Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Interview with author Susan Sloate!

So yesterday I gave my review of FORWARD TO CAMELOT and to sum it up, I loved it. I was able to ask +Susan Sloate some questions regarding what it was like to work with another author, as well as researching for a novel. As an aspiring author myself I was really interested in what she had to say!

1. What was it like writing with another author? How did that work?

Kevin and I talked through the entire story, step by step, before we began the manuscript, which wasn't easy as we didn't even live the same state, so we worked entirely by phone and email. When the outline was completely written, we chose scenes to write individually based on our own skill set and interests. I was more involved with the character-driven scenes and the setup of Cady herself. Kevin created most of the actions scenes and the time-travel method (which I think is brilliant). Then once we'd both written the scenes we were best at, I rewrote the entire manuscript so it would have a consistent feel from beginning to end. It took a long, long time, but I think the results are justified, and we told the story we set out to tell.

2. I know you guys did a lot of research for this book. What was the oddest place where you found a source?

The oddest place was probably the LBJ Presidential Library, and we didn't go there till the original edition of the book had been out for about five years. Turns out the entire premise of the book--our heroine Cady traveling back in time to pick up President Kennedy's Bible--was flawed, because the Bible had never actually been missing (even though we got that information from a bestselling book about the assassination). In the novel, Cady goes back in time to retrieve the President's Bible, because it was the book on which LBJ took the presidential oath on the afternoon of November 22, 1963, after JFK's death, and it was supposedly missing after LBJ took the oath. 

We found out years later (on JEOPARDY!, of all places) that the book was actually in the LBJ Presidential Library. I called and spoke to the archivist there and she explained how it came to be in their possession. Fascinating story. We tell it in the Afterword in FORWARD TO CAMELOT. 

3. Where's the best place to start research for a novel? Library, internet?

That depends on your subject. If you're researching your own ancestors, you might want to read their diaries or visit the cemetery to see their gravestones before anything else. If you're writing about, say, an old crime, you might go to police records or talk to investigators before you try to find anything in the library or online. Where you do your research will depend entirely on what you're looking for and where that information might be found. In the case of CAMELOT, all our research was pre-Internet, so we haunted libraries, read around a hundred books, looked at news articles and film footage, went through lots of the Warren Commission exhibits (tons of really good information there, though the Report itself was so flawed).

4. Did you travel to Dallas to help in your research for this book? 

Yes, I was in Dallas several times. I spent a lot of time in Dealey Plaza and I visited the Sixth Floor Museum in the Texas Schoolbook Depository. In fact, I was in Dallas on the day in 1993 when they dedicated Dealey Plaza as an historic site. Nellie Connally, the widow of Governor John Connally, was there that day, as a special guest. She was the last surviving person who had been in the limousine with Kennedy when he was shot. Now, whenever I go to Dallas, I always spend time in Dealey Plaza, paying my respects to the president.

5. So I have to you think there really was a conspiracy in the JFK assassination?  

Joy, you've read the book. OF COURSE WE THINK THERE WAS A CONSPIRACY!!! Virtually everything in our story apart from Cady herself is based on facts we uncovered in our research (there is way more fact than fiction in this novel). There is no doubt in our minds that only a conspiracy could have murdered the president the way it happened, and that's the way we wrote it.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Joy! I've really enjoyed being here!

Come back tomorrow to read a guest post by Susan!