Meet the Author: Sue Rovens
Good Morning Bookworms,
How’s your week going? Good I hope!
Today’s special post is all about my digital sit-down with fellow horror and suspense author Sue Rovens.
A little backstory, Sue reached out to me from one of my posts she’d seen here on WordPress, so I was really excited to get to know her a little bit better. She’s been a total saint, especially with my crazy schedule lately.
Let’s get things started, shall we?
Fresh from a Publisher’s Weekly starred review of her second novel, Track 9, which follows a couple trapped in a haunted train station in Germany, Sue was already fine-tuning her third book. Buried came out earlier this year from Plump Toad Press.
Sue also has two collections of short stories, one of which made a splash of its own. Her story “Coming Over” from In a Corner, Darkly: Volume One, was taken and adapted by the Southern Illinois University theater department and turned into a short film.
Last year (2018), Sue branched out and created Tales of Terror: Live!—a multi-media event held at nightshop in Bloomington, Illinois. The three-hour spectacular featured speakers, podcasters, a music DJ, authors, and ghost hunters—entertaining a full-capacity crowd for the Halloween season.
Sue, who is a current member of The Chicago Writers Association and The Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi), has written for (the now defunct) e-zines, Machinations into Madness and The Grim Seer Society. She has also been a contributing author on Golden Linings II: More Tiny Tales about Pets, for Pets, which is due out this month (July 2019) and wrote the article “Planning for a Successful Book Fair” for ALLi.
Aside from working full time at Illinois State University, Sue has had the opportunity to showcase her books throughout the Midwest at various festivals, author showcases, and specialized events.
Hi Sue, thanks so much for stopping by. To keep things interesting, I like to ask my interviewees a random question to get the blood flowing, especially around this time of year. Here’s yours!
In a strange twist of fate, you inherit a vast fortune from an unknown relative that has recently passed. What do you do with the money?
It all depends on the amount of money, of course. If it truly is millions, I would probably do what most people would do – pay off bills, help family, etc. However, I would donate portions of that money to certain charities that mean something to me. Not an exciting answer, but the truth.
Totally. Well let’s just say it’s 100 million, enough to take care of everything you’d need in life. I would pretty much do the same thing, in addition to buying a cute cabin or cottage near a lake somewhere magical and majestic.
Sue and the Writing/Blogging Process
For starters, tell us a little bit about your writing.
My writing tends to be succinct and as realistic as I can make it. Instead of taking up pages describing a “world” or environment, I spend time having the characters engage with one another as well as their situation. I like to keep the plot moving forward and add background information on when necessary.
Hah, you are very much like me then! I definitely set the scene, but not the way Tolkien has in his books. To me, that’s just overkill. I’m a big fan of the K.I.S.S. Method.
What kind of setting do you write in most times?
It has to be totally silent. No music, no tv – nothing. I can’t concentrate otherwise. We have a “home office” with a computer so that’s where “the magic” happens. LOL.
I agree with you 100%, there has to be some kind of calm around. Unfortunately, I live close to a slightly busy street, so ambient music it is! I’ve been a huge fan of Cryo Chamber lately for all the tense, horrific scenes in writing.
I always find it interesting how authors and bloggers alike lead multiple lives. What is your dayjob? Do you enjoy it?
I’ve worked at Illinois State University for over 28 years (in the library). It’s a decent, civil service job, but I’ll be happy when I can retire. My normal schedule is 7:30am to 4pm, Monday through Friday, so I do have the weekends off, which is nice.
Oh my gosh, working in a library is a dream of mine! My local one is hiring, but alas, I don’t have the time between my day job, writing, etc, etc. Still, I’m super jealous! And yes, retirement couldn’t come soon enough for me!
How long have you been writing?
Nice! I’ve been doing it since about 2012ish.
Why do you write?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer of some sort since I was about 6. It just took a long time to actually get serious about it.
I agree with you there. I’ve always written since a young age, but I think I had to live a little to come back to it in the end. Over the years, I had to forego other creative pursuits like a singing career and drawing to settle on my favorite one.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Starting something new. There are so many directions a new story and new characters can go, it’s pretty exciting. With all the editing that happens later on, it really doesn’t matter what you type and where you go in the beginning. It’s fun to see how the whole story takes shape.
Awe, you stole my answer! For me, the beginning plotting stages are my favorite part of the process. The images flowing through my head seem to be at their strongest in those times, and the possibilities really are limitless.
What genre is your favorite to write in? Why?
Suspense/Horror. It’s just always fascinated me, so that’s where I like to spend time. After a while, I’ll go flush my brain with cute animals. ☺
Great choice, that’s my genre too for now! I also write urban fantasy and plan on doing fantasy in general too, but suspense and horror have always had a special place in my heart.
Yes, all the cute animals! I’m a cat whisperer at the shelter I volunteer at on Sundays. 🙂
What first inspired you to start blogging?
I went to a workshop years ago where a speaker explained how blogging was the way of the future. I had thought about it and decided to give it a try. My first blog wasn’t much to speak of and being a rather “non-tech” person, I found it difficult to deal with. Eventually, I took the big step and paid for my site (through WordPress). It’s easier to work with and there is tech support if/when I need it. I am absolutely certain that I’m still not using it to its capacity and probably missing out on doing cool things, but right now, it’s working and functioning at a level I can manage.
You know, I think you’re right. I started blogging mainly through Facebook and Tumblr, but when I self-published my first book I wanted my own website, which soon turned into me blogging about books/movies/random thoughts I have.
I’ve only been on WordPress since April, so you’re not alone as far as feeling a tad bit clueless from time to time. As embarrassing as it is, I just discovered how to embed video into my posts about a month or two ago.
If you could give advice to new bloggers, what would you say?
Update your content on a regular basis. I don’t like going to someone’s website and finding that the last time they updated anything was three years ago. You’re either doing it or you’re not.
I completely agree. If I come across an interesting site only to realize that they haven’t been active in the past few years, I probably won’t follow them. I certainly understand that life happens, but I’d prefer to keep in touch with people who are active and see if they have some great recommendations or thoughts to share.
What do you think made your blog successful?
I don’t know if/when a blog becomes successful. I don’t make money from my blog, but I like when people read it. I interview other authors (and now other artists from the entertainment field), so I try to give everyone their “spotlight moment”. Marketing and PR means everything to authors (and other artists), so I feel like I am doing my part to help boost ALL of us.
So, I don’t know if that makes it successful, but I am very pleased when folks visit the page and learn something from it.
Right, I wouldn’t know either. I don’t monetize my site. I just don’t think of things that way other than providing links to my work here and there.
I interview other authors too (color me captain obvious), and it’s really rewarding to get in touch with other great, talented people, especially the indie or self-published authors. In the short time I’ve been interviewing others (maybe 5 months?), I’ve made some great friends and couldn’t be happier.
What do you find most challenging about blogging?
Probably the technology of it. Even though WordPress is fairly easy to manage, I’m sure I doing things (or NOT doing things) that would make it easier.
Yeah, WordPress has a lot of tools to use, many of which I’m also completely clueless how to use. But I definitely think that you and I are doing a pretty decent job of it so far.
What is the hardest lesson you had to learn as a writer?
That, for the most part, nobody really cares what you’re doing. Sure, friends and family can be supportive, but generally speaking, everyone is just trying to do their own thing. Other authors are busy selling/marketing their own stuff. People you know who are NOT writers will listen to your “editing woes” for only so long. Writing is solitary in more ways than just the creative portion.
I hear you. Everyone has their own stuff to worry about, but I do find that when the time is right, true friends and fellow authors will lift you up when you really need it. But yeah, I definitely don’t share a ton of info about my writing projects with others unless they seem genuinely interested in how things are going, and even then I just tell them where I’m at in the process.
What are some of the challenges you face as a writer?
Finding time, probably like everyone else who writes and has a full-time job.
Oh my gosh, tell me about it! In my current dayjob I only work 35 hours a week and I still have a tough time finding time to sit down. We juggle a dayjob, basic life things, a social life, and to top it off, writing! It’s definitely an ongoing struggle to find balance. Can I retire yet?
Do you have any advice for new writers?
I’m in a few “groups” online and I’ve noticed that people (new writers) always ask what they can/can’t do or what they should/shouldn’t write about. As writers of fiction, there really aren’t any rules. Anyone can write about anything in any manner they please. Whether it will sell or not depends wholly on individuals making their own purchasing decisions. If someone wants to write non-fiction, that’s a “whole different story”… I would advise that person to make sure they have all their facts straight before they begin.
Great advice! I totally agree. There’s a place/market for everything, so let your flag fly high! I think I always knew what I wanted to write about. Ever since a kid it’s been geared towards the supernatural, but it’s nice that these support groups are around to help educate those new writers who have a lot of questions.
Fun Facts About Sue
Could you tell us a couple fun facts about you?
Hmmm. Fun? Weird? I used to be a radio DJ for a classical station (and a country station a few years later). I held (still hold?) a 2nd Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo and ran my own Martial Arts school for a year. And, let’s see…I would totally go Trick or Treating again if someone would go with me (as long as I cover my face, I think I could pass for a teenager. LOL!)
Wow, I am totally blown away! You are very multi-talented! I think I’d be way too nervous to be a radio DJ, and I only got my white belt in karate back in the day, though I was one of the top students in the class. Still, you’d kick my butt!
Ooo, I’ll go trick or treating! I love dressing up!
Pancakes or waffles?
Haha, that is always the correct answer! I’m big on carbs despite all the current diet trends, but then again, I work out as much as I eat so it evens out, right? I’m a waffle guy, but if pancakes are present I’ll probably snarf those up too.
What’s your favorite place that you’ve travelled to?
Two-fold answer – Maine and Norway.
Oh, I’ve never been to either of those places! So jealous. To date, I’d say mine is a tie between Seattle, WA and Denver, CO.
If you could meet anyone who ever lived, past or present, who would that be?
It’s really too difficult to give one answer because I would chose different people on different days (depending on where I’m at personally). Off the top of my head at this point in time, I would probably say my great-grandparents.
Awe, that’s so sweet! Extra kudos to you! I’d probably say one of my favorite authors like K.A. Applegate (author of my favorite childhood series Animorphs) or one of my bestie author friends that I’ve never had the chance to meet in the flesh. I’m talking about you Randy, Emerald, and Marvin!
What are your favorite tv shows and movies?
Right now, I’m totally obsessed with Mad Men. Favorite shows in general? The Office (Steve Carrel episodes), Better Call Saul, and Shark Tank.
Movies? Well, my favorite movie is The Graduate, but I like a whole host of others – way too many to list. Okay, I’ll list a few… Sweeney Todd, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Easy Rider, and Poseidon Adventure (the original)
That’s a really great mix of interesting shows and movies. Shark Tank is ADDICTIVE! It’s kind of like HGTV watching is for me. I can watch for hours and never notice the time is passing.
I’ve been watching a ton of horror given the time of year, but right now my fave is actually the second season of the new Sabrina series on Netflix. It’s much better than the first season in my opinion.
What kind of music touches your soul?
Again, it really varies on my mood and the day. Generally speaking, I’d go for certain songs of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Of course, that’s a pretty wide swath. So, I’m just going to ramble on here until you realize that I don’t have a good answer for this question.
Haha, no worries. I have a very widely-ranging love of music as well, but my favorite decade is the 80’s. Never been able to shake off that obsession.
What are you reading now?
“Something’s Alive on the Titanic” by Robert J. Sterling
I never heard of this one, so I looked it up and wow! It sounds really interesting and scary at the same time. Hope you enjoy it! Right now I’m finishing up Sarah by Teri Polen. Such a great haunted-themed book!
What is your favorite genre to read? Why?
What else? Suspense and horror. But, like anything else, I’ll drift into other genres or non-fiction. What I don’t care for is fantasy, most sci-fi, romance, or westerns.
Haha, I figured. Me too! I like suspense and horror, but also like certain kinds of fantasy (not really into epic anymore) and have recently gotten back into sci-fi, thanks to M.D. Neu and Teri Polen. Romance has never really been my thing. If its present in a story, cool. I just don’t like it as a main plot driver.
Sue and Her Works
Tell us about your new book!
My newest book, Buried, revolves around a hoarder who lives next to a funeral home. The best explanation I can give is sharing the back blurb with your readers:
Priscilla Wyatt is a single, middle-aged nursing assistant who lives behind Sommerville Funeral Home. When her dachshund, Weenie, returns home with a ghastly find, Pris’s life starts to spiral out of control, plummeting her headfirst into the macabre. Gerald Zenith, proprietor of Sommerville, couldn’t care less about the dead. Between running scams and keeping a necrophiliac subordinate in check, Gerald’s hands are full. He hasn’t the time nor the interest to be concerned with what is happening in the cemetery during the wee hours of the mornings…until all hell breaks loose. Some secrets are too big to stay buried.
Wow, that’s right up my alley! I’ll have to check it out once I get this immediate TBR down a bit. Thanks for sharing that with us!
How did you come up with the title for this book?
The title “Buried” refers to both the funeral home (obviously) and the state of the main character’s home – a hoarder – being buried by her condition.
I really like that it works on multiple levels. Very clever!
What inspired you to write this book in particular? Is it part of a series?
I was watching the TV show “Hoarders” and it featured a lady who was using cadaver/body liners in her trailer. I was like “WTH?” and knew right then that I had to write a book with a character like that in it.
Oh my gosh, that’s so creepy, but I definitely believe you saw that on TV. Hoarders is a great entertaining/terrifying show, and it’s awesome that you found such inspiration in that.
What was your favorite part about writing this book?
Having to do research at an actual Funeral Home. I will never forget that experience as long as I live.
Oh wow, you went up to a funeral home and did research? I can’t even imagine! I used to be terrified of cemeteries and funeral homes until my grandpa passed. It’s always interesting where our writing ideas take us, huh?
What did you find was the hardest part about writing this book?
Having to do research at an actual Funeral Home. I will never forget that experience as long as I live. 😮
Yeah, I would certainly be hesitant to do that myself. That takes some guts (pun partially intended!)!
How much of your book is based on your own experiences or those of someone you know?
I tuck a portion of my life (albeit small) in every novel I write. So, a small section is more personal than most. But I do base some characters and plotlines on things I’ve heard, seen, read, etc.
I’m right there with you. Little bits of myself are scattered throughout my works as well. I think we all do that to an extent, and it’s nice to have the research back up those pieces of ourselves.
All right, looks like our time is up here. Before you go, what other projects do you have in store for the world to see in the future? Anything you can share with us?
I am planning on doing Nano (National Novel Writing Month) in November. I’ve been thinking of a story about a serial killer, but that’s all I know right now! ☺
Oh wow, that’s quite the undertaking! I don’t personally plan on doing Nano (I’ve done the camp version twice), but the November one is a big deal. Best of luck!
That’s a Wrap!
All righty book worms, that wraps up my interview with Sue Rovens. I had a great time chatting it up with her, and I hope you enjoyed the experience too!
If you’d like to learn more about Sue and her work, she can be reached at the social media links provided below.
Thank you for stopping by, and have a great day!
Social Media Links