I grew up on the shores of Grande-Digue, New Brunswick. I was the middle child of five my parents had. My Grade 4 teacher encouraged me to write, lighting a passion that has followed me since. Through my junior high school years, I'd write small stories and distribute copies to all my friends, using my father's office supplies. He never complained.
My formal education ended abruptly when I discovered I was pregnant in my senior year in high school. My husband and I have raised two successful young women with families of their own.
But I never stopped writing. Deep down, I wanted to be published.
My parents took ill shortly after our nest emptied. I volunteered to drive them to appointments and errands in between my work hours. It was a stressful chapter in my life, and I became an insomniac as a result. I'd wake up during the night with these two characters telling me about themselves, asking me to share their love story. A word. A sentence. A scene. Sometimes an entire chapter. This continued until six months after my parents eventually passed. Only then did I sit down and actually write the story. Ten weeks later, the first draft of Danny and MJ was complete.
Having my publisher call me in December 2019 to say that I was now a published author has been one of the most significant moments of my life. At over 75,000 words, my debut novel is sitting on bookstore shelves. And I'm in awe.
4Q: First off, tell our readers about your novel.
SBC: Danny and MJ meet at a work conference, feeling an instant connection. She fights the attraction, while he decides to pursue, for the fun of it. After many attempts, Danny breaks down MJ's reserve, and they end up in a hotel room.
A passionate tryst ignites between MJ, a married mother of two, and Danny, a committed man with two stepchildren of his own. Unable to stay away from each other, they begin a torrid affair. In the process, MJ discovers sex can be mind-blowing while Danny learns to trust her. Enough to unburden his hurts.
A death will change the course of MJ's life, making her want more. And an accident will make them both question their future.
4Q: What inspired you to write this story?
SBC: My friend's married sister was involved with another man, himself married, for 20 years before he broke it off. She was devastated. Until I heard of their situation, I always took an affair as a physical moment, not the emotional growth it can create.
Although their relationship didn't end favorably for her, it still intrigued me. They loved. They grew. They had a deep connection. It was worth a story.
4Q: Pleased share a childhood memory or anecdote.
SBC: My father was an avid gardener. If he wasn't at work, chances are you'd find him in his vegetable garden. One summer, work got too busy. So, he asked my sister and I to plant it for him. It was our first time sowing, so we weren't aware of the spacing between the seeds. Lo and behold, the cucumbers took over the entire garden, killing the rest of the seedlings. Nothing grew but cucumbers. My sister and I were now responsible to sell them all, in return my mother would be able to buy different produce with the money we made. We would go door to door, day after day, 10c a cucumber, 25 for 3. Eventually, my mother made a deal with the local grocer that she would supply him all his cucumbers in return for items.
Our father always sowed his garden himself after that.
4Q: If you were to write a biography of someone, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
SBC: It would have to be my paternal grandmother. I've gotten to know so much more about her SINCE her death. While living, she wasn't approachable. Unless you were blond blue-eyed, which I'm not, she chose not to like you. As a child, I feared her. As an adult, I avoided her. Mainly, I wanted to protect my own children. But now, I'd love to know why she was that way. What made her so vulnerable? How did she and my grandfather meet? What was her childhood like? And why did she only wear heels, even as a farmer?
4Q: What can we expect next from Suzanne, the author?
SBC: I've been accumulating scenes, paragraphs, etc., doing research on my next story, tentatively called Quilting Bee. I started this process in January 2019, but put everything aside in July when then the final steps of editing to publishing rolled through. Now I'm back fully into piecing scenes together, hopefully my first draft will be done in late spring.
4Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us about?
SBC: As a brand new author, it's been an interesting journey of learning the world of publishing. Each step forward has awakened me that much more. The more I do, the more I want it. The more I love it. Writing is the easy part, as any author knows. The work begins with editing and ends with marketing yourself. If you believe in yourself and believe in the story you've written, go chase your dreams. It's never too late.
An Excerpt from Danny and MJ.
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.)
When responding, I wanted to have the perfect vocabulary in place to end this charade he and I were playing. But I chose to ignore answering his email, continuing on with my other work. Reports had to be written. Decisions had to be made. Budgets had to be balanced.
Enveloped in my work, my lunch hour came and went. Annie knocked at my door at 1:45, startling me. She pointed at her trendy watch, indicating I was overdue to stop and take a break.
I cracked a big smile while pushing my chair away from my glass and chrome desk, grabbing my office keys. I locked up, thanked her with a kiss on the top of her blonde head, and walked up to the staff lunch room down the hall. I didn't always bring my lunch, often having a working lunch down Main Street with whoever might need my attention. Mondays though were always hectic. Between meetings, catching up on weekend communications and monthly budget presentations at our televised council meetings, a bagged lunch was safest.
I settled down with my egg salad sandwich and cherry tomatoes, plugging in the kettle to make myself a cup of peppermint tea. I was two hours away from clocking out, so I didn't see the need to fuel up on coffee that late in the afternoon. However, I did treat myself to a handful of chocolate-covered almonds purchased from a dispenser in the lunch room.
I picked up after myself, joyfully tossed an almond up in the air to catch it with my mouth. And succeeded. Rick had taught me that while in college. As I reached my office, I flung another one up, and caught it again. I've still got it, I chuckled to myself.
I checked with Annie if there were any messages. There were none. I sat in my chair with a few almonds left in my hand. They were starting to warm up, slowly melting, so I laid them next to my keyboard. I swished my mouse to reignite my screen, and three emails had since come in. Thank goodness I loved my job. It was one of those positions that was never, ever done. I played the game of tossing another chocolate-covered almond into the air every time I answered one of those emails. On the third one, as the almond briefly floated in the air, there was a knock at my door. It took my focus away for a millisecond. I felt it land on my chest, but did not hear it fall to the ground. Not wanting to keep the Deputy Mayor waiting, I resolved to look later. He noticed what I'd been doing and smirked.
“MJ, sorry to bother you this late, but I'm gonna need an updated written report on the renovations at the zoo hospital, ASAP. The Premier is dropping in tomorrow, and I'd like to be well informed.”
“Absolutely, George,” I answered. Dread came over me. My four o'clock departure had just gotten delayed by half an hour. “Do you want it emailed? Or would you prefer I text it to you? This way, you could read up on it this evening, versus in the morning.”
“A text would be fantastic,” George smiled. “MJ, you're a peach!”
And with that, he turned around and left my office. I immediately sent a text to all three members of my family, saying I would be late coming home. I noticed a slight commotion behind George, quickly realizing it was Danny coming off the elevator. They shook hands as Danny introduced himself.
“What can we help you with, Mr Russell?” I asked curtly, cutting short any more small talk. The workday was coming to an end for the entire building, except security and eventually cleaning crews. I wanted to go home.
“I simply wanted to touch base with you, Mrs. Taylor,” he answered, croaking the word Mrs. slowly. “I wasn't sure if you'd had the chance to read my reply to the email you'd sent earlier today. And since I was in the neighbourhood, I thought I'd drop in. Killing two birds with one stone,” Danny concluded, his delicious eyes keeping a steady hold on mine.
“Again, I appreciate your persistence, Mr Russell. But as my communication with you this morning indicated, I will be appointing a member from the Purchasing Department to negotiate a contract with Juno Electronics, as you can appreciate how full my calendar must be.”
“I understand, Mrs. Taylor,” Danny smiled. “But as I indicated to you in my previous email, I deal directly with the higher ups only. Once we're in, then my subordinates can communicate with yours. All I ask is a moment of your time.”
“Mr Russell, I'm a very busy woman. It's the end of the day, and I have a report to prepare and send to our Deputy Mayor before I can leave the office. I don't have time to entertain you right now.”
“I can wait,” Danny persisted.
“What report, MJ?” Annie cut in.
“George wants me to have an updated report on the zoo hospital renovations texted to him as soon as possible,” I sighed.
“I received one today!” Annie smiled, pulling it out of a folder yet to be filed on her desk. “I'll email it to him.”
“No,” I breathed out. “He insisted I text it to him so he can review it this evening.” I was starting to feel defeated by not getting rid of Danny. He was making me jittery. But I also felt relief that Annie was, once again, there to save the day for me.
“I'll have that done in a jiffy!” she cheerfully exclaimed. “It's three minutes to 4. It'll be in George's phone before he reaches his car in the parking lot. I guess MJ has time to see you now, Mr Russell” Annie said, smiling as she ushered Danny and myself into my office.
We walked silently to the majestic window, featuring a spectacular view of the Sevy River two blocks away. The mayor's office had the same scenery, but one storey above. I was edgy. I nervously made small talk with Danny, pointing at several buildings surrounding City Hall, giving the history of them all. Not once during my rambling did Danny take his eyes off of me.
The lights dimmed behind us, indicating Annie had completed her task and was now stepping into the elevator. It was ten minutes after four, and my entire floor of colleagues had gone for the day, leaving me alone with Danny. A smirk remained on his face from what I could see from my peripheral vision. He made me nervous. I didn't dare look him straight in the eye. My voice trailed off, no longer able to fake small talk. We weren't touching or I definitely would've crumbled to the floor, had that happened. But Danny was standing so close to me my hair fluttered whenever he exhaled, a trail of goosebumps following behind.
And then it happened. Our bodies touched in the most unusual way. Danny startled me so, I gasped. His stubby fingers plunged in between my awakened breasts, plucked out the semi-melted chocolate-covered almond that was resting in my cleavage. He examined it from side to side with a queer sense of amusement, then plopped it into his mouth.
“Very sweet,” he proclaimed as he licked his fingers clean. From there, Danny let himself out of my office, leaving me stunned and motionless.
I was mortified. I was shocked. I was angry. I was turned on. I was moist. I was so ashamed of my behaviour, I couldn't look at him. Any other person touching me like that, I would've slapped their face, charged them with sexual misconduct, called security. But this man, this piece of flesh, he's done nothing but torment my soul since the day he walked into my life. He's turned me into mush at the sound of his voice, sight of his face, touch of his skin. I somehow welcomed his inappropriate gesture. And this time, my knees stood straight.
Thank you, Suzanne for being our featured guest this week. All the best with your future writing endeavors.
For you Readers wanting to discover more about Suzanne and her book, please follow these links:
Facebook Author Page.
Cover to Cover book store, Riverview, New Brunswick
Guardian Pharmacy, Dieppe, New Brunswick
more to come...