SPECIAL INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN FOX
International, award-winning author, Susan Fox (AKA Susan Lyons and Savanna Fox) is known for her sexy contemporary romances that blend real life drama as well as sympathetic main characters. Her current series, Caribou Crossing is set in British Columbia and is an actual ranching community filled with real people. As a big fan, of the series, I feel as if I know the town and it characters -even though the characters are imaginary! What makes her books so special is how this talented writer tackles great tragedies as well as heart rending triumphs. And I can’t get enough of them!
So when I had the chance to interview her about her seventh novel in the Caribou series, Ring of Fire, I couldn’t wait.
1) Thank you taking the time to be on our website. For new readers, can you tell us what draws you to write romance?
Susan Fox: Thank you for inviting me, Steph! I’m delighted to be here. And thank you so much for those wonderful compliments about my books. I’m so glad you enjoy them.
When I first started writing fiction, I tried to write mysteries, but I found that I was way more interested in character than in plot, and especially interested in romantic relationships. A romance novel provides so many amazing opportunities for a writer (especially one with a psychology degree!). I get to explore what it means to fall in love, how you know it’s love rather than just lust or liking, and what it takes to make a relationship last long-term. The path of true love is never straightforward in a romance novel. The couple faces many challenges, and in my books those challenges force them to recognize some hard truths about themselves and to grow emotionally—basically, to become worthy of love and to win that love. As a reader, I’m also very fond of women’s fiction and the issues raised by its authors, and I can incorporate similar themes in my romances—such as losing a loved one, betrayal, single parenthood, facing serious illness or injury, dealing with PTSD, or learning to trust again after domestic abuse.
Some uninformed people disparage romance fiction as trivial. I believe the exact opposite. If you asked almost anyone what’s the one thing they most want, it would either be world peace or to love and be loved. Romance fiction is about the latter—and if everyone did have love, I’m pretty sure we’d also have world peace. So, what’s romance fiction about? Only the most important things in the world.
2) I feel the same way. Romance and love have an inspiring impact for many. I’ve always admired that you have tackled some serious issues in your writing (that many authors would not), where do you get your inspiration? Is there anything that most authors feel is a taboo subject that you have thought about writing or been hesitant to write about?
Susan Fox: Thanks. I’m glad you enjoy that aspect of my books. It’s important to me that my characters and books reflect real people with real problems. Some readers are looking for pure fantasy, heroines and heroes who are very much larger than life rather than being like us and our friends. But I’d rather write and read about more realistic characters who face the kinds of challenges that we do. Reading about characters who face significant challenges with courage, who have the strength to recognize their frailties and to grow and change, gives us all encouragement and hope to do the same. I also believe that people who must cope with issues like bipolar disorder or physical disability are just as deserving of romance and love as anyone else, and it’s important to me to portray them as romance heroines and heroes.
As for taboo subjects, I avoid incest for obvious reasons. I’ve avoided having an adulterous hero or heroine because it’s hard to view them as romantic—but I do think it’s possible and it’s something I might tackle down the road.
3) Can you tell us how you started the Caribou Crossing series? How many books do you plan to write?!
Susan Fox: Though I lived in Vancouver at the time and loved it, I also love the countryside and horses. I took a writing retreat at The Hills Health Ranch in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, and loved it. It provided great inspiration. First, I wrote a short story about a country girl and a city slicker, which was published in Woman’s World magazine. Out of that story grew the idea for Home on the Range. As I got to know Jess and Evan, the heroine and hero of that book, I realized that there were two other characters who deserved their own romances (Evan’s still-young mother and Jess’s ex-husband), and that led to the next two books. My editor and I decided to make it a series, and I’ve had a wonderful time writing the books. Ring of Fire will be followed in October by Holiday in Your Heart, a Christmas story and the final Caribou Crossing romance.
My publisher and I agreed that eight titles makes for a fairly long series. So I’m starting out a brand new series in 2017, Blue Moon Harbor, set on a fictional Gulf Island near Victoria, BC. The characters, issues, and writing style will be similar to the Caribou Crossing Romances, but rather than a small-town ranching community, the setting is a ruggedly picturesque Pacific Northwest island populated with some rather eccentric characters. In the first book, Fly Away with Me, the hero owns the local seaplane business and the heroine is an Ottawa lawyer who comes to the island in search of her long-lost aunt.
4) Sound very interesting.... In your latest Caribou Crossing novel, Ring of Fire, you address the subject of a single woman with a son that has cerebral palsy. Can you tell us why you decided to write about such a debilitating condition?
Susan Fox: Because not all kids are born “perfect”—although of course in Lark Cantrell’s eyes her ten-year-old son Jayden is as perfect as they come (and he truly is a charmer!). As with my heroines and heroes, I want to show that the world is diverse and that kids and parents often have major issues to deal with—but that their lives can still be rich and rewarding. Jayden’s physical disability also gave me an opportunity to connect him with Major Eric Weaver, a soldier with a prosthetic leg and PTSD. Eric’s and Jayden’s physical therapist teams them up doing riding therapy with Sally Ryland (the heroine of Love Somebody Like You). When infant Jayden was diagnosed with CP, his father couldn’t handle the fact that his son was “flawed” and he walked out on his wife and son. In contrast, the respectful way Eric treats Jayden is one of the things that makes Lark realize he’s a man worth caring about.
5) What makes your heroine Lark so special?
Susan Fox: Her strength, her close-knit small family (it’s just her, her mom, and her son), and her commitment to her job and community. She’s the child of an indigenous single mom, her husband deserted her and Jayden, and she’s raising a child with significant health issues—but she never falters. She’s also not only worked hard to realize her childhood dream of being a firefighter, but she’s now the fire chief of Caribou Crossing, a highly demanding job.
But of course there’s a flip side to all that strength, because every heroine needs a vulnerability. Lark has bought into the notion of the curse of the Cantrell women: that they’re doomed to pick the wrong men (like her grandfather, father, and ex-husband). She works with men, has male friends, and occasionally has a totally casual fling, but she’s not about to let a man into her heart. She doesn’t trust them, which really means she doesn’t trust her judgment to pick a good one.
6) I think there are a lot of single mothers that are underrepresented in romances. Do you think you will write more about their challenges? Or have more single mothers as heroines?
Susan Fox: As a matter of fact, I have two of them in the works! I’ve just started a holiday novella about a single mother. As a party-oriented university student, Jillian Summers found herself pregnant. She rejected the father’s suggestion that she terminate the pregnancy and then she rejected his obligation-driven marriage proposal, knowing that the two of them didn’t have strong feelings for each other. Years later, the boy’s dad, after having paid child support but never having seen his son, turns up at Christmas thinking that maybe he’d like to get to know his child. This story is title 2 in my new Blue Moon Harbor series, and will be published in 2017 as part of the Fern Michael's Christmas anthology. And it just so happens that title 3 also features a single mom and a widower with two kids.
7) Great, something to look forward to! Your hero also faces many emotional as well as physical challenges. As a soldier injured in combat it seems very relevant. What made you feel impelled to write about him?
Susan Fox: The timeliness, for one thing. So many soldiers come home damaged, physically and/or emotionally. In Eric’s case, it’s both. He’s as physically and mentally strong as Lark and he’s a career soldier, determined to get back to active duty. His strength has allowed him to cope with a leg amputation, multiple surgeries to both legs, wearing a prosthesis, and restoring his physical strength and capabilities. But no amount of steely determination is overcoming his PTSD. Eric’s father, a career soldier, is a “mind over matter” guy who thinks PTSD is a mental weakness and that soldiers who can’t overcome it are pussies. I wanted to show how wrong his father is, and also to show that healing is a slow process but it is possible, especially when loved ones are understanding and supportive. I also wanted readers to understand that PTSD can happen to people other than soldiers. For example, in the support group Eric attends there are female and male victims of sexual assault, an army nurse, a girl who lost a leg in a car accident, and a bank manager who was held up at gunpoint.
8) I have to say you choose characters that must struggle and overcome serious obstacles. Wouldn’t it be easier to write about less complex main characters?!
Susan Fox: LOL. Probably not, for me. I’m not sure I’m capable of it. There’s that psych degree entering in again! I’m fascinated by complexity. Besides, when you think about your own family and friends, can you honestly say that any of them are—hmm, what’s the opposite of complex?—simple? It’s the serious obstacles that test us (test our mettle, as Eric’s father puts it) and they make for the kind of stories I enjoy: ones that are emotional and that involve character growth as well as a well-deserved happy ending.
9) Well, I'm sure glad you do! I know it is early but I hope you have another Caribou Crossing romance coming soon! If so, can you give us a sneak peak?!
Susan Fox: Oh yes, there is one more, the final book in the series. Holiday in Your Heart will be out in October and as you can guess from the title, it’s a Christmas romance. The one thing Maribeth Scott has always known is that she wants, more than anything, to be a mom. She’s dated “men, men, men” since she was a teen but never found “the one.” And so, as her fortieth birthday approaches, she decides on artificial insemination. Well, of course that’s the exact time that fate sends her Mo Kincaid, a man she might actually fall in love with. He’s a redeemed sinner and a good man, but there’s a big hitch: he totally screwed up parenthood the first time around and has resolved never to do it again. But Caribou Crossing is a magical place and Christmas is a magical time—and who knows, maybe miracles really can happen!
10) Only one more!! Okay, I’m curious, since Caribou Crossing is a real town, do you get letters from fans from the town? Do they ever correct you?!
Susan Fox: The real Caribou Crossing is in the Yukon and my fictional one is in British Columbia. No, I have never received a letter from a resident of the real town. It’s kind of surprising, but on the other hand I’ve set stories in Vancouver, BC, and no one has ever confused it with Vancouver, WA. When I first created my setting, a former gold rush town that later turned to ranching and tourism, I called it Whiskey Creek. But just as I was contracting for the series, Brenda Novak came out with her Whiskey Creek series. My second choice for a town name was Fool’s Gold and, guess what, Susan Mallery was coming out with her Fool’s Gold series. So I went back to the drawing board. And I thought of an old TV show I used to enjoy, Northern Exposure, set in a small town in Alaska. The title credits had a caribou wandering through the rustic downtown. When I suggested Caribou Crossing, my publisher was happy with it.
11) I know you also write under different pen names. As Susan Lyons and Savanna Fox you have written some pretty steamy romances. Do you have plans to write more? Or have they been retired forever?!
Susan Fox: I think the Susan Lyons and Savanna Fox pen names have been retired. The truth is, those books didn’t sell well enough to please the publishers. It’s all about the numbers because this is, after all, a business. One day, I’ll get my rights back to the books and then I’ll likely update them and self-publish them, but most probably I’ll use my Susan Fox pen name. I never liked having different pen names because I thought it was confusing for readers. The Susan Lyons and Savanna Fox books are a little steamier than some of the Susan Fox ones, but they have the same kind of characters, issues, and emotions. I think they appeal to the same readers.
Wow! What can I say, it is always such and honor to have you on our website. Thank you so for being here :) I love your writing.
Susan Fox: I am delighted to visit, Steph! Thank you so much for having me.
Interviewed by Steph from the Bookaholics Romance Book Club
For Additional Information about Susan Fox check her out at:
Recent and Upcoming Romances by Susan Fox:
RING OF FIRE BOOK 7 -May 31, 2016
No one is a stranger in Caribou Crossing, a small Western town made for healing and second chances…
She's raising her son on her own, but that's just fine with Lark Cantrell. Caribou Crossing's fire chief comes from a long line of strong, independent women--who have lousy luck with men. Lark's ex-husband walked out when Jayden was born with cerebral palsy. No matter--Jayden, now ten, is a bright, terrific kid, and the love of her life. When it comes to men, Lark is content with the occasional casual hookup; there's no room in her heart for more disappointment.
Major Eric Weaver is in Caribou Crossing for one reason: to complete his rehabilitation so he can return to active service. Haunted by what went down in Afghanistan, his wounded soul isn't healing as quickly as his body. But it's almost impossible to resist the appeal of the sexy, feisty fire chief and her plucky son--not to mention the friendly, caring small town way of life. In Lark's loving arms, the scarred soldier begins to believe he may finally have found his true home…
LOVE SOMEBODY LIKE YOU BOOK 6 -Sept. 29, 2015
With its breathtaking terrain and welcoming people, the Western town of Caribou Crossing is the perfect place for a heart to heal, and for love to blossom once more…
Since the death of her husband three years ago, young widow Sally Ryland has kept to herself and focused on her struggling business, Ryland Riding. Folks assume she’s still grieving, because Sally has never shared the truth about her abusive marriage, or the trust issues that remain. But when a sexy rodeo rider from her past turns up for a visit, he’s a reminder of the feisty woman she once was—and maybe still could be…
Ben Traynor was always attracted to Sally, but he didn’t move fast enough. Now what Sally needs is patience and gentleness. With an injury keeping him from his next rodeo, Ben has the perfect excuse to stick around and help with her chores—and her healing. And as Sally finds the courage to face her demons and open her heart again, she’ll have to decide if what she has with Ben is more than safety, gratitude, and short-term passion, but a forever love…
LOVE ME TENDER BOOK 5 -Dec. 2, 2014
Pay a visit to Caribou Crossing, the rustic, inviting Western town where broken hearts mend and new love takes root…
Dave Cousins, owner of the Wild Rose Inn, is known throughout Caribou Crossing as the nicest--and loneliest--guy in town. He's had his heart broken more than once, and he's determined not to let it happen again. So it's no wonder he's wary when a free-spirited drifter leaves him longing for more than just a steamy fling…
Like the wild goose tattooed on her shoulder, Cassidy Esperanza goes wherever the wind takes her. For her, a new day means a fresh start. And yet something about her days in Caribou Crossing--and nights with its handsome hotel owner--makes her think about staying a while. But when life takes an unexpected turn, her first instinct is to take flight once more. Is Dave strong enough to help them both face their fears, come to terms with the past, and believe that sometimes love truly can last a lifetime?
STAND BY YOUR MAN BOOK 4 -June 24, 2014
Karen MacLean is a hardworking, well-respected corporal for the Caribou Crossing detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Though she secretly longs for marriage and a home like the one she grew up in, she's made her job her top priority and grown accustomed to being alone. But a handsome sergeant whose will is as strong as her own could change everything she thought she believed. . .
Sergeant Jamal Estevez is often trusted with undercover work, but his greatest challenge has been to conceal his true identity as a recovering alcoholic. A city guy who's never had a real home, he's starting to find peace riding the country roads of Caribou Crossing--with beautiful Corporal MacLean. As the attraction between them grows, Jamal may discover that the life Karen has been hoping for is exactly what he's needed all along. . .
GENTLE ON MY MIND BOOK 3 -Sept. 3, 2013
Brooke Kincaid knows second chances don't come cheap. She's spent five years repairing past mistakes and making her life in Caribou Crossing steady and predictable. But now a stranger's Harley has shattered her fence and her peace of mind in one swoop. Brooke is drawn to everything about wounded undercover cop Jake Brannon--his raw masculinity, his tenderness, and the undisguised desire that makes her feel more alive than she's ever been.
By rights, Brooke should curse Jake for complicating her life. Instead she's offered him a place to heal and a cover story as he searches for a wanted man. Jake knows she's vulnerable, but she's also strong, kind, and hotter than hellfire. It's a combination that could make even a die-hard loner long to put up his boots and put down roots at last, and show her just how good a second chance can get. . .
HOME ON THE RANGE BOOK 2 -Aug 6, 2013
For Evan Kincaid, the best thing about his dusty hometown was watching it fade into the distance. Jessica Bly was the only one who didn’t treat him like an outsider, and their friendship ended with one mind-blowing night of young passion. Now they’ve both got the lives they planned—Evan in New York, Jess with her beloved horses in Caribou Crossing. But business has brought Evan back to Jess’s Crazy Horse ranch on a mission that could destroy whatever’s left of her trust.
Ten years ago, Jess wanted one perfect night to remember Evan by. What she got was a broken heart and a secret that’s kept them strangers ever since. The boy she knew was sexy and sweet;the man he’s become leaves her breathless. And no matter how much she tells herself that country girl and city boy don’t belong together, in her heart she wants to believe his home has been right here all along…
CARIBOU CROSSING BOOK 1 -June 25, 2013
Wade Bly is certain of his destiny: He’ll marry his high school sweetheart, Miriam, work at his father’s ranch, and eventually inherit the place and make it his own. And of course, they’ll have a few kids once they’ve had time to enjoy married life and save some money. But when an unexpected pregnancy speeds up their plans, Wade can only hope he’s up for the challenge…
Miriam always knew she and Wade would be happy together. He’s a good provider and a doting father to their spirited daughter, Jess. And when the lights go out, he’s the passionate cowboy of her wildest dreams. But when a string of disappointments leaves them both feeling doubtful about their future, they’ll have to rediscover themselves and their love—to see that the life they fear is over is really just beginning…