Friday 15 May 2020

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Suzie Gilbert Author of Unflappable @SuzieGilbertBks @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Today is my stop on the tour for Unflappable by Suzie Gilbert. I have an interview with the author today and if you like the sound of what she has to say, you can click here to order the book now. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews.

Here's what it's all about...

Twenty-five-year-old Luna Burke is on the run.

Licensed to care for injured and orphaned wildlife, she is determined to smuggle a homicidal Bald Eagle out of her husband’s private zoo in Florida, reunite the bird with its mate, and get them both to an eagle sanctuary in Canada. Hot on her trail is her furious husband, his bodyguards, the police, conservation officials, and an expert government tracker; aiding and abetting her is a smitten young tech guy, a lethal Navy SEAL turned panther advocate, and an underground railroad of wildlife rescuers intent on protecting one of their own. Waiting in Ontario is a legendary old eco-warrior more than willing to provide refuge…as long as Luna can make it across the border.

Are you ready for that interview?

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

I was always good at writing in school. It was my major at college, but only because I couldn't think of anything else to major in. I never planned to be a writer, and I had a lot of different jobs before I started writing as a profession.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

For many years it was just a sideline. I’m a wildlife rehabilitator, specializing in taking care of injured and orphaned wild birds. I worked for 11 years at a center for birds of prey, and while I was there I wrote their newsletter, an environmental newspaper column, and a children's book called Hawk Hill (Chronicle Books). Then for 10 years I ran a hospital/rehabilitation center for all kinds of wild birds out of my home, and on the side wrote a memoir, Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings (HarperCollins).

Eventually I closed my wild bird hospital and started writing professionally - articles, newsletters, annual reports, anything people wanted. I stopped in order to write Unflappable - I holed up in an old house in the woods by myself for over two years and did nothing but write that book! I planned to rejoin humanity in the spring of 2020 (that didn't work out too well).

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write?

Unflappable is my first novel, and I really liked writing a novel instead of nonfiction. I like making things up!

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

There are elements of real people in my characters - wildlife rehabbers are a quirky bunch! But no one character is based on a real person. Once I find the essence of a character, their language adds dimension. I use a lot of dialogue.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

I told my agent a funny wildlife story, and he said, “If I were a movie producer I'd be all over that. Why don't you write it as a novel?" I said, “Because I don't know how to write a novel." He said, “Read Carl Hiaasen.” (Hiaasen writes comic crime fiction). Writing a novel was much harder than I thought it would be - it took me four totally different drafts to get it right.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

Since non-fiction is factual and I know where I’m going, I just write the outline and then fill it in. But with Unflappable, I knew the beginning and the end but not the middle. It has a large cast and a complicated plot, and I kept adding to both as I went along. Often I would get the characters into situations and have no idea how to get them out. I can't come up with any ideas if I'm inside a building, so I would go for long hikes in the woods with a mini voice recorder and wait for ideas to hit me.

Once I had my ideas, I’d go home and transcribe them onto my computer. I also wrote each event on a sticky note, using a different color ink for each character. I ended up covering a whole wall with sticky notes, because I needed to be able to see where everyone was and what they were doing, and the computer screen just wasn't big enough.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

The heroine of Unflappable is a wildlife rehabilitator, and most of the supporting characters are, too. It's a definite reflection of my life and the people I know. As for the plot…well, yes, I’ve known some very controlling men!

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book?

I take care of only birds, and the characters in the book take care of every type of wildlife. I did research online, and I also just called my rehabber friends on the phone. I'd ask things like, "What kind of housing do you use for bears?" And “What do you feed baby opossums?”

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

Of course, I love good reviews. So far I haven’t had any readers tell me they couldn’t stand Unflappable, but some have said they didn't get it, or they wished it were a different type of book. That’s okay, I can't be everyone's cup of tea.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

In general yes, although many of them say they don’t understand how I deal with the solitary nature of it. I tell them I don’t know how they deal with a busy office!

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

Excitement and anticipation!

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

I love funny writers. One of my favorite funny books is Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames, about a young American mess of a writer who comes into some money and hires a British valet actually named Jeeves (I was already a P.G. Wodehouse fan). I still have a dog-eared copy of My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, given to me when I was about nine. I also love books with gorgeous language, like Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

I’m just marketing Unflappable. It's my first self-published book, and for me the marketing is more difficult than the writing. I’m used to laser focusing, and I've lost my multitasking ability! But it's been wonderful meeting readers, they’ve been such lovely people. Hearing that someone really enjoyed and connected with my book means the world to me.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Suzie Gilbert. I’m a wildlife rehabilitator and author. I live in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley, am passionate about wildlife, and have been working with wild birds for nearly 30 years. I hope you will join me in my quest to raise awareness of how humans and wildlife can coexist in better ways. 
I’ve written a memoir about the slippery slope all rehabbers eventually slide down, called Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings (HarperCollins); a children’s book, Hawk Hill (Chronicle Books); and numerous articles, op-ed pieces, and blogs. 
My new book, Unflappable, is a funny, dark, sexy adventure about a wildlife rehabber on the run with an eagle, with her soon-to-be-ex-husband and the authorities hot on her trail.

Thanks to Suzie for stopping by the blog today!

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