Susan Sleeman interviews Sibella:
Q: Let me start with asking you to tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: Really happy wife and mom. Writer. Runner. Raleigh Harmon’s creator.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: Writing was just something I always did–journals, letters, graffiti. Any kind of playing with words, I was interested. Plus my grandmother was a librarian–that sealed my fate.
Q: Could you give us the highlights of your professional writing career including how you got your first writing break?
A: My first writing break came from a southern newspaper that hired me to write stories. Not even newsworthy stories. Just great tales. I loved living in the south for this very reason. The rest of the world kept cutting news down to sound bites. But in the South? “Sit a spell and tell us what really happened.” That meant I got to interview people–prisoners on death row, struggling mothers of special needs children, sweet grandmothers who could snap a chicken’s neck with one hand, characters, kooks, and celebrities. All these people answered my rude questions, then allowed me tell their story to strangers. It was the most humbling and wonderful job for a young writer.
Q: Would you tell us about your current book release–the trilogy of Raleigh Harmon mysteries: Stone and Spark, Stone and Snow, and Stone and Sand?
A: My first Raleigh Harmon series focuses about her work as a forensic geologist and FBI agent. Right now, there are five books in that series with more coming. But this trilogy goes back to when Raleigh’s a teenager, figuring out how geology can solve crimes. And since being a teenager means figuring out your identity, Raleigh’s realizing just how much the truth matters to her–even the ugly truth. She’s a fun teenager to write about.
Also, the young adult mysteries work as prequels to the adult series. Readers get a good glimpse into how Raleigh Harmon became the adult she is.
Q: Where did you get your inspiration for the young adult Raleigh Harmon mysteries?
A: Readers kept asking about Raleigh’s father. In the adult mysteries, he was murdered before the series began. But I wanted to write more about him, and I didn’t want to burden the story with a bunch of flashbacks. Since I adore teenagers, I started playing with the idea of showing her life when her father was still alive, and how he influenced her decisions to become a crime investigator, fighting for justice.
Q: What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this series?
A: No matter what life throws at you, fight back. Scripture talks about being an overcomer. Not giving in to despair, defeat. That’s the whole crux of being a Believer in a fallen world. As JFK once said, “Don’t pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.”
In every book, Raleigh Harmon has to fight her way to the finish. And every fight makes her stronger.
Q: What is your favorite scene/chapter from the book?
A: In these three young adult books, I really enjoy her interactions with her dad and her best friend. Maybe because by the time we read about Raleigh’s adult life, she’s a closed-off soul. She doesn’t open up emotionally very often. But in these books, her heart is still quite tender. And like all teens, she’s searching for her who she is, what she believes.
Q: What inspires you to write?
A: Wonder. I look around this world, and I wonder. Why people do what they do? Why are some people able to make good choices and others not? And then the big wonders of nature, the sheer magnitude of what’s been created for our pleasure. That wonder leaves me yearning to share with readers. And I hope when they close the book, they feel a renewed sense of wonder.
Q: How has being a published novelist differed from your expectations of the profession?
A: Well, I was fortunate to write for daily newspapers. That work rids you of any pretentious ideas about writing being glamorous. Writing is hard work. But it’s excellent and beautiful hard work.
Q: What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?
A: Don’t listen to the horrible defeatist living inside your head. When you’re writing, just write from the heart. Don’t let that critical voice steal your joy before you’re done telling your story.
Q: Would you share with us what you are working on now?
A: I’m finishing up the next mystery in the adult Raleigh Harmon series, then another young Raleigh. My goal is to write two Raleigh books each year, one for the adult series, one for young adult.
Q: When you’re not writing what do you like to do?
A: Run. Read. Hang out with my family–I get to live with really funny guys. I also like to eat good food.
If all of those things happen in the same day, I feel deliriously happy.
Q: Where can readers find you on the internet?
A: Please come visit my Facebook author page and meet the amazing Raleigh Readers. They’re a great bunch.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell or share with us?
A: Thank you for having me, Susan. I find so many new books to read because of your website.
You know that saying, An apple a day keeps the doctor away? I think we should change it to reflect reading reality: A book a day keeps the blues away.
SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of inspirational and clean read romantic suspense books. Awards include Thread of Suspicion-2013 Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Best Book Award, No Way Out-2014 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalist, and The Christmas Witness-2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence finalist.
In addition to writing, Susan also hosts the popular website The Suspense Zone. She currently lives in Oregon with her husband, but has lived in nine states. They have two daughters, a son-in-law, and an adorable grandson. To learn more about Susan visit her website.