Interview with Marianne Su

13 Oct

Marianne Su belongs to the Kelley Armstrong Writer’s Forum – that’s where we connected.  She’s not in my critique group, but friendships bloom across boundaries.  She’s someone I’d call The Perfect Storm – that special combination of craft and creativity, writing in a hot genre, with a personality that makes working with her a pleasure: an ideal candidate for an agent to take a chance on a new writer.  And Marianne has a new voice, strong and clear.  Check out her blog:

Now despite the fact that it “feels weird” for her to talk about herself, she’s agreed to answer a few questions.

JDW:  What made you decide to join the Kelley Armstrong Writers’ Forum?

MAS:  As a fan of Kelley’s writing, I knew of her forum and the writing group but was nervous about other people reading my work.  It wasn’t until I got some very honest feedback on my writing from a writer I barely knew that I decided to join.  She made some helpful suggestions including one that I join a critique group.  Immediately I thought of OWG.  She was so right!

JDW: What’s the greatest benefit to posting your work there for critiquing?

MAS: Every month when I get crits back, I’m so grateful for what others find that I missed.  At first, the learning curve was huge because I’d never been ‘taught’ how to write so I learned a lot from everyone.  Sometimes it’s just having one or more people confirm what works or doesn’t work that’s most valuable.  Also, I was surprised at how the process of critiquing others’ work can be so rewarding.  It gives me a different perspective on other writing styles and helps my own writing.  

JDW: What was the most significant lesson learned from her Toronto Writers’ Workshop?

MAS: I want to say hanging with Kelley over coffee and hearing her speak about her characters but I’m guessing you want something more literary.  In that case, I’ve always thought of myself as a character-oriented writer.  The characters come first for me, both as a writer and a reader.  Kelley helped me see that I didn’t know my characters as well as I thought I did.  It was a shocker.  I think it was day four before I would admit this to myself! 

JDW: How has the workshop changed or influenced your work?

MAS: The week left me with an overall positive feeling about my writing.  I felt encouraged and recharged.  Before this, I was beginning to feel confused and unsure in some ways but the week reassured me that I was on the right track.  Also, there’s something about spending all day every day for a week with writers, talking about writing and reading each other’s work that is inspiring.  I got to immerse myself in that frame of mind and came out of it feeling more than ever that writing is what I love.

JDW: How do you manage your time?

MAS: I’m a night writer.  During the day, at home with three young kids, I only get to write in snippets and some days more than others.  But when they’re in bed, the night is mine.  I write about 4-5 hours when the house is quiet and dark, uninterrupted.  It’s funny that I had visions of myself spending the morning with a laptop in a coffee shop when the kids went back to school but that just hasn’t happened.  I’m gonna stick to my night routine – it works for me.

JDW: What made you choose Young Adult as a genre?

MAS: I like reading and writing YA because the angst and insecurity that usually accompanies that phase of life.  It makes for interesting character growth.  If I’m also being honest, I wonder if I had enough fun as a teen and that maybe I’m living vicariously through the characters.  I’d love to be that age again.     

JDW: At what point in your life did you realize you were a writer?

MAS: I’ve written off and on when I was in school but it wasn’t until recently that I considered myself a writer.  A couple of years ago I told a writer friend of mine that I’ve always wanted to write a book and her response was “why don’t you?”  At the time my youngest was getting a little older and I felt like I was beginning a new phase of my life where I could do more for me.  Writing was top of the list.  I wrote my first novel in six weeks and haven’t looked back. 


12 Responses to “Interview with Marianne Su”

  1. Gareth October 13, 2011 at 10:33 AM #

    Wonderful interview ladies. I love the open honesty even about things that people don’t want to admit to. Its a real eye opener and helps establish the difference from those who want to go further from those who beleive that they already know the craft.

    Everyone willing to learn will get there and the time scale on that first book is amazing. Congrats.

    • Chrissey Harrison October 13, 2011 at 12:30 PM #

      Great interview.

      I found what Marianne said about the writing workshop particularly enlightening. I’m considering doing a night school creative writing course but maybe I should look out for an intensive week course instead.

      It must have been a fantastic experience to meet Kelley. I’m so jealous!

  2. T. James October 13, 2011 at 1:51 PM #

    I have to concur… being in a writer’s group really helps you hone your craft, sounds like you are sharpening up nicely Marianne. 😉

    Nice interview JDW, if I ever get close to publishing, can I hire you as publicity agent and spin doctor? 🙂

    You two are obviously really great friends, thanks for letting us bask in a little of the warmth.

  3. Angela Addams October 13, 2011 at 2:55 PM #

    Excellent interview, Ladies! I am so jealous that you got to take that course! Kelley is so awesome and down to Earth!
    And you’re so right…I’ve made a lot of friends on the forum and in the OWG…best thing I ever did was join.

  4. Marianne Su October 13, 2011 at 5:01 PM #

    Thanks Dianne for your support and generous compliments. The interview was fun to do. Thanks everyone for your comments.

  5. Patricia Hollett October 13, 2011 at 9:34 PM #

    This was a wonderful and insightful interview and open discussion Di and Marianne! I love reading about other OWG people or writers and what ‘makes them tick’, and I enjoyed getting to know you personally at the course Marianne. It was all you said and more being in that room with Kelley and learning from her. Some of it can’t be put into words but just the feeling of being with other writers was a good week spent honing our craft and getting to know each other.
    I enjoyed reading this and making close friends on OWG is one of the best things about the forum. There’s always someone to talk to, play plot ping-pong, and learn from.
    This seemed like a fun interview! 🙂

    • CDNWMN October 13, 2011 at 10:12 PM #

      Excellent interview ladies! Mari you did just fine and it was a pleasure to learn even more about you. Especially your night writing. You are one dedicated soul that is for sure. Keep up the great writing! 🙂

    • Marianne Su October 14, 2011 at 1:22 PM #

      Pat, it was great you were there. I enjoyed our knowing glances across the table.

  6. DianeG October 14, 2011 at 3:00 PM #

    I’ll have to echo what has already been said. The interview is well done and I enjoyed reading the perceptive questions and the honest answers.

  7. Lisa Forget October 15, 2011 at 7:49 AM #

    Wonderful interview! Like Pat mentioned, it’s great meeting others from the OWG. I also agree with my fellow writing group peeps, sharing with and learning from the encouraging members of the forum has and continues to be rewarding on so many levels.

    What a happy day it will be for me to meet you all in person. Considering how many of us are just a few hundred kilometers away from each other, I trust it’ll happen sooner than later!

    Thank you!

  8. diannewaye October 16, 2011 at 8:43 AM #

    Thanks for dropping by, everyone. Marianne is a gem! And thanks, Marianne, for opening up and sharing what you’ve learned.

    TJ – you’ve got to be your own publicity agent these days! But if you need a little support, I’ll be in your corner.

  9. Danielle La Paglia October 16, 2011 at 7:30 PM #

    Great interview ladies! It’s always great to get to learn more about our OWGers.

    Oh, and I’m insanely jealous that you got to go to the workshop with Kelley. How awesome was that!

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