Friday, September 6, 2013

Stealing Fire

Today's special guest is Susan Sloate. Susan is the author or co-author of more than 20 published books, including Realizing You (with Ron Doades), for which she created a new genre, the self-help novel, and the 2003 #6 Amazon bestseller, Forward to Camelot (with Kevin Finn), which took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned by a Hollywood company for film production. The much-anticipated reprint, Forward to Camelot (50th Anniversary Edition), will be published by Drake Valley Press in October 2013.

She has written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including the children’s biography Ray Charles: Find Another Way!, which was honored in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards. Mysteries Unwrapped: The Secrets of Alcatraz led to her 2009 appearance on the TV series MysteryQuest on The History Channel. Amelia Earhart: Challenging the Skies is a perennial young-adult Amazon bestseller. She has also been a sportswriter and screenwriter, managed two recent political campaigns, and founded an author’s festival in her hometown outside Charleston, SC.

Stealing Fire was a Quarter-Finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and combines autobiographical experience with Susan’s lifelong love of the musical theater. She is proud to be related to Broadway legend Fred Ebb, the lyricist for Cabaret, Chicago, All That Jazz and New York, New York.

Visit Susan online at And please attend Book 'Em North Carolina on Saturday, February 22, 2014 - and stop by and say "hello" to Susan and attend her talks. Attendance is FREE and open to the public.


Why did you choose New York theatre as the backdrop for Stealing Fire?

It wasn’t really a conscious choice. Stealing Fire is based on something that actually happened to me—a passionate relationship between two mismatched people that I experienced in my ‘20s. I was still in the midst of it and in terrible pain when I sat down at the typewriter (yes, I started it that long ago) and started to write something with characters very similar to me and the man I loved. I didn’t want to mimic real life completely, but I did want to stay close to our situation, and as the man in my life was a writer, I knew Beau would be some kind of writer. So having grown up with and loved musical theater, it was natural for me to make him as a librettist/lyricist, rather than what the real guy was—a novelist and screenwriter.

This story is so powerful partly due to the significance of a particular song in a woman's life that stays with her from childhood. How did you get the idea for that? Do you have something similar from your childhood that has remained with you?

Again, it comes out of experience. I hate to admit that—I’d rather people thought I was just amazingly creative, but the plot of STEALING FIRE is based almost entirely on my own experience, changing the specifics but keeping the characters very similar to us and the emotional bond as well. All that is very real.

I’m glad you were moved by the song from Amanda’s childhood! Yes, that happened to me too, in a different way. When I was about 15, I came home one night from babysitting, was too hyped up to go to sleep and turned on a late movie on TV. The movie just starting had several big stars in it—I won’t mention who—and it was kind of a wild black comedy I didn’t really understand. I turned it off after a few minutes, but I never forgot it. Years later, when I met the guy I fell in love with, I found out it was the movie based on his first novel, a bestseller, and that he had written the screenplay. And that sense of having encountered something long ago that was part of my past, and linking it through him, was very powerful. I changed it to a much younger age, when Amanda would have been much more impressionable, and the song became something she cherished, rather than a movie I turned off. But the impetus came from that.

This is a great love story. Have you found that most people believe in soul mates? Do you believe in them?

I certainly believe in them, because I lived through this relationship, and I know how I felt and how rare that really is. I know it’s possible to meet someone who is part of you in a way that’s almost impossible to describe, and even after years of separation, all it takes is ten seconds of conversation to bring everything back. I also know that having had that once, I will never settle for anything less in a future relationship. There’s no point.
Among women I’ve talked to, most of them do seem to believe—or want to believe—in soul mates. Those who have had an experience similar to mine certainly believe in them. I’ve met few women who just don’t believe at all, but that’s their life experience and I’ve wondered after talking to them what would happen if a soul mate appeared in their lives … would they still profess not to believe? I’d like to be a fly on the wall when THAT happens!

What are you working on next?

This has been an amazing year for me, because I actually have three novels being published within a 3-month period, which is practically unheard of. STEALING FIRE is the first—and I’m very happy with its initial reception. When it first went live on Amazon, 2 months before the official publication date, within 12 hours it went to #2 in its category and it’s stayed on the top 100 list since then. I’m stunned.

The second book coming out is REALIZING YOU, which is a completely new genre—the self-help novel. It has a full plot and—I think—well-developed characters, but the purpose is to really teach important life principles which we illustrate through each character as he or she goes through a journey toward illumination.

The third is FORWARD TO CAMELOT: 50th Anniversary Edition. This is a revised version of a novel I co-authored 10 years with Kevin Finn, which will be published by Drake Valley Press, who also published STEALING FIRE. This book excites me a lot—it’s a time-travel thriller about the JFK assassination which has many historical figures as characters—President Kennedy, Jackie and Bobby Kennedy, Lee Oswald, Lyndon Johnson—and the research took us a long time. When it first came out, it became a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned for film production. Now we’re hoping to get even more attention for the new version, which we’re really proud of. That comes out in November, since this is the 50th anniversary of the assassination, which is why we wanted to revisit this book again. I’m looking forward to ‘talking Kennedy’ again in November!

Meanwhile, I’m working on a sequel to FORWARD TO CAMELOT which I expect to publish next year. It features the same main character, an actress named Cady Cuyler (rhymes with Tyler), and a few of the supporting characters from CAMELOT (not the historic figures). This is a completely different type of story, really a murder mystery, that Cady finds herself in the middle of, and she realizes that her previous time travel, which has changed so much in the world, has created the situation which has led to these murders. I’m having a lot of fun writing it.

Thanks, BENC, for hosting me today. I love Book ‘Em and look forward to being a speaker at the 2014 event!



In glittery 1980’s Los Angeles, Beau Kellogg, a brilliant lyricist now reduced to writing advertising jingles, yearns for one last Broadway hit to compensate for his miserable marriage and disappointing life.

At the same time, Amanda Harary, a young, idealistic singer out of synch with her contemporaries, dreams of appearing on Broadway, while she holds down a demanding job at a small New York hotel.

When older man and younger woman meet in a late night phone conversation over the hotel’s switchboard, it is the beginning of something neither has ever found—an impossible situation that will bring them each unexpected success, untold joy, and piercing heartache… until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.

STEALING FIRE is, at its heart, a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the transformative power of love.


     The phones were ringing off the hook, and it was after three.  And Amanda was tired.
     She disposed of all the calls; she didn't think she could be bright and bubbling tonight. As she started to put down her headset, she realized she'd left one call on hold; the red light winked tantalizingly at her. She pushed the button, and was startled to hear a light, clear whistle delicately sounding one of her favorite old songs.
     For a moment, she just listened. Then she started to hum along, filling in the words where she could remember them.
     The whistling stopped, and the voice she'd come to recognize and dread pushed out at her.  "So you know it."
     "It's one of my favorites." She hummed a few more bars, hesitatingly. "I've known it for years."
     "Remember the title?"  It was a challenge.
     "`Bursting Bubbles'."  That was easy.  She remembered the scratchy old record that Josie had broken years ago. Even now she felt a small pang at losing it. "From a show called The Life and Times."
     "Well, well. I'm impressed. Two points for you."
     "And for you, 704.  Are you into trivia games?"
     He chuckled.  "So you know who I am. That makes you one up on me. I don't know who you are."
     "Why do you want to know? Gonna complain to the boss?"
     "I wanted to thank you. I don't often have a chocolate shake for breakfast, but it really hit the spot this morning. I never get service like this, not even at the Lorelei."