Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Secret of Bramble Hill by Sue Owens Wright

Sue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs. She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody Murder, Sirius About Murder, Embarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books.

Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?, 150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog Fancy, Mystery Scene, AKC GAZETTE, Fido Friendly, The Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables. Her newest novel is The Secret of Bramble Hill.

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About the Book

In April 1946, Tessa Field returns to Bramble Hill in the quaint Cornish seaside town of Covington Haven, England, after learning of her aunt Emily Maxwell’s drowning in a boating accident. The moment Tessa sets foot on the grounds of Bramble Hill, long-dormant psychic powers are stirred in her. Through a series of eerie manifestations and unexplained mishaps, she senses an entity in the house is trying to make contact and reveal dark secrets. Tessa narrowly escapes being trampled by a horse ridden by the handsome aristocrat and writer Peter Tremayne, a childhood friend. Upon their unexpected reunion, Tessa is immediately attracted to him, and he to her. Yet, despite their budding romance, she soon becomes distrustful of his true motives. Convinced that her aunt did not die in an accident but was murdered, Tessa investigates and soon becomes entangled in a web of deception, betrayal, and treachery that threatens her very life.

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Keep reading for an interview with the author:

Why did you decide to be a writer?

It wasn’t so much decision as destiny. I was drawn to the written word very early. The first toy I remember playing with was a red Cressco Reversible Spelling/Number Board. It had moveable wooden tiles with letters on one side and numbers on the other. Guess which got the most use? I loved to read. When I was eight years old, I enjoyed reading Judy Bolton mysteries, and I even tried writing a mystery of my own at the time. The notebook with beginning chapters is long gone, but I’d love to see what I wrote back then. Later on, I majored in English at college and wrote poetry and essays. Some were published, but many years passed before I would write books and see them published.

What genres do you write?

My Beanie and Cruiser Mysteries are cozies, and my standalone novel, “The Secret of Bramble Hill,” (Black Opal Books) is a historical thriller/paranormal romance. I have also written several nonfiction books on dog care and was an award-winning pet columnist for many years.

What inspires you to write?

I have been most inspired by my dogs and beautiful Lake Tahoe, where my dog lover’s mystery series is set. Adventures at the lake over the years with many beloved basset hounds find their way into my novels. They have provided me with endless material, particularly the humor in my books. Bassets, with their long ears, short legs, and sausage-shaped bodies, are just natural clowns and always good for a laugh. I’ve worked on my mysteries while visiting at The Lake of the Sky, as Tahoe is known to the Native American Washoe tribe of my protagonist, Elsie “Beanie” MacBean. The fresh alpine air sparks my creativity, too.

How often do you write?

I write several hours every afternoon at my favorite coffee shop, except I'm a tea-total.

How long does it take you to write a novel?

At least a year, sometimes longer. I completed a draft of my second mystery in four months, but it required a great deal of revision. Haste makes waste in writing, too.

If you could be one of your characters for a day, who would it be and why?

I’d like to be my character, Beanie, in the Beanie and Cruiser series because she gets to live in her own cozy mountain cabin at Lake Tahoe all the time, while I only get to visit now and then. She’s living my dream life in that regard.

What authors have most influenced you?

I’ve been most influenced by William Wordsworth, The Bront√ęs, and Stephen King. I studied the English poets in college and wrote a lot of poetry back then. The first thing I ever published was a poem. A quotation of one of Wordsworth’s poems appears at the beginning of “The Secret of Bramble Hill.” It fits my protagonist, Tessa Field, perfectly.

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?

My writing professor, John Dufresne, author of “Louisiana Power and Light”; “No Regrets, Coyote”; "The Lie that Tells a Truth, A Guide to Writing Fiction"; and others, has been my only mentor. His fiction writing workshops were definitely a turning point in my career.

When did you first consider yourself an author?

Several things affirmed that realization for me: When I saw my books on the shelves of bookstores I once dreamed of seeing there; when I won Maxwell Awards from the Dog Writers Association of America for the best writing on the subject of dogs; when my books were featured in the media; and last but by no means least, when I saw my fourth novel, “Braced for Murder,” on the American Kennel Club’s Best Dog Books List along with many of the classics I admired as a child.

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

John Dufresne’s sage advice never fails me: “Place seat of pants in seat of chair.”

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

I’m a pastel artist, I play the harp, and I love to ride my bicycle. I often ride to the coffee shop where I write, a 12-mile round trip from my home.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

A bit of both. I fill a notebook with characters, plot ideas, and scenes before I begin writing a book, but then I allow the characters and plot take me where they want to go. Nothing’s set in stone.

How do you come up with the titles for your books?

The title is usually the first thing that comes to me when writing a book. I’m good at thinking up clever titles. The titles for dog books are easiest for me, though I didn’t create the titles for my two nonfiction books on dog care, the publisher did. I could have thought up better ones if I'd been asked.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing the sixth installment in the Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series. I’m also working on a memoir.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Submit only your best, well-edited work to publishers. Revise, revise, revise. And as my canine sleuth, Cruiser the Basset Hound, might say: Follow your chosen path and stay on track. Take time to sniff the roses, and leave your mark along the way.

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