This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
I’m excited to introduce you to another new-to-the-blog author today! Susan Baganz has published a series of books with intriguing titles: Pesto & Potholes, Salsa & Speed Bumps, Feta & Freeways, and her newest, Root Beer & Roadblocks. Before we visit with Susan, let’s take a quick peek at this latest story.
When God strips away all your hopes and dreams could you trust Him to give you something better?
Johnny Marshall’s cancer is back . . . and so is the girl who broke his heart seven years ago. As Johnny struggles to find the will to live and fights his second round with the disease, he finds hope comes in small packages with an energetic little boy named David.
Years ago, Katie abandoned the one man she ever loved, having bought into her parents’ narrow views of finding a man worthy of her. In all those years, no one ever compared to Johnny. Now as a single mom of a young boy, she wonders if their reunion is right on time or is it too late for a future together?
Welcome, Susan! Let’s start with five fast favorites. What is your:
Favorite color? Magenta
Favorite season? Fall (but Spring is good too!)
Favorite beverage? Spiced Chai and Wild Cherry Pepsi
Favorite animal? Dog
Favorite movie? Lord of the Rings (the entire trilogy) but this was hard, I love The Princes Bride, While You Were Sleeping, Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Pride & Prejudice!
Tell us a little about Root Beer & Roadblocks. What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?
The series started with Pesto & Potholes which was a metaphor for the journey my character would take. Then someone challenged me write a sequel Salsa & Speed Bumps. When I wrote book three, Feta & Freeways I was inspired by one of my favorite bands from the 90’s, Burlap to Cashmere. When I realized they were recording and touring again I looked into why they’d stopped to begin with and what had happened in between. I wrote a story about the lead singer (real name Steven but he’s Nikolos in my story) and his cousin Johnny (who stayed Johnny). At the end of the story, I realized Johnny, who was a fun character, deserved his own happily-ever-after story and thus, Root Beer &Roadblocks was born.
I did give the characters a different back-story than what had really happened since the real-life Johnny, the main character in Root Beer & Roadblocks, was the real reason I started writing those books anyway. And metaphors continue. Johnny’s roadblock is cancer and a host of lost dreams.
I’m still totally in fan-girl love with Burlap to Cashmere’s music and even Steven Delopolous’ solo albums. They were my soundtrack for writing the stories.
What a fun place to start! What do you hope your readers take away from this story?
Life is hard. When you look at Facebook, you usually see the highlight real. But real life, even for Christians, is often filled with deep pain and loss. The benefit of our faith is that we have Jesus to cling to and the blessing of the church to help us through. I would hope readers would realize that they are not alone in their hurt and suffering, and that there is always hope. And even though churches aren’t perfect, they are a great place to connect and find help in the midst of our suffering and pain. Eventually, we get through some of those difficulties although in the middle of it the end feels like it will never come. I hope they’d walk away from Johnny’s story experiencing hope. God is for us. He does love us and doesn’t abandon us in our darkest moments.
That’s such an important message, and one we all need reminded of from time to time. What do you feel is the most challenging part of the writing/editing/publishing process?
I think the scariest part is when the book releases and you realize people are going to read this book which holds part of your heart. Marketing is always a challenge. Writers want to write and the publishing world is changing all the time. So as an author how do you set yourself apart from the rest and create in a reader the desire to read YOUR book and part with their money? If you can pay $4.75 for a drink at Starbucks, why would you balk at an e-book for $3.99 which will give your hours of pleasure, and never grows cold! Books also come with free refills. You find a great one and you can read it over and over again!
Very true! We’d like to get to know you a bit, too. Would you tell us about something crazy that you’ve done or would love to do?
Crazy? When I lived in Milwaukee I took workshops with ComedySportz and even worked there for a time. Total blast and took me out of my comfort zone. I speak excellent gibberish by the way. My scariest game they played was “Da Do Run Run” (yes, based on the old Shawn Cassidy song!) because it was a rhyming elimination game using names. I used to drive around in my car practicing that stupid song! If you want to grow in confidence being in front of people – doing a workshop like that is a fun way to do it. You learn that sometimes, making mistakes is what is funnier than being perfect.
Love to do? I recently stepped out in faith to take guitar lessons again and it’s probably the happiest 30 minutes of my week when I hang out with my teacher (maybe writing about two guitar players helped stir that desire in me?). I enjoy practicing but I’ve been learning so much more than the previous two other times I’ve taken lessons. The faith part of it was I had no idea how I’d pay for it but every month God has provided a way for me to do that. What a blessing.
That’s awesome. Music can be such a great therapy, too! Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why is that one important to you?
I don’t have a “life verse” but the one I write when I sign my books is James 1:17 which states: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (NASB) I love that because it comes after a discussion of trials and tribulations and how God grows us in that. Pain, (physical and emotional) in many ways is a gift—although I often fail to appreciate that fact when I’m suffering. It’s through the toughest and most painful experiences in my life when God has grown me the most. It is a perfect verse to complement my fiction—and my life.
Suffering is never pleasant, but you are absolutely right that those are the times He grows and strengthens our faith the most. Thanks for taking the time to visit with us today, Susan!
Your turn! If you could learn to play an instrument (all excuses — time, money, etc. — aside!), which one would you choose?
More about Susan:
Susan speaks, teaches and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church. Her favorite pastimes are lazy ones—snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.
Also by Susan:
He’d never noticed her…till now.
Nikolos Acton is the lead singer of a Christian Band, Specific Gravity, struggling to make it in the industry after an unplanned break, touring the country with their manager, Tia.
Tia Bartel loved Niko for the longest time, but it wasn’t until she stepped in to save his life that he finally realizes what has been there all along. Is it too late for him? Could a relationship between them work after years of ignoring her? How would he ever convince her he’s worthy of her trust?
As they journey on the freeway of life and love, they encounter struggles as they are forced to rely on their faith, and friends, to make it through.
‘Root Beer & Roadblocks’ Giveaway:
Susan has generously offered to give away a paperback copy of Root Beer & Roadblocks. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.