When did you decide to be a writer?
I’ve written all my life. As an adult, I spent more than 20 years as a news correspondent and nonfiction writer. I decided to focus on seriously writing fiction in 1999.
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
I’m not sure I’ve reached that point. I still reach out to a few special friends for brainstorming and opinions. I don’t think writers outgrow critiques—though there reaches a point where you have to decide whether to go with what’s accepted as “the norm” or to take a risk.
Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?
I’m somewhat disciplined and consider my writer as a job, though it’s a job that I love.
What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
I like to go explore my new territory, or do logic puzzles, read, or work on family history.
What is your favorite novel and what made it special?
I can only pick one? That’s SO hard. To Kill a Mockingbird would definitely be up there in my top picks.
How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
Sometimes it shows me what can be done and inspires me to work harder. And sometimes it shows me what not to do. It also gets me thinking in ways I might not have otherwise.
Tell us a little about your latest release:
The Crimson Cipher set in 1915. Emma is a young woman whose father, a math professor, is murdered in his college office in Maine. He was working on en encryption system for a bank, and Emma was helping him with it. The Navy hoped to get him to go back to work for them (he’d been part of the Signal Corps during the Spanish American War). When they learn of Emma’s experience with ciphers, they recruit her instead. She’s shocked to learn how much sabotage is going on within the United States, mostly bankrolled by Germans and Austrians. Her new job is to break their codes and help expose the enemy.
Where did you get your inspiration for The Crimson Cipher?
I was thinking about writing a book set in the Civil War and began researching ciphers used then. I read on up into the 20th century history and was fascinated by some young women who went into this field during World War I. That’s when I decided to write this book.
Which character is most like you?
I’d like to say Emma, but probably her landlady, ha ha!
Who is your favorite character and why?
I think Martin, one of the other cryptographers, is my favorite. He’s not the hero, but he is heroic.
Did you know how The Crimson Cipher would turn out?
Well, yes, the enemy behind much of the sabotage had to be caught, though history proves others went on to do more damage. And Emma had to fall in love. And the Lusitania had to sink…
Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?
John, the hero, surprised me just a little when he did something stupid. Martin surprised me, too, by becoming such an important part of Emma’s world. He’d begun as a very minor character.
What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
Even when terrifying things happen, God is in control.
Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
Right now I’m writing another book for Summerside Press called Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island. It’s set in 1860, when Prince Albert Edward (Queen Victoria’s son and later King Edward VII) visited the island. The research trip to Canada with my kids was wonderful.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Come see me at my website: http://www.susanpagedavis.com/ – and stay cool!