"THE EMPRESSCHRONICLES is about teen girls, but it's also about what it's like forall of us to navigate our family circumstances and discover what andwhom we love." - Teri Carter, Carter Library
"It's Judy Blume meets Philippa Gregory - part YA, part historical fiction -all told in Suzy's gorgeous and raw style that takes you right back tothe heartbreaking days of being a teen." - Amy, Goodreads review
From the Author
Q. First, tell us a little about yourself:
A. I was born in Vienna, Austria, and lived there through first grade -then we moved to the U.S. - first the East Coast, then the West Coast.I've lived in dozens of cities, and probably honed some "spy" tendencies just trying to fit in (accents, clothes, social norms, etc...). I'vealways been fascinated by strong girls/women who follow the beat oftheir own drums, and those are typically the characters that I am mostinterested in creating.
Q. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What was your first story about?
A. True story: my mother used to entertain me by throwing newspapers andmagazines into my playpen. I've been creating fairy tales in my headsince infancy. I got my first diary (with a lock/key, the whole deal) at six, and have written ever since. The first actual "book" I wrote wasin sixth grade; it was called "A Plot to Kill a King" and was set in the jungle. The heroes were a giraffe named Gerald and his best friend, ahippo whose name I can't recall. The antagonist was a lion named Rex. He was a slaver. He had this army and these underground tunnels. Gerald,of course, prevailed.
Q. What's your writingprocess? Do you plan (outline) everything out, or just write as itcomes? Do you have any special requirements or quirks about your writing process?
A. I'm a "pantser" by nature, but because of thecomplexity of Empress (two narratives; two arcs) I did plot out possible scenarios. Also, the historical context of the novel had me referringto a backlog of notes and source materials, so the process for this book was involved and messy. But so much fun!
My mind is a tadchaotic: many possibilities, voices, potential events for the givencharacters. It's always helpful, at some point, to keep a runningdocument of plot points. That doc gets revised many times as I movethrough the drafts.
Q. Who are some of your writing inspirations?
A. I love the humor of Lorrie Moore, the ironic voice of Antonya Nelson,the imagination of Beatrix Potter, the courage and intelligence ofLaurie Halse Anderson, the energy and generosity of Leigh Bardugo, theauthority of Junot Diaz, the heart of Tom Spanbauer ... I could fill abook with my inspirations!
Q. What's the last best book you read?
A. I am nearing the end of THE GIRLS OF CORONA DEL MAR by Rufi Thorpe and I'm so hungry for her next book!
Q. What literary character do you most identify with, and why?
A. Harriet the Spy. It was my favorite book as a child. I could so identify with hiding and eavesdropping.
Q. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
A. To turn fear into positive energy.
Q. What's your favorite movie, or what TV show are you addicted to?
A. Loved TRUE DETECTIVE until the final episode. Total fan of first twoseasons of DOWNTON ABBEY. MAD MEN, I think, has been my consistent fave. I've loved every season.
Films: my favorite of all time is YOU CAN COUNT ON ME.
Q. The Empress Chronicles is your second full-length novel, was it easier or more difficult to write than The Moment Before?
A. Oh, thanks for asking! I wrote Empress before THE MOMENT BEFORE! Iwrote several drafts of Empress, got an agent for it, revised with theagent's notes, and still the sucker wasn't quite ready. So I put it in a drawer, wrote Moment in a couple of months, my agent sold it, and then I hired an independent editor to help me restructure Empress. Which Idid. I probably wrote ten drafts of Empress and only two of Moment.(note: which is why I've outlined a second and part of a third book inthe series - I have lots of extra material!)
Q. What are you working on next?
A. I am tweaking a sequel to THE MOMENT BEFORE, and have aged thecharacters to be "millennials" - Brady and Connor are now 22, and theyare involved in a complex love triangle. And working on a draft of anEMPRESS sequel.
Q. Is The Empress Chronicles a stand-alone novel, or will it be part of a series?
A. Oh, thanks for asking this, too! I am continuing on with the Empress.If the book does well, I will absolutely write at least two more "Sisi"books.
Q. What's a two-sentence summary of The Empress Chronicles?
A. THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES is the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria'steenage years when she frolicked through the Bavarian forest recordingsecrets in a tiny leather journal, and the present-day Liz who, whilebattling her own inner demons, discovers the journal along with a locket that has the power to rewrite history and both young women makealarming discoveries about humanity and the power of words.
Q. What was your inspiration for The Empress Chronicles?
A. My fascination for Sisi - Austria's "reluctant" empress. Having spentmy early years soaking up everything "Vienna" - the interest in thisiconic figure blossomed, and eventually, I found a way to capture what I believed to be her spirited childhood.
Also, I had a distantrelative (Wassmuth) who painted the last portrait of Franz Joseph(though I didn't find that out until I was well underway with thenovel).
Q. Did you need to do a lot of research for the historical aspects of the novel?
A. Oh my, yes! I've been to the Sisi Museum in Vienna twice, have allsorts of translated source material, and my office is its own SisiMuseum.
Q. Did you have a lot of input on the cover? What's your favorite thing about it? Who designed it?
A. I can't tell you how pleased I am with this cover!! It's absolutelyperfect. The publisher hired the cover artist, so I don't know who cameup with it, but the only input I had was a suggestion to figure out away to blur the contemporary/historical narratives. I love how the cover gives context to the story - and provides a sort of "teaser" to therelationship between the characters. It's up-market and provocativewhile aesthetically quite beautiful. Don't you agree? (Yes! The coverbrings to mind one of the DVD covers of The Princess Bride - one of myall-time favorite movies!)
Q. Without spoilers, can you tell us what your favorite scene to write in The Empress Chronicles was? The most difficult?
A. Favorite would be when Liz (dear Liz!) does something near the end that is incredibly heroic because it pushes all of her OCD buttons.
Difficult: Figuring out the agenda of the historical anti-heroes. It's much easier for me to envision what the "good guys" want. Harder for me is to plotout the motivations of deceit.
Q. Is there a question I should have asked? (Anything you want to share about your book?)
A. Gosh, you were so thorough! Thanks again for this chance to speak about my book a little. I do want to let readers know that I've maintained awhimsical blog in the voice of "The Empress" for many years. If anyonewants to check it out, they can visit: empresschronicles dot wordpressdot com