Tuesday, May 14, 2013

[Book Spotlight] Fire Angel by Susanne Matthews

Book Title: Fire Angel
Author: Susanne Matthews
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Released: April 29, 2013

A malicious serial killer is out for revenge, and he doesn’t care how many people have to die before he gets it. Using fire as a weapon, he strikes at random, and the bodies are piling up, leaving the citizens of Paradise wondering who is next.
Betrayed by the one closest to him, criminal profiler Jake McKenzie has returned from Afghanistan minus a leg and afraid to trust his instincts. When the police chief asks for his expertise in identifying the killer, he agrees knowing this is his chance to prove he can still do the job.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
My name is Susanne Matthews. I live in Cornwall, Ontario, a city on the Canada U.S. border. I’ve been married almost 42 years to the same man. I have three adult children and five grandchildren. I love to sit outside on warm summer days and read. I like to go camping in a tent without electricity, really get away from it all, as much as I enjoy staying in five star hotels.  I spent over 30 years as an educator, most of that time as a high school English teacher. I love literature and always dreamed of becoming a writer. When I finally retired in the fall of 2012, I decided to dedicate myself to writing full-time and try to make that dream come true. I’ve succeeded. I have sold three books so far in 2013. The first one, FIRE ANGEL was released April 29, a second one IN PLAIN SIGHT will be released August 12, and the third, the first book in a series called HOLIDAY MAGIC will be released in November.
Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
As an English teacher, I spent years teaching the writing process—planning your work, making an outline, writing character sketches, graphing the plot, and then when I started writing, I discovered that I don’t do any of those things.  I get an idea and I just start writing. I’ll write a chapter and then I’ll go back and, using a screen reader, I’ll revise the chapter, add to it, and flesh it out. The characters grow from those revisions, and they carry the novel to the next level. Each time I start to write, I go back to the previous chapter and then, after I’ve reread it, made any corrections I feel are necessary, add detail or take some out, I’ll go on to the next chapter. I might go back to the first few chapters half a dozen times until the characters have become the people I want them to be, and I’m satisfied. Some of my friends use visuals to find their characters, but I don’t find that works for me. I create mine with my imagination, and then they take on a life and appearance all their own.

How much research do you do for your books? Have you found any cool tidbits in your research?
I do extensive research for all of my books and have gotten amazingly quick at finding stuff on line. I doubt I’d ever have been able to do any of these things forty years ago when computers in the home were things you saw on television sci-fi shows. For FIRE ANGEL, I did a lot of research on fire and its properties, and I learned how to make gummy bears dance. I also discovered that gasoline doesn’t explode, so when you see cars exploding on television, unless it’s a race car propelled by something other than gasoline, it’s all Hollywood flash and bang. It does burn though and makes an excellent accelerant. I also explored Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and prosthetics for amputees. For other novels, I’ve learned all about sailing ships in the seventeenth century, how to use a sextant to guide a ship, and that Humpback whales rarely deviate more than a few degrees from their migratory routes. I know how to calculate the speed and distance a sailing ship could travel in a day. I also discovered dueling in France in the 1600 was illegal and anyone involved, even a bystander could be arrested and found guilty. French prisons weren’t nice places, so there were fewer duels fought in Paris than in other towns and countries.  I learned that Martinique is the home of a deadly viper, fer de lance, that isn’t found anywhere else in the world. For IN PLAIN SIGHT, I researched conversion disorder, the new term for psychosomatic illnesses and night terrors. Each book I write has to be researched for accuracy in the locations, climate, even the time of day when it gets dark in winter. HOLIDAY MAGIC was set in Philadelphia and New York, so it was necessary to research local landmarks too. Unless you’re writing fantasy or sci-fi set in another time and place, you’re bound by the laws of nature, life, and society as we know it. If someone living in Philadelphia picks up my book, and I talk about the Swann Fountain, then there has to be a Swann Fountain in the city, so that the reader can say, “Hey, I know that place! I’ve been there.”
What main genre do you write in?
I am and always will be a romance writer. Happily Ever After is essential. There is too much ugliness in the real world, and I want my books to provide a realistic escape. Since I write romantic suspense, there are bad guys and gals in those books, but they always get caught in the end, so the hero and heroine can get on with their lives together. In my contemporary romances, I like to dwell on internal and external conflicts that tear soul mates apart, and I especially like getting them back together. In my historicals, I enjoy having the hero and heroine face down a challenge together, whether it’s man-made or a force of nature, to get to their happy ending.
If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?
I think I’d like to sit down with Nora Roberts and pick her brain. She is the writer who probably has inspired me more than any other. She writes romance in many different subgenres, mixes past and present and even does some head hopping here and there. When she writes as J.D. Robb, she uses the same characters in her books, doesn’t incorporate new romance but just works with the one she’s established. I’d love to be able to do that with the characters I created for FIRE ANGEL.

Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I’ve always wanted to write a time-travel story that would have my characters relive past lives. I have a few ideas in mind for such a story; it just needs a bit more percolating time before I can actually sit down to write it.

How can readers find out more about you and your books?
They can check out my website http://mhsusannematthews.ca

 Susanne Matthews grew up as an avid reader of all types of books, but always with a penchant for happily ever after romances. In her imagination, she travelled to foreign lands, past and present, and soared into the future. Today, she has made her dreams come true. A retired educator, she now gets to spend her time writing, so she can share her adventures with her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel. As she writes, her characters take on a life of their own, and she shares their fears and agonies on the road to self-discovery and love.
Susanne lives in Cornwall, Ontario with her husband. She has three adult children and five grandchildren. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, chatting on the Internet with her writer friends, and hearing from her readers. You can learn more about Susanne at www.mhsusannematthews.ca

BUY LINKS CAN BE FOUND ON GOODREADS AT http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17660502-fire-angel 

Susanne has kindly offered one lucky commentor a free copy of the book. Make sure you leave your email address! Winner will be chosen on May 31.


  1. Ladies, a great interview! Susanne, it is nice to get to know you better. I was a secondary school teacher, too (history and world geography), and I'm also well aware of the benefits provided by the Internet for all aspects of research. It's an amazing time to be an author. Thank you for an excellent post, and I look forward to reading your novel.

  2. oh this is my type of book!! I would love to read this! It reminds me of Kay Hoopers Bishop series!