Susan Scott Shelley
For my latest Author Spotlight I’m joined by the fabulous Susan Scott Shelley. We talked about how good writing inspires her to be better, loving sports romance and why her first MM romance holds a special place in her heart, her upcoming release, and collecting houseplants.
Over to you Susan…
First things first, please introduce yourself!
Hi! Thank you for having me, I’m so happy to be here. I’m Susan Scott Shelley. I live in Philadelphia, love sports, drink too much coffee, adore things with whimsy, and get overly attached to fictional characters. I’ve been writing for about a decade, and have over thirty books published.
Tell us a little bit about your writing style.
I write contemporary romance where love is love and happily ever afters are guaranteed. My stories are low to medium angst, and more on the lighthearted side (as in: no gore, nobody dies on-page). Most of my books have sports in them in some way, whether it’s a professional team or a rec league. You’ll find supportive families and/or found families, plenty of heartfelt moments, heat, some humour, and that love always wins.
Describe your books in only three words.
Love changes everything.
What’s your next book about and when’s it coming out?
The next book coming out is Over the Top (co-written with Chantal Mer, from our Philadelphia Power hockey series), and it’s part of the Love Is All, vol. 6 anthology, coming out this June. The annual charity anthology donates all proceeds to organisations who provide advocacy and assistance for the queer community. Over the Top’s heroes are Calder (a pro hockey player) who needs both a suit and a date to the hockey awards ceremony where he’s up for Rookie of the Year, and Riggs, his tailor who agrees to accompany him. On their weekend-long first date, the threads weaving them together tempt them to wonder, have they found their perfect fit in each other?
Out of all your books, which one are you most proud of?
One I’m most proud of is Mad Scramble. It’s the first MM romance I wrote and for a lot of reasons, it holds a special place in my heart. Part of that is due to the subject matter. One hero, Everson, wasn’t accepted for being his authentic self by the people who should have loved him no matter what, and if it wasn’t for his football scholarship which kept him in college, would have ended up on the street. Jump ahead years later, he’s a pro athlete who uses his platform to help others, including working with and providing donations for an LGBTQ+ homeless shelter. There’s no room in his football-focused life for romance, but his teammate’s brother is sweet, generous and caring, and Everson can’t stay away. Ryan, the other hero, grew up as the youngest in a loving and supportive family. I love the relationships he has with his dad and brothers and how they all welcome Everson into their family. The pair work together on a drive for the homeless shelter, cooking is a love language, there’s hurt/comfort, and two men who want to take care of and protect each other. And it’s set in Philadelphia, where I grew up and still live. I poured a lot of myself into this story and the driving message is everyone deserves to be cherished and celebrated for who they are.
What or who (or both) has influenced you most as a writer?
As writers, we’re readers first. My mom was an influence in that way. My earliest memories are of her reading to me and my siblings every night, we had weekly trips to the library, and were encouraged to read anything and everything that interested us. Stories, and the art of storytelling, were valued and cherished.
Reading good writing inspires me to do better, be better. I think Neil Gaiman is a genius storyteller. Stephen King is too. Richard Osman is another with his mystery series (the Thursday Murder Club. So good!). Nora Roberts was my first introduction to romance novels, and I think she’s a master storyteller. Words are powerful and can evoke so many things. I like the way these authors weave words and sentences together.
Another thing that’s influenced me are the craft classes and writing workshops I’ve taken over the years, on things like story and scene structure, story and character arcs, pacing, plotting, etc.
What inspired you to start writing?
I have a vivid imagination and have always made up stories in my head. After about ten years of reading romance novels, I thought, could I write them too? My own stories were romances. It’s the genre of my heart. And there was a yearning there, something that kept pushing and pulling for me to take the leap. And so I did. At the time, I was working at a job that was uninspiring, unfulfilling, and I was pretty miserable. Reading was my escape, and then writing became my escape. Now, I have a job I love, but the characters in my head still keep demanding to have their stories told, and I enjoy telling them. Love stories have always been my favourite kind, and being able to put more love out into the world, via my books, feels like I’m being a positive force.
What’s your writing process like? Do you have a typical “writing day”?
My writing process is fluid because I have another job outside of writing, so my writing days flow around that. I’m able to work from home, which lends itself well to jumping from one job to the other. My sleep schedule is all over the place, so I could be writing at two in the morning or two in the afternoon.
My process is to plot first, and work linearly through the story. I’m most comfortable sitting cross-legged at my desk, typing away, with a blanket wrapped around me, and a big mug of coffee or tea steaming beside the keyboard. Sometimes I need total silence, but other times, I will listen to the same song or artist on continuous repeat as I write.
What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
Hmm. I’ve had both happen. Sometimes, I’ll see something that inspires a plot and the story jumps off from there. Sometimes, a scene pops into my head, fully formed, but I don’t know who the characters are or where in the story that scene will appear, and then have to figure out both the rest of the story and who should star in it. Other times, I know who I want to write about, and then through getting to know the character, I figure out what their story needs to be and how to give them their HEA.
What’s a book that you wish you’d written?
Some Kind of Magic by R. Cooper. I love Ray and Cal! This book, and the entire Being(s) in Love series, are comfort reads for me. Magic, shifters, fae, and beautiful writing.
If you could only write one trope for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Sports romance, without a doubt. I love writing about both professional league athletes and guys with regular jobs who play in rec leagues. I love the team mentality, characters supporting and having each other’s backs both on and off the field (or ice), the excitement of the game, and I love how driven and dedicated athletes are.
What would be your three desert island books?
Narrowing down to three is super hard!
- Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
- My second choice is How to Sew a Button: and other nifty things your grandmother knew by Erin Bried since it has tons of tips for doing all the things and maybe could come in handy. Every time I see the book on my bookshelf, I think of my grandmother, who at the age of ninety-two, bought this book saying there were still things she could learn. She was an inspiration, and having that kind of fearless, inquisitive spirit as a reminder is a great thing.
- And for my third choice, I’ll take along Some Kind of Magic by R. Cooper. Gotta have my comfort read with me.
If one of your books could be made into a movie/TV series, which would you choose and who would you cast?
I’d love to see the Buffalo Bedlam series as a TV series. My hockey players would enjoy that! If I had to narrow it down to one book in that series, I’d go with Scoring Slater (a hockey romance featuring heroes who are best friends, roommates, and teammates, who realise they’re falling for each other). As for who should play them: for my ginger-haired, comic book loving hockey enforcer Slater, I’ll go with Michael Fassbender. And for Noah, my astronomy-loving, tea-drinking, bookworm with a wicked slap shot, I’ll go with Matt Bomer.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Do you have a secret passion or hobby that we don’t know about?
When I’m not writing, I like to get away from the computer. I’m a total city girl, but I love being outside in nature as often as possible, so I make that a priority. I also like to draw and paint. The only sport I take part in is running, but I love watching hockey and football. My newest hobby is collecting house plants. I love the sense of peace they bring to each room, and am trying my best to be a good plant parent.
Finally, what’s your favourite dinosaur?
I’ve been looking forward to talking about dinosaurs so much! I seriously love them and choosing a favourite is hard! For herbivores, my favourite is probably the brontosaurus. I love sauropods! For carnivores, I’ll go with a spinosaurus, love its short legs and big sail on its back. For the feathered dinos, I’m choosing one of the smallest, the microraptor. It is the size of a crow (which is my favourite animal), could glide like a flying squirrel, and had feathers on its front and back limbs.
(I really tried, but couldn’t pick just one!) 🙂
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Susan Scott Shelley writes stories with heat and heart, where love always wins. Her romances give readers lighthearted escapes into happily ever after, celebrate the fact that love is love, and that everyone, regardless of how they identify and who they love, deserves to be accepted and cherished for who they are.
In addition to crafting stories, she is a professional voiceover artist and enjoys lending her voice to a wide range of projects. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and loves sports, science, running, and reading.