Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Author Interview with Author Sue Lee

Today I'm very lucky to be interviewing Sue Lee author of Nerd Girl. Hi Sue, thank you for agreeing to this interview. 

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

I live in Seattle with my husband and twin 7 year old daughters.  Three years ago, I left my corporate career at Microsoft to spend more time with my children.  I still work part time as a contractor, but I now have more time to write and pursue my other interests.  Nerd Girl is my first novel.  I am also working on a YA series. 

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

As I mention above, Nerd Girl is my first novel.  I've thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.  Honestly, when I put it out there, I had no idea if people would read it or not.  It’s still early, but feedback has been very positive.  Writing Nerd Girl has allowed me to fulfill a long time goal of mine and right now, I'm just enjoying the experience.  I will continue to write stories until I lose the enjoyment of doing so.  

Do I see a long term career as an author?  

Right now, it’s just a wonderful hobby that I also happen to be very obsessed about :-)

Which writers inspire you?

I’m inspired by Emily Giffin, Tracy Garvis Graves, and Diana Gabaldon. Emily Giffin is so great with character development.  Her heroines are usually intelligent and strong career women, but they’re also vulnerable, fun, and very likable.  Each of her books center on a personal moral dilemma that is very relatable.  Tracy Garvis Graves’s book, Covet, was on my top ten list of books for 2013. Her characters are so real.  I could completely relate.  Many readers have told me that Nerd Girl felt very real too - everything from the characters, to the dialogue, to the situations experienced in the book.  That is the best compliment ever. Lastly Diana Gabaldon is just an amazing story teller.  She is the queen of the historical fiction romance genre.  The Outlander series has such rich characters.  When I read Diana Gabaldon’s stories, I’m completely transported into another world and relish ever delicious word.

So, what have you written?
(*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)

Nerd Girl is it J.  I am working on a YA paranormal series though.  No title or release date yet. 

Where can we buy or see them? (* include American, European and any other relevant links. Free, free promotions or prices can be included)

Nerd Girl is available on Amazon both e-book and paperback, Smashwords and all of their distribution partners (B&N, iBook, kobo, etc…)

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?

Julia is a self-proclaimed nerd.  She’s a bit OCD, anal, conservative, and classic Type A.  She loves her Harry Potter books and uses charts and graphs to manage her life.  She’s smart and driven and although she is successful in her career, she has always been unlucky in love.  She tries to manage her love life like a project plan and it’s always backfired on her.  She likes predictability and when relationships get complicated, she would just rather not go there.  When Julia meets Ryan, he not only turns her life upside down, but threatens to destroy the one thing she’s always trusted would be there for her, which is her career. Through the story, Julia learns to work through ambiguity where things aren’t always black and white.  She leaves her comfort zone to find love. She learns to see that there are two sides to every story and sometimes, you have to trust your heart and take a leap of faith.

What are you working on at the minute?

I’m working on a new YA paranormal story.  I think it will likely be a 3 part series, but I will let the story dictate that for me.  I’ve always loved this genre and authors such as Richelle Mead, Veronica Roth, Jennifer Armentrout, Cassandra Claire are some of my favorites.  I just love the idea of writing something completely different with a far out idea and marrying science fiction, fantasy, and romance together.  I know this is a different genre and audience than readers of Nerd Girl, but this is where my heart is telling me to go.
What’s it about? (*if relevant)

I can’t reveal too much right now.  But I can say that it has something to do with global warming with some paranormal influence.  There is also a love story weaved into it, as well as some political parallels.

What genre are your books?

Nerd Girl is contemporary romance.  The new series I’m working on I think would fall into the Young Adult, Romance, and Paranormal genre.

What draws you to this genre?

I’m a voracious reader and these are two of my favorite genres.  I also love historical fiction, but needless to say, to write a novel of that genre I think would require a lot of research and expertise.  If I didn’t have two young children and work part time for a software company, I would consider that as a future endeavor. 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

Ryan is in his mid-late thirties.  He’s got beautiful blue eyes and sandy brown hair.  I always thought of Michael Fassbender or Daniel Craig.  Both men are intelligent and complex, rugged yet refined, and incredibly sexy ;-).  As for Julia, I really like Emily Blunt or Alexis Bledel.  They both have a sharp look about them with intelligence, wit, and vulnerability behind their eyes.  Julia is a city girl and a career woman, and both of these actresses can easily pull that off.

How much research do you do?

Nerd Girl was easy.  The hero and heroine both work at Megasoft.  In the real world, its Microsoft, but for legal reasons I couldn't use the actual company name.  Not ideal, I know.  Anyways, I worked there for almost 12 years.  My husband has been there for almost 18 years and still works there today.  Ryan and Julia are completely fictional characters, but everything about the company, its subculture, the actual jobs, are all authentic based on my real experiences with the company.  I also live in Seattle and live in the neighborhood, Queen Anne, where both Julia and Ryan live. As for my next novel, more research is required.  Even though the story is based on some science fiction and paranormal ideas, I still want to make it believable, so I’m doing a lot of reading up on global warming.

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?


When did you decide to become a writer?

I don’t know if there was ever a distinctive moment when I decided to become a writer.  I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never did anything formal until I wrote Nerd Girl.  It’s always been a dream of mine and after leaving my full time career, I had more time to pursue my writing interests.

Why do you write?

I daydreamed a lot as a child and maybe this is just my adult version of doing the same thing.  I enjoy immersing myself into a story, especially when I can influence and imagine what happens in it.  I think it’s also just very therapeutic for me.  I find enjoyment and a sense of calm and focus when I’m writing. 

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

With Nerd Girl, I had been noodling on the idea for quite a while. When I finally left my corporate job, I took some time off and started to “smell the flowers” more, so to speak.  That’s when I started working on an outline.   In the summer of 2012, a Vanity Fair article came out featuring Microsoft on the cover.  It became clear to me that there was intrigue with the company.  That was also the year that indie-publishing really took off and I just loved some of the great indie author love stories that came out that year.  It just felt like the right time.  I wanted to marry my corporate experiences with a love story.  I started writing that summer and was pretty much obsessed with it until it was done.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time.  I still contract part time, but I also have twin 7 year old girls.  Between work, homework, being a mom, wife, and living a healthy lifestyle, it’s difficult to find quiet time to write.  I’m the ultimate multi-tasker though.  I often come up with my plot outlines while I exercise, sit in traffic, stand in grocery aisles, wherever and whenever I have a few moments to think.  I envy those who have found enough success to do this full time.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

I always knew the story outline and how the book would end.  I just didn’t know exactly how the details would come together.  Even though Nerd Girl in many ways is a lighthearted romantic comedy, there are also very emotional, bittersweet, and thoughtful moments in the book.  I wanted to find the right balance and not veer too far one way or the other.  It’s always difficult finding the right balance. 

What is the easiest thing about writing?

I like strong character development.  Before I started writing Nerd Girl, I flushed out all the main characters independently.  I wrote a biography of sorts for each character.  I think it’s important to really understand what drives and motivates a character to be a certain way.  What were they like as a child?  As a sister, wife, brother, etc…  How would others describe him or her?  Were there any pivotal events in his or her life that in part, shaped who they are today?  What are their hobbies, tics, habits, facial expressions?  I love this part about writing.  Once you figure out all these parts of a character, writing the book becomes easier.  As the reader, you can better understand what drives someone to do the things they do. 

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Of course.  Especially when I’m sick or running out of steam.  But I still force myself to write, even if it’s just one awful paragraph. 

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

I don’t know why this happens, but sometimes I just get on a roll.  I write and write and write and I read it back the next day and I love it.  I don’t even know where some of it came from.  There is this place called the “Zone” and when I’m there, I’m up until ungodly hours of the night.  Then there are days when one sentence is a chore.  I just write a few paragraphs on those days, but I still force myself to do it.  For me, it’s about keeping the rhythm going.

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?

Yes. Many people have told me that the cover of Nerd Girl, along with the title, was sufficient enough reason for them to want to read the book.  It’s not rocket science, but if you’re an unknown author, a good cover certainly helps.

How are you publishing this book and why?
(*e.g. Indie, traditional or both)

Nerd Girl is an indie book.  This is my first book and frankly, I just didn’t have the patience to want to search and wait for an agent to decide whether or not my book was worthy or not.  I was so excited about writing Nerd Girl, that I just wanted to get it out there.  Self-publishing is so easy to do these days and your can do it with minimal investment.  I had nothing to lose.  For my next book though, I’m less anxious about the process and will explore the traditional route first to see where that takes me.

Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?

What’s your views on social media for marketing?

It’s a necessity for Indie authors. Bloggers are key to getting the word out there.  Facebook, author websites, Goodreads, Twitter, etc… are inexpensive, far reaching option to tell people about your book.

What is your favorite book and why?

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  She is just an amazing story teller.  I think she is the queen of the historical fiction romance genre.  The Outlander series has such rich characters.  Jamie is my dream man.  He is an old fashioned gentleman, courageous and strong, beautiful and sensitive, intelligent, respectful, protective and dominating all in one.  The actress playing her in the upcoming Starz series described Claire as a “bad ass” and I couldn’t agree more.  Claire is smarty, witty, feisty, classically beautiful and wild, strong and brave.  When I read Diana Gabaldon’s stories, I’m completely transported into another world and relish ever delicious word. 

What is your favorite quote?

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.”  -- Albert Einstein

What is your favorite film and why?

I have two:

The English Patient -- It’s just a beautiful epic love story.  I also love Ralph Fiennes.
Out of Africa - Meryl Streep is amazing and the story again, is another epic love story.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I hope I’ve finished my next book series!!
What is your favorite movie and why?

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t be afraid.  I was terrified to show my work to others.  But when I finally did so, it was incredibly liberating.  You also never learn to get better if you don’t ever let others see and critique your work.  Also, try to write something every day.

Where do you see publishing going in the future?

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?


How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Twitter: @NerdGirlAuthor

Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.

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