Author Susan Spann & Claws of the Cat

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Author Interviews, Contests & Hops | 6 comments

Last Friday I was completely OVERWHELMED by the all of the fabulous comments on Facebook, here on the blog, and Twitter. Thank you for your support and for sharing my sparkly new beautiful cover! Plume Books really outdid themselves. All gift card and hand mirror winners have been emailed!

claws-coverAnd today is another special day!  It’s the book birthday for  CLAWS OF THE CAT, a whodunit ninja mystery set in 16th century Japan by my dear friend, Susan Spann. Susan’s book has already received a starred review from Library Journal and Romantic Times, among other great national reviews. I’m thrilled beyond words for her and welcome her to Between the Sheets with utter glee. Congratulations, Susan!

Leave a comment and go into a drawing for a free copy of CLAWS!

About the Book:

When a samurai is brutally murdered in a Kyoto teahouse, master ninja Hiro Hattori has just three days to find the killer before the dead man’s vengeful son kills both the beautiful geisha accused of the crime and Father Mateo, the Jesuit priest that Hiro has pledged his own life to protect. The investigation plunges Hiro and Father Mateo into the dangerous waters of Kyoto’s floating world, where they quickly learn that everyone from an elusive teahouse owner to the dead man’s dishonored brother has a motive to keep the samurai’s death a mystery.

Samurai and ninjas, the Shogunate & Tea Houses, a Portuguese priest and a feisty kitten…this is a brilliant combo for a mystery series. How did the idea come to you?

Like all good plans, it started with ninjas. One ninja, to be exact, named Hiro Hattori—a trained assassin who solves murders instead of committing them. That idea came to me, fully formed, while I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror getting ready for work in 2011. From there, I chose the rest of the cast to complement and contrast with the ninja, Hiro.

His Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo, offers a worldview foil as well as a pair of Western eyes through which to translate unusual aspects of Japanese culture.

The kitten showed up initially to soften Hiro’s ninja edge—but her quirky characteristics quickly gave her a life of her own. She tends to steal every scene she sneaks herself into.

Hiro, the ninja, is so mysterious and yet utterly likable. In a series, the main character’s personality and past must be revealed slowly over the course of many books. How do you decide when to unveil these morsels of information?

Once I realized how much of Hiro’s history would need to come to light a bit at a time, I wrote a long term character arc for Hiro (and also one for Father Mateo) outlining the parts of their individual stories I wanted to tell, and where in the series I wanted each piece to come out. It’s important to me that every novel reads as a stand-alone story, fully developed and leaving nothing hanging. However, there is a larger story behind the series, and most of the questions about Hiro’s past (and future) will eventually be answered if I have the chance to write it to completion.

Also? Thank you. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that someone else likes Hiro too.

Like many writers, you work for a living. How do you split your time between your job as a publishing lawyer, your family, and writing?


And coffee.

More seriously, I work on a three-part schedule. During the week, mornings and early afternoons belong to law practice, late afternoons and evenings belong to my family, and the nighttime hours are mine, for writing and editing. On the weekends, morenings are writing time and the afternoons and evenings are either family time or the time when I do the things that fall through the cracks the rest of the week.

Objects tend to shift during flight, and my jobs don’t always stay in the compartments I’ve assigned them, but for the most part that’s how it works.

Can you give us a teaser about the next novel in The Shinobi Series?

BLADE OF THE SAMURAI opens on June 15, 1565, a month after the events in CLAWS OF THE CAT, and shifts the setting from the “floating world” of Kyoto’s teahouse culture to the politically-charged environment of the shogunate.

When the Shogun’s cousin is stabbed to death within the walls of the shogun’s compound, Hiro’s attempt to find the killer reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun—but this time, stopping the murderer may force Hiro to drive a dagger through the heart of his closest friend.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

“Never give up, never surrender.”

It worked in Galaxy Quest and it works for writing. It took nine years and five manuscripts—over three thousand days and half a million written words—for me to find an agent and land a publishing deal. It wasn’t easy, but every single word was worth the effort in the end.

Keep writing, keep stretching and pushing yourself to improve, and above all: keep writing. Finish your manuscript, polish, and write another one. Eventually you will write the book that gets you to publication.

Speed Round

Hidden Talent—Raising sun corals. Most people have a hard time keeping them alive, but in my reef they propagate like weeds.

Best Place on Earth—Home, at my writing desk.

Biggest Vice—Your Reef Aquarium Store and every bookstore. If I enter either one without supervision, wanton purchasing is sure to follow.

Sushi or Udon?—Has to be Udon, because I’m allergic to fish. (The irony abounds.)

Japan or China?—Yes. I love them both (and, linguistically, my Chinese is still better than my Japanese), but when it comes to writing I choose Japan.

About Susan Spann

Susan is a publishing attorney and historical mystery author. Her debut novel CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur) releases July 16, 2013. When not writing or representing clients, Susan enjoys traditional archery, martial arts, horseback riding, online gaming, and raising seahorses and rare corals in her highly distracting marine aquarium. She still consumes books – almost as avidly as spicy Thai dinners. Susan lives in Sacramento with her husband, son, three cats, one bird, and a multitude of assorted aquatic creatures. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Association and is represented by literary agent Sandra Bond of Bond Literary Agency.

Don’t forget to leave a comment and go into a drawing for a free copy of CLAWS!




Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Dakota Rae Smits

    Just read an excerpt on Susan’s page. Exciting! Love the advice.

  2. Janet Taylor

    LOVE! Two of the brightest new authors in town, right here in one place. Did I say LOVE?
    CLAWS OF THE CAT is a page-turning, breath-catching JEWEL of a novel! Hiro is sexy, btw.. Though–oddly–my favorite character is grumpy old Luis.
    Awesome interview, and just to add icing to this cake of fabulosity– you quote from one of my fave movies. If I happen upon GALAXY QUEST on TV, everything else comes to a screeching halt.
    Cause you know…Alan Rickman… hotness…

  3. Esme

    I hope I am not too late for this-I just read about the Udon noodle recipe above and now you have me craving noodles. As a fellow attorney I am always intrigued when an attorney writes a book.

  4. Esme (@cococroissants)

    I cannot wait to read this-thank you

  5. Angelina

    Hello, l just heard about this book, and it sounds very intresting. do you know where l can get this book.

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