Susabelle Kelmer joins us today on Monday Musings to talk about her debut novel, Fairest of the Faire. Welcome, Susabelle. (Love your name, btw!) Start by telling us a little about yourself.
Susabelle Kelmer is a wife and mother living at the base of the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado. She believes in romance, second chances, and the magic of moonlight. When she isn’t writing, she works with students with disabilities in the college environment.
Do you live in a city or small town, and what places do you most like to visit?
I live in a small city just east of the Rocky Mountains in northern Colorado. My very favorite place to visit is Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, just 25 miles away. I have a season pass to the park and love to go up to the highest points and just look off at the world. There is a small lake there, called Lake Irene, that gives me the most wonderful sense of calm. For a little gas money, I can lose myself for an entire day. In town, I hang out at all of the coffee shops (I’ve visited all thirteen), and spend time in many of our 35 city parks. It’s a beautiful place to live.
It sounds fantastic. My kind of scenery too. We’re not far from the Rocky Mountains either, and their magnificence never ceases to leave me in awe. What were you like as a youngster?
I was a shy, gangly kid. I loved playing dress-up, and “house,” with my neighborhood friends. My mother had yards and yards of lace curtains that had seen better days, which my friends and I used to make fabulous gowns or would drape over the lawn furniture to make exciting make-believe getaways. I grew up in a busy suburb of St. Louis, back in the day when you could walk to the corner store to buy a Coke or a bag of candy without risk.
Ah, yes, the neighborhood corner store…fond memories. And it sounds like a childhood ripe for encouraging a strong imagination. Do you have a favorite author or book?
I am in love with the writing of Sarah Addison Allen. I had walked past an end-cap in a Barnes and Noble store where Garden Spells was displayed, and the cover intrigued me. I probably walked past it for several weeks before I broke down and bought it (I spent a lot of time in that bookstore, as you can tell!). I loved it from beginning to end. Sarah has a way of weaving magic through her stories, something I wish I could do. Her latest, First Frost, is on my reading list for later this summer.
How great that your hunch paid off. It’s always exciting to find a new author to love. What are you reading right now?
I am reading The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. I picked it up at a thrift store up in the mountains, when I was trying to kill time during a rainstorm that had cut my hiking a bit short. Again, this is a book that mixes in magic with the story line.
What’s the best thing about being a writer? What do you like the least?
The best thing about being a writer is being able to tell stories. I think it’s something you are born with, but you also have to use it or you lose it. I’ve been writing all my life, so my brain has had plenty of practice! I love being able to come up with a story about something or someone, creating little fantasy vignettes of everyday life. The hardest part about being a writer is writer’s block. It happens, even to prolific writers! Sometimes you just can’t figure out how to get past a particular scene, and you have to think on it or do something else until that blockage breaks free.
That blasted writer’s block. The bane to an author’s existence. I find sometimes when I hit a wall, it’s because I was headed in the wrong direction and have to backtrack until I find my way again. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am a bit of both. I usually don’t start writing a story until I kind of have an idea of what that story is. However, I do not outline, as that seems to take all the fun out of my stories. I am also a “spiral” or “scene-driven” writer. I may get an idea for a story from a picture of someone, or from having witnessed some exchange between strangers. That tiny kernel (a person, or a small real-life scene) then develops into the story. I do write in a linear way – beginning to end.
Me too! My stories often evolve from a single scene and I have to write linear. Is it difficult or easy to come up with titles and character names?
Titles often take their time coming to me. I had written all of Fairest of the Faire and gone through the second draft before a title occurred to me. It was frustrating! Characters, however, get their names easily. I think of cool names all the time, and I keep a list of them so I have them handy when I need them. I use many methods to find names for secondary characters, including an old copy of the white pages, a baby names book, and searching websites if I’m looking for ethnic names.
Oh, wow, another thing we have in common. I follow the exact same process picking names. Describe your hero and heroine.
Connie Meyers is a schoolteacher who was betrayed by the husband she thought she knew. She is naïve, in a way, but also just good-hearted, so she was hurt badly when she discovered all that he had done behind her back. She’d have never known if he hadn’t been killed in an accident, and navigating through being a widow and picking up the pieces is difficult for her.
Gage Youngblood is a bachelor happily enjoying the charms of whatever woman may come along. On the weekends, he works at his brother’s traveling Renaissance festival, and during the week he works as a carpenter in his home remodeling business. When he meets Connie at the festival, he suddenly loses the ability to think clearly, and also starts daydreaming about settling down and raising a family.
What inspired you to write about these particular characters?
I was educated to be a school teacher, although I ended up not teaching for more than a short time, since it turns out my passions lie elsewhere. I am also a bit naïve at times, or at least, gullible. I want to believe there is always good intentions in people, so Connie’s character plays out some of those qualities. Connie was a great way to express those parts of myself. Gage is fashioned after an actual character I met at the St. Louis Renaissance Festival. He was so good-looking, and I and my BFF Erika practically stalked him all around the fair that day. I knew I had to write about him.
Great reason for a character, lol, and he’d be very clear in your mind. Tell us more about Fairest of the Faire.
Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.
Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.
When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.
We’d love to read an excerpt.
“Who said anything about a relationship?” he said, standing up so he could tower over her again. “I’m just trying to have a little fun. You know, fun?”
If he’d been an animal, she was sure he’d have had hair raised on the back of his neck, he seemed so angry, and it struck her painfully. She hadn’t wanted to anger him or hurt him. She turned away from him and closed her eyes to tamp down the tears she knew would come if she let them. She crossed her arms over her chest, to hold in the pain. Being tired made her much too vulnerable.
“Yes,” she finally said. “I know about fun. Life isn’t always fun, though.”
“Princess.” His voice was soft, tender. “I won’t hurt you. It’s not in my plan.”
Despite herself, she felt the shivers of desire race down from her shoulders, down her arms and legs, and back up to that secret, soft place at her core. She bowed her head and gritted her teeth, hoping for the feeling to go away.
“And what is your plan, Gage?”
“It’s a simple plan. I want you to feel good. I want to feel good, too.”
Nice. What can we expect from you next? Are you working on anything new?
I am working on another novel. I don’t write series, so this is completely new. The story features Dulcie, a geek working at a college, and Russ, an architect. There is, of course, going to be a bad guy, and some suspense, as that is what I like to work into a story. It is still in the very early stages and has no title yet.
I like a little suspense in a story too, but unfortunately that’s not my forte, so I have to settle for reading suspense rather than writing it. Good luck with the work-in-progress. Where can we find you and your book on the internet?
Website – http://www.susabelle.com
Blog – http://journal.celestialchicken.com
Buy at Wild Rose Press:
Buy at Amazon:
Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook):
Thanks for visiting with us, Susabelle. I enjoyed our time together. Best of luck to you with Fairest of the Faire and all your future endeavors.