I married in 1995 at the age of 40 while I was still practicing law and allowing it to get into the way of my life. I vividly remember being on a vacay to Maui with my (then) boyfriend… During that trip I became engaged between fielding at least a dozen calls from the court where a jury was considering my client’s fate—he’d been charged with about a gazillion counts of child sexual molest and faced over 60 years in prison. Because I was sure the kid was lying, the situation was fraught with stress.
In addition to criminal defense, I practiced family law, which is mainly seeing the uglier side of people as they fight over their kids, the dog, Grandma’s antique toilet seat… To this day I’m surprised I married.
A few months after our wedding, we hosted Bud Gardner and his wife, Jennifer Martin, at our home in Fair Oaks. Bud had been teaching a class called “Writing for Publication” at a local community college and was on the verge of retirement. He had urged me to take his class so many times that turning him down had become embarrassing.
So I took the class, and a whole new world opened up for me. I learned about these wondrous lists called “writers’ guidelines,” in which publishers tell writers exactly what they want.
Who wouldda thunk it? Not me.
While examining the publishing industry, I couldn’t help noticing that romance novels comprised the bulk of fiction publishing. In 1996 over 1000 romance novels were published. (Now, given the advent of digital publishing, that number has ballooned).
Though I’d been an avid reader, I hadn’t read much romance except for Georgette Heyer. But I thought, “Hey, I bet I can do that too.”
So I did.
I took a creative writing class and in autumn of 1996 started my first manuscript, a simple boy-meets-girl tale. It was later (much later) published as Walk Like A Man as a hardcover from Five Star and got very nice reviews. It was recently rereleased by Etopia Press as an ebook. Next incarnation will be a paperback, I think ☺
My second manuscript was also intended as a soft sort of romantic comedy, but after numerous incarnations became The Wilder Brother, erotic romance available digitally and in print from Ellora’s Cave. But it wasn’t the first or the second manuscript to sell.
My third manuscript was the first to sell. Hopelessly Compromised was truly a labor of love, a Georgette Heyer style Regency romance, except with sex. It was published in 1999 and won an award for the best historical romance of its year ☺
How did people react?
There were the usual sneers about “those books” until I pointed out that “those books” sell like hotcakes at iHop.
And my late dad, bless him, grinned widely when I handed him a fresh, new copy of my first book and asked me, “Did you mark the naughty bits for me?”
Best-selling, award-winning author Sue Swift, a.k.a Suz deMello, has written over fifteen novels, plus several short stories and non-fiction articles. She writes in numerous genres including romance, mystery, paranormal, historical, contemporary comedy and erotica. She’s a freelance editor who’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Ai Press, Liquid Silver Books and Etopia Press. She also takes on private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in PW, Kirkus and Booklist, attained the finals of the RITA and reached the top ten on a bestseller list.
A former trial attorney, she resides in northern California. Her passion is world travel, and she’s left the US over a dozen times, including stints working overseas for many months.
Right now, she's working on her next manuscript and planning her next trip.
Her blog is at http://www.fearlessfastpacedfiction.com. Find her reading picks @ReadThis4fun on Twitter, and befriend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SueSwift).