Thank you Susan for inviting me into your world of clever mystery. I’m an early admirer from your very first novel and have watched your career with admiration.
What is it I do?
My writing is set in the American West. I write historical romance, historical fiction, novellas, and short stories both historical and contemporary. It’s a narrow genre that seems to be expanding as people seek stability, forgotten values and tradition. (Mystery readers can thank Craig Johnston for Longmire and Anne Hillerman.)
I grew up on a sheep farm on the Central Coast. At Cal Poly, I took California history and anthropology classes that introduced me to the Chumash and Salinan cultures. In the next forty years I haunted the halls of old missions, took docent training from Dan Krieger, CA mission authority. I attended native festivals and indigenous music concerts with native instruments. Splurged on $100 authentic early-California dinners. I participated in anthropology digs and made adobe bricks to replace mission walls damaged in the 2003 San Simeon earthquake. Eventually my writing grew from a “write-what-you-know” into the Central Coast Series. The series follows an Indian girl born at Mission San Miguel Arcángel, and her family, through the Spanish, Mexican and American conquests of her native land.
My favorite quote—
James Baldwin, “You never get the book you wanted, you settle for the book you get.”
So, Susan, you ask about awards.
I’ve been on several sides of the award board—as entrant, contest director and judge. I’ve seen great entries get disqualified over technicalities. I’ve sweated blood over entries that were so close to winning that I ached. (Like once, an entire box filled with ten entries that the New York publishing house intended for a different contest! I wondered if anyone admitted the mistake to the expectant authors.) I’ve bolted awake in the night wondering if I included my entry fee. My take on contests—like Santa, check the list twice and play nice, but don’t wait up in hopes of hearing the sleigh.
Walk the Promise Road (Prairie Rose) earned the 2019 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Historical Romance. Maria Inės (Five Star) was a finalist in the same competition for Historical Fiction. Cholama Moon, (Oak Tree Press) was named best non-traditional Western romance by True West Magazine. Last year, Boy in the Darkness, (Trailblazer Press) was a finalist for “Western Short Story” in the Will Rogers Competition. The awards have been postponed until February so I’m still waiting to see how I placed. Two of my stories have won LAURA Short Fiction awards.
So it’s all about the Attagirl Wall?
Not even close. My reward comes when a reader sends a note or posts a review that tells me their lives are changed from the experience of my writing. My motto is “I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple.” I love seeing the ripples. One of my favorite memories was a note from the president of the Westlake Women’s Club that “in the club’s history we have never had a speaker generate more discussion than you did. (Thank you for opening our eyes.)” Wow—big ripples that time!
My favorite character? The one I’m writing, naturally!
My latest novel, Norske Fields, (Amazon) is based on the lives of five Norwegian bachelors and a sister who emigrated from Stranda, Norway, in 1888. One of them was my Great-grandfather. They established the Norwegian Colony of Southern California, current site of Cal Lutheran University. The story is compiled from diaries, passed-down stories and photographs of grandchildren now in their late 80s, and my own recollections and impressions. I blended these into stories of hope, struggle and loss using modern novel techniques that create characters as real people.
My decision to self-publish was tough. I passed on a successful publisher because the projected timeline, 18 months, was too far out for some of the ailing octogenarians who waited to see their story. An October release provided a ray of hope in this COVID crisis.
The Caballero’s Son, (in the Central Coast Series) is slated for release in hardcover in October, 2021, by Five Star. The story follows Miguelito, the Indian son of Maria Inės, through the turbulent years of Yankees, goldfields, Manifest Destiny and American laws. My books are meant for right brain people who want to “feel” history without having to remember the dates. As they say, fiction is the emotional truth. Historical fiction needs to incorporate both emotional and factual truth in a way that the reader can trust. It needs to entertain, amaze and linger after the last page. It needs to create ripples!
Next on the Agenda?
After every big project I take time to recoup. I’ll tend to my newsletter. Boost my FB ads where Walk the Promise Road does surprisingly well in Australia. Revamp my website. Send out comp books to my Beta readers. Enter Norske Fields in competitions. Hike and explore Oregon’s trails. Cook a lot of Norwegian food. Feed my spiritual self. And hopefully, shovel some snow this winter. Every writer needs to pace themselves unless their name is Susan (KTon) Tuttle.
Thank you, Anne, for such inspiring words! Want to follow Anne? Find her blog here: www.anneschroederauthor.com. And here’s a little bit about Anne, and her latest book.
Anne has served as President of SLO NightWriters and Women Writing the West. She is a member of Western Writers of America and Native Daughters of the Golden West. She now lives in Southern Oregon with her husband, dogs and several free-range chickens. Her interests include traveling, target shooting and hiking the Oregon woods.