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Susan Grant
author of aviation romance



RITA award winner, New York Times best-selling author, USAF veteran, 747 airline pilot, and mom Susan Grant loves writing about what she knows: flying, adventure, and the often unpredictable interaction between men and women!


MORE ABOUT SUSAN » I was interviewed on Public Radio International (PRI)! The piece aired Friday, February 13 in the morning. It was called "Romance novels beyond bodice-rippers" and is available for your listening pleasure! (RealPlayer required)
(February 2004)


Long before I wrote my first book, I adored telling tales. As a child, the only thing I liked more than daydreaming was an audience. But instead of writing down stories, I drew pictures. I was a bit of an art prodigy, and even had a drawing put in a museum in NY when I was three, but the moment I glimpsed the Apollo space launches on TV, I tossed aside my budding art career to pursue flying. Not only did this break my art teachers' hearts, it sparked a life-long war for dominance between my left-brain (the side said to control logic) and my right-brain (the artistic, thinky-feely lobe). It's the only way I can explain how I somehow ended up as a 747 pilot who writes romantic fiction.

At eighteen, I set out to live the stories I'd only imagined, and entered the United States Air Force Academy as a member of the third class in history to include women. Looking back on it, it was much nicer being in the third wave of women pioneers at the service academies rather than the first of the female graduates -- without having to suffer the media attention, I still got to see all the excitement, such as the last all-male class graduating in 1979 and then the first women graduating in 1980. By the time, I graduated from the "Blue Zoo" in 1982, women were such a staple of the place that they'd even finally gotten rid of the urinals in the women's bathrooms! (On the downside, we had to find new flowerpots for our philodendrons)

After coming to terms with the grim discovery that I lacked the gene necessary to comprehend advanced calculus, I graduated USAFA as a second lieutenant and went on to USAF jet pilot training at Laughlin AFB on the Rio Grande in Del Rio, Texas, where the only math required could be done with my gloved fingers. (Ask any pilot -- the necessity to be good in math is a myth.) I did well enough in pilot training to earn a Fighter-Attack-Reconnaissance rating (FAR) but due to body parts beyond my control, I was not allowed to fly fighter craft. Thus, I ended up as one of the few women handed a flying instructor assignment after pilot training. I taught students from many different countries, including Jordan and Ecuador, who went on to fly the fighter jets I wasn't allowed to fly, but it was a great experience and lots of responsibility for a young lieutenant.

Three-and-a-half years later, I wangled my way into an awesome assignment at Mather AFB, Sacramento, Ca, flying T-43s, which are Boeing 737s. It turned out that the USAF had contracted United Airlines to give us our annual emergency procedures training in their simulators at the UAL training center in Denver, Colorado. One night, the instructor on loan from UAL handed me an application and asked me to fill it out, as I was due to get out of the Air Force that year.

The timing was perfect! United was hiring like mad, and this time I did get to pioneer, as one of the very first female B747 flight engineers flying overseas. Yeesh, was that ever interesting! You'd think women were new to aviation the way some people acted, particularly those in foreign countries. I remember doing a walk-around inspection of the aircraft one day in Manila and having a fascinated, machine-gun-toting guard follow me all around the plane, while I prayed he didn't pull the trigger in his utter shock at seeing a woman pilot on the tarmac. After a couple of years of flying as an engineer, I went on to pilot B-737s and eventually B-747-400 jumbos, the aircraft I fly currently. Which of course meant even more pioneering...in an unexpected way: flying pregnant! Both of my children have at least seventy hours flying experience in-utero. (And, yes, they kicked the hardest when I was landing -- the prenatal version of, "Are we there yet?")

In my years with United, I've landed in typhoons at 4 am body-clock time in Taipei; I've flown over Iceland and Greenland, the Aleutians, Russia, landed in Fiji when we didn't have enough gas to make it to Sydney, and flew during the tense times in the wake of 9-11. I've done a lot, seen a lot, and now I put those experiences into the books I write, thanks to my right brain finally kicking my left brain into submission after all those years in a technical profession.

I began writing in 1997, and sold my first two books in 1999. My debut novel, the historical time travel ONCE A PIRATE sold in a bidding war and went back to press within days of its official release. My second book, THE STAR KING, a 2001 RITA finalist (the "Oscar" of romantic fiction), blew apart age and species barriers when it paired a 43-year-old heroine with a very sexy alien. In 2000, I was featured on the TV show Extra! along with Nora Roberts. Of all the things I've done in my life, the most surreal moment was seeing Leeza Gibbons holding my book in her hands.

Since then, my books have made bestseller lists and have won many awards, including the RITA (for my novel CONTACT). When not traveling, I'm happy being a homebody in my house amongst the towering oaks in the eastern suburbs of Sacramento, California with my family: two teenagers, our Border Collie, a Maine Coon cat and her three offspring, two snakes, a twelve-foot python (loose in the house), several bad-tempered attack dogs, Manfred our 6 foot 8, 345 pound body guard and former Albanian prison guard fired for using excessive force, and his wife Frieda, our housekeeper, a retired circus performer/knife thrower prone to acute bouts of PMS. (Okay, kidding about the python and the attack dogs, the body guard, and the housekeeper, but the rest is true!)

So, whether it's writing, flying, or mom-ing, I'm grateful for the diversity of my life, and the adventures I've had, and continue to have, because I love weaving those experiences into my stories. And whether it's a swashbuckling time travel, an adventure to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, or a humorous contemporary, I promise that my books will steal you away from the chaos of everyday life.

 

See more photos, including one from the cockpit.

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Check back soon for upcoming events!

 

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I loved the character Ellen in How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days. Will she have her own story someday?

 

Yes! The Borderlands series beginning with Moonstruck next May is a deeper, more complex spin-off of the Otherworldly Men series, which was lighter and more fun. Ellen will appear in future Borderlands books as a teenage space cadet! Then she will eventually have her own love and own book when she grows up.

Will Klark Vedla ever have his own story?

 

You know how much I love to redeem my bad guys. Klark evolved into such a cool (and weird!) character over the course of the books. I can't imagine what kind of heroine he deserves--or who deserves him--but I can't wait to find out. I'm with a different publisher now from the one who published this series and it complicates getting his story to print, but it’s something I'm determined to do one of these days.

Will the story threads left hanging in The Legend of Banzai Maguire be tied up in The Scarlet Empress?

 

That’s a resounding yes! The Legend of Banzai Maguire was the first installment of a 5-book mini-series and while being careful not to leave readers with a “cliffhanger” ending, I ended it happily but with some loose ends to be wrapped up in the finale. I have appreciated all the great reader support in this grand experiment. Of the two books, The Scarlet Empress is definitely the more romantic. You get to see the resolution of two love stories, not just one.

How in world did you ever find yourself writing romance, Susan?
 

Writing wasn't something I planned on. In fact it blind-sided me about nine years ago. I was chatting with another mom (who's now published in Children's fiction!) who had written a novel. I thought that was so cool. I thought (and this kind of thing has gotten me into trouble my whole life *g*) that if she could write a book, so could I. Simultaneously, I was going through a rather lonely time with a spouse away on Navy duty. When I sat down to write, a 650 page romantic historical epic came bursting out of me. (yep, it's "under the bed")

I'd always been creative (I drew and painted extensively as a child and teenager) but I left it all behind to pursue my dream of flying. What I think happened is that my long-suppressed artistic side ruptured a seam and squeezed out in the form of writing. So, I write books not necessarily out of a love of reading (though that's certainly there, too) but for the almost primal need to create.

I grew up reading mostly science fiction and adventure stories and whatever caught my eye, but I always craved those stories wherein the character development was deep and emotional. If I found a book that had a great love story and an exciting plot, I was a happy camper. I didn't "discover" romance until I was in my late twenties, and boy was I glad I did. I'm not surprised to find myself writing exactly what I've loved to read all these years--adventure and romance, all in one book.

Could you tell us a bit about your award-winning book The Star King and its sequel The Star Prince?
 

Sometimes these are labeled "futuristics," but in reality they read more like contemporaries, in fact they do take place on contemporary Earth, maybe ten or so years in the future.

In The Star King, Lieutenant Jas Hamilton and alien crown prince Rom B'kah seek each other's aid in a vision after suffering injuries in separate tragedies. They find each other after twenty years and rekindle a passionate attraction. (This storyline will appeal to readers who like the "second chance at love" theme.)

The Star Prince is the story of Jas's son Ian, an Arizona-born college grad who assumed he'd pursue a career in finance. Boy was he ever wrong! His mother marries a king, making Ian the crown prince of the galaxy, thrust into a world he never envisioned, complicated by a court-load of scheming royals who don't think he belongs there, either. And if that isn't enough, an independent-minded princess-in-peril lands in his arms, on the run from the very laws he pledged to uphold. Only allowing himself to be overwhelmed is a luxury he can't afford; it seems that the entire kingdom is hurtling toward war, and he's the only one who can stop it. Yikes! Valium time! *g*

The latest installment in the Star series is Ilana's story (Ian's twin sister). The Star Princess takes place mostly in Los Angeles, a fun & sexy romantic comedy about two totally mismatched people. Think Sex And The City meets Star Man. :) A fun plot about a tradition-bound Vash prince who wants to "find himself" and a wild, very independent single filmmaker who really needs to settle down.

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