Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Automobiles, Love, and a Free-Spirit -- How can it possibly go wrong?

With two degrees, one in law and the other in psychology, Susan Fox is one smart woman. Writing under the names Susan Lyons and Susan Fox, she has published sixteen sexy, contemporary novels that range from hot to sizzling. Her books have won Booksellers Best Awards, the Aspen Gold, the Golden Quill, the More Than Magic, the Lories, the Beacon, and the Laurel Wreath, and she was a nominee for the 2009 RT Reviewers Choice Award.

Though the exploration of sex and love are at the center of Susan's stories, sharing the character's development and move toward empowered choices is also critical. As one reviewer wrote of Susan's previous novel, Love, Unexpectedly , "Susan Fox has the rare gift for making ordinary people extraordinary."  Susan's new book, His, Unexpectedly is the third in her Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Cruise Ship series.  Please welcome Susan to Behind the Book as she shares some of her author secrets and why writing and reading her sexy novels are so fun.

What was the initial spark that put this story in your head? 
His, Unexpectedly is the third book in my “planes, trains, automobiles and a cruise ship” Wild Ride to Love series for Kensington Brava. The concept of the series originated when two ideas came together. First, I think different modes of transportation have a romantic, sexy allure – and the phrase “planes, trains, automobiles” (the cruise ship was added later) popped into my head and wouldn’t let go. Then, after writing the Awesome Foursome series about four best friends (my “Sex And The City set in Vancouver” series), I had the urge to write about sisters. So I needed to figure out how to put sisters together with modes of transportation – and I thought it would be fun to have three older sisters who all live in different places, suddenly having to come home for their baby sister’s unplanned wedding.

So, that was the series idea, and hurray, Kensington bought it. The first book, Sex Drive (a Cosmo Red-Hot read, by the way), brought buttoned-up older sister Theresa home by planes from Australia – and her romantic journey began when she was seated beside Damien, one of Australia’s 10 sexiest bachelors.

In the second book, Love, Unexpectedly, Kat came home by trains from Montreal, and played a sexy “stranger on a train” game as her best friend Naveen set out to win her heart.

By the time it came to book 3, His, Unexpectedly, I knew it was Jenna’s turn, and she’d be traveling by automobiles from California. I also had a pretty good knowledge of Jenna’s personality, including her vivacious, free-spirited nature and her secret vulnerability, so I needed to figure out exactly the right man to challenge her on her own wild ride to love.

So, when Jenna started the drive from Santa Cruz in her yellow MGB convertible and her car broke down, I presented her with sexy globe-trotting marine biologist Mark Chambers, a guy who’s as serious as she is free-spirited. We all know that opposites attract, and often it’s because they have things to learn from each other, and that’s certainly the case for Jenna and Mark.

She bewitches and bedazzles him – and definitely makes him lighten up! – as they make their way up the Pacific Coast, camping, skinny dipping, and having scorching hot sex. But she bothers him, too. For the first time in his life, he wants commitment – but it’s with a woman who shuns the concept. Can Jenna overcome deep-seated insecurity and believe what her heart tells her – that this wild ride has an unexpected and very special destination: love? Well, it’s a romance, so you’re guaranteed a happy ending. The fun for the reader – and for me, in writing the book – was figuring out all the steps in Jenna and Mark’s journey.

It seems that most authors use something from their own lives, or the lives of people they know as an integral part of the story.  Is there anything in this story like that? What?
The drive along the west coast, through California and Oregon, then up the I-5 through Washington, is something I’ve done myself. Once I even made the trip in a butter yellow MGB convertible, exactly like the car Jenna drives. Also, I do share one or two personality traits with Jenna, like wanting to find my own way and not be bound by societal conventions.

Does this story background relate to previous or future books? In what way?
As I mentioned earlier, this is the third book in the Wild Ride to Love series. Each book stands alone, but if you read the series in order, you get to know more about the other sisters – and get perspective on their characters from each other’s points of view. In Sex Drive and Love, Unexpectedly, readers saw that older sisters Theresa and Kat – and in fact the whole family – viewed Jenna as free-spirited, eccentric, and a bit of a flake. A modern-day hippie, in other words. In His, Unexpectedly, the reader finds out exactly who Jenna is as they see her deal with a secret vulnerability she’s never confessed to her family and grow into a more responsible, but still vivacious, fun, generous person as she and Mark deal with the highs and lows of their journey to love.

In His, Unexpectedly, readers also find out how Theresa’s and Kat’s romances are progressing.

For the future, there will be one more book in the series, baby sister Merilee’s romantic journey. It’s tentatively scheduled for December 2011.

Is there a particular scene in this book that you really loved when you finished it? Which one and why?
Two really stand out for me. The first is Jenna and Mark’s first meeting, where there’s an instant mutual attraction, but it’s obvious how very different they are. I had so much fun writing that scene. It rang true for me immediately, and I fell in love with Jenna and Mark. Readers can find that scene on my website. The other I love is the ending, where Jenna and Mark both prove how far they’ve come in their personal growth, and how much they truly care for each other. It’s not the conventional romance novel ending, but they’re not conventional people. The scene really touched my heart, and I hope it does the same for my readers.

If someone wants to check out your backlist based on loving this story, where would you suggest they start? Or which books would be in a similar vein?
There’s a printable booklist on my website. A good starting point is the other books in the Wild Ride to Love series. But, really, all my books and novellas have a similar style. They’re sexy contemporary romances, each with a pretty serious issue or two but handled with a light touch. I’m going to take the liberty of quoting from the Publishers Weekly starred review for His, Unexpectedly, because I think this comment is a good description of my writing style: “Well-crafted story lines and richly observed characters bolster a strong erotic element in this delightful, memorable romance.”

If readers like the sisters in the Wild Ride to Love books, they’d probably enjoy the four girlfriends in the Awesome Foursome series: Champagne Rules, Hot in Here, Touch Me, and She’s on Top. My destination wedding books (Sex on the Beach and Sex on the Slopes) are a lot of fun, too, each containing three interrelated romances that take place during the same time period (one set in Belize; one set in Whistler). I have blurbs, excerpts, behind-the-scenes notes, review quotes, discussion guides, and recipes on my website, so readers can get a pretty good “taste” of each book.

Susan is offering a signed copy of her new book, His, Unexpectedly to a lucky commenter or follower. So, ask your questions and please make comment about your experiences with Susan's books.You can order His, Unexpectedly in Print or eBook form at your local bookstore or online at these places.



Karen Woodward said...

Wonderful interview! Susan's books are great, I'm looking forward to reading her latest. She is an author who does not disappoint.

Paty Jager said...

Susan, these sound like great reads. And a fun interview.

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Thank you so much, Karen and Paty.

Heather Hiestand said...

Congratulations, Susan! Looks like you are a series fan. What are you contemplating for your next one?

Susan Lyons/Fox said...

Thanks, Heather - and yes, you're so right about me loving series. I've learned that even if I start writing a stand-alone book, I usually discover secondary characters who really demand their own love stories.

I currently have...hmm, let me see...about 4 proposals I'm working on for series of 3 or more books.

My next release, Heat Waves in July (from Berkley), is kind of a series book. It's the third destination wedding book I've written. The first, Sex on the Beach, was set around a wedding in Belize. Then Sex and the Slopes was at Whistler, and Heat Waves is in Greece.

Maggie Jaimeson said...

Congratulations to Heather Heistand for winning a copy of His, Unexpectedly.

Please contact me at maggie at maggiejaimeson dot com to exchange details on how I can get the book to you (ebook or paper, you tell me)