Susan M. Toy has been a bookseller and an award-winning publishers’ sales rep. While living on the Caribbean island of Bequia, Susan began writing the first of four Bequia-based novels as well as another novel, three novellas and numerous short stories.
Susan’s most recent work is in a genre that is near and dear to my heart, murder mystery. I recently asked her to tell us a little bit about herself.
DM: What is the title and genre of the book you want to tell us about?
ST: Island in the Clouds is a murder mystery. I’ve coined the term “Tropical Fiction” for books like mine that are set in a tropical location.
DM: Can you summarize your book in one short sentence?
ST: Ex-pat Geoff becomes a reluctant investigator into the murder of a woman whose body he discovers in the pool of one of the houses he manages on the Caribbean island of Bequia. The book is part travelogue and part mystery. It takes a long, hard look at the reality of living in a place that seems perfect — from the outside, anyway.
DM: Who is your intended audience and why might they want to read your book?
ST: Anyone who enjoys reading a fast-paced mystery will likely be interested, but so too will readers who have traveled to this Caribbean island or other destinations like it, or those readers who wish to armchair-travel to an exotic locale.
DM: How did you come up with the title?
ST: Island in the Clouds is the English translation of the Carib word “Bequia”, the setting of the novel.
DM: Tell me about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
ST: The image on the cover is of the hammock that hangs on the corner of the verandah of our house on Bequia. I wrote a blog post about the cover’s genesis and development: Publication dreams, and delusions which you can read HERE.
DM: What are your biggest writing influences (another author, another book, a movie, etc.)
ST: Aritha van Herk, Gail Bowen, Richard Ford, Wallace Stegner, Ivan Doig, Kent Haruf … so many others! I read voraciously and have taken many online courses and attended writing conferences throughout the years I’ve been writing. And I was exposed to so many great authors and their books while I was a bookseller and publishers’ sales rep. I’ve been very fortunate!
DM: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
ST: I find it difficult to choose favorites. It’s kind of like deciding which child you like best. Now, if you were to ask me who my favorite character is in the book I’m currently writing, that would be easy! It’s the one who is totally a figment of my own imagination – so, my sole creation, and not based on anyone, either living or dead.
DM: How about your least favorite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
ST: Ditto on this question. There’s no one that I dislike. If that had been the case, I would have had to write them out of the story.
DM: If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?
ST: I can’t think of anything. I like it exactly the way it is. And my readers seem to agree with me, too!
DM: Give me a fun fact or a few about your book or series:
ST: Early on, when I published the eBook version first, I asked readers to send me photos of my novel on their eReaders wherever they happened to be reading it. Then when the print edition was published, I did the same, and asked them to show the book in unusual places. I received many photos from readers all over the world and compiled them here on the page, Where/Who in the World is Reading Island in the Clouds??? Even a Klingon has read my novel!
DM: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?
ST: I’m not sure there are many like mine, or at least, not set in this same place. There are many other mysteries though where place becomes an important “character” in the story. Gail Bowen has been writing a terrific mystery series for 25 years now that is set in Regina, Saskatchewan, and that setting is very important to her story. She’s just published the series’ 16th novel. I was very conscious of what Gail had done in her nnovels before I began writing my own series, so I fashioned my writing after hers, to a certain extent.
DM: Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
ST: I love to cook, and especially love baking bread.
DM: What can we expect from you in the future?
ST: I’m currently working on rewriting the second novel in the Bequia Perspectives series. One Woman’s Island picks up a few months later, after the end of Island in the Clouds, but involves a new set of characters. I have a couple more novellas of my own to edit and publish under the IslandShorts imprint and I’m about to publish a new long-form short story by J. Michael Fay under that same imprint.
DM: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
ST: Tell their friends! I’ve written about this extensively on my blog. The best service you can do any author is to spread the word when you’ve enjoyed a book. And write to the author directly to tell them you enjoyed it! We love receiving fan mail.
DM: Do you have any advice for other writers trying to get published?
ST: If you are still writing, keep your focus on that solely and make the book the very best it can be. Have it professionally edited and proofread before you begin querying publishers. And maintain patience … Everything about the publishing business takes time. Get used to it! Here’s a blog post I wrote, Infinite patience and a good sense of humor that explains what I mean.
DM: Can you give us an excerpt from your book to intrigue and tantalize us?
The first chapter is available to read free here on Flipsnack.
More About Susan:
Check out her page HERE:
Where to get her books (Click on the images below):