Squires, Susan

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SQUIRES, Susan


PERSONAL: Female; married: husband's name Harry (a writer). Education: University of California, Los Angeles, B.A. (English literature), M.A. (English literature).

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author's Mail, Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc., 276 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. E-mail—[email protected]


CAREER: Consultant in the health care industry; author.


AWARDS, HONORS: Holt Medal for best first book; Golden Heart Award for best paranormal romance, 2002; and Prism Award winner for the best dark paranormal, 2002, all for Danegeld; WordWeaving Award for Excellence, 2002, for Body Electric.


WRITINGS:


Danegeld, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Sacrament, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Body Electric, Leisure Books (New York, NY), 2002.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Danelaw, sequel to Danegeld; a novella for an anthology.


SIDELIGHTS: Susan Squires grew up among the Redwoods in California. A lover of stories since early childhood, she began her first novel at the age of twelve and knew at the age of sixteen she wanted to be a writer. During high school, however, theater sidetracked her, and she entered college as a theater major on a fine arts scholarship. Torn between theater and the arts, she changed majors in her senior year to English literature because, she noted on the Susan Squires Web site, it "seemed SLIGHTLY more practical." She was a research assistant during her postgraduate education when she realized a career in teaching would bring her much of the same. "IF I could get a job teaching, it would be teaching, researching and writing for the rest of my life," she wrote. She quit her doctorate program, leaving with a master's degree, and became a health care consultant.

For twenty years Squires ignored her childhood dream, though her husband, an occult mystery writer, encouraged her. "The English major in me was too much of a critic to let my own writing develop," she recalled on her Web site. Eventually, however, she took out her typewriter, did extensive research, and wrote a 600-page novel about vampires that, she admitted, "wasn't very good." Again encouraged by her husband, she joined his writers group, although she was terrified to read her work to others. "I threw up in the bathroom before the first meeting, so don't think it wasn't just as hard as I imagined it to be," she commented. With advice and criticism from the group, she polished a novel she called Sacrament.

In spite of her efforts, however, she could not sell the novel, so she put it in a draw and courageously began her next book, Danegeld, an historical Viking romance. During the writing process, she took classes on editing with UCLA's extension program and attended the San Diego Writers Conference. Here, she met her future agent at a "Read and Critique" session. Neither could find a buyer for Danegeld, though. Discouraged but undaunted, Squires put the second novel in a drawer and began yet another, Body Electric. "But I just couldn't leave Danegeld in the drawer," she explained, and she entered it in a contest. "Contests gave me good feedback, and I began placing regularly." She won eight contests, placed in seventeen, and judges—several of whom were from Leisure—began taking notice. Just when Danegeld became a finalist in the Golden Heart paranormal division, Leisure called to say they wanted to buy it and rushed it into production.

Encouraged but still nervous, Squires sent Sacrament, a gothic romance set in the Regency era, to her agent. Because it had been her first effort, she wanted to see if it "held up." She also pitched Body Electric, a futuristic, high-tech, science-fiction story, to her editor "because it seemed timely, and I was afraid it would be stale if it stayed in the drawer." Her agent bought it and, upon hearing about Sacrament, bought that manuscript a week later—as well as two future books.

With the release of each book came rave reviews. Leslie Tramposch for Paranormal Romance Reviews online wrote, "Brilliant! Danegeld tagged Susan Squires as an author to watch. Sacrament carried the promise of a rising new star on the romance horizon. With Body Electric, Ms. Squires has arrived, as an author readers will want to put on their short list for must buy reads."

Although it was Squires' second publication, Danegeld was actually her debut novel. "Kudos to Leisure for their willingness to let authors push the envelope a bit," commented Cathy Sova for Romance Reader. In this story, set in the Dark Ages of Saxon England, young Britta is raped by Offa, the leader of her people and the murderer of her parents, an Irish priest and a pagan wicce (a wise woman or witch). Britta, herself a budding wicce, flees to Deofric Island with her dog, and there, she is protected by the island's curse. Twelve years later, a magnificent Viking warrior, captured during a raid on her people on the mainland, is seriously injured. Britta frees him and takes him to her island where, despite their ancestors' enmity, the two are drawn to each other. Ellen D. Micheletti, in an All about Romance online review, wrote, "Readers, throw away any preconceived notions you might have of a pretty medieval romance. . . . There is no elegance. Homes are rude huts. People are ignorant and either brutal or brutalized. Wounds fester and stink and people die young. This is a dark book—but it is not depressing. It is a journey of discovery for the main characters and a superb evocation of the Dark Ages for the reader." Sova commented in Romance Reader that "Danegeld is an outstanding debut novel that takes some risks and succeeds. . . . This is definitely an author with an interesting voice and bright future."

Of Sacrament, a vampire novel with a unique spin, Karen McCullough wrote for the Scribes World Web site, "Squires' approach is different enough to bring a fresh perspective to the condition and let her avoid many of the cliches of the genre. And as was true of her previous novel . . . the characters . . . are very well drawn and compellingly sympathetic. . . . This is a book that grabs your attention, refusing to let go until you've completely devoured it, and it leaves you feeling replete and satisfied at the end."

In the sci-fi romance Body Electric protagonist Victoria "Vic" Barnhardt is a former hacker who works for a Microsoft-like corporation, where she secretly develops an artificial intelligence program she names Jodie. While she intends Jodie to be female, Vic gives her creation free will; Jodie decides she is a he. Vic's boss, who wants to control the world with his software programs, discovers Jodi and tries to steal him, so Vic hides him in the brain of a brain-dead human. As a contributor for Publishers Weekly explained, "Squires's deft plotting and full-bodied characters make this whirlwind adventure worthwhile." A reviewer for Book Browser wrote: "The story line is a powerful science fiction that digs deep into the meaning of life. . . . Ms. Squires has written a powerful novel that will earn the author many accolades and awards."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:


periodicals


Publishers Weekly, July 15, 2002, review of Body Electric, p. 60.


online


All about Romance,http://www.likesbooks.com/ (October 23, 2002), Ellen D. Micheletti, review of Danegeld; Jennifer L. Schendel, review of Body Electric.

http://Best Reviews.com,http://www.thebestreviews.com/ (October 23, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of Danegeld.

BookBrowser,http://www.bookbrowser.com/ (October 23, 2002), Harriet Klausner, review of Body Electric.

Escape to Romance,http://www.escapetoromance.com/ (October 23, 2002), Heidi Horner, review of Danegeld.

Paranormal Romance Reviews,http://www.paranormalromance.writerspace.com/ (October 23, 2002), interview with Susan Squires; review of Danegeld; Leslie Tramposch, review of Body Electric.

Romance Reader,http://www.theromancereader.com/ (October 23, 2002), Cathy Sova, review of Danegeld; Susan Scribner, review of Body Electric.

Science Fiction Romance Web site,http://www.sfrontline.com/ (October 23, 2002), Jody Wallace, review of Sacrament.

Scribes World,http://www.scribesworld.com/ (October 23, 2002), Karen McCullough, review of Sacrament.

Susan Squires Web site,http://www.susansquires.com (October 23, 2002).

Wordweaving.com,http://www.wordweaving.com/ (October 23, 2002), Cindy Penn, review of Body Electric.*