Interview with Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Posted by Goodreads on August 15, 2016
Once upon a time, happily ever afters didn't regularly include professional athletes—then along came Susan Elizabeth Phillips. The American romance writer popularized (some even say created) the sports romance subgenre. It all started with her 1994 bestseller, It Had to Be You, a hilariously charming love story featuring New York knockout Phoebe Somerville, the fish-out-of-water owner of the Chicago Stars NFL team. More than two decades later, readers still can't get enough of Phillips's football fairy tales. In First Star I See Tonight, the next book in her beloved Chicago Stars series, feisty detective Piper Dove follows the clues of her latest case…right to the doorstep of legendary former quarterback Cooper Graham. With a mystery to solve, an elderly neighbor to appease, and a nightclub to protect, Piper doesn't have time to get involved with a slightly cranky, extremely sexy superstar athlete. On the other hand, she's always been a great multitasker.

Phillips answers your questions about why writing was her "backup career," how failure (in the form of a really, really bad historical romance) inspired her, and why she never saw First Star I See Tonight coming.

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Stacey: In your opinion, what five things does every awesome romance book need to be successful?

Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Great characters; a plot that's organic—where the author doesn't manipulate the characters simply to advance the action; genuine conflict; strong emotions; a moral center.

Tina: What was the first story you ever wrote about? How old were you when you wrote it?

SEP: Eighth grade. On a yellow Golden Rod tablet. A whole three pages of a "novel" in which the heroine is a spy for the Confederacy and the hero is a Yankee officer. I had very little text—mainly a title: And They Named It Paradise. Catchy, right?

Bri: I've been a huge fan ever since I read It Had to Be You, the first Chicago Stars book! How has the series changed for you over time?

SEP: Gosh. I guess the biggest change would be that I keep writing it, even though This Heart of Mine was supposed to be the last book. I never imagined adding three more. First Star I See Tonight was a huge surprise to me. A very welcome one.

Cathy: Do you ever have any regrets about how you ended a book or what you did with a character?

SEP: Great question—the first time I've thought about it. Not a single regret. I do, however, have some regrets about taking a little too long to get into the story at the beginnings of a couple of my very early books. A new writer learning her craft. Stick with them!

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Jen: If you were going on a longggg (like ten hours) plane ride tonight, what books would you pack?

SEP: Whatever is on my ereader. I'm not a fan of ebooks when I'm home, but when I'm traveling, they're my world. I seldom reread a book, so they would all be new books. Maybe I'd be lucky enough to time my trip along with new releases by Kristin Hannah, Jayne Ann Krentz, Sarah MacLean, Christina Dodd, Liane Moriarty, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn…. OK, I'll stop now. You get the idea.

Penny: I love your books!!! You inspire me to write so much. What authors inspired you to write?

SEP: A really bad one whose name I have mercifully forgotten. It was 1979, I had just finished a badly written historical romance, and for the first time I thought, "Maybe I could do this." Bottom line: I was inspired by failure. The really great authors intimidated me. (Don't tell anyone, but they still do.)

GR: If you weren't a writer, what do you think you would be doing right now?

SEP: Writing was my backup career. I wanted to be a movie star. How about an art museum curator? Wait. That's fantasy, too. Sigh…. I'd better stick to writing.

Brenda: What book character do you love so much, you wish you had written him or her yourself?

SEP: Scout Finch, for sure.

Sam: You are so amazing! I love your books! What has been the most surprising thing you've learned during your career as a writer?

SEP: The most surprising thing I've learned is that I'm a writer. I must have published at least ten books before I accepted that about myself. Some days I still don't believe it. I'm so fortunate that what I know how to write is what readers want to read.

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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message 1: by Jan (new)

Jan Bandich SEP is my absolute favorite author, she never disappoints; I have read all of her books at least once and have most on Audible, so I can relisten to relax. I have new book on order and am anticipating a great story. My favorite riff was the female physicist filling the football player's jeep with the Lucky Charm marshmallows, I still laugh every time I think about it.

message 2: by Annette (new)

Annette Ms Phillips may not read books again, but I do have keepers - books I absolutely love - and hers are a big part of my keepers shelf. I would add two things to the list of things a good book must have: characters with whom the reader wants to spend some time and humor. Both of those qualities are always in Ms Phillips books.

message 3: by Ann (new)

Ann Amaral I agree with Jan, my favorite scene is the "cereal killer" scene and I've repeated that often as a great joke to play on someone, wish I had thought of it myself. SEP is an awesome writer and I have read everyone one of her books, but unlike SEP I do read them more than once, usually several times. Can't wait for the next book to come out.

message 4: by Diane (new)

Diane H I agree, SEP's books are keepers. When I can't sleep, I'll pick one up and read one again. Just love them.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Im a guy who who has read only a few romances but who will admit to having enjoyed those I've read. Think Robyn Carr. I have zero interest in a book with a football player hero since i have no interest in that sport. However, if the heroines were athletes ... the premise has potential. Is there such a series?

message 6: by Nicola (new)

Nicola Marsh SEP is an autobuy for me.
I love her books!
It Had to be You is still one of my all-time favourites.

message 7: by Winnie (new)

Winnie Thurman In the Chicago Star Series has Ms. Phillips written about the third Bonner brother, Ethan? Am just now reading my first book by Phillips and I ordered the second brother but I know I want to read about Ethan - hope there is one or will be available shortly

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