David from British Columbia asks: How much of your ending do you usually know before
Usually I know the basics of the ending (or at least I think I do), but it doesn't
come to me in any detail till I'm two-thirds through the book, at least. And then
I almost always get it in a single chunk of writing (usually I have to take this
down in longhand, as I'm on a train or in the bath, or somewhere inconvenient) and
I'll put that in the Plotting section of my notebook, and when I get through my book
and write the ending properly that longhand note is pretty much the finished copy.
I don't know why it happens this way, but that's usually the way it does. Sometimes
I'll write something quite by accident towards the middle of a book that seems to
be the perfect thing to echo at the end, so maybe that's why I don't always know
the ending fully when I start.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Louise asks: Will Allison & Busby be re-issuing all your previous books?
Muriel from Ontario asks: I’ve just finished reading Every Secret Thing and totally
enjoyed it. We are reading this for our Book Club and I will be making the presentation
of the book. Could you please help me come up with some intelligent questions that
I could ask the members as it seems a bit difficult to find information on the Internet.
This is our first mystery so it would be nice to make it super interesting. Again
it was a great book and enjoyable beginning to end and as my husband and I have spent
a lot of holidays in Portugal it brought back the familiar towns. Thank you.
The review site Singletitles.com asks: Your novels are a wonderful blend of romance,
mystery, history, suspense and emotion. What drew you to writing these kinds of books?
Chadwick Ginther of McNally Robinson Bookstore in Winnipeg asks: One common theme
in your work seems to be the past intruding upon the present. Rather than writing
a straight historical novel, the events of the past are shown to have ramifications
to our modern world. Do you do this to keep a point of relation for readers not necessarily
versed in the period of your work?
A fan from Ontario asks: When you’ve stopped work on one book to write something
else, like you’ve done with the sequel to Every Secret Thing, how do you keep the
characters and plotlines active in your mind so you can finish the book later?
Darlene from Ontario asks: When you write your books, do you have an audience in
mind or does the story just pop up?
Chadwick Ginther of McNally Robinson Bookstore in Winnipeg asks: Even before you
wrote Every Secret Thing, many of your historical novels also featured a mystery
element. What made you decide to fully enter the genre pond?
In an interview last May at the Whitby Public Library, broadcaster Ted Barris asked
me whether we had seen the end of Emma Cole...
Marijana from Australia writes: To date I have not managed to spot a copy of your
Emma Cole book in Australian book stores despite it being available for sale for
some time via Amazon.
Recently I was the guest in a forum discussion in “Gail’s Kitchen”,at Gail Anderson-Dargatz’s
web site. She asked me: I wonder if you could talk a little about your approach to
planning out plot. How much is planned? How much is surprise for you?
Leslie from Ontario writes: I am a big fan of your writing, you are my favourite
author. I once told my husband, if a fire was to happen in our house, here are my
Susanna Kearsley books on my top shelf; make sure to run quickly and grab these books!
I find that your books totally draw me into the story where I don't want to put the
book down, I want to savour each line and I don't want the story to end. I was wondering
if you had a favourite author(s) that you feel the same way about?
Gwenda from Toronto writes: Dear Ms. Cole, I loved the first 98 pages of your book.
Alas, the 5 copies at my local Bookshop were all defective, and published with pages
missing, and/or out of sequence. I am wondering if it was a Canadian printing error
and if there has been a correction made and re-printing. My local bookshop refunded
my money, but I am left still GASPING for the rest of the story!!! Perhaps you can
forward this to the publisher for a reply?
My sister and I would like to know if you ever think of writing a novel based on
the Wrens of our forces during the war. They were referred to as Jennys and our Mother
was one. Some of her stories were fascinating and very interesting. One of the highlights
of her life before she died was attending the Wren reunion out west. Some of the
duties the Wrens performed were amazing but the average person hears very little
about their efforts in the war. Just an idea!
I wonder if you could talk more about what makes a thriller a thriller and so on.
How are these different genres different or the same?
What made you choose to write a series?
When will the next Kate Murray book be published, and will Matt be in it?
How do you balance the importance of the romance vs. the suspense in your novels?
Is it something you consciously manage as you write, or is it more a function of
the particular plot and characters in each specific work?
Why did you make Kate Murray a journalist?
Why do you make references to or include some of the characters in Mariana in some
of your books but not all of them? And why do you choose Mariana in particular?
Before now your main characters have always been British. Why is that, and what
made you switch to Canadian heroines?
Why isn’t Every Secret Thing available in the U.S.?
How long does it take you to write a book?
What advice do you have for people who want to try writing or want to get a book
When did you begin writing and how did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I started reading at the age of two, and fell in love with stories, but I can’t remember
when I first began to write on my own. I do remember being seven, sitting at the
kitchen table writing Chapter One of something, while my mother did the dishes. That
was the year that I read Little Women, and connected instantly with Jo. I thought
it would be wonderful to be a writer, just like her. After that, I was always writing
something - stories, poetry, song lyrics - but I never thought that it was something
I could make my living doing. Writers were people who lived in New York and wore
black and were angst-ridden, and I was none of those things. So I went into museum
work instead, which I absolutely loved. But then I finished my first novel and that
feeling was like nothing else. I realized then that writing was the thing that I
was meant to do, the thing that made me happiest.
How did you go about getting your first book published?
When I finished my first book, a short mystery-romance called Undertow, I was very
naive about publishing. I sent the book out and it came back, rejected, and I threw
it into a drawer for a year. But then I read Phyllis A. Whitney’s wonderful Guide
to Fiction Writing, which reminded me that ‘luck can’t happen to manuscripts left
in drawers’, so I took her advice and learned all that I could about the business
of publishing - studying the markets and the editors, to find the companies that
might be interested in publishing my style of writing. Four years and a lot of stamps
later, the book finally sold to a small New York firm. I’ve always found it funny
that, after all those years of wanting to be just like Jo in Little Women, my first
book sold for the same advance that Jo was paid for her first book....over a hundred
What is your writing schedule like?
It changes. In the beginning, because I had another job - first as a museum curator,
then when that became too difficult to juggle with my writing time, a waitress -
I wrote at night. That was the only time available to me, and besides, I liked the
peace and quiet, and my subconscious seemed somehow more active at night. Then,
when I had children, my writing time became their nap time - early afternoon, because
by nighttime I was too exhausted to do much real writing. Now that they’re a little
older, I’m more fluid in my schedule - sometimes morning, sometimes afternoon, and
even sometimes back to those late nights I used to love the best. When I get near
the end of a book though, I write at all hours, whenever I can, because the story
by that point is coming much faster and I’m so wrapped up in it then I don’t like
coming out of it.
How do you go about your research?
As a former museum curator, getting the facts right is very important to me. I always
travel to my settings, because I need to have that sensory detail - how a street’s
sound changes with the night, what trees are growing by the road, and how the air
smells when I breathe it. And I come home with hundreds of photographs, to help
me hold those memories. But the research doesn’t stop with setting. For Every Secret
Thing, because the mystery had its roots in World War II, I had to learn from those
who’d worked in the intelligence community in those years, and the stories that they
told me shaped the actions of my characters. The research and the writing form a
symbiotic process - what I research drives my writing, and what I write determines
what I need to research. It’s a process that begins when a story first starts to
take shape, and continues right through to the end.
So how do your stories start to take shape? Where do you get your ideas?
There’s no simple answer to that - every story is different. Every Secret Thing
had its beginnings in a dinner party conversation, when I heard the tale of someone
who had witnessed some illegal goings-on while serving overseas in World War II.
Unable to get anyone to act on the matter, the man had at last made arrangements
to meet with a journalist. ‘But he died,’ so I was told, ‘before the meeting could
take place.’ I might have afterwards forgotten all the details of the story, but
the ending had lodged firmly in my own imagination, and the character of Andrew Deacon
started to take form.