Meet Susanne Lambdin.
Susanne Lambdin is the author of the Dead Hearts Novels and The Realm of Magic trilogy. She received a screen credit for writing past of ST:TNG, Season 4, Eps. 76 “Family”, which focused on the storyline of Wesley Crusher meeting his father, Jack Crusher, on the holodeck when he turned eighteen years of age. Majoring in Professional Writing at the University of Oklahoma, she worked at Paramount Pictures for eight years before turning to Kansas to focus on writing fiction. Currently, she has seven published novels, with another eight novels to be released this next year.
Her love for fantasy, sci-fi and the supernatural started at a young age when she read Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and she is an avid movie buff and reader. Her favorite authors include Edgar Rice Burroughs, Anne Rice, J.K. Rowlings, and Frank Yerby. Her top films are “Jaws” and “Star Wars: A New Hope”, which she claims have solid storylines and characters that allowed her imagination to flow in her early writing years. She wrote Star Trek fanfiction in the 80s, along with many historical romances which were extremely popular in that decade; however, her preference is writing fantasy/supernatural novels with a horror and romance elements, along with strong female characters. She can be found at numerous comic cons throughout the United States, offering panels on “How to Write a Novel”, the “Cure for Writer’s Block,” and frequently speaks her mind on podcasts, which can be found on YouTube.
Follow her on Facebook under Susanne Lambdin or Dead Hearts Novels. On Twitter or Instagram under Susanne Lambdin. She has three websites:
Onto the interview!
Susanne Lambdin, author of the Dead Hearts series and The Realm of Magic trilogy to date, has taken on the task of answering a few questions about how she started out, why she went to L.A., and how many actors she has met (with humorous consequences):
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
At the age of 8, my older brother Sterling was writing his first novel. I thought to myself, well, if Sterling can write a novel, I could too. He gave me a notepad and a pen, and I wrote a 250 page novel called ‘The Lion of Arcadia’ based on my love for C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. I still have the novel, though I haven’t read it in ages but distinctly remember writing a romance scene. At that age, I now wonder what I thought was romantic and need to look, as I was already reading all the dime store novels my parents hid behind the classics like Dickens on their bookshelves. When my parents learned what I was reading, they were both furious and impressed. Since then, I have written a novel a year, and most of those will never be published, unless I decide to brush off the dust and get down to serious work.
What was your first published novel?
‘Morbid Hearts,’ the first book in the Dead Hearts series, written in 2012, is something I felt proud enough to publish. I started out as an Indie and now have a publisher. Most of my novels were historical romances. However, I decided I’m happiest writing in the fantasy/supernatural genres for young adults. While the covers on Dead Hearts depict zombies and readers assume it’s only about the undead, that’s far too simple an explanation for this series. I have created a world that includes myths from Atlantis, ancient Egypt and Greece, to time-travel, to demons and angels, to monster lore. Since I needed a challenge, I added an extra genre per book in order to be more creative with the story.
What was your first professional job?
Actually, I was a student at the University of Oklahoma when a rich couple who wanted me to write a movie script based on their idea about the medical profession approached me. I charged the couple $3,000, rewrote it several times, and decided I wanted to write both novels and scripts. After I graduated, I worked at the county courthouse as a bailiff for two years, and during this time, I learned that Star Trek: The Next Generation was about to go into production. I decided to sell my horses, pack my bags, and move to Los Angeles to write for the show.
Tell us about what happened in Los Angeles. Did you write for Star Trek: TNG?
Within six months, I landed a job at Paramount Pictures. At that time, people considered folks from Kansas hard workers and I ended up working for the president of motion pictures. Four months later, I wrote a script about Wesley Crusher and walked into producer Michael Pillar’s office, without an appointment mind you, and walked right up to his desk. He looked up at me, astonished, and I slammed the script down, saying, “If you’re looking for a good script for Wesley, this is it.” I turned around and walked out. Pillar called the next day and said, “You have big balls coming in here like that. Come back and let’s talk.” I did precisely this…I don’t think many young writers ever pulled a stunt like that but, hey, it worked!
Did you sell this particular script to the show?
No, but I was asked back several times to pitch story ideas. I eventually met a young man named Bryon Stewart, the mailroom boy, who told me that his father had recently died and it gave me the idea to write another script about Wesley Crusher meeting his dad on the holodeck when he turned 18 years of age. Bryon was a whiz when it came to technology and tek-talk. We worked together on the dialogue, since he had something personal to say to his own father. I hope you realize it seemed like fate, since I loved Patrick Stewart and wanted to write for the TV show because he was Captain Picard. We took the script to Ron Moore who gave it to Pillar and they ended up buying ‘The Wish’. This was turned into Season 4, Eps. 76 ‘Family.’ Our part is the story about Wesley who received a recorded message from Jack Crusher on his 18th birthday. In our script, the holodeck Jack Crusher was interactive and their conversations were wonderful but not featured in the TV show. Still, we both received a screen credit and carved our names into Star Trek history.
Who is your favorite Star Trek Captain?
This is not a simple answer.
The funny thing is in college I had a poster of Captain Kirk on the wall in my bedroom. I wrote fanfiction when it wasn’t fanfiction. I met William Shatner several times but remember being in the sound room, watching composer Jerry Goldsmith conducting the orchestra, laying down the soundtrack to Star Trek 5. Shatner came in with two young women, stared at me, and I asked if he wanted me to move off the couch. He merely nodded. He did this five more times, as more people entered the sound booth, until eventually, I lost my temper and shouted, “I’m not here for you, I’m here for Jerry Goldsmith.” I marched out and ended up getting into a fight with the president’s number one secretary, ended up fired, then rehired by someone else. While I was lamenting outside a stage about Shatner with a woman named Jane, she kept going on about how much she loved Shatner, while I said many rude things, only to notice he was standing right behind her, grinning. When I told Jane that Shatner was right behind her, she took one look at him and ran off crying, and he laughed at me. It was funny.
However, Captain Kirk is not my favorite captain. At the time I worked at Paramount, I was Captain Picard. However, I had met Patrick Stewart and he asked me to write him a script with a romance. I didn’t write precisely what he wanted and he ended up throwing the script at me on the bridge in front of Gates McFadden. It was my turn to run off crying. A few weeks later, Patrick Stewart was on the Jay Leno Show and he asked if anyone had ever written a script where he had to wear a wig. Now you know why the script was launched at my head; I’d done this very thing. The incident was mentioned and Patrick admitted he’d been in a bad mood that day.
Therefore, I have to say that I love Captain Benjamin Sisko. I’m a fan of Deep Space Nine, and actually submitted several scripts to the show but had to move back home before anything came to fruition due to the premature death of my beloved brother. I thought Ron Moore created something special with the space station and the relationship between Sisko and his nemesis Gul Dukat. Dukat is my favorite villain. The back-story between Bajor and Cardassia was full of myths and legends, offering so much more than people realize, which is why it’s special.
Who is your favorite villain?
Since we’re talking about Star Trek, I’ll stick with it and admit I recently wrote an epic novel that I posted on Star Trek Fanfiction in honor of Gul Dukat. He’s a marvelous villain, able to do acts of kindness, yet always bent on gaining power. He’s selfish, arrogant, conceited, yet vulnerable, especially when it came to his daughter and Major Kira. A villain who is able to expression their emotions and even love people, despite doing horrible things, is interesting to me. Had Dukat’s life taken a different turn, he might have ended up a hero, though he was the opposite side of the coin he shared with Sisko. For fun, I wrote an epic Dukat fanfiction that I recently posted on the Star Trek Fanfiction site to show what might happen if someone stepped in to turn him away from his path of self-destruction.
You have time to write fanfiction?
This was an old story that I rewrote and it grew into something fabulous. It was a break from my serious fiction, and I admit my heroine singing ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ at Quark’s, in front of Dukat and Damar, is one of my favorite scenes. Fanfiction is a great way to hone your craft and to make contact with people who love the same thing that you do.
What else are you working on?
I have six more novels to publish in Dead Hearts that are in various stages of editing. The third book in The Realm of Magic will able be out soon. I have a new sci-fi series that I’m working on, along with a Gothic paranormal romance (it’s in homage to the late actor Peter Cushing), so I have many projects active at the same time.
Who is your publisher?
Chris Kennedy. He is a wonderful man, publisher, and writes military sci-fi. Dead Hearts and The Realm of Magic are published under Theogony Publishing based in Virginia.
Is it better to have a publisher or publish independently?
Both ways are great. I see no reason why any writer should suffer rejection and waste years trying to find an agent or publisher. As long as an Indie author takes the time to write something marvelous and hire editors to polish their story, they should publish their own stories. I don’t think the public looks down on someone who publishes through a small press or with Create Space through Amazon.com. I recommend self-publishing and getting out there in person to sell your books.
I recently heard an interview with you talking to students from Health High School in Health, Ohio about fame. Do you care to explain what you said to the students?
First, I said that if they want to be writers because they want to be rich and famous to find another career. Writing should be about the love of the craft, the journey itself, and creating your novel. Being famous is a matter of perspective. You only have to impress yourself. If you write a good story, then you should want to be read, and if you make money – great. If you only want to write to make money, which people do, I think it’s the wrong reason to write. Writing should be a passion, a personal calling, and whether or not you become famous or rich is beside the point. I think you should write because you want to be read and to entertain people who love to read. It’s a symbiotic relationship, one cannot exist without the other, and touching the life of one person is success.
Someone recently told me to keep writing. It was a friend from Colorado and he told me that he had an unhappy childhood. He didn’t have friends and he spent most of his time reading. He read ‘Morbid Hearts’, and he told me that during the hours he read the book, he was in his own little world and he was happy. When he told me that a writer only has to touch the life of one person to make a difference, it really struck a chord and confirmed the reason why I write.
Have you met any other actors and have other stories that you’d like to share with us?
A couple of years ago at Crypticon in K.C., actor Derek Mears walked over and introduced himself. He has a long list of credits, he’s usually a villain or a monster, and currently he’s been on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Derek is a humble, kind man. He saw my table, all my novels, and he took the time to bestow his wisdom. He told me that all artists are part of one big family. It’s the same mindset that you only have to touch the life of one other person to be a success, and you should never judge yourself by someone else’s success or think you are less talented because you are not famous. He made a big impression on me.
Recently, at Wizard World in Austin, I noticed a pigeon in the convention hall that refused to go outside. I took the time with a bag full of cookies to coax the bird outside. It followed the trail of crumbs. At that moment, actor Michael Cudlitz, who played Sgt. Abraham Ford on TWD, walked out the door and spotted me. Embarrassed, I said, ‘This is my good deed for the day.” He laughed and said in the deep voice of his, “The road to hell is paved in good intentions,” and climbed into the waiting vehicle. The bird flew outside and I returned to my table. Not a minute later, the security guard walked up to me and told me that he’d worked there for two years and the pigeon always returned to the scene of the crime. In fact, the pigeon had returned to eat the rest of the crumbs inside the convention hall. I could only laugh.
How do you handle writer’s block?
It really doesn’t exist. You, the writer, can always write. If you’re stuck on a scene, it’s not you who can’t write, it’s your character who doesn’t want to do what you want them to do. When you write, your characters come to life and direct the story, the plot, and do things you don’t expect. Simply change something, either tell that part of the story through someone else’s eyes or change the location, but change something. If this doesn’t help, stop writing that particular scene and move on to something else in the story. Once your creative juices are flowing, you will find it much easier to return and write that pesky scene. Other authors will hash and slash their way through a difficult scene and force it out, only to then rewrite it later. There’s no reason to be in mental anguish when it comes to writing. Clear your head. Think of something different and start writing. The cure for writer’s block, in short, is writing something else that is fun to write. Let your characters help you accomplish this goal and stop making excuses not to write. Period.
Do you have any parting words for aspiring authors?
Don’t be in a rush to be published (and that means – don’t write to be rich and famous). If you want to be a writer, I assume you intend to write for the rest of your life. Take your time. Learn how to write, write a story and finish it, then hire a good editor. So many writers find it difficult to finish the story and spend their time editing and nitpicking on a chapter. I met a woman recently who had done this very thing for fifteen years without success. I told her to stop what she was doing and to finish the story. It sounds like an easy thing to do, and it is, but not if in the back of your mind, you are stressed about being published.
Stop worrying about whether your story is good enough . Write because you love to write. Share your stories because you want to be read. The rest will come with in time. Enjoy writing and have fun. If it’s not fun, if you don’t love the journey of writing a novel, and maybe you should find something else to do. Believe me…it’s a lonely world being a writer. You spend most of your time with your characters, so you’d better love writing because you are sacrificing a great deal to do this. Look, no one wants to be more successful than you do, but it takes time, effort, and hard work.
My motto comes from the movie ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ – ‘endeavor to persevere.’ Don’t give up your dream to write or to be published. Develop armor to protect your feelings. Don’t cry when someone doesn’t like your story. Don’t get mad when you’re rejected. You have to try and try again. Each time you write a novel you become a better writer. If you stop, years go by, and you haven’t written, it’s never too later to start again. Dream big and go for it. The only person stopping you is yourself, which means, it is never too late to write a new story, my friend.
Phew. What an interview!
Thank you Susanne for stopping by A New Look On Books! It was a pleasure.
Love Zombies? Mythology? Gods vs Gods? An approaching apocalypse?
Check out Susanne’s Dead Heart series and get ready!