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Monday, October 2, 2017

Interview & #Giveaway: Keeping Claudia by Suzanne McKenna Link

Hi! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

A: Hi everyone. Big thanks to Full Moon for hosting me on their blog. I’m a native New Yorker—a small town gal, born and raised—and an independently published contemporary fiction author.
I absolutely love writing and recently published the last book of a two-book series called Keeping Claudia. My storytelling is fueled by an inquisitive nature to understand the balance between intimacy and pride within personal relationships. I love writing the stuff I like to read, stories of intense relationships with characters that take readers for an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

A: I hope readers will be moved and inspired by my stories. I’m an advocate of personal growth, and I intentionally wrote to reflect that. My main characters, Toby and Claudia, face some disconcerting truths about themselves and their pasts. I believe the stories most powerful message comes from seeing the two of them become more self-aware. They realize if they keep doing what they’ve always done, the end result will be much the same. And they won’t ever truly be happy. They need to make some hard choices to change, and follow through. I want my readers to come away from my stories stirred up, to believe that no matter what situation they consider themselves ‘locked into,’ there’s always a way out.

I know authors get asked this a lot but do you have any advice that you would give to aspiring writers?

A: 1. Understand your characters motivations. 2. Self-edit your work until you can distinguish the goal, motivation and conflict in every scene. 3. Make writer friends. Let them read your story and encourage critical feedback. 4. Get the best editor and proofreader you can afford. 5. If you want to write a book, you have to motivate yourself. No one is going to make you do it. Start right away because at this moment, you’re as young as you’ll ever be.

Can you tell us, in your own words not the book description, a little about your book?

A: “Keeping Claudia” is an intense and lifelike contemporary romance story. Toby Faye and Claudia Chiametti are two undeniable opposites, the good girl and the rough boy, but irrefutably meant for each other. The two-book series, Toby & Claudia, chronicles the entirety of their relationship, but I intentionally wrote “Keeping Claudia” so readers could enjoy the story even if they haven’t read the first book.
“Keeping Claudia” is basically a second chance romance. Toby and Claudia struggle to correct the mistakes they made last time they dated. Fused together by a deeply emotional bond and smoldering physical attraction to the other, they look forward to a future together, but family troubles, an unexpected pregnancy, and rumors of Toby’s provocative past test the couple. Having grown up on different sides of a small town, they find themselves sorting through the pride and prejudices they harbor, opinions painted by the view from their particular side of town. Those differing perspectives make it a challenge to believe in a future together—especially when they realize that maybe, what they thought they always wanted isn’t what they really want after all. Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard.

Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

A: I’d say characters first. For many years I’d had the idea of my main character, Toby Faye, in my head. The story I envisioned telling back then was a ‘Caine and Abel’ tale of sorts—a young guy coping with abuse at the hands of his brother. When I started writing, I had the most rudimentary concept of story structure—escalating conflict, climax and ending— and blissfully ignorant, wrote scenes as I thought of them. It was amazing to write so freely, but I soon learned writing a story without a plan leads to lots of rewriting. Internal conflict is first and foremost what drives my storytelling, but it takes many elements to craft a well-told story. Like building a physical structure, forget even one support beam, and the foundation becomes unstable.

Where can we purchase this book?

A: Currently both books are only available on Amazon because I wanted to take advantage of KDP Select, a restrictive Amazon-only program, and a requirement for Kindle Unlimited listings. For readers interested in picking up the first book in the series, “Saving Toby,” I am running a FREE download promotion, Oct. 2-6.
Link to the series:

Do you think you may ever go into another genre?

A: I think so, yes. Toby & Claudia’s love story is integral to the books, and I market the series as contemporary romance. The love story could not be removed without altering the storyline, but the dark, realistic elements do not fall neatly within the genre of mainstream romance. I guess I’m a romantic at heart but more so, a realist. I focus mainly on writing emotional fiction, the dichotomy of how my characters handle personal relationships—how they hurt, heal and interact with one another—be that romantic or otherwise. I try not to think too much about marketing trends and labels, and just write what I want to write.

How much of you or people you know do you think make it into the characters in your novel(s)?

A: I’ve always been intrigued by behaviors and the reason behind them. I’m a people-watcher, constantly observing behavior, noting and cataloging the quirks and mannerisms of people everywhere. While I didn’t base any character on real-life acquaintances, details were taken from people I’ve met and known. Growing up, I had a friend with father whose rigid rules defied logic, just like those of Claudia’s father, police officer Donato Chiametti. My kids being in the same age bracket as Claudia and Toby definitely helped me articulate character mannerisms. The young women of my daughter’s Girl Scout troop framed Claudia’s altruistic, self-driven nature, and my son was a terrific resource on how to turn outdated phrases into language today’s 20-somethings use.

Do you think you will have a follow up book to this novel or is it just a stand-alone novel?

A: This is the last book of the series, but I plan to cast Toby and Claudia as side characters in another book. After spending nearly five years in their company, it’s hard to say goodbye to them. I look forward to reprising their slightly older characters and giving readers a glimpse into their future lives.

Random Quickies!

Cats or dogs?

Both! I enjoy my giant Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and my gray tabby cat—but for different reasons. Cats a great for writers who need long periods of uninterrupted quiet time. Dogs are awesome for getting bodies up and moving, especially those of writers that sit way too much. Both give lots of love and invaluable affection.

Do you read more than you write?

I definitely read more than I write, especially when I’m not working on a particular story, as the case is right now. I mostly read fiction, but I also read motivational non-fiction as well as books on the craft of writing. But, when I’m in the ‘writing zone,’ I find it difficult to find time to read or concentrate on other books.

Favorite book or author? Yeah we know it can be hard to choose! ;)

My favorite book is “The Bronze Horseman.” It’s set in Russia during WWII and such a sweeping intense love story. Oh, the feels! It’s a long book, and I literally ignored my family for a week reading it.

Hardback/Paperback or eReader?

I love a physical book—a book in hand is a sensory experience that cannot be duplicated. I rarely get my hands on hardcovers, but that would be my first preference, followed by a paperback and then my eReader.

Right now in your line of site, how many books can you see?

Good question! OMG, at least 60! Didn’t realize I had that many in my office.

Keeping Claudia
Suzanne McKenna Link
(Toby & Claudia #2)
Publication date: June 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

How do you love someone whose past goes against everything you’ve ever known or trust in a future you’ve yet to believe in?
Back home in a town she once fled, headstrong Claudia Chiametti returns to the arms of the only guy ever to awaken her heart. Everything about Toby contradicts her family’s traditions and values, but she’s ready to take a chance on love.
Toby Faye is a new man, and the girl he’s long dreamed of is finally within his reach. With Claudia’s help, he’s put the past behind him. But one last secret hides in the dark corner of his past. The one that could undermine it all.
Can Claudia love him unconditionally … or will the truth cost Toby what he wants most?
Keeping Claudia is the emotional finale to the love story that began in Saving Toby, an unforgettable journey of a couple who discover the only way to love someone is with an open heart.
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard.
Full length, Contemporary Love Story.
Recommended Reading Age 18+
Though part of a series, may be read as standalone.

Author Bio:
Suzanne McKenna Link works for a family of newspapers that cover events in and around the South Shore of Long Island, New York. She lives in the town of Sayville with her husband and two children.
SAVING TOBY is her debut novel. The literary love story follows the moving journey of a damaged young man and his love for a girl who might just save him. An avid interest in psychology has Suzanne digging deep into the reasons for her characters’ behaviors. The native Long Islander is fascinated by the how and why of people’s actions. As a result, her characters come to life on the pages.


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  1. Congrats on the tour and thanks for the interview and giveaway.

  2. Thanks for being on the tour! :)

  3. Thank you for hosting me on your fun and informative book site. <3

  4. I love to read romance! This sounds great!

  5. Oh this sounds really good. I cannot wait to see if Claudia and Toby can make it despite his past!


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