Thursday, December 5, 2013

Aloha to Susanna Ives and WICKED LITTLE SECRETS


I discovered Terry Deary's Horrible Histories series during our second visit to Scotland - I found several titles in a castle bookshop.   Both my children have read the entire series ... and I have kept the books as keepsakes.   It is noteworthy that the Victorians have two books ... 

Villainous Victorians

... enter Susanna Ives, who writes Victorian Romances with vile and villainous characters.   Yet she delivers a humorous mystery with WICKED LITTLE SECRETS.   Susanna joins us today for a cozy chat.... 

Kim:  I am envious of your European Travel. Where did you take the picture (in front of a moated castle) on your blog (link)? Can you share an unusual experience in visiting these old world countries? 

Susanna:  That picture was taken in front of a castle in Belgium or the Netherlands. I don’t remember much except that fabulous moat, which inspired me to fantasize a dark medieval romance between a Templar knight and peasant girl. It couldn’t have been a very good romantic daydream because I’m lousy at medieval history, and I don’t think the castle was that old.

One of my favorite memories of travelling was taking my son to Notre Dame. He was just a baby, so small that I still carried him in my arms. I believe it was Palm Sunday and a service was taking place. My son was so delighted to hear his voice echoing in the high ceilings that he kept singing out “Ba, ba, ba” and then giggling. We had to leave because we were creating such a loud “joyful noise.”

I think the most amazing experience I had was visiting the Keukenhoff in the Netherlands. It literally means kitchen garden. My husband and I really didn’t know what we were getting into when we drove into the massive parking lot in a field. We had just heard that the Keukenhoff was an interesting destination. In fact, it’s one of the most visited places in Europe. Inside the garden, I was overwhelmed, stunned, and awed by the beauty. Millions (seven million according to Wikipedia) of colorful tulips were planted in gorgeous designs about the lush gardens. I lost track of time, wandering along the paths, my brain lit up with inspiration. I haven’t found a picture that can do the gardens justice because the lens reduces the experience, but here is a video link.  

Image by PeteBob
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands 

Kim:  Who taught you to cook "mean Southern butter beans"? What do you recommend to serve with them for an entree, dessert, and wine? 

Susanna:  I believe butter beans are more of a comfort food. I follow my mom’s recipe: chicken broth, salt, butter beans, all cooked for an hour or so.

They are best served along with some other Southern greats: juicy summer tomatoes fried chicken, sweet tea, and blackberry cobbler for dessert. 

Kim:  What prompted you, a web developer/goddess, to jump into romance publishing?

Susanna:  Ha! I don’t think I jumped into publishing. I would say I waded in over my head, got caught in an undertow, and taken far out to sea.

I don’t do much web work anymore except to play about on my Wordpress website. My skills are quite obsolete now.

I’ve always had stories circling in my head. It’s just the way my brain is wired. Unfortunately, I struggled with composition and grammar throughout high school and college. I avoided English classes like the plague. My papers looked like the teacher’s red ink pen had exploded on the page. I always thought it was a pity that I constantly had my own cinema playing in my head, but no way to get the stories out. Then, at home with small children, a husband constantly travelling, and no frowning English teacher about to mark up my work, I began writing as a creative outlet. The universe came forward and supplied me with kind teachers, mentors, and wonderful writing friends.

Kim:  Tell us about WICKED LITTLE SECRETS - what inspired it?

Susanna:  The book was born from a single paragraph about a very disapproving, straight-laced character named Aunt Gertrude, who was conducting a Methodist Bible study in her parlor. I sent it to one of my dearest writer friends who loved it and encouraged me to continue. So I added a heroine, Vivienne Taylor, who was struggling against her vivacious and curious personality to live up to the meek, angelic ideal of Victorian womanhood. Running counter to Vivienne’s goodness was Aunt Gertrude’s neighbor, Lord Dashiell, a world traveler and rake. I doused the plot with juicy secrets and set Vivienne and Dashiell loose.

What grew from that original paragraph was a wild Victorian farce that was chock-full of secret lovers, seedy characters, blackmail, lewd art, and those crazy Victorian medicines.

Kim:  What's next for Susanna Ives? 

Susanna:  I just keep writing and hope that the road rises to meet me.

File:Thomas Webster - A Village Choir.jpg
Thomas Webster's A VILLAGE CHOIR
Public Domain (link)
Mahalo, Susanna, for expanding that single paragraph into a full lenghth book that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I posted my five star review of WICKED LITTLE SECRETS on Amazon (link) and Goodreads (link).   Sourcebooks is giving away a print copy of WICKED LITTLE SECETS to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter,

1.  Leave a comment about any children's books you still have on your shelf.   

2.  Sourcebooks' giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.

3.  Comments are open through Saturday, December 7, 10 pm in Baltimore.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, December 8.


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Susanna and her books, check out her website at



  1. The only childrens book I still have from when I was little is The Princess and the Pea.

  2. I've still got some Bobbsey Twins and Cherry Aames books that were from my aunt.

  3. I guess the only children's books we have are the Harry Potter books. We love them.

  4. Hi, Kim,

    Thank you for hosting me on your beautiful blog and for your kind words. The luscious ocean in the background is so calming.

    On my shelves are my tattered copies of A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and Heidi. I also have two books by Caroline B. Cooney, one of which is signed. As a pre-teen, I had written her a fan letter and she sent back a signed book!

    Again, thank you!

  5. I don't have any children's books anymore.

  6. I have grandkids in and out of my house all the time, so I have multiple shelves devoted to children's books--Dr. Seuss books are a favorite. Even if there were no kids in the house, I would still keep a copy of C.C.Moore's "A Visit from St. Nick" handy.

  7. On my shelf is my all time favorite Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are."

  8. The Littlest Angel - makes me sob every time.

  9. I don't have any of "my" books anymore but I did buy for when kids come over Mother Goose stories and Uncle Wrigley!

  10. We have The Giving Tree on our shelf.

  11. The entire Anne of Green Gables and Narnia series :) Love them!

  12. I still have Little Women, my Trixie Beldens, Little House on the Prairies and my favorite, Caddie Woodlawn :)

  13. I have a copy I found a few years ago of a book I loved as a child - THE CARROT SEED.

    I also have a copy of IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE from when my teen boys were kids.

    Marcy Shuler

  14. A favorite book of mine when I was a kid was Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses with artwork by Gyo Fujikawa, and I often read parts of it to my own children, as well.

  15. I still have my beautiful book, "Black Beauty", illustrated with beautiful color plates and with cover intact from when I was 12. I got this as a Christmas pressie from my Mum and Dad. I'd seen it in the window of WH Smith & Son for 12/6d and plagued my parents something awful for it. I also have some childrens books from when my grandchildren were little. My favorite one (it always made me cry when I read it) was "I'll Love you Forever" (I'll love you for always, wherever you are, my baby you'll be).

    Suzanne's book is the type of book that I adore reading. ;-)

  16. The only children's book I have on my shelf is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, which I've always loved.