We caught up with the lovely Susan Mallery to chat about her brand-new summer books!
You have not one but two books coming out this summer, congratulations! The Boardwalk Bookshop is out on June 9th and The Summer Getaway is out on July 21st in the UK.
Can you tell us a little more about your writing schedule and routine?
In the fiction writing community, we have two camps known as the plotters (people who plot out a story in advance) and the pantsers (people who write by the seats of their pants, so to speak). I’m on the extreme plotter end of the spectrum. I do a lot of character work and brainstorming before I begin the plotting process. Then I write one scene from each main character’s point of view, until I can hear their voice in my head.
Once I feel I know that person, I plot her or his storyline scene by scene. I do this for each main character, and then I weave those scenes together to come up with a cohesive plot for the entire book.
My plotting is essentially the world’s shortest first draft. For a 120,000-word book, my plotting might be 20,000 words. It’s where I iron out all of the story problems. Far from being limiting, I find that this liberates me to escape into the story and let the characters speak through me. And even though I know what’s going to happen in the story, the characters still manage to surprise me.
I write six days per week, generally starting at about 8 am. I have a schedule I stick to. I keep writing until I finish my pages for the day, whether that’s at 10 am or 7 pm. The pages come first. After I finish my pages, then I can hop on social media and play. (I’m most active on Facebook and Instagram, but you’ll also find me on Tiktok, Twitter and Pinterest. I’m @susanmallery everywhere.)
For new readers, how would you describe a signature Susan Mallery book?
My books are emotional journeys about the relationships that are the touchstones of our lives—family, friendship, and romance. You’ll see so deeply into the hearts and minds of my characters that they’ll come to feel like friends, and you can rest assured that no matter what kind of conflict they may face, they’ll reach an ending that will have you closing the book with a satisfied sigh. I like to think that my books make the world a happier place to live.
The Boardwalk Bookshop follows three best friends as they run their dream beachfront store. While their business lives are thriving, their personal lives are not… What was your inspiration behind these characters?
What I wanted to write about with this book was the transformative power of friendship. Bree, Mikki and Ashley weren’t best friends when they found the beachfront space for lease six months before the book starts—they were strangers, three entrepreneurs who found themselves dreaming about a great location on the boardwalk in Los Angeles that was too large for any one of them individually.
Fate and a real estate ad brought them together.
Over the six months since they moved their businesses into the space—a bookshop, a bakery, and a gift shop—their friendship has blossomed. And that friendship is going to open their hearts to new loves and empower them to face challenges together that they couldn’t conquer alone. The Boardwalk Bookshop is heartwarming and uplifting, with one of the most soul-satisfying endings I’ve ever written.
In The Summer Getaway, the heroine Robyn is searching for purpose and a new direction for her life when she meets Mason. Can you tell readers a little more about your hero and heroine? (Without giving away the plot!)
Robyn is the heart of her family, like so many mothers are. She’s a single mum to two adult kids—a demanding daughter who’s planning a wedding in the back yard of the house Robyn must sell, and an affable son whom Robyn is afraid will become an overgrown kid like her ex. When Robyn’s great-aunt Lillian invites her to escape for the summer to beautiful Santa Barbara, California, Robyn hops on the first plane. She needs some time away to figure out the next chapter in her life. But one by one, everyone who loves her follows her across the country, looking for her to solve their problems, as she always does.
The only person who doesn’t seem to need anything from her is Mason Bishop, a distant relative of her aunt’s late husband. Mason is the antithesis of Robyn’s ex. He’s honorable, strong, and self-confident. And he is thunderstruck by Robyn from the moment they meet.
The Summer Getaway was such a fun story to write! The romance is a lovely throughline, but in my heart, this book is a mother-daughter story. I’ll be very interested to hear whether UK readers agree. They can write to me via the Contact Susan page of my website, www.susanmallery.com, under the Members menu.
You’ve had a wonderful writing career so far and last year, The Christmas Wedding Guest become a Fiction Heatseeker in The Bookseller Charts here in the UK! You’ve garnered many loyal fans, becoming an ‘auto-buy’ author for many. How would you describe your writing journey?
A heatseeker! I feel so fancy. I love being discovered by new readers, and hearing which book brought them to me. How would I describe my writing journey? As one of the great joys of my life. I’m a storyteller. I’ve never wanted to be anything else—and frankly, I have no other skills. So I’m deeply honoured and grateful that readers’ enthusiasm for my books has given me this wonderful life. Thank you.
You are very engaged with your readers and often ask for their help in naming characters and places. Do you find your readers inspire you as much as you them?
Oh, yes! Definitely. In fact, Bree Larton, Mikki Bartholomew and Ashley Burton all have the surnames of three of my favourite readers. I often invite my readers on Facebook and Instagram to help name businesses or characters, and frequently give characters the last names of readers whose suggestions I take. One of my all-time favourite suggestions was from a reader who suggested the perfect name for a mobile wedding bar in my Happily Inc series: AlcoHaul. I mean, seriously! How great is that? Silver Tesdal has that reader’s last name.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice about writing, what would it be?
Stretch more. I mean in the physical sense, but I suppose it also applies to the writing itself.
Mills & Boon are really proud to publish your wonderful stories. How do you feel working with Mills & Boon?
I adore the team at Mills & Boon, especially my editor, Rebecca Slorach! I feel very nurtured by the UK team. The “Summer of Susan” delights me to no end! So fun.
I also love the UK book covers, which are very different from the North American covers. (I’m like a mother with fraternal twins. They’re different but equally adorable.) The draft cover of The Christmas Wedding Guest had a small dog on it, but Belle in the book is a great Dane. When I asked if it would be possible for the dog to be bigger, the artist jumped right to it. Authors don’t always get to ask for things like that, so I felt very special.
Last quick fire questions:
Chocolate or flowers?
Chocolate (but that was a difficult choice)
Winter or Summer?
Summer. Winter is quite gloomy here in Seattle.
The Boardwalk Bookshop by Susan Mallery
When Bree, Mikki and Ashley open The Boardwalk Bookshop on the Californian coast it is a dream come true. But while their business is thriving, their personal lives are not.
Bree has sworn to protect her heart at all costs, until an unexpected meeting with a bestselling author changes everything. Mikki has never moved on from her divorce, but knows something must change. And Ashley’s wedding fantasy is shattered when she discovers her boyfriend never wants to get married.
Every Friday the three friends meet on the beach in front of the bookshop to toast the sunset. Here, as their bond grows closer, they will challenge each other to not only face their fears but fight for what they have always wanted in life, and love.
Discover more about our ‘Summer of Susan’ content here.