Suzanne Redfearn delivers another gripping page-turner in her latest novel, a story about a young mother's fight to protect her children from the dangerous world of Hollywood.
Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.
Emotionally riveting and insightful, No Ordinary Life is an unforgettable novel about the preciousness of childhood and the difficult choices a mother needs to make in order to protect this fragile time in her children's lives.
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – February 2, 2016
What readers are saying . . .
“Suzanne Redfearn's NO ORDINARY LIFE is a gripping exploration of a mother's love and the lengths she'll go to protect her children. Redfearn honestly captures one family's meteoric rise and heartbreaking undoing. Compulsively readable, this poignant story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.”
— Heather Gudenkauf, New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence
“Once again, Suzanne Redfearn delivers a fast-paced, compelling story of family, frustration, and the unexpected consequences of a mother's choice. NO ORDINARY LIFE provides a dazzling look inside the entertainment industry, illustrating both the lure and lunacy of child stardom.”
— Lori Nelson Spielman, #1 international bestselling author of The Life List
About the Author
Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.
Some Q & A with Suzanne:
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you started writing.
Before becoming an author, I was an architect. I designed small commercial projects, restaurants, and houses. When I started writing my first story, I had never written anything longer than an architectural thesis. My first novel started as a bucket list endeavor. I had an idea and I started to write. Seven months later I had a novel. It was really bad. I didn't know where to put commas. I didn't understand sentence structure. I used the same words again and again. But amazingly, the characters and story were there, somehow this other world had been created in which it felt like real things were happening to real people and evoking real emotions. I was hooked. That first novel got me my first agent and my third agent, but it was my fifth novel that finally made it into the world.
What are some things you enjoy when not writing?
I am a dabbler, which means I like to dabble in a lot of things. I ski, surf, SUP, golf, play tennis, do yoga, kick box, hike, paint, read, hang out with my dog, do Sudoku, and garden. Mostly I like being with my family. My favorite thing in the world is when we are together sitting on the couch watching really bad reality television while playing Scrabble.
Do you have a “day job” as well?
When I first started writing, I was still practicing architecture and was a full-time mom. Now my kids are off at college and I am no longer doing the architecture, so my focus is entirely on writing.
Where do you get your ideas?
I love and hate this question because it baffles me. I am always certain I’ve had the last good idea I’m ever going to have, when bam something happens and suddenly I’m racing away on a new concept. The idea for No Ordinary Life took less than an hour to come up with. I knew I needed to write a story about a mother protecting her children because that was the “brand” my publisher wanted me to pursue. I was at the grocery store and saw a tabloid with Zac Efron on the cover and the headline, “Zac Efron Enters Rehab Again!!!” and I knew I had the story I wanted to write, the story about a mom protecting her child from the dangerous world of Hollywood. It always feels a bit like inspiration is a gift, a zap from the universe that I don't control. Not every idea that strikes is golden, and I’ve had a few false starts, but so far, the writing gods have been kind, and somehow, whenever I need a jolt for what to write next, I get one, then I hang on tight and let it take me for a ride.
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
As I mentioned, writing for me started out as a bucket list endeavor. I didn’t set out to be an author. Unlike most authors, I didn’t grow up dreaming of being the next Ernest Hemingway or Beatrix Potter. That being said, the first book I read that truly showed me the power of words was Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I read it as a teenager and it altered my course in both life and reading. She wrote with such conviction and purpose, and the story left an indelible mark. My stories are not meant to be philosophical or political, but I do like the idea of writing with purpose and trying to weave deeper ideas into the subcontext. It’s why I include questions at the end, to encourage contemplation and discourse after the story is done.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
That would take way too many pages, so I will sum it up: dozens of rejection letters from agents; three agents along the way; dozens of rejection letters from publishers; five novels written; one contingency sale based on my ability to edit the story to the publisher’s liking; one very small advance; a dozen more compromises on the story; Hush Little Baby published!!!! It was a difficult journey that required perseverance above all else.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you’d change?
You need to be extraordinarily humble when you start out. There are a million talented authors out there. It is very competitive and a publisher is taking a risk on publishing a new author. I am grateful to have made it through the gauntlet and for Hush Little Baby making it into the world. It was my fifth novel, but in retrospect, it was the right one for my debut, so it turned out to be a good thing that I hit the obstacles I did. Over the years, I became a better writer. I learned my craft and got better. The only regret I have is quitting, which I did for about a year. It’s easy to give up when you face so much rejection. Even now, there are moments when I lose faith and when I need to remind myself to keep on keeping on. Nothing I write will ever be perfect and it will never reach the expectations I had for it when it was just a germ of an idea with infinite possibility. It’s easy to see the flaws, but that’s where forgiveness comes in, being proud of what it is, accepting good enough, and letting go.
How do you market your work?
Social media is huge. Facebook and Twitter and doing blog interviews like this one. Authors are reliant now more than ever on the network of readers who interact on the Internet to spread the word about new authors and books. My other trick is to try to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way, no matter how uncomfortable. Like Jim Carrey in that movie Yes Man, I pretend “no” is not an option. I find that inevitably something good comes out of showing up. When Hush Little Baby first came out I was terrified of talking in front of people, but I kept saying yes whenever I was asked, and now I actually look forward to it.
What are you working on now?
I love the new story I am writing. It is another mother protecting her children idea, but this one has a Thelma and Louise twist—two moms on the run from the law and their husbands with their kids. It’s a mess at the moment, the characters confused about who they are and the timeline completely muddled, but the plot is coming together and it’s turning into a wild ride.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences?
No Ordinary Life is almost entirely based on real life events. I read every autobiography I could find by former child actors. I also did an enormous amount of research on celebrity and how it affects people. So while No Ordinary Life is fiction and is not any one person’s story, it is every bit based on reality.
Do you have a favorite chapter or scene?
I love the airport scene. As a mom, it was the scene that affected me the most. I was once in a Bed, Bath and Beyond when my daughter had a meltdown because I wouldn’t buy her a toy she desperately wanted. For twenty minutes I stood there while she screamed and had a tantrum with people walking by with either sympathetic expressions or judgmental frowns. It was the worst feeling, and to imagine something like that happening while dozens of photographers documented it, knowing it was going to be plastered in every tabloid and shown on every celebrity gossip show in the world made my heart split in two with sympathy for Faye. It was the pinnacle moment in the story that illustrated how out of control Faye’s life had become.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write, write, write. Get the words on the page. I think so many writers stymie themselves by trying to make it perfect, when what they need to do is not worry about the perfection, but instead worry about what it is they want to say. They need to get the story out and then they can go back and clean it up. And if, when they finish, it turns out to be lousy, so what? Move on to the next story. I have half a dozen novels that are unpublished. Each one led me to the next. Each one made me a better writer. Hush Little Baby wasn’t necessarily my best story, but it was the one that got published. The more you write, the more chance you have for success.
What are the downfalls of your writing career? The best parts?
In the beginning, it was all about downfalls. There was so much rejection that it was hard to believe there would be any career at all. And now that I'm published, I feel like the difficulty is getting a foothold. It’s tough to get noticed in the enormous sea of writers and books. I’ve also taken some missteps in terms of figuring out my brand. Aside from the first four novels that did not make it into the world, I have written three others that either did not fit my genre or my brand. I don’t regret writing these other stories. I believe that, when inspiration strikes, you need to hold on tight and see where it leads. That being said, it’s not the most efficient way to launch a career. The best part of this journey is the connection I feel when readers get what I wrote, when I read a review or talk to a reader and think, Yes, exactly. I’m so glad you felt that or understood what I was trying to say. It’s also the satisfaction of knowing I did it. Writing a novel is no easy task. It requires hard work and perseverance that hurts the brain and taxes the will, and finishing is immensely gratifying. I always hope that what I wrote will find its way into the world for others to enjoy, but even if it doesn’t, there’s incredible satisfaction in knowing I did it.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you. Sink or swim, that’s the fate of a debut author, and if you flounder, you don’t usually get a second chance. An incredible group of passionate readers embraced, championed, and made Hush Little Baby a success. So thank you for taking a chance on an unknown author and for all your support. I love being on this journey and I am only here because of you.
Thank you, Suzanne, for taking the time to share a bit about your book and writing life!
Thank you, Suzanne, for taking the time to share a bit about your book and writing life!