Neece Editorial would like to present Suzanne, our Wednesday Author Spotlight!
Who is Suzanne Craig-Whytock?
Suzanne Craig-Whytock’s love of literature and writing came at an early age and continued into adulthood, leading her to earn an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English Language and Literature (Wilfrid Laurier University). She has worked in education most of her life and was a high school English teacher in Ontario for over 20 years. She has authored both fiction and non-fiction works, from short stories and poetry to academic documents and educational resource materials. She regularly publishes humorous essays focused on city life, politics, current events, and popular culture on her own website. Her first published novel was Smile (2017, Bookland Press). The Dome is her second published novel (2019, Bookland Press).
Want to know more about Suzanne?
Follow her on social media!
Facebook: Suzanne Craig-Whytock
Want to read by Suzanne?
Look up her works short work in literary magazines or read Smile (2017) & The Dome (2019).
Now let’s get to know Suzanne even better! I sent her some questions, and here’s what I found out!
- What genre/s do you write in? And why?
I write in a variety of genres. My first two novels are Young Adult fiction, but my new Work In Progress is for an older audience. My short stories and poetry are probably more what I would classify as Magic Realism. I started writing YA novels because, as a high school teacher, I felt like I knew the audience really well. The new book, and most of my short fiction is written based on the things I really like to read: psychological thrills, twisty endings, unusual characters, and suspenseful plots.
- Tell me about your WIP or recent works.
My latest novel, The Dome, takes place in post-apocalyptic Toronto. Here’s the synopsis:
“It’s the year 2135, almost four decades since the Water Wars ended. Much of the continent is a desert wasteland, and the powerful Consortium rules Adanac, one of the few habitable areas remaining, with an iron fist. Cee and Dee, 16-year-old twins who share a special, almost psychic bond, are runaways from a Consortium workhouse. Now living as Freeworlders in the largest tent city in Trillium province, they’re determined to survive, but life is a struggle, made worse by the constant threat of The Dome, where punishments for the slightest offense are meted out by the Dome Master.
When devastating circumstances force the twins to become separated, all seems lost until the sudden appearance of a mysterious stranger, the leader of a rebel movement. Dee and Cee are tested to their limits as they confront the demons of their past and try to save the future, for themselves and all of Adanac.”
While The Dome is very dystopian, it also has very strong messages about the importance of family and the power of the individual to create positive change.
My current WIP is called The Seventh Devil and Other Stories. It’s a novella with an accompanying short story collection. The title novella is about Verity Darkwood and her mentor Gareth, who travel across Canada in an old pickup truck and camper van, exorcising ghosts and demons for people who’ve answered their ad. All the while Verity continues the search for her younger sister, who disappeared when Verity was 16. As she gets closer to discovering what happened to her sister, she crosses paths with the mysterious and dangerous John Berith. A confrontation becomes inevitable if Verity ever hopes to see her sister again.
- What writer (living or dead) would you most want to have dinner with? Why?
There are so many! I think first I’d have to say George Orwell. Not because of 1984 or Animal Farm, but because he wrote the most brilliant essays. I’d love to know his thoughts on current events, social media, and a lot of other issues. In terms of writers who are still living, there’s a Canadian writer called Eric McCormack (not the actor from Will and Grace!) who I’d love to meet again. He writes very cool magic realism and gothic novels and stories. When I was in university, he used to come into the coffeeshop where I worked and always ordered a double double. I actually wrote a short story by that title inspired by him!
- What’s your writing process like? For example, where and when do you like to write? Do you write every single day?
I set aside time every Saturday morning and a little bit of time Sunday afternoon to write. For my last novel, I took every other Friday off work until it was finally done. For the new book, I’m taking a week of holidays soon just to write the last set of chapters. I don’t like to do things piecemeal—if I don’t have enough time to write a full chapter, I’ll put it off until I do. For my short stories and poetry, I usually write when an idea hits me. If I can’t do it at the time, I take notes in my phone to remember key ideas and phrases. I have around 200 notes on my phone with ideas that I’ve used and some I’m still thinking about! Most of my short pieces come from a particular phrase that strikes me as interesting, and I build from there.
- What do you think makes a good story or poem?
Personally, I prefer stories that are very plot driven with a bit of a twist. I’m not a big fan of writing which is so self-referential that only the writer really understands what it means. I need a narrative thread. I also really enjoy funny writing. For my blog, I try to always look at regular situations through an absurdist lens, and I always try to bring things full circle in a humorous way.
- If you could give one piece of writing advice to your past self, what would it be and why?
There was a time in my thirties and early forties when I wasn’t doing any writing. I’d tell myself to write. I can only imagine how much I would have accomplished if I hadn’t lost interest and taken such a long break. There was no particular reason; I just wasn’t doing it, and I wish I had.
- If your day job isn’t writing, what is it? If it is writing, how did you get there?
For my day job, I’m the program manager of Literacy for a provincial education agency. I oversee provincial assessments for students in Grades 3, 6, and 10. Prior to this job, I was a high school English teacher for over 20 years.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Chalktown by Melinda Haynes. It’s a fantastic southern gothic novel, and she’s such a beautiful writer. I rarely read a book more than once, but I’ve read it twice already. I’d love to have dinner with Melinda Haynes as well!
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Just the one I’m currently working on. I don’t usually start a new project until the previous one is completed.
- Do you believe in writer’s block?
Sure, I think that all writers go through periods where, for one reason or another, the words just won’t come. It happens to me every time I write a new story or poem. I think, “This is it. I’ll never have another good idea.” And then bam. Something will pop into my head and prove me wrong!
- Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I’ve been fortunate to not have had a really bad review yet. I’d probably cry…no, I’d get over it. Not everyone has the same taste. The Dome has had some pretty good reviews so if I DID get a bad one, I’d weigh it against that.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter. I like to outline the entire book chapter by chapter before I write. I pants it a few times during the process, but I like structure too much to be a complete pantser.
- Do you believe in writing muses?
I’m sure some people have them. I don’t particularly, although my daughter and husband are my first readers, and I take their feedback very seriously.
- What author/books are you currently reading?
I’m a huge Stephen King fan, and I’m just about to start his new short story collection “If It Bleeds.” I love his writing style and his imagination is incredible.
- As a closer, what do you want people to remember about you and your writing?
I hope people remember me as someone who always tried to keep things interesting!
Thanks for joining me for today’s Author Spotlight. Check back regularly!
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