Interview with Susan May Warren

Author Chat banner SMW

Hello, dear reader friends. Tomorrow is a special day! My Australian compatriots would probably assume I’m talking about the Melbourne Cup—the race that ‘stops the nation’ (and even gives you a public holiday if you happen to live in the state of Victoria!). But if you’re a fan of Susan May Warren’s Montana Rescue series, you’ll know that tomorrow is also the day that the sixth and final book in the series, Wait For Me, releases.

We’ve been waiting for Pete’s story for sooooo long, and we’ll also finally get the resolution to Esme’s (Shae’s) disappearance, but this story will also be bittersweet, because after two years with these characters, it’s time to say goodbye. What better time to have a chat with the woman who’s behind it all, Susan May Warren?


~ About the Author ~

SusanGrowing up in Minneapolis and attending the U of MN, I learned to love city life, although I’m a woodsy girl at heart. Or maybe I’m an adventurer — having lived and traveled all over the world, including Siberia Russia as a missionary for eight years. Probably that’s why my characters can’t sit still, and seem to get into one scrape after another — they’re too much like me! I love God, my family, my country, my church, and feel privileged every day to be able to write stories.

Here’s my “Official” Bio.

With over 1 million books sold, critically acclaimed novelist Susan May Warren is the Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author of over forty-five novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill, and Summerside Press. Known for her compelling plots and unforgettable characters, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic-suspense, thrillers, rom-com and Christmas novellas.

With books translated into eight languages, many of her novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. She’s a three time RITA finalist and an eight time Christy Finalist.

Of her books, Publisher’s Weekly has written, “Warren lays bare her characters’ human frailties, including fear, grief, and resentment, as openly as she details their virtues of love, devotion, and resiliency. She has crafted an engaging tale of romance, rivalry, and the power of forgiveness.”

And Library Journal adds, “Warren’s characters are well-developed and she knows how to create a first rate contemporary romance…”

Susan is also a nationally acclaimed writing coach, teaching at conferences around the nation and winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year award. She loves to help people launch their writing careers and is the founder of http://www.MyBookTherapy.com and http://www.LearnHowtoWriteaNovel.com, a writing website that helps authors get published and stay published. She’s also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation.

Connect with Susie May:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Instagram

~ About the Book ~

Pete Brooks can’t believe he’s waited an entire year for Jess Tagg to return to Montana, only to have her break his heart by getting engaged to her ex-fiancé. Worse, a series of mistakes on the job have cost lives, and Pete isn’t sure he wants to continue to work in Search and Rescue. Maybe if he can just get over Jess, he can figure out how to move forward.

EMT Jess Tagg has returned to Montana to finally give her heart to Pete, but it seems he’s no longer interested. When a terrible fight between them sparks an impulsive decision, she finds herself crashed on the side of a highway along with Esme Shaw. And just when she thinks things couldn’t get any worse, she and Esme are taken captive and into the untamed Montana wilderness–with murderous intent.

Now Pete and the other PEAK Rescue Team members are in a race against time, the elements, and the actions of a vengeful man. Pete will have to use everything he’s learned to find Jess and Esme–and pray that his past mistakes don’t cost him the life of the woman he can’t stop loving.

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  Goodreads


~ Interview ~

Hi, Susie, and thank you so much for joining me today. 🙂 It’s two years since Wild Montana Skies first released, and the sixth and final book in the Montana Rescue series releases tomorrow. How does it feel to reach the end of a series, two years and six books later?

Oh, it’s so sad to say goodbye to these amazing heroes! Okay, we might see them again, now and again, but we’ve had such fun together. I hate for the party to end. But, they’ve all been through the wringer, and probably it’s time for them to settle into their happy endings.

You’re probably right. It’s been a pretty intense time for them! Let’s go back to the beginning. Where did the idea for this series come from?

I love the show Chicago Fire—the life and times of firefighters in Chicago. I wanted to create a similar group of heroes and heroines, put cowboy boots on them and send them Montana. I love Search and Rescue stories, so I thought—what if I set these in beautiful but dangerous Montana? (Specifically, Glacier National Park). And, what if I created an epic Missing Girl storyline to weave the stories together. It took a lot of planning, but as soon as I met the members of the PEAK Team, I knew we would all get along and write great stories together.

When you’re writing a multi-book series like this, how much of the series do you have planned from the beginning? How much brainstorming do you do, and how much is ‘seat-of-the-pants’?

When I’m planning a connected series—meaning a story arc extends over the entire series like the disappearance of Esme Shaw, in the Montana Rescue series, I always plot out the big pieces of each story—what will happen with the main arc in each book. Then, I divide up the stories and create blurbs for each book, trying to figure out who might be the best hero/heroine fit, and what story will the reader want. I brainstorm summaries for each of these books and that gives me a general direction, but it isn’t until I get to the actual book that I nail down what the story will be. At that time, I give myself freedom to change the plot of the individual story, but I keep the main series arc intact.

That thought both excites and exhausts me at the same time! So, after all that brainstorming, did you find that you had to change any of those plans as you wrote the series?

I made a few changes – e.g. I had planned for Storm Front to take place out of the country. As it was, I put Troubled Waters in international waters, so I decided to bring Storm Front to my home state of Minnesota. The one thread that I keep very loose is the subplot—although I have an idea who might be my subplot, I let that flex according to the movement of the series.

Not only is the series six books long, but each of these books have dealt with two different couples—one whose romance resolves by the end of the book, and one whose romance is just developing. How do you keep track of all the story lines as they cross between books?

I have BIG post-it notes (those big wall sheets)! And I keep a story grid for each character so I know what happens to them in each book. I keep those notes in front of me as a I write.  But yes, it can get confusing if I don’t write it down!

I bet that’s fun for your editor! 😉

You’re known for being a bit of an adventurer and have actually experienced some of the things you write about in your series. Can you share one thing that happens in the series that you have experienced and one that you haven’t experienced in real life? 

I have done many of the things my characters have done—e.g. rappelling, jet skiing, backpacking, downhill skiing, skydiving—even the house repairs that Jess is working on.  However, I haven’t needed to be rescued by doing those things!  And, I’ve never been a helicopter pilot (Wild Montana Skies), never got swept away in an avalanche (A Matter of Trust), never driven a motorcycle through a fire (Troubled Waters), I’ve never been a storm chaser (Storm Front)…and I’ve never been kidnapped (Wait for Me).  So…I had to use my imagination (and do research) to add those elements!

What was your favourite settings to write about during the series and why?

My favorite setting was Troubled Waters—set in the beautiful Caribbean. I love to SCUBA dive and of course I had to take a cruise to do all the research for this book!

Of course. The sacrifices you make for your readers. 😉

Okay, this is probably one of every author’s least favourite questions, but did you have a favourite couple in this series? You can be honest. This is just between you, me, and the Internet. 😉

Oh my. I love Ian and Sierra. But, of course my favorite is Pete and Jess. Seeing Pete’s transformation as he falls for Jess…and how hard he works to get her back. Yeah. Love that guy.

I’m pretty sure you’re not alone on that one!

Did anything take you completely by surprise as you wrote this series? 

I got myself into a bit of a pickle with Jess and Pete’s story because so much happened after Troubled Waters—an entire year went by after Jess walked out of Pete’s life—before Storm Front happened. So, I had to account for WHAT happened, and why, and then of course write that logically into Wait for Me without slowing the current story down.  So, weaving in those flashbacks/histories was challenging.

And the question we’re all dying to ask: Any hints about what’s coming next? And will we be seeing any of these characters in the future? (Okay, so that’s two questions, but who’s counting?)

I have two amazing series in the works—the first is the Montana Marshalls—a ranch family full of brave, handsome and honorable heroes who show up to save the day.

The next is The Strong—a team of international SAR heroes made up of ex-military types who will do anything to bring home the lost.

And yes, you’ll be seeing the Montana Rescue team again… 😊

Oh my! So much to look forward to. 

Thank you for having me today!

Thank YOU for being my guest!

Don’t forget to come to the Montana Rescue Book Club Party tomorrow night! Click on the graphic to go to the Facebook event page.

Montana Release party

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About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
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