Have a Job, Be a Parent AND a Successful Writer – Tips by Heather Sunseri

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© Heather Sunseri

Fred E. Whyte

Writer @ GoneWithTheWord

When you’re writing, where do you call it quits for the day?

 HS—Ha! You ask as if I have a choice. Unfortunately, writing doesn’t come first in my life. I see it as a part of my overall career/job, but my husband and children come first. So, if it’s time for soccer practice and I’m in the middle of a sentence, that’s where I stop. And that actually works fine for me. When I start back up later that day or the next, I always reread the previous section written, so it’s not too hard to keep moving forward. Plus, the story is always churning in my head. I’m always working on the upcoming scenes while I drive, when I’m at the grocery store or making dinner… you get the point.

 Did you have all the escalation in stakes and clues planned out in advance? Or did they come to you as the story developed?

HS—Both. I plan certain parts of the novel ahead of time—the major plot points. Others pop up as I’m writing, which makes the story so exciting to write. Sometimes when I’m writing, the story starts taking on a mind of its own. It begins to unfold like I’m watching a movie. That’s when I know I’ve hit a sweet spot. This is also when unexpected turns occur. Sometimes, a character will do something so surprising or uncover a major secret I didn’t see coming, and I’ll have to sit back and say, “Huh. I didn’t know that.” That’s when I have to stop and decide: Do I go with this new plot twist—make it fit into the story, or do I take back control of the novel from my characters.

You pack tons of plot twists into one book. Since this is a series, what inspired you to keep the pace at such a breakneck speed rather than hold some stuff back for the next book(s)?

HS—I don’t believe in holding back. The mind is an amazing machine. You have to use it to keep it lubricated. The more you use your mind and imagination, the more it will create. My biggest challenge has always been: how can I possibly fit everything this story demands into a trilogy? Now, I’m not saying this series will end at book three (you almost got me), but that was the original plan. Now? I’m just not so sure. I’ll take this story and these characters as far as the story and the characters and the readers demand. Who—or whatever—gives out first, wins!

One of your characters (Jack) in Mindspeak says: “…let me be the first to tell you, as soon as one secret is revealed in our world, another secret peeks out from around the next dark corner.” Did you intentionally give the readers this direct heads up about the roller coaster ride they were on? 

HS—I wrote that? Seriously? That was pretty clever of Jack. ;)

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