S.R.Claridge writes Mystery and Romantic Suspense novels. Her work has been said to have the energy of Dan Brown, the mystery of Mary Higgins Clark and the humor of Janet Evanovich. Claridge novels will take you to the edge of your seat, keep you guessing until the very end and ultimately warm your heart. It is on the pages of every S.R.Claridge novel that Mystery and Sensual Suspense collide.

For more information on bookings, interviews and upcoming releases, please visit the author website and Facebook fan page.

Monday, November 8, 2010

TUESDAY TALKS                                                      

S P O T L I G H T   A U T H O R:  Smoky Trudeau                     

Would you describe yourself as an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m definitely an extrovert! I inherited my outgoing personality from my dad, who never met a stranger. But I also have an introverted side. Sometimes, when my creativity goes into overdrive, I just want to hole up in my studio and write and/or make art.

What are your favorite books to read?

Oh gosh, I could list hundreds. But some of my recent favorites are Death With Interruptions  by Jose Saramago, The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland, Helen of Troy by Margaret George, and The Sun Singer by Malcolm R. Campbell. And at the risk of letting my ego inflate, I’m pretty fond of my own novels, Redeeming Grace and The Cabin.

Where is the most unique place you have traveled?
My husband Scott and I travel all over California on marvelous adventures to gather material for my Observations of an Earth Mage blog and book. My favorite places include Joshua Tree National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Don’t know that these places are unique, but they certainly are less traveled than, say, Yosemite. I just love to explore. I have serious wanderlust, but I also have something I call wonderlust. Wonderlust is when you think, “I wonder what’s over there?” and then go find out because you’re physically incapable of not going to investigate!

How many books have you written and how many of those are published?
Five books, all published. Redeeming Grace and The Cabin are my two novels; Observations of an Earth Mage is my collection of essays, poetry, and photography reflecting on the beauty of our natural world; Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out and Left-Brain, Right Brain: 366 Writing Prompts and Exercises are my two books written specifically for writers. I’ve published numerous short stories as well, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I also used to work as a freelance feature writer, so I’ve got hundreds of articles under my belt.

How much character and plot detailing do you plan out before you begin writing a novel, or are you a “pantser”?

I don’t like the term “pantser.” I think that term makes it sound like your simply flying by the seat of your pants and don’t know what you are doing. But I don’t do a lot of planning beforehand. I prefer to let myself slip into my writing trance, let my brain go a little fuzzy, and see what flows out of my brain and down through my fingertips into my computer. Some amazing things have popped up that I had no idea I was going to put in my story! For example, there’s a tree house in Redeeming Grace that simply popped up when I was writing that scene. My first reaction was, “What the heck am I going to do with a tree house?” But it ended up being quite important to the story. My muse knew what she was doing.
Prior to becoming a published author, how many rejections did you receive?
Only one. And that publisher, a few months later, wrote to me and said they regretted rejecting Redeeming Grace, and asked if it was still available. But by then I’d signed with a different publisher.

How and when do you write? Do you keep yourself on a schedule or do you work while the muse is with you?

I try to write every day. If I don’t write, I at least create some sort of art. I love sculpting little critters and goddess figures out of polymer clay. I make bears, and take them when we go hiking. I leave one along the trail, somewhere another hiker will find it. I love the idea of a stranger stumbling across one of my little bears, taking delight in a present being found in the forest! I’m an early morning person, and that’s when I do my best writing. But pretty much, I just write when the mood hits me.
If you have a new release coming out, tell us about it.

Well, I have a short story, “Breakfast at the Laundromat,” in Vanilla Heart Publishing’s new Passionate Hearts  anthology. People have asked if it is at all autobiographical; I just smile a little and don’t deny a thing. I’m also working on a novel tentatively titled The Madam of Bodie. I don’t want to talk too much about it, though. I guess I’m a bit superstitious; I don’t want to offend my muse by saying what the book is about, because Helenita (she’s my muse), might have different ideas!

Out of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why.
I love my novels, but I guess The Cabin is my favorite, not because I like the story better than the story I tell in Redeeming Grace, but because it proved I wasn’t a one-hit wonder! But I also love Observations of an Earth Mage, because so many people have told me that my writing about nature has inspired them to get outdoors and take a hike, and that’s precisely my goal. People want to protect what they love, and you can’t learn to love and appreciate nature if you don’t spend time in the great outdoors.

Out of all your books, which is your favorite character and why?
Grace, in Redeeming Grace. Her personality is based on my Aunt Flossie, who was my hero when I was a child. Grace stands up and fights for what is right at a time when women were supposed to be submissive and subservient to the men in their lives. She has spunk.

If you could step into the world of anyone else’s novel or meet with any character, which/who would you choose?
I’m not sure there is any particular character I’d want to meet, but if you substitute the word “author” for “character,” I would love to have dinner with Mark Twain. I adore him.

If you could give one piece of advice to writers trying to get published, what would that advice be?
Study your craft! I can’t stress this enough. People tend to think that since they can read, and they can construct a sentence, then they can write a novel. There’s so much more to it than that. You wouldn’t sit down at the piano for the very first time and try to play Chopin, would you? Nor would you pick up a paintbrush for the first time and try to paint something that rivals Picasso or Frida Kahlo. Writing is something that is not only dependent on talent, but on your willingness to work hard to learn how to do it right. I work as a freelance editor; I’ve edited hundreds of novels. I can always tell when the author has studied writing and when they have not. There are many means of doing this: you can take a class at a local community college, or an online class, or buy a book, like my Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out, which is basically my fiction writing workshop I taught for many years at community colleges in Illinois, condensed into book form.

What's up next for you and your writing?
You’d have to ask Helenita. She hasn’t clued me in to what is next, after The Madam of Bodie.

Where can we read more about you and your work?

Several places!

My book review site:  http://smokyonbooks.wordpress.com

You can also read excerpts of my books on BookBuzzr: http://www.freado.com/users/5394/smoky-trudeau

You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter—just search “Smoky Trudeau.”

Thank you for chatting with me Smoky.  I’ve enjoyed learning more about you and your writing.


  1. Thank you, S.R., for conducting such a wonderful, thoughtful interview. Helenita doesn't normally let me talk about her; I am delighted she came out of the muse closet for this interview!

  2. I like your taste in books.

    It's nice to hear that other writers slip into a trance as just write, listening either to their muse or their subconscious or the voices of the spirits of plants and animals. I also dislike the word "pantser," partly because I think it discriminates against those who wear dresses or kilts, but mainly because it implies one may be inept and is pounding out words hoping that sooner or later they turn into something.


    P.S. No, I don't wear either a dress or a kilt. I wear jeans.

  3. Malcolm, how did you know I wear a kilt when I write? 8-) But thanks for your kind words...The Sun Singer truly is one of my favorite books of the past year.

  4. How lovely getting to know more about you, Smoky and thanks to S.R. for the interesting questions. We'd have to share Mark Twain on a date. And I too dislike the word pantser. Is there such a word?

  5. Hi Smoky

    As charmainegordon said, lovely getting to more about you. Insightful interview (great questions S.R. Claridge;))and useful tips for novice writers.

  6. Charmaine: "Pantser" seems to have worked its way into the vernacular of the writing community, but it is a word that I, as an editor, am fighting tooth and nail!

    Pitching Views: Thank you for stopping by!

  7. Wonderful interview! You're so right about learning the craft! Marita Golden says, "Everybody wants to be a writer, nobody wants to learn how to write." It's so true! And I love how the publisher who turned you down got back in touch with you wanting the book! That just makes me feel GOOD for writers everywhere! :-)


  8. Wonderful interview, Smoky, and great questions, S.R. Smoky, it was so interesting to read that you get superstitious talking about what your current writing project is. I do the same!

  9. Great interview. I so enjoy learning more about my fellow writers. One learns to write through writing.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.