Saturday, July 4, 2015

Summer on the Water, Suzanne Adair, Season 2, Episode 8

Welcome Suzanne to this very special edition of Summer on the Water. Today is July 4, when our American friends celebrate their country. And since Suzanne's novel Regulated for Murder fits this theme, I am pleased to welcome her on her country's special day!

Award-winning novelist Suzanne Adair is a Florida native who lives in a two hundred-year-old city at the edge of the North Carolina Piedmont named for an English explorer who was beheaded. Her suspense and thrillers transport readers to the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War, where she brings historic towns, battles, and people to life. She fuels her creativity with Revolutionary War reenacting and visits to historic sites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, dancing, hiking, and spending time with her family. October 2015, look for the release of her next Michael Stoddard American Revolution Thriller, Deadly Occupation.

Suzanne, what is Regulated for Murder about? Give readers a brief elevator pitch.

The series is set during the occupation of the Atlantic coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina by the Eighty-Second Regiment (British) during most of the year 1781. While closely following the framework of actual historical events, each title follows Michael Stoddard, a fictitious young officer, in a personal and professional adventure as a criminal investigator for the regiment’s real, historical commander, Major James Henry Craig. Of the six-book series, two books—Regulated for Murder and A Hostage to Heritage—are already available, with another book, Deadly Occupation, scheduled for an October 2015 release.

For ten years, an execution hid murder. Then Michael Stoddard came to town.

Bearing a dispatch from his commander in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina, redcoat Lieutenant Michael Stoddard arrives in Hillsborough in February 1781 in civilian garb. He expects to hand a letter to a courier working for Lord Cornwallis, then ride back to Wilmington the next day. Instead, Michael is greeted by the courier's freshly murdered corpse, a chilling trail of clues leading back to an execution ten years earlier, and a sheriff with a fondness for framing innocents—and plans to deliver Michael up to his nemesis, a psychopathic British officer.

Since this is a ‘Summer on the Water blog’, I want to know why did you choose the theme of water for your story? What body of water you set your story near? Is this a real place or is it fictitious?

Historically in late January 1781, the Eighty-Second Regiment sailed from Charleston, South Carolina. Its mission was to establish a supply depot in North Carolina for Cornwallis so the general could march his army around the colony’s interior and subdue patriots.

Occupying Wilmington, a port town on the Cape Fear River, was a crucial part of this military strategy. From a base in Wilmington, the redcoats could move troops and supplies along the Cape Fear River, which opened into the Atlantic, without risking ambush during land travel.

Late in 1781, after Cornwallis surrendered in Virginia, the redcoats became outnumbered and trapped in Wilmington by patriots. However, the regiment’s naval strategy allowed the soldiers and their allies to abandon Wilmington and sail back to Charleston without loss of life.

Regulated for Murder starts and ends in Wilmington. However most of the book’s action is in Hillsborough, North Carolina, where the main body of water is the Eno River. The Eno plays a role in the solving of a murder.

Does water, and specifically the body of water you set your story beside, have any special meaning for you personally?

I was born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, not far from the Atlantic Ocean. It’s difficult for me to conceive of writing fiction about the southern theater of the American Revolution without including the tremendous influence of the ocean.
Why are you choosing to self-publish? What is one piece of advice would you give to authors who are thinking of self-publishing for the first time?

My first three books about the southern theater of the American Revolution—Paper Woman, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, and Camp Follower—were published by a traditional, regional press. The books were all stand-alone but connected reads. The character of Michael Stoddard played a small role in each book, and when I spun off his series with Deadly Occupation, the origin story of the Eighty-Second’s occupation, I offered it to my publisher. He hedged for over a year, and in early 2011, the press folded. After I got the rights back to the first three books and re-issued them with different covers, I offered Deadly Occupation to several other presses.

The editor at one mid-sized press rejected the book with a claim that civilians in Wilmington wouldn’t have surrendered peacefully to redcoats—that surely they would have fought a la “Red Dawn”—never mind that I had plenty of primary documentation showing that the civilians did surrender peacefully. Here’s an article about why they didn’t fight. I had Regulated for Murder ready for publication and, thinking it might fare better because it didn’t deal directly with the occupation, offered it to the editor. However the editor didn’t want to see any more of my “controversial” history.

By that time (2011), it had been three years since I’d had a book released. Another mid-sized press did exhibit interest in Deadly Occupation, but they let me know that it would be at least 2013 before they could publish it. I still did want a publisher, but five years was way too long between books. I was sure I’d lost readers during the three-year wait. So I set Deadly Occupation aside and tweaked Regulated for Murder to make it book #1 in the series. Then I self-published it. Regulated for Murder got put on Suspense Magazine’s “Best of 2011” list. I followed that with Michael Stoddard #2, A Hostage to Heritage, which went on to win the Indie Book of the Day award.

Because people who’d read Deadly Occupation insisted that it was too good to not be published, I’m releasing it this year as book #0. All of Michael’s books are stand-alone stories, so my readers won’t be confused. A number of them have indicated that they’re eager to learn about the occupation and how several regular characters entered the series.
If you’re going to self-publish your book, my advice is to not personally do every task associated with the process, or your end result will most likely look self-published. There’s so much to do to release and maintain a book. Your best way to sell that book will be by writing the next book. You cannot do that while juggling all the tasks yourself. So obtain the following types of outside help, at least:
 - Five or more readers to comment on your manuscript
 - A professional editor to help you polish your manuscript until publishable
 - A professional cover artist (ebook and trade paperback)
 - A professional book layout designer for the interior (ebook and paperback)

If you have the money, hire someone to help you with promotion and setting up splashy release-week events months in advance of the actual book release. Hire a virtual office assistant to help you manage social media.

That certainly is impressive Suzanne! Where can readers find you?

Where can readers purchase Regulated for Murder, Suzanne?


  1. Thanks for the guest opportunity on your blog, Linda!

  2. Fascinating! Love the sound of these books, Suzanne. I hope self-publishing is helping you find new readers.

  3. Norah, thanks for commenting. I write a different American Revolution than the one we were taught in high school history class. I try to show the reality, rather than the myth. Self-publishing has found me new readers -- but it's hard work!

  4. I completely agree about hiring experts - especially someone to do the formatting. If I had the skills I might attempt doing that myself, but it would be time away from writing - way too much time. I'd much rather focus on the next book and not worry about whether margins will be a mess.

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