled with action, mystery, and suspense that climax at the Battle of Cowpens, Camp Follower is the story of a woman forced to confront her past to save her life during the American War for Independence.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I just completed the first draft of manuscript number two in a new series that's a spin-off from my first series. The first book of this new series is still in the pipeline to be published, so I don't yet have a release date.

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?

Be clear with yourself about the goal for your writing. If your goal is just to sell books, your path will yield different results than the path to becoming acknowledged as a professional author. You cannot easily jump from one path to the other.

Are you a member of any writer’s organizations? Why? Why not?

I'm a member of the Historical Novel Society, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the North Carolina Writers Network. Publications and discussion groups from these organizations help keep me abreast of trends in the publishing industry. By networking with other members, I stay in touch with writers at the international, national, and local levels and learn about presentation and craft building opportunities.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

Yes, thanks for asking. Here are my appearances in March and April:

26 March 2010, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., presentation and booksigning, monthly meeting of the Wonderland Book Club, Cameron Village Regional Library in Raleigh, NC

17 April 2010, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m., "Plotting with the Hero's Journey" workshop, Carolina Writers Conference ( in Wadesboro, NC

27 April 2010, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., "Creating Archetypal Characters and Suspenseful Plots" workshop, Meredith College community program ( in Raleigh, NC

FUN QUESTION: Jeans or petticoats – and why?

Definitely jeans. We take the mobility designed into 21st-century Western clothing for granted. Petticoats catch the wind like a sail and create a sort of "Flying Nun" effect, often when both hands are occupied, so you're thrown off balance. In the summer, sweat plasters the petticoat and the shift beneath it to your thighs, and walking becomes a challenge. If you're caught in a rainstorm, and your petticoat becomes soaked, it's amazing how much all that fabric made of natural fiber suddenly weighs.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

I appreciate the opportunity for the interview, Linda.


  1. Good interview, Suzanne and Linda.

  2. Good post, Suzanne! You know, you re-enactors are a great resource for those of us who write about earlier times -- I've attended a couple just to check out costume details -- and I've also checked the online sources for that period clothing. Plus, little things like your comment about walking in petticoats are good to hear (filing it away right now.)

    Best of luck with the new spin off series!

  3. Thanks, Sandy!

    Vicki, when your historical characters are experiencing something that you wouldn't normally encounter in the 21st century, it's so difficult to imagine and anticipate all the sensory input they'd receive. A big reason why I reenact is to find *safe* simulations for those experiences. That way, I can capture at least some of it in my writing.

  4. Cool interview! I hadn't realized that north Florida had been held by the British through much of the Revolution.

  5. Rhonda, thanks for stopping by. During the Rev War,the British were in Cow Ford (what's now Jacksonville), St. Augustine, and Pensacola in Florida as well as Mobile, Alabama.