posted on June 3, 2015 by Susan Wiggs

Who Was Your First?

by Susan Wiggs

Summer by the SeaThey say you never, ever forget your first time. It’s one of those “aha” moments when the world shifts, and afterwards, nothing is quite the same. You keep this moment in your heart forever, and it’s still vivid even decades later, it’s still as vivid as the rose that just opened in your garden.

And for me, one of those defining moments happened in the Target store on Katy Freeway in Houston, Texas, circa early 1980s. That was where I discovered romance novels.

I always knew I would write; this much was clear from the time I learned to talk. Even before I could read or write, I would dictate stories to my mother and, bless her, she would dutifully write them down. But as an emerging novelist, I hadn’t found my “voice” as a writer. Fresh out of graduate school, I had been trying to figure out what sort of book I longed to write–a literary masterpiece, a dark thriller, a shoot-em-up western?

ShannaCoverTo be honest, the reader in me was ready for a fabulous, sweep-you-away novel to give my brain a vacation. A book called “Shanna” by Kathleen Woodiwiss, with a hot pink and orange cover and a lush, sexy illustration jumped off the shelf and into my cart.

I dove right in, and didn’t even come up for air until I’d savored every thrilling word.

And by the end of the first chapter, I had an epiphany. This was the sort of book I was yearning to write. I wanted to take the reader on a fabulous journey filled with love, adventure, danger, heartfelt emotion and pulse-pounding passion. I wanted to sweep the reader away.

Not long afterward, my first novel was published, and it was filled with–you guessed it. All of the above.

Summer by the Sea has everything I was looking for that day so long ago. There’s a lonely young woman who still dreams of the boy who stole her heart. There’s a nostalgic beach restaurant offering delicious shore dinners (recipes included). And most importantly of all, there is an emotional ride filled with laughter and tears. I’m thrilled that it’s available again, because it’s one of those books that has been sprinkled with fairy dust from the very start, thanks to readers. It’s been on national bestseller lists. It won the RITA(sm) award for Best Contemporary Romance. It’s been translated around the globe, and now it’s heading right back where it belongs–into the hands of my favorite people in the world–readers like you. This special edition has a reading group guide and a yummy new recipe. Enjoy!

Tell us about your own “first time.” What book got you hooked? Where did it take you? How did it change you?

Happy Reading,
Susan Wiggs

SUMMER BY THE SEA can be purchased in trade paperback or eBook format

Susan Wiggs

Susan Wiggs

Using blunt scissors, pages from a Big Chief tablet, a borrowed stapler and a Number Two pencil, Susan Wiggs self-published her first novel at the age of eight. A Book About Some Bad Kids was based on the true-life adventures of Susan and her siblings, and the first printing of one copy was a complete sell-out.

Due to her brother's extreme reaction to that first prodigious effort, Susan went underground with her craft, entertaining her friends and offending her siblings with anonymously-written stories of virtuous sisters and the brothers who torment them. The first romance she ever read was Shanna by the incomparable Kathleen Woodiwiss, which she devoured while slumped behind a college vector analysis textbook. Armed with degrees from SFA and Harvard, and toting a crate of "keeper" books by Woodiwiss, Roberta Gellis, Laurie McBain, Rosemary Rodgers, Jennifer Blake, Bertrice Small and anything with the words "flaming" and "ecstasy" in the title, she became a math teacher, just to prove to the world that she did have a left brain.

Late one night, she finished the book she was reading and was confronted with a reader's worst nightmare--She was wide awake, and there wasn''t a thing in the house she wanted to read. Figuring this was the universe''s way of taking away her excuses, she picked up a Big Chief tablet and a Number Two pencil, and began writing her novel with the working title, A Book About Some Bad Adults. Actually, that was a bad book about some adults, but Susan persevered, learning her craft the way skydiving is learned--by taking a blind leap and hoping the chute will open.

Her first book was published (without the use of blunt scissors and a stapler) by Zebra in 1987, and since then she has been published by Avon, Tor, HarperCollins, Harlequin, Mira and Warner Books. Unable to completely abandon her beloved teaching profession, Susan is a frequent workshop leader and speaker at writers' conferences, including the Romance Writers of America conference, the PNWA and Maui Writers Conference. She won a RITA award in 1994, and her recent novel The Charm School was voted one of RWA's Favorite Books of the Year. She is the proud recipient of several RT awards, the Peninsula RWA's Blue Boa, the Holt Medallion and the Colorado Award of Excellence.

Susan enjoys many hobbies, including sitting in the hot tub while talking to her mother on the phone, kickboxing, cleaning the can opener, sculpting with butter and growing her hair. She lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jay, her daughter, Elizabeth, and an Airedale that hasn't been groomed since 1994.

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