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Hey y’all, I hope this email finds you safe and well. Thanks for tuning into my Monthly Newsletter: Rabbit Hole of Research. This started off as a monthly endeavor, where I explored the quirky side of science in science fiction, but has turned into a bi-monthly newsletter. As the newsletter expands I want to pull the curtain back on the creative process. I want to spotlight other writers and the way they use/do research for their stories. Most writers I know spend a lot of time doing research, yet the reader only gets a small slice of that effort in the final story, and as we see in the Rabbit Hole of Research, some authors use a healthy dose of Handwavium. I want to highlight the research/writing process/effort in these monthly author interviews.
What have I been up to you ask? The nice Chicagoland weather has found me outside having a pint! Cheers! In short a lot of my energy has been focused on my debut novel, “Will You Still Love Me If I Become Someone Else?’ That was released on February 23rd 2021. Still haven’t read it, go check it out here. Hopefully, I will have a virtual or physical reading party, stay tuned for details! And I’m working on two new Novellas releasing later this year.
Preorder for ‘Moonlight: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance Anthology’ is now available here. Will have more details about this and the other anthology in the months to come.
And don’t worry, there will be a new issue of Rabbit Hole of Research on April 24th, and it’s going to be frosty! If you want to read past issues, check them out here!
Follow me online, and feel free to Email me with questions, comments, questionable science, or who you’d like to see interviewed.
Enough about all that, let me introduce the new feature: Author interviews about their research and creative process!
Author Interview with Susan Dalessandro
Susan Dalessandro is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling, Susan Dalessndro Holds an M.A. In Applied Math, a subject which finds its way into all of her stories.
She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons and their two dogs. On any given day, she can be found running with her dogs, gathering story ideas in her head as the miles roll by.
Her debut novel, Complex Solutions, a YA contemporary, released March 16, 2021.
Susan, How do you come up with ideas for a project?
Most of my ideas for my stories come while running. There’s just something about the rhythmic motion of running and nature all around that allows me to ‘drift away’ and let my imagination run wild. Since I run six days a week, I have a lot of time to use my imagination.
After you have a new idea, how much research do you do?
It depends on the story. For Complex Solutions, my YA debut, I knew I wanted to do something with math. Having taken a lot of theoretical classes, I thought it would be cool to focus on one of those unproven theorems and what better one than the Riemann Theorem which is the most famous unproven theorem in mathematics. It’s a theorem that deals with the behavior of prime numbers, using both the real and imaginary numbers, or Complex numbers.
Do you research things throughout your creative process or just at the beginning?
Throughout, depending how complicated it is. I did with the Riemann Theorem.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve researched for a project (go check that Google search history)?
I wouldn’t say ‘strange’ but I researched a lot about self-harm which is something that my mc struggles with in Complex Solutions. I discovered that, unfortunately, it’s a more widespread practice than I thought.
When you write, do you try to stay close to the Actual Factual or are you fast and loose with Handwavium (a term used when a writer waves their hand at reality for sake of the plot)?
I try to stay close to the Actual Factual. There may be a little Handwavium, but it’s mostly factual.
Have you ever stopped reading a story to go look up how factual something was?
Yes, I was reading Rachel Lynn Solomon’s ‘You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone’, which is a YA novel about twin sisters who decide to be DNA tested on their eighteenth birthday to learn if one or both have Huntingdon’s Disease, a gene their mom carries. The book shows the effect the test results have on both their lives as well as their family and friends. What I learned both intrigued and saddened me. But it was a great book!
You have a degree in Applied Math, how does that help/influence your writing and editing process?
It makes me more detail-oriented, at least on the 2nd and 3rd drafts! The other thing is I always write my female characters with a strong aptitude and fondness for STEM subjects. I believe it’s important to show girls in STEM, since there’s a lack of those kind of characters in books. Although, it’s getting better!
I see that you are a runner. Do you have any favorite trails or races you like to run? And how often do you have to stop to jot down an idea?
I live in Bucks County, in a suburb of Philadelphia, and most of my routes are loops through my neighborhood with my dogs. I lived in Center City years ago and one of the most scenic places to run are the river drives by the Art Museum and Boathouse Row. I’ve run five marathons, but my favorite race is still the Broad Street Run, a ten-miler in Philadelphia. There’s so much camaraderie among the runners (as in most races) and it has awesome cheering sections all the way down Broad Street from north to south Philadelphia.
I do bring pen and paper with me on my long runs and have written ideas down when they strike. If I forget pen and paper, I try to keep the idea in my head, so as soon as I get home, I can write it down. Sometimes I forget, though…
If you got the use some “Handwavium” and send younger Susan one note about writing, editing, or marketing, which would you chose and what would you say?
Writing is the easy part. Marketing is hard! But seriously, I would say write what you enjoy, really get deep into what makes your character tick, what your character wants and then throw every obstacle in their way to prevent them from getting what they want (a tip I learned from other writers), before resolving it and finishing with a happy ending. Always, a happy ending in my books! One last thing is patience. The whole process of writing, editing, re-writing, and then marketing your book is a long, slow, sometimes painful, process, but it eventually pays off.
Complex Solutions was your debut novel, can you share what you are working on next? Will it feature math and/or dogs?
I have a book being edited right now—hopefully, I’ll be able to divulge the title, publisher, and release day, soon—and currently I’m working on another YA contemporary thriller that takes place on Whidbey Island, WA, and features dual POVs, something I’ve never done before. It doesn’t feature math, but my mc does have a dog named Lola.
Do you create with music, other background noise or complete silence?
I love music and I create playlists to go with my stories, but I write best with silence.
Do you create better at 5am or 5pm?
5 a.m. I am a morning person. I’m usually up around 5 a.m., running with the dogs by 5:45 then writing/editing before I start my ‘regular job’. I still manage to get some writing in before dinner, but mornings are my most productive times.
Which team apocalypse are you on: zombie, asteroid, or alien invasion?
Hmm, probably alien invasion. The zombies just gross me out!
Susan, thank-you for your time. Is there anything else you’d like folks to know about you, your work, or your research process?
Just write what you enjoy, don’t get bogged down if you have writer’s block—the ideas will eventually flow again—and be patient. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but it’s true.
Let us know where we can find you on Social Media.
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