Monday, January 4, 2010
CyberTour: Susan Crandall and SLEEP NO MORE
1. Tell me about your book.
SLEEP NO MORE is the story of Abby Whitman, who was a sleepwalker as a
child, setting a fire that destroyed the ancestral home and scarred her
younger sister for life. Abby's sleepwalking passed with puberty,
but the guilt did not. She lives alone, structuring her life to insure
that if her sleepwalking reoccurs no one else will be in harm's way.
Now Abby's mother has recently died, her sister is being her usual
manipulative self, and her father is showing signs of Alzheimer's.
And her sleepwalking has returned.
One night Abby awakens behind the wheel of her van at a fatal accident.
Sleepwalking, or more specifically, sleep-driving, is the only
explanation she can come up with for her presence at the scene. But it
soon becomes clear that there was a third party involved, and that
person begins making threats for Abby not to tell what she saw. But
Abby has no recollection of the accident. She seeks the help of a
family acquaintance and psychiatrist, Jason Coble to try to figure out
what happened at the accident and why someone is threatening her.
Abby's journey toward truth and self-forgiveness uncovers long
buried secrets in both her family and her town. Secrets someone will go
to any lengths to protect.
2. When did you first begin writing?
I didn't actually begin writing until I was in my thirties. My
younger sister sort of dragged me into it. She came to me one day with
a stack of paper and admitted she'd been writing in secret and
wanted me to look over her work. Being the older sister and an avid
reader, naturally I had an opinion. We worked on some stories together,
then she stopped writing, but I was totally hooked. I could no more
stop writing than I could stop reading. The first novel I wrote solo
was RITA and National Readers Choice winner, BACK ROADS.
3. What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least
I absolutely love the beginning stages of writing a book. I love the
brainstorming, the research, the exploring of possibilities, the laying
awake at night pondering "what ifs." It's the stage when
everything is possible and you aren't yet hampered with the reality
of making all of the parts work.
My least favorite? This may sound contradictory, but it's the blank
page, the blinking cursor waiting like a teacher with a tapping foot.
It's that stage between all of the daydreaming and actually having
something concrete to work with. It's the place where you have to
begin to make the real choices that will chart the course of your
character's journey. Once I have something started, it's fun to
work with it, expand, delve more deeply into my characters.
4. What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Because my son is writing his first novel, this is an easy question; I
give the same advice on a weekly basis:
1) Read widely, and read like a writer. When an author has elicited a
particular emotion from you as a reader, take the work apart and figure
out how he/she achieved it. Study the story construction, the pacing.
2) Continually hone your craft. Learn from workshops, classes, and just
chatting with other writers.
3) Learn to trust your writing instincts. We writers are filled with
self-doubt, constantly questioning the quality of our work. If
you're a writer, there is something special inside you that lead you
to it. Don't follow every suggestion made by everyone who has
glanced at your work. Carefully evaluate criticism. It's a
valuable tool, but it must be weighed.
4) And lastly, put on your armor and send your work out there into the
world. No one is going to come knocking on your door and say, "I
heard you're writing a book. I'd like to publish it." Yes,
you'll probably receive rejections. That's all part of the
5. What is next for you?
Now that SLEEP NO MORE is safely launched, I'm focusing on two
novels. One is a mainstream women's fiction. The other is a
slow-boil psychological suspense. I'm having a great time with both