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Author Interview: M. E. Tudor Chats about Suddenly

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Get ready to learn more about the book Suddenly in this discussion with sapphic author M. E. Tudor.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz M. E. Tudor about Suddenly, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Secret Crush category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Suddenly?

I wrote this book in 2010-2011. I’d read lesbian young adult stories including Nancy Garden’s “Annie On My Mind,” Julia Watts’ “Finding H. F.” and Julie Anne Peters’ “Keeping You a Secret”. These are great stories, but they didn’t have a HEA ending that I felt young lesbians need. That was why I wrote “Suddenly.” I wanted lesbians, especially young lesbians, to have story that would give them hope for love everlasting.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

My favorite character is PJ. She reminds me of a girl I knew in high school who I thought was so cool and who I had a secret crush on, even though at that time I hadn’t acknowledged to myself that I was gay. I wanted her to be a reflection of how you can turn your life around after you’ve gone down the wrong path. But, I love her bad girl persona.

What inspired the idea for Suddenly?

The desire to create a young adult lesbian story with a happy ending and the movie “But I’m a Cheerleader.”

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

I was in my early 40s when I wrote this book and it was a struggle to try to imagine being a teenager in 2010.

What part of Suddenly was the most fun to write?

I loved developing Jamie’s crush on PJ. It was so much fun to see her desire to be with PJ and get to know her better grow.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

Originally I had given this book the title of “Suddenly Last Summer” but shortened it to “Suddenly.” But the title comes from Jamie’s crush on PJ developing so suddenly that it startles Jamie.

How much research did you need to do for Suddenly?

I had no idea what being a cheerleader really entailed so I had to do a lot of research on that. And high school is very different now than it was when I was in school, so I had to educate on how things work in today’s schools, but I actually referenced a lot of my own experience from high school into the story.

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?

I’ve been trying to write a sequel to this book for over ten years and it keeps falling flat. I do have a Kindle Vella story that continues Jamie and PJ’s story into college that I try to add to as often as I can. That story is College Hill. Each season is going to be based on a college semester.

What is your favorite line from your book?

“Happy New Year, PJ,” I whispered and kissed her lightly on the lips.

What is your writing process like?

I am totally a pantser, but sometimes I wish I were a plotter. Write now my writing process is a chaotic mess and part of the reason I haven’t published anything new.

Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

I prefer to write at my desk with music playing in my headphones and no one around. Right now I’m writing anywhere and everywhere I get a few minutes of down time.

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

I would love to spend a day with Sapphic author Gerri Hill. I have read everything she has published starting with her first book, “One Summer Night” back in 2000. I love her stories and would enjoy spending a day talking with her about her writing process and how she comes up with her ideas for stories.

What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?

My favorite drink when I’m writing is bourbon on the rocks. I like sip it as I get lost in my story.

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?

I usually say a little prayer of thanks that I finished and then enjoy a drink and a cigar on my deck.

Is there a particular genre you would love to write but only under a pseudonym?

I love thrillers and would enjoy writing them under a pseudonym. It would be very different from my lesbian romance and dramas.

Do you have a pet who helps/hinders your typing?

I have five cats and three dogs in my house. My oldest male cat, Tate, loves to walk across my keyboard and in front of my screen when I’m trying to write. The two youngest cats, Rax and Jax, both males, have taken to laying on the back of my desk and like to randomly knock things off. My little Chihuahua/Shih Tzu mix, Ruby, insists on lying on the footstool under my desk anytime I’m writing, and the hound dog, Jake, and border collie, Micah, always seem to have to go to the bathroom right in the middle of a hot writing street, messing up my mojo. My two female cats are the only animals in the house that don’t mess with me when I’m writing.

What animal or object best represents you as an author or your writing style?

A deer would describe my writing style. Like a deer flows with natural rhythms, I go with the natural flow of what the story brings to me, but I also feel very shy about my writing. Sometimes, I’ll be writing away and suddenly be surprised by my fear of the story not being interesting enough and run away, leaving the story unfinished.

What are three words that describe your personality?

Curious, nerd, loner. I’m very curious about everything and sometimes totally be a nerd about finding every little detail of a topic. I prefer to be alone. I could easily be a hermit.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

“When you’re stuck, and sure you’ve written absolute garbage, force yourself to finish and THEN decide to fix or scrap it – or you will never know if you can.” -Jodi Picoult I pull this quote up often and remind myself to keep going.

What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?

Chaos hinders me from writing. I can’t function as a writer or a person in the midst of chaos.

When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?

Music! I will find a song that I feel will create the mood for the scene I’m writing.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

I imagine being where my character is in their life in the story. It’s one of the reasons I’ve struggled so much recently with writing young adult. The things kids are facing today are terrifying, but having stories that talk about making it through these tough times is too important for me to stop trying to write them.

What author in your genre do you most admire, and why?

I really love Gerri Hill. Her books are filled with nature in a way that I want to fill mine. I love everything she writes.

Have you ever cried when writing an emotional scene?

Every time! The scene that really tore me up with when I was writing about Natalie Weatherby’s grandmother dying in my book, “Through This Together.” I was so into that character’s head in that scene and felt the pain as if it was my grandmother dying.

Do you feel bad putting your characters through the wringer?

If I’ve picked a character to run through the wringer, they usually deserve it. Ava’s ex-wife, Sheila, was a narcissistic psychopath who totally got what she deserved when she crashed her car into the ocean in my book “Learning to Love Again.”

Have you ever hated one of your characters?

I usually have at least one character who I hate in my stories. They are often the driving force of one of my main characters.

Have you ever fallen in love with one of your characters?

Not yet. I think when I find one that I really fall in love with I’ll end up writing a series about them because I’ll want to keep being in their life.

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

I have always loved romance novels. I love reading about the characters getting to know each other and all of their firsts together. First hug, first kiss, first looking into each other’s eyes. I have been reading romances since I was a preteen and I continue to love a great falling in love story.

Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?

I used to love Johanna Lindsey when I was younger. I love historical fiction her characters were usually very strong-willed. Reading Gerri Hill’s books got me started on lesbian romance and inspired me to start reading more lesbian fiction. I think Gerri more than anyone else made me want to write lesbian fiction.

What books did you grow up reading?

I read a lot of romance stories and that’s why I like to write romance.

What books have you read more than once in your life?

I have read “Hunter’s Way,” “Artist’s Dream,” and “Dawn of Change” by Gerri Hill several times. I love reading about how the characters fell in love and grew as people in each one of these books.

What book do you wish you had written?

I wish I could write a series like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. I love all her quirky characters and it could be fun to create a hot Latino woman to play a character like the mysterious and sexy Ranger.

Describe your favorite reading spot.

In bed.

Do you only read books in one genre or do you genre hop?

I genre hop between romance and mysteries. I love trying to guess what will happen and how things will play out in each story.

Have you ever thought you’d hate a book, but ended up loving it?

I had to read “Hillbilly Elegy” J. D. Vance in a book club, and I thought it was going to be a story family drama, but it turned out to be so much more. I learned a lot about the politics and greed of people who have kept the poor people of eastern Kentucky downtrodden. It helped me see the people of eastern Kentucky in a totally different light.

Meet M. E. Tudor

Originally from west-central Indiana, M.E. Tudor now lives in south-central Kentucky with her family. M.E. has lived in Florida, Texas, and Colorado. Her stories reflect her love of traveling, hiking, camping, and being outdoors.


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Author Interview