Now that Valentine's Day has come and gone, we have something new to celebrate. Susan McKeown released her second book, Beyond the Tango: A Guide to a Thriving Marriage while Juggling Careers, Kids, and Chaos!
We asked Susan some questions about her life as an author. Keep reading to discover more about the behind the scenes of her writing journey.
Tell me about your journey to become a writer.
I always enjoyed writing, but it was a sporadic activity with thoughts on scraps of paper, random entries into a journal, or letter writing. Raising four children and working as a pediatric nurse practitioner did not allow me any set time to focus on a project. However, I have always been a romantic and a believer in marriage and very much idealized my own marriage, so much so that on our wedding night, I told my husband I wanted to write a book about marriage!
What was the main inspiration behind your book?
Initially, it was the hopes and dreams I had for my own marriage. Later realizing the rewards and joys of a happy marriage became a motivating factor and something I wanted to share. Working with engaged couples for over 40 years and witnessing their love and passion made me want to help them strengthen their partnership to prevent divorce. When I realized that most engaged couples are so engrossed in their wedding plans, I decided to write my first book hoping couples would read it early in their relationship.
Later, as I witnessed the devastation of divorce on families in my pediatric practice and with my extended family and friends, I realized how destructive divorce is. It is not only traumatic for a couple but impacts children’s health into their adulthood. As a Certified Prevention Specialist, I became passionate about exploring how to prevent divorce and sharing what could make the difference. I write from the perspective of prevention, as it is easier to prevent something than it is to fix it after it is broken.
What kind of research did you have to do for it?
That has been such a fun part for me! I have gotten to read on a topic that I am passionate about and that is a thrill. So, I have read scholarly research, landmark studies, contemporary magazine articles, newspaper columns, and heartfelt letters in Dear Abby. They have covered the spectrum of years and experiences and there is a universality that exists; regardless of race, religion, education, or socio-economic status, human beings seek to love and be loved. There is no greater gift than knowing you mean the world to someone and having someone in your life who means the world to you.
What was your writing routine?
It is not as routinized as you may expect or should be for a writer. While I was in graduate school, reading and writing happily consumed most of my day. When deadlines aren’t looming, writing is usually centered in the mid-day. I enjoy sleeping in, easing into the day in my writing room, and later taking a mid-day break to walk with a friend. After dinner, I usually retreat until 9:00 when I join my husband for tea and a movie or a tv special, as we stay up late.
Describe your book in one sentence.
Building healthy habits to address the universal challenges couple face today; money, careers, sex, religion, in-laws, raising children, and division of household chores.
Tell us about the best writing advice you’ve ever received.
Write about what you know and what you are passionate about.
Do you have any upcoming events?
These are still being scheduled, but I hope to do some readings at bookstores and speak to groups at businesses, workshops, and conferences.
Tell us something about you that your fans may not know or something that you want to share.
Don’t be afraid to try something that challenges you. When you feel a little anxious, but are also excited, it usually means that growth will result. It is often the things that we don’t try that we later regret. When I applied to graduate school at 70, I was anxious, but so excited to be embarking on a new venture, and so glad I did!
Why should people read your book?
I want readers to realize that none of us are too old to improve ourselves and our relationships. You can always add new dance steps to strengthen your partnership and experience joy in your marriage at every stage. Having a strong marriage and a happy family is the cornerstone of society and that is a good enough reason to read the book and share it with others.