Pen Name: None. I write under Sue or S.A. Monkress
1. Tell us a little about yourself:
I am a native Okie, transplanted to Mississippi ten years ago, to be closer to my grandkids. My former career involved several positions at Conoco Phillips Company, where I retired in 2005. I love the coast with its beautiful gulf, friendly people and inspiring wealth of artists and writers.
2. When and why did you begin writing?
A story in the back of my mind for over a decade kept nagging my thoughts, so I began writing it down while still working full time. After retirement, I pulled it out and with some encouragement by our local writers’ group (Gulf Coast Writers Association), I finished the writing and published Long Horizon in 2009. That saga was about … what else? … an ambitious young woman in 1914 Oklahoma who builds an oil company. Since then, I’ve written three other books; the latest is My Gabe, with a spiritual theme.
3. When did you first consider yourself a writer? That’s an interesting question, one I struggled with myself. I guess it felt real when a dear friend, who egged me on by anxiously reading each section of my first book, said, “You ARE an author.”
4. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
In My Gabe I want teens and young adults, particularly girls, to realize how precious they are and to strive to live a worthy life.
5. Do you have a mentor or writing group?
Yes, the Gulf Coast Writers Assoc.
6. What are your current projects?
I’m now working on some kids’ stories — one in particular is Granny the Spy.
7. Do you see writing as a career?
Not really. I write because I enjoy it. If any money follows … that’s a bonus.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What really strikes you about their work?
I love John Grisham’s legal thrillers. Working with attorneys in several of my past jobs gave me a fascination with how the law impacts us and his courtroom scenes are dramatic. I also like the “Jesse Stone” books by Robert Parker. Jesse is a man of few words, more action. I don’t enjoy “wordy” books; just prefer those with a compelling story.
9. Who designed your covers?
I painted the cover for my collection of short stories; used my travel photo of an old ship for another book, The Adventure of Will Walker; two others were covers I selected from the art portfolio of the companies who published Long Horizon and My Gabe.
Are your writings based on someone you know or events in your own life?
My characters are sometimes vague composites of different people I’ve met, but everything I’ve written so far is fiction.
What books or type of books have most influenced your life as a writer?
Gone with the Wind made me love bigger-than-life epic stories.
What book(s) are you reading now?
Because of its success on cable, I’m reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, to see what makes it so marketable.
How do you help new writers?
I tell them what has been successful for me and what has not.
Other than family members, who has supported you most and how?
My friends have been the most supportive. They actually READ for me and give me criticism and suggestions. That is so important for a writer.
What was the hardest part of writing your latest book?
Trying to get the message across without being “preachy.”
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just go for it! Write, then step away from it for awhile; take your time; get good criticism from others; and edit, edit, edit!
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you will pass the word about My Gabe. My goal is to inspire young people.