Today’s guest is Susan Finlay. She’s here to speak with us about her newly released novel, Liars’ Games, which is now available on Amazon. Welcome, Susan. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Germany, but grew up in the U.S. I have two grown children, one of whom lives in Germany. My husband and I, along with our three cats, live in Missouri. Before becoming an author, I worked in banking as an Auditor and then in a bank department dealing with suspicious activity and security.
When did you begin writing?
I’ve been a very creative person my whole life—art, stories, photography, etc., but most of my early writing was in the form of bank audit reports. In February, 2003 I started writing novels, and about a year ago I began blogging. On my blog I write articles and book reviews, and I interview other authors.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
My first two published books are part of The Outsiders mystery series set in a troglodyte village in France. They are In the Shadows (published in October 2013) and Where Secrets Reside (published in March 2014). My third published book is the first in the Project Chameleon mainstream/suspense series.
Liars’ Games on the surface is a story that deals with school violence and fear, but at its heart is a woman’s struggle with societal decline, lies, deception, trust, and self-identity.
Dr Juliet Powell is a genius math professor, who doesn’t lie, but through circumstances beyond her control, her life has suddenly changed and is ensconced in a sequence of events that forces her to lie, over and over. She tells herself she will eventually adapt, but with each new identity she’s getting further and further away from who she really is. Desperate, her life and that of her young son are in danger and depend on her hiding. Her protector tells her she needs to blend in like a chameleon, play the game and reinvent herself—and not fail this time. Her newest role places her as the principal at a gang and drug plagued high school, where she has opportunity to make a difference. But then she discovers that a stranger is watching her and her young son.
How did you get the idea for the book?
The first novel I ever wrote was a romance about a genius who always felt like a misfit. She was looking for a place where she could belong and fit in. That book was not published, but it became an inspiration for this new book, Liars’ Games. I wanted to explore what it’s like to be a genius (she’s technically an outsider, as are the main characters in my other novels). I wanted her to be challenged in a way she’d never imagined, to be full of inner conflict, and to be stuck in a situation with no way out.
If you could recommend just one of your books to my readers, which book would you choose?
That’s a tough question—almost like asking which of your children would you recommend . . . Well, I think that with each of my books, the writing is getting better. I’m learning and growing. I am also very excited about my about-to-be-released book. So, with all that, I guess I would recommend Liars’ Games. (But please read my Outsiders books, too!)
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
Interesting question. My first thought was Juliet Powell (a.k.a. Claire Constantine). She is by far the most intriguing of my characters because of all her internal conflicts, her failures, and her successes. My second thought was Steve Jensen, the second-most important character in Liars’ Games. I hadn’t expected to like him so much, but as I was working on the final edits of the book, I found myself really liking him. He, too, is complicated and is tough, yet compassionate.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Well, it required a great deal of research. Also, I worked on it off and on for several years, stopping to work on other books and then returning to it during quieter times. I sent it out to agents and publishers. It got accepted by two different publishers, but then I decided to hold-off. Then, after publishing Where Secrets Reside, I returned to this book and did a major rewrite. I believe it’s ready to make its debut.
What is your primary goal as an author?
I want to write books that entertain and that hook readers. I want readers to not want to put the book down. I want them to think about the book even when they are away from it. I want them to fall in love with the characters and want to grab the next book in the series.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am working on a book that is tentatively titled Cobblestone. It’s a time travel mystery set in Bavaria. The first two drafts are finished. Now I’m re-reading and trying to get back into the story, because I had set it aside for a few months while I prepared to publish Liars’ Games.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. Don’t expect to write a blockbuster book. Learn to take criticism well—don’t let criticism stop you from writing. In fact, all writers need it so they can learn how to improve their writing and their stories. Join critique groups online or in person, and listen to what people say, but learn how to judge for yourself whether or not to incorporate their suggestions.
Also, read books about writing. Read grammar books. Take writing classes and workshops. Write as often as you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t write every day.
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Catch up with The Outsiders:
In the Shadows (Book One)
There is a stranger amongst the residents of the cave-riddled village of Reynier, France. Suspicious, they believe there’s only one reason Maurelle Dupre would be lurking in their small village—she’s a gypsy, a thief. But a former Chicago detective turned mystery author, Dave Martin, who happens to be visiting his French grandmother, isn’t so sure about the beautiful stranger when happenstance causes them to meet. He wonders why she seems so frightened and distrustful. He knows he shouldn’t get involved. The last time he trusted a woman in distress, the consequences resulted in the loss of his detective’s shield and his wife. But, as always, the detective in him can’t seem to leave well enough alone.
However, what Dave couldn’t know is how persuading Maurelle to reveal herself will ultimately unveil something far worse than mere theft.
In the Shadows is a story of trust, belonging, and murder.
Buy the book on Amazon
Where Secrets Reside (Book Two)
In Reynier, France, a sleepy hillside village peppered with ancient picturesque troglodyte cave dwellings, the locals value their privacy and their quiet life. Few tourists know it exits, which suits the locals just fine.
One day, after a torrential storm, a townswoman happens across a terrified soaked toddler sitting alone in the woods. She brings the toddler into town, but no one recognizes the child. Suspecting the child’s parents—rare tourists perhaps—must be lost or in trouble nearby, the locals organize a search party to find them. Their search leads instead to the discovery of a murder victim, another stranger, in one of the caves. As the investigation gets underway, the situation heats up. The residents of this once peaceful close-knit village find themselves terrorized by a possible serial killer. Facing their own mortality, they wonder whether the killer is an outsider, or one of their own? And who will be the next victim?
Captain Pascal Goddard of the local Gendarmerie has his hands full; he must solve the biggest murder case the region has ever seen. The residents will not let him rest until he uncovers the killer’s identity, putting a stop to the killing so a frantic village can return to normal. But as the list of suspects grows, some begin to worry that past history will paint them as guilty even if they are not; at least not of murder.
Where Secrets Reside is the second book in the Outsiders series. Praise for the first book, In the Shadows
Buy the book on Amazon