Monday, June 16, 2008

Interview: Sue Dent

Sue, I've been doing a little research into your book, Never Ceese. Congrats! You've gotten some great kudos for the book and I'm even more anxious to read it.

Yes, I’m always surprised when another review rolls in. Especially since I rarely solicit them! I’d always heard getting those reviews would be tough and many first time novelists must send out review copies to get the reviews that people will pay attention to. Good thing God’s in control! J My first publisher didn’t have time to send out review copies. We were on a deadline to get the books to Book Expo 2006 for my author signing.

Have to be honest... I don't read much horror/vampire/werewolf stuff but I am interested in ways to express, as you said, Light in new ways. I would think a story of evil vs good could be well presented in the legends of vampires and werewolves. Anyway, I'm anxious to read the book.

That’s just what it does too. And, in such a way a Christian can read and enjoy without compromising their Faith.

I am curious - where has your book been marketed? Obviously not to the CBA stores so are you out in the general market? Has that been a challenge to get it marketed there?

I marketed my book to the general market, Christian and otherwise. I targeted Young Adult readers, Horror readers, Fantasy readers and, it seems, readers of the conservative evangelical CBA market. I certainly do market to CBA readers as they, so far, have been some of my biggest advocates. Sadly that doesn’t mean my book will be in CBA Christian Bookstores, (BTW most bookstores with the label Christian attached are CBA) but that’s because, as a rule, they only allow books which meet their strict CBA/ ECPA guidelines. Guidelines set up to protect their conservative evangelical market. The only challenge has been to redirect people’s thinking: not being in a Christian bookstore means nothing more than you don’t write for a particular niche market. And let me tell you, that’s a BIG challenge!

What readers do you think would most enjoy this book?

Based on the reviews—everyone! My mom looks at everything I do with a critical eye and rose above that to tell me she really enjoyed it. Many CBA readers have rushed to embrace it. Horror readers, fantasy readers, readers who like good books—you name it. I’m constantly amazed.

What would you like your readers to gain from the book?

A good read. I want them to have a spare moment that they want to fill with something entertaining and exciting. That’s what I want from a book.

What inspires you as you write?

What inspires you to breath? There are stories in my head all the time, every day. They’re so good that as a child, I’d think all day about one specific story or another and hopefully I would dream about it that night. I honestly did this and was always excited when it happened.

Tell us something about yourself that we couldn’t discover from reading your website.

I don’t like the horror genre. It scares me. LOL. But I love vampire and werewolf lore. It intrigues me.

I know you've written a second novel, Forever Richard. Do you plan to write more books in this genre?

I like the speculative aspect. I have several other stories ready to go that are speculative in nature. Hopefully the next one out will be my modern day rodeo/ western with a bit of voo-doo in it! Oh, yes I did just say that! LOL

How is your faith expressed in your writing?

I write what I know. I was raised a Southern Baptist. Go figure! Granddaddy Lawler was a fire and brimstone Southern Baptist preacher. He ordained my brother who is now a Baptist minister after spending much time on the road with his family as the southern gospel singing wonders, “The Steele Family.” My family later started attending a charismatic non-denominational church. What a wonderful place of worship that was! My writing is a culmination of all that I am.

What advice could you give to other writers interested in writing Christian horror/speculative fiction?

A Christian author should never assume everything with the label Christian means that’s what it is even if they’re told differently. There are many different markets for Christians. The label Christian should never be attached to an organization unless it strives to appeal to all Christians. Otherwise they should say who they appeal to. I point directly to CBA/ ECPA because they are notorious for not saying who their market is and it leads a LOT of authors into experiences they shouldn’t have to go through. CBA serves a very targeted market of conservative evangelicals. It’s important to make the distinction between them and the general Christian market. It’s important to do so because, as a rule, they won’t. Their market is not the general Christian market. The speculative fiction they produce should legitimately be called CBA speculative fiction, as it has to meet the same guidelines and writing restrictions as all their other work.

When a Christian market is asking for speculative fiction MSs please explore the market. If you’re turned down and told it’s because your work isn’t Christian enough, please explore further. It’s difficult to write for the CBA market and why would you if you want to appeal to the general Christian market. You will likely have to compromise your writing to appeal to their specific audience. BTW that’s not a problem if that’s what you want to do. Just know that they’re looking for something very specific. J

My first publisher was Christian (not CBA-affiliated as the label now seems to infer.) My new publisher is also Christian—and although this independent house is CBA-recognized, they don’t have to adhere to the needs of that narrow demographic of readers. I’ve been blessed by God twice and actually found two publishers who aren’t afraid to say who they are and serve the general Christian market as well! How cool is that?

Note from publisher:

TWCP is excited about the pending release of Forever Richard, the sequel to Never Ceese. For more information about Forever Richard, check Sue Dent’s To pre-order copies of the novel, go to Sue’s site or

For now, the release date of Forever Richard is a well-guarded secret . . . watch for updates over the next few months!


Sue Dent said...

Thank you so much for the interview Kathy!

God bless!

Fantasy Fan said...

Sue, it was a delight to interview you. My daughter loved the book and it's my turn now! Thanks for your encouragement. Kathy