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Adam Interviews... S.E. Chandler!

Hey, welcome back!

Okay, East Coasters - put down that keyboard. Time to relax for a few minutes.

West Coasters - you have a few minutes before work starts, and you don't want to miss this!

Mountain and Central people - isn't it time for a break? I think you deserve one!

Now that I have you all, let's meet your next favorite author!

S.E. Chandler is a mom, presenter, advocate, and author with multiple #1 Bestselling novels. She was first published in a poetry anthology at age 10 under a pen name that was a misspelled anagram for “original.” She serves as the Director of Community Engagement for Lenoir-Rhyne University where she is pursuing an MFA in Writing in the Thomas Wolfe Center for Narrative.

Chandler has previously presented at the Golden Crown Literary Society national conference in Denver, and six local conferences and workshops in North Carolina. She’s next slated to present at the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Con in April. She’s known for her engaging, fun and funny workshops and presentations packed with practical tools to set into action.

Originally from Arkansas, she lives in Asheville, NC with her two young children. When she’s not volunteering or chasing kiddos, Susy enjoys trail running, hiking, writing fiction and poetry, and playing games with “framily.”

Star Trek or Star Wars?

My girlfriend says Star Wars


Firefly – gone too soon or overrated?

I watched it and totally couldn’t get with it. What is it even about, really? It’s like a sci-fi Twin Peaks.


Coffee, tea, or cacao?

Caffeinated Crystal Light, please


Favorite hangover recovery recipe?

I don’t drink.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In the third grade, my gifted and talented teacher, Linda Bennet, showed us how to journal. I also wrote poetry and pretty awful short stories. By 6th grade I was writing pretty awful 4-composition -notebook long novels. I refined slightly in junior high, and then really started coming into my own voice in 10th grade. I had a wonderful mentor, Helen Stegall. She was my best friends’ mom, also a poet and very encouraging. She introduced me to a professional poet, Red Hawk, who read my tender poems. Gently but firmly, he insisted on titles for them–ones that mean something–and drilled brevity is virtue. Let the poem end when it was over. I read in poetry slams and open mics the rest of high school and knew I wanted to be a writer. I took four years of creative writing and journalism, thinking I could write for a paper for income and fiction and poetry for kicks. After earning my bachelor’s in journalism, it turns out I hated writing for a newspaper. What a shock! It was years (13) before I started writing again. And then seven more after that before I started writing for real, with the intent to publish. I wanted to be a writer the whole time, but self-doubt, rent and reality kept it out of reach for decades. After I finished my  MBA, I gifted myself with writing a novel. That was in 2020. I’ve published 10 books since then.


What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I am very organized and methodical about my writing schedule. I write in sprints with a group on weekdays and in the evenings after my kids go down. My goal is typically 12K words per week with a 5-week writing period for a 60K-word novel. I’ll usually send that book to my betas for a couple weeks, get roasted, make changes, send it to the proofreader while I take two weeks to prep for launch, then shoot it out there and repeat.


What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Spreadsheets! I spreadsheet everything. My daily word count, my series plot points, my scene sketches, my poetry submissions, my read-through rate, author expenses, ad performance, everything.


What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Besides try out certain scenes in my romances…I usually run every day, play with my 2- and 4-year-old kids, go hiking with my girlfriend, practice meditation and sleep. I’m very dedicated to my sleep. I may slide in sideways, still shooting out a few words toward my word count, but I’m out and gone in five minutes or less.  


Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?

 Well, my series is based on toaster-oven/first-time gay romances, so I suppose that’s a recurring theme. I really do avoid the whole ice queen trope. I’m such a jovial people-person, I’m afraid I would come across as a smart-ass with a perpetual case of PMS.


What does your family think of your writing?

OMG! My mother has read everything I’ve written, ever. Including the steamy lesbian sex scenes. Which, of course, she has to tell me how much she enjoyed them every time. My dad read one of my bisexual romances and said it was “hard for a dad to read,” as if I were one of the characters. Let’s just say, I don’t think my genre is his type…and I have questions about my mom.


How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Eleven. Just between us, I originally wrote the books The Lie That Binds and Enter the Upperground as one 120K-word dystopian suspense thriller novel. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever written and may be the best I will ever. In a future that is marked by bio-classism, a woman in the under class who was adopted by an upper class family is living life in the middle. She’s trying to be a one-woman act to show that the under class is just as capable as the privileged one if given access to the same supports. Everything goes wrong and bunches of people die, but I loved the main character, Ehra (pron. Era), for her heart and optimism through some pretty ugly stuff. The third book in the series, Rise & Converge, continues her quest into power to make changes to the whole of society. The ending is such a gut punch; I love it. I didn’t say last book in the series, because it’s getting a relaunch…and a 4th book. Eat your heart out.


Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Read in your genre. Particularly, books that are doing well in the charts or have a lot of great reviews. Then be bold and just write it. I hated the idea of the age-gap romance, but tried it anyway. It’s been one of my most successful novels, and I still don’t know why. I’m still working on ice queen. I don’t think I could pull it off, but I’m going to have to try because that’s what my readers are buying these days!


What is the first book that made you cry?

Where the Red Fern Grows. Little Ann and Old Dan. Gets me every time! Bridge to Terabithia was another sob show, but I read that a little later.


Do you write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems, screenplays, or something else? What is your preferred format?

I’m actually a poet and have several pieces published in various literary magazines. But poetry doesn’t pay the bills until after I don’t have them anymore (sic: dead), so I write genre fiction sapphic/wlw/lesbian novels. They still don’t pay the bills…yet.


Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

I’m indie published. It’s a hustle, but I get total control and lots of my own profit. Rather than waiting 2 years for a publisher to put out a book and ignore it (I’d still have to pay for the marketing anyway), I release 4 times per year, do my special projects and am slowly building a base of readers to make writing my full-time job. And hopefully by 2026!


What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters, if anything?

I like to Frankenstein my characters. I may use the looks of one person I know and mash it on the personality of another. Or add the background and memories of an unrelated other other person and call it a character. What do I owe these people I use? Nada. They should be paying me!


How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Dude, zero. I write everything to the finish and publish everything I write. How many unpublished and half-finished poems do I have? Oh, you know, several hundred.


What do you have coming next?

Straight Girls Don’t Cry is my next novel coming out on March 19. It was supposed to be a romantic comedy, but my betas said it’s lit fic with a backdrop of romance. I think I’ll just call it women’s fiction. After that will be two more in my Straight Girls series, Straight Girl’s Best Friend and Straight Girls Like You releasing later this summer. This fall, I plan to crowdfund a book of poetry that blends some of those poems I wrote in 1995 and 1996 in high school with some things I’ve written as recently as last week. For a sample, and to sign up for updates, visit my webpage and check out the “poetry” tab. Enjoy!

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