I am excited to be introducing you to a great new author I recently met on Twitter. Susan Buchanan's debut novel was released this March, and she has plans to release a new book in September.

I really enjoyed her novel, Sign of the Times, it's definitely one you should all add to your to-read lists here on Goodreads.

Susan has not only agreed to answer my interview questions, but has also generously agreed to give away an ebook copy of Sign of the Times in either pdf, .epub or .prc

To enter for your chance to win, please either 'Like' this blog post or leave a comment for Susan below.

Right, here are Susan's Replies to my interview questions:

Sign of the Times is all about the lives of 12 main characters who each have different signs of the Zodiac. Take us through your thought process when you first thought of writing the book. Did you decide to write a book about 12 characters with different star signs, initially, or was that something that developed as you were writing the book?

I came up with the idea of the 12 characters based on the 12 signs first. I then started researching the traits of each of those signs and built up my characters accordingly, including their jobs, careers, quirks and personalities.

How did you make sure that each character stayed true to the typical characteristics of a particular star sign? Did you base them on people you knew who were that particular sign, or did you have another method?

I did a lot of research! And if I wasn’t sure, then I would go back and check to be sure. No-one is based on anyone I know. For me that was part of the fun, as I got to make everyone up. The only one who is slightly based, from a characteristic point of view, on someone I know, is Holly who has many of the same traits as myself, since I am Sagittarius too. But that’s about as far a parallel as I can draw and Holly herself is not based on me.

Do you read your Horoscope?

No, I used to years ago when I was at school, but haven’t since.

Have you always been interested in Star Signs and Astrology, or is it something you researched for the book?

Nope, no interest in star signs or astrology, just something I liked as an idea and then researched extensively

One of the characters, Holly, is a travel writer and in the book she goes to Italy. Have you ever travelled to the places she visits in the book?

Yes – Bibbiena is a real place and I went there, I think the summer before I started writing Sign of the Times. I rented a villa with some friends and the village completely captivated me. I’ve also been to Lucerne, which is also featured in the book, although it’s Holly’s sister who goes there. I like to write travel sections, if possible, from experience, which is easy enough as I have been lucky enough to have travelled a lot.

From our conversations on Twitter, I'm aware that you are fluent in quite a few languages. Do you have a favourite language that you speak? If so, what is it you like about it?

Yes, I speak 5 languages. Italian is my favourite, closely followed by Spanish. I am almost native speaker level in Italian and I love the fact that I get treated with respect when I go to Italy, as they are so delighted that a foreigner speaks Italian! That’s when they do realise I am not Italian! But, I simply love the sound of the language. For me, it’s the whole package that counts - the language, the culture, the people. That’s why I love Italian and Italy so much.

Given that you know quite a few languages, do you have any plans to translate your book into other languages?

No, it’s not in the pipeline. I’d still need to pay someone to translate my book(s), as although I am very fluent, the rule is you only translate from your native language into the foreign language. If any of my books ever seriously take off, then of course I will look at it again.

Although your character, Holly, is a Sagittarius, I've heard you say that she is not based on you. As a writer, I know that we put a bit of ourselves in every character we write. Which one of the characters in Sign of the Times would you say you can relate to the most and why?

Yes, as I mentioned earlier, Holly is similar to me, in that she is a typical Sagittarius. Truly none of my characters are based on me, although some scenes or anecdotes in some of each character’s chapters could be based on things that have happened to me. For example, when Jennifer is buying stuff off Ebay, some of those items were items I genuinely did sell on Ebay! A particular anecdote about Maggie’s mother is based on my mother – that kind of thing.

If you had to spend a day with one of the characters from Sign of the Times, which one would it be and why?

Mmmm…probably Ben – he is lovely. Very good looking in a rugged, sexy, mountain-rescue volunteer way, kind, hard-working and knows how to treat a girl!

At the end of your book, it states that you will be writing a sequel. I have to say, I was very happy when I read that. I think your book really lets us get to know all the main characters well, and I'd love to follow them and find out what happens to them. Do you think you'll end up writing a series of books, or are you only planning a sequel at the moment?

Thanks – I’m glad you feel that way. As you might remember, Sign of the Times was originally meant as a stand-alone novel. Only because of the overwhelming support from readers, did I decide to write a sequel. It has been pointed out to me that there is so much material in the original novel, that I could in fact write several additional books. I think I will write the sequel, for which I already have several ideas and then see how it goes. Let’s put it this way, I am not ruling out a series!

The Dating Game, your next novel, is due to be published in September. Can you tell us a little bit about that and your inspiration for the story?

Yes, hopefully I can get it out for Sep 30th. The Dating Game is about Recruitment Consultant, Gill, who joins a dating agency for professional people, as her love life is a complete disaster area. The idea comes from a friend of mine, who did just such a thing a few years ago. However, that’s where the similarity ends. Gill’s experience is much more positive, in some ways, than my friend’s was.
Here’s a little mini-blurb for The Dating Game:-

Workaholic recruitment consultant, Gill McFadden, is sick of her friends trying to match-make for her. Up until now her love life has been a disaster and she’s going through a drier spell than the Sahara desert. Seeing an ad on a bus one day, she decides to visit Happy Ever After dating agency. Before long she is experiencing laughs, lust and… could it be love? But like everything in Gill’s life, nothing is straightforward and she ends up wondering exactly who she can trust.

Are you reading a book at the moment?

I’m reading a few books at the moment . I tend to do that…
Today I have been reading on Kindle, Build A Man by Talli Roland – a fluffy, funny, chick-lit book
Am also reading the paperback of I Remember You by Harriet Evans, which is good, but I have been reading mainly on Kindle recently
And lastly I am reading from a crime/jewel heist/security breach perspective, Seumas Gallacher’s The Violin Man's Legacy

Which well-known authors do you admire and why?

Maeve Binchy, as she writes such well-rounded characters and she was a great inspiration for how I wanted my characters to come across to the readers

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, as he really takes me deep into Barcelona, which I already know well, with his Shadow in the Wind series.

Dorothy Koomson as I love her writing style and breadth of subject matter – contemporary fiction as opposed to chick-lit.

Judi Picoult, I love how she always has a moral dilemma at the root of her novel.

Do you have any advice you can give to someone who may be thinking of self-publishing a book?

Do it! But be prepared to work harder than you’ve worked before – seriously!
Check out my blog – www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk for past posts on being an indie writer and marketing your novel.

Work out how to balance your time. Being an indie writer is a bit like becoming a parent for the first time (for the record, I don’t have any kids, but this is the analogy I am drawing!). You thought your life was going to change maybe 50%, but your life changes 99.9%

I know that you love classical music. Do you have a favourite piece of music?

I do. My fave piece is Shostakovich’s Romance.

How important are reviews to you?

Reviews are very important in some ways. When you are an author selling a book through Amazon, sales boost your rankings, but the way Amazon’s calculations work, so do positive reviews. So, I would always say, if you enjoy a book and you’re happy to do so, please leave a review for readers and the author to enjoy. Of course, everyone gets bad reviews and I read all of my reviews good and bad. But, the bottom line is you can’t please everyone. Everyone has different tastes. Personally, when I look at buying books, I generally don’t read reviews. I read the synopsis/product description and make up my own mind.

Sign of the Times is only available as an ebook on Kindle at the moment. Do you have plans to make it available in other formats or in paperback?

I am still toying with the idea of bringing out a paperback, but it has had to take a back seat for now until I get The Dating Game out as an ebook. I did look into Createspace earlier in the year, but it was so non-user friendly for UK authors. I’ve been reliably informed this has been dramatically improved, so will be looking into it again in a few months. I was also asked today about Sign of the Times for a Sony ereader. I hadn’t really given much thought to Sony ereaders (apart from almost buying one a few years ago), nor Nook etc. As I am part of Amazon KDP Select (which ties me in exclusively to Amazon for 90 day periods), there’s not really much I can do on that for now.

You have enrolled in KDP Select on Amazon. From your experience with this, would you encourage other authors to enroll their books?

Yes, although the situation is forever changing. A good friend of mine recently had an excellent free promo which is the main carrot for using KDP Select. I also had a lot of success with the programme following my promo in May, so yes, I can say that KDP Select works. One point to note though, don’t think just by enrolling in KDP Select that your book will start figuratively flying off the shelves. It won’t. You will have to market it – heavily.

Thanks for being a great guest, Sooz!

You can keep up with Susan's news on her blog: http://www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co...

And her Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/susan.buchana...

Follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Susan_Buchanan

You can buy her book on Kindle at the following links:

http://amzn.to/GKqZGd (UK) & http://amzn.to/IYN0Fc (US & other .com)


Remember to 'like' this post or leave a comment below for your chance to win an ebook copy of Sign of the Times
A winner will be chosen on 16th August 2012.
5 likes ·   •  13 comments  •  flag
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Published on July 24, 2012 06:48 • 1,176 views • Tags: amazon, ebook, giveaway, kdp, kindle, sign-of-the-times, star-signs, susan-buchanan, the-dating-game, zodiac
Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)    post a comment »
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message 1: by Darcia (new)

Darcia Helle Very cool concept for Sign of the Times! I wouldn't be able to write like that. My characters pop into my head and tell me who they are. They're very stubborn, and would never submit to a top to bottom creation. I find it fascinating when an author actually has control!

Five languages, Susan? Show off! :) I took four years of French, but still couldn't speak it properly! I blame it on being from New England. The letter 'r' doesn't seem to exist in our dialect, so learning out to use it the way the French do became an impossible task!

message 2: by Maria (new)

Maria LOL, I can't say 'r' the way the French do, either, Darcia. I was actually quite good at French at school, but I can't remember much of it now.
I write much like you, Darcia, without planning the characters at the start.
Good luck in the draw!

message 3: by Marina (new)

Marina Sofia I like your style of having several reading books 'on the go' - I tend to do that too! And I have to check out Dorothy Koomson from your list of favourite authors - always great to get a new tip! Excellent interview, really enjoyed it.

message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie Sounds a brilliant concept - wish I'd thought of it. Also admire people who speak other languages, as a French teacher myself I know so few English people make the effort. My characters also evolve as I'm writing. Involves a lot of changes though!

message 5: by Maria (new)

Maria Thanks, Marina and Julie! Good luck in the draw :)

message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan Buchanan hi guys - Darcia, just to clarify, the traits were taken from what the star signs dictated and jobs etc, but after that my characters decided in many cases to have minds of their own! And yes, I know all about stubborn and I'm not talking about me!
Yes, Marina, Dorothy Koomson is fantastic!
Julie, can totally relate to changes - am thinking...continuity error avoidance!

message 7: by Darcia (new)

Darcia Helle LOL Susan! Good to know my characters aren't the only ones with attitude!

Eyehavenofilter Very interesting interview. Great information on Susan's writing process!

message 9: by Julie (new)

Julie Me too. Had to rewrite half my book and now the hero doesn't appear until Chapter 16 - arghh

message 10: by Maria (new)

Maria Ada-Lee wrote: "Very interesting interview. Great information on Susan's writing process!"

Thanks, Ada-Lee! Glad you enjoyed the interview :) Good luck in the draw!

message 11: by Julie (new)

Julie Powell What a great idea. I'm currently gathering short stories that are linked by...secret...as I like the notion of using characters as cameos that I may expand for novels.

I see you did a lot of research for you book. I'm also working on another novel, but it's going to take some time - more research than I usually do (just make it up most of the time), but I think the Internet can make things easier, although I'm having to do interviews for something a little different.

Yes, I like Maeve Binchy for her character building - Dean Koontz is very good at that too.

Sounds like a good story, Susan.

And yes, reviews are vital, that's why I always post one for Indie authors.

Thanks, Maria, enjoyable interview as usual, and Susan, for sharing.

message 12: by Maria (new)

Maria Thanks, Julie, I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. I look forward to your short stories :)

message 13: by Maria (new)

Maria This contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered :) If you're the lucky winner you'll be hearing from Susan soon!

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