OCFW's Terri Weldon interviews debut author Susan Crawford.
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Susan's first novel, Saving Justice released March 24, 2015 from Redbud Press. I had the privilege of reading an advanced reader copy – it’s excellent! Even better, it is the first book in a series. And if you’re anything like me, you love a series.
SC: You’re so sweet, Terri. Thanks for the kind words. I started studying about five years ago. I’ve always loved reading, but one day a sudden urge to write fiction hit me upside the head and I knew I had to give it a shot. The only problem was that I had no earthly idea how to write a novel, or even how to come up with an idea. So I went to the library and checked out everything on fiction writing I could find, hauled a giant stack of books home (told my family to stop looking at me like I was a weirdo), and began to comb through them. After about six months of studying, I felt like it was time to try my hand at actually writing, and I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). By the end of that month, I had completed my first rough draft, and I was hooked. I’ve been trying to learn how to improve my writing ever since.
TW: One of my favorite things about the book is that your characters seem so real. Flawed humans who’ve been forgiven. I loved it! I think it will resonate with readers. What made you decide to give Nash the past you painted for him?
SC: I started out knowing a lot about Kinley, and I needed a hero whose goal would be in conflict with hers. She wants to give her whole life to the kids of Martindale, so I needed a guy who’d want to stay out of that neighborhood with every fiber of his being. As I started digging into Nash’s character, I asked why he didn’t want to go back and the wounds from his past began to show up. It all made total sense to me, and I loved the idea that our pasts, even when they’re painful, shape us into who we’re meant to be.
TW: The book is set in a neighborhood in Oklahoma City. It gave the city setting a small town feel. Loved that! Is Martindale a real or fictitious area?
SC: It’s completely fictitious, but it was inspired by a handful of different neighborhoods I’ve experienced. I really wanted to show what an under-resourced area looks like from an inside perspective. And I wanted it to have a small-town feel, so I’m super happy that you felt that when you read it!
TW: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
SC: I think I’m a plotser. I have to know the key plot points before I can begin, but I also discover lots of surprises along the way. Usually, my characters will say or do something that reveals more of who they are or how they tick, and it helps me strengthen their motivations, which makes the plot points come together in a more believable way. So, I guess I’m a little of both.
TW: Your heroine is such a loving and compassionate woman. I loved her concern for Justice and the other children in her class. Is there a part of you in Kinley? (For those of you reading this, Susan is a wonderful person, who I could easily see being this type of teacher.)
SC: (Excuse me while I die laughing!) That is such a sweet compliment, but the people closest to me would enjoy telling you that I could never, ever be a teacher like Kinley. I actually patterned her after two of my dearest friends, who I greatly admire. Neither of them would hesitate to jump in with both feet to help one of their students, and I wish I were more like that. There are a couple of my quirks in Kinley, though. I consume warm chocolate chip cookies like they’re going out of style—I bake them when I’m stressed or bored or happy or any other emotion. And I’m not exactly a neat-freak. When Kinley can’t find her laptop because it’s shoved under the couch that’s piled with stuff, that may or may not have been a true snapshot of my living room. (My husband loves this about me. Only not.) We can’t all be good at everything, right? :-)
TW: Nash has a hard time believing his brother, Cade, is a changed man. Do you think it is hardest for family to trust the changes in a relative’s life?
SC: Sadly, I do think that is often the case. Our families are the ones who hope for the absolute best for us, but they’re also the ones who have to deal with us when we’re at our worst. They’re usually the ones who have to pick up the pieces or do damage control when we make terrible decisions, so even if they want to believe the best, they have some painful wounds that make it hard to be hopeful. But it can be done. I think it just takes a lot of grace on both sides to journey through difficult seasons together. For Nash and Cade, it took some time for a foundation of trust to be rebuilt, and they had to be willing to talk about the hard stuff. But in the end, God loves to reconcile our relationships, and it’s a beautiful thing to experience. I wanted that for Nash and Cade.
TW: Kinley and Nash spend a lot of time together, yet you still manage to keep them apart. I’m always fascinated at how authors manage that feat. Can you share your secret?
SC: Well, I gotta be honest. My secret is named Lacy Williams, Managing Editor of Redbud Press. I turned in my manuscript and she gave me eleven pages of revision notes (bless her heart!) that said things like, “Increase the conflict here. They’re being too nice to each other.” So, I just tried to do everything she said, and I was SO much happier with the story after I made those changes. Keeping the hero & heroine together-but-apart is one of the hardest things for me, but I’m learning as I go.
TW: Redbud Press is a new publisher with an impressive line-up of books on the horizon. How does it feel to be part of a new publishing venture?
SC: I absolutely love it! I’m a bit of a pioneer at heart, so being part of Redbud as it begins is thrilling for me. Plus, the women at the head of the company are insanely talented, as are all the other authors they’ve contracted. It is a huge honor for me to be involved in such a great company.
TW: I fell in love with Cade and can’t wait to read his story. When does it release?
SC: Cade captivated me, too! He’s one of my favorite characters so far. I’m working on revisions for his story right now. It will be released this fall.
TW: Susan, thanks for taking the time to visit with us today! To find out more about Susan, visit her online at to sign up for her email newsletter and be the first to hear about her writing news and upcoming releases. You can also connect with her at any of the following links: Facebook. Twitter. Pinterest. Goodreads.
About Saving Justice:
|Click HERE to purchase.|
After losing her brother to gang-related violence, elementary schoolteacher Kinley is on a mission to help her at-risk students. When one of them, Justice, is caught in an act of vandalism, she intervenes.
Entrepreneur Nash McGuire has gone to great lengths to overcome the poverty he grew up in. When working on a renovation project in his old neighborhood he collides with a juvenile delinquent and his do-gooder teacher.
Kinley believes Justice can overcome the influence of his environment; Nash knows the odds and has little patience with Kinley’s naivety. But as the boy’s mandatory community service forces Justice and Kinley into Nash’s life, he can’t help but discover a boy searching for love and purpose–a boy very much like he once was.
Then Justice is accused of another crime. And Kinley’s stubborn belief in the boy’s innocence is just too much for Nash to accept…