Author Interview: M.E. Sutton
Mary Sutton has been writing stories since she was 13. She writes the HERO’S SWORD ebook series as M.E. Sutton. She also writes crime fiction under the name Liz Milliron. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Pennwriters. She lives with her family in Pittsburgh, PA.
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When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I suppose I knew I wanted to write when I was 13. I wasn’t very popular in school, and when I wanted to retreat I was always either reading or writing.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure I have one – unless it’s that I can write just about anywhere. Quiet, noisy, while watching TV, once I get in the groove I completely loose track of my surroundings.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
In creating HERO’S SWORD, I think the most surprising thing is how much I enjoyed writing for a younger audience. I’ve never written for non-adults – not including what I wrote when I was a kid myself.
Where did you get ideas for your books?
Oh wow – anywhere! The original idea for HERO’S SWORD actually came from the publisher. But the ideas for the individual books, well, I just tried to think of how a lot of kids feel in middle school when they aren’t quite in the “in crowd.” The individual book story arcs come from anywhere – comments from my kids, things I read, random comments, etc.
Out of all the books you have written which is your favorite and why?
There is no way I can answer that! I love all of the stories I’ve written, published and unpublished, for different reasons.
What age group do you think best describes your reader?
For HERO’S SWORD, my target is really kids in grades 6-8, right around Jaycee’s age. I think a lot of kids will related to a character who is just trying to find her own space and identity. I’m watching my own kids and their friends go through it, so I think it’s a very common desire.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think, firstly, you have to have good characters. If the reader can’t root for the characters, it’s going to be hard to get into the story. Once you have good characters, put them in interesting situations and let them go.
Who are some of your favorite Authors?
Another hard one. For children’s literature, I love JK Rowling; her plotting is just amazing. I enjoy Rick Riordan’s Greek/Roman mythology-based stories. On the adult side, I’m a lifelong fan of Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark. More contemporary favorites include Jenna Bennett and Hank Phillippi Ryan.
If you could pick one actor to play a character in your book in the movie version, who would it be?
I love how Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss Everdeen in the “Hunger Games.” She’s probably a little old for Jaycee, but she’s got the right spirit for the role.
What song best describes your book and Why?
I think probably “Breakaway,” by Kelly Clarkson from the “Princess Diaries 2.” That song is about a girl breaking away from others’ expectations and finding herself, which is exactly what Jaycee is trying to do.
Who are some of the people that influenced your love of writing?
This list would be way too long. The authors I mentioned earlier, certainly, but my senior year high school English teacher, Mr. Herbert Taylor, always encouraged me. And while he didn’t provide writing-centric encouragement, my chemistry teacher, Mr. Eggleston, always told me I had a lot of potential.
If you had one piece of advice for an aspiring Author, what would it be?
Find the story of your heart and tell it. Believe in it. And always remember you’re the only one who can tell it, even if others tell you it’s a foolish dream.
What would you like to say to friends and family of writers (not just your own)?
When a writer talks to you about a problem she’s working through, don’t offer suggestions. Not right away. First let her talk because sometimes the talking is all she really needs.
What projects do you have up and coming?
Hopefully I’ll get a contract for the second book in the HERO’S SWORD series. I’m also working on a Nero Wolfe inspired novella, several police-procedural novelettes (long short stories), and I have a crime fiction short story scheduled to be published in an anthology in late 2013.
Is there anything else you want to share with your readers?
I have a deep, abiding love for dark chocolate. =)
An Excerpt from:
Power Play: Hero’s Sword Vol. 1
I expected to come in contact with my floor, but instead something that felt very much like grass smashed against my cheek, and the smell of dirt and fresh air filled my nose. Really fresh air. I hadn’t smelled air this fresh since that camping trip my parents had forced me to go on in fifth grade.
As soon as my vision cleared, I stood up. My nose and skin hadn’t lied to me. Instead of standing in my bedroom, I was in the middle of a grassy clearing, surrounded by massive trees. The sky above me was a brilliant blue, clearer than I’d ever seen. There were no clouds. I brushed my hands off on my pants and froze.
I was not wearing my usual jeans and t-shirt. Instead, I wore a long-sleeve linen shirt and a close-fitting leather vest. My legs were in tight pants, not uncomfortably tight, but much tighter than I preferred. Instead of sneakers, I wore soft leather boots that came to my knee. There were leather cuffs around my wrists, embossed with some sort of logo, but it was upside down and I didn’t recognize it. The only thing that seemed to be the same was my hair, which was still in a ponytail. But when I pulled it forward, it was a different color, a much deeper brown than it was normally. A few strands stuck to my forehead.
I was about to look at the logos more closely, when a voice shouted behind me. “Stand fast! Who are you, trespassing here? Turn around and name yourself!”
I did what any normal thirteen year old would do. I held out my hands, and turned around. Okay, maybe most thirteen-year olds would have run. But as soon as I saw the owner of the voice, I was glad I hadn’t.
He was tall and muscular – and holding a sword like he knew how to use it. He also looked very familiar, from his dark hair to his boots. His skin was tanned, like he spent a lot of time outdoors. “Um, hi,” I said.
The stranger lowered his sword, but didn’t put it away. “Greetings,” he said. “Might I ask of your name?”
I looked around. “Before I tell you that, would you do me a favor?” The stranger furrowed his brow, but nodded. “Where exactly am I? Like, the name of the town?”
The man’s brow crinkled further. “You are in the estate of Mallory, lands of Lady Starla Caval,” he said. My stomach felt hollow. Mallory is the name of my estate in Hero’s Sword. This was getting really weird.
“Uh, and who are you, exactly? I thought the lord of Mallory was Harald Caval.” I was afraid of the answer.
It wasn’t possible for his forehead to crease any further. “I am Roger Woodbridge, chief steward of Mallory,” he said. “Lord Harald is dead, Lady Starla is his daughter. “ The hollow feeling in my stomach increased. This was definitely weird.
I needed more information, right now. “So, Roger, what brings you to this clearing?” I said, trying to sound casual. Stu always tells me I’m horrible at that, but I tried anyway.
“I am on the lookout for a great hero of this land, the woman known as Lyla Stormbringer,” Roger said. “There is unrest in Mallory. Lady Starla’s reign is new and some of her people think she is unfit for her role. Bandits plague the highway and her ladyship cannot stop them. It is Lady Starla’s hope that Lyla Stormbringer can help bring peace to the estate and strengthen her rule.”
Okay, way, way too weird. This could not possibly be happening. The quest I had accepted was to hunt bandits on the main highway though Mallory. Had the Controllix brought me into the game? But that was impossible. I wouldn’t have believed it except for the fact that my pretend Mallory looked a lot like this place, there were characters named Roger Woodbridge and Lady Starla, and my avatar was definitely Lyla Stormbringer – and she dressed a lot like how I was dressed now. But somehow now seemed like a bad time to tell all this to Roger. Had I fallen asleep? I pinched myself, hard. It hurt. I looked around. Still in the clearing. Roger now looking at me in obvious concern. “Are you all right?” he said. “You seem dazed.”
I gazed at the trees again and the sky. I might as well go with it. I spread my hands. “I’m fine,” I said, even though I wasn’t feeling all that fine. “You said you were looking for Lyla Stormbringer. You found her. I’m Lyla.”