Cover of the new book "Fly Close to the Sun"

Fly Close to the Sun




Susan’s notebook with the first draft of the book

When I was a teenager, I discovered romance fiction when I read Mary Stewart’s The Moonspinners. I then devoured the rest of her books, and particularly loved those set in Greece: The Moonspinners, My Brother Michael, and This Rough Magic.

I don’t know why Greece, of all countries, had a special resonance for me, but who can explain emotion? I did know I had to visit Greece. And I did.

The first time, I traveled to Athens, Delphi (the setting of My Brother Michael), Santorini, and Naxos. A few years later, I began to write romance fiction, and I felt the urge to write a romantic suspense novel set on a Greek island.

Reference material

And so I visited Crete, the setting of The Moonspinners, where I researched and started writing Fly Close to the Sun. That was many years ago, but I still have fond memories of sitting in a restaurant after dinner, drinking Greek coffee and writing in my notebook (yes, an actual paper notebook!) while my partner contentedly read his sci-fi novel. That restaurant was in a small town on the southern coast of Crete, and the town inspired my fictional creation of Agios Dimitrios.

Typical village on Crete

As for my heroine, Kieran, she has a lot in common with me. I studied law because I wanted to help right some of the injustices in the world – and what I found was a “justice system” that often didn’t seem very just to me. The system troubled me, as it troubles Kieran. I escaped it to write romance, and Kieran… Well, you’ll see what decisions she makes if you read the book. She also has a lot in common with a Mary Stewart heroine, being a spunky young woman who sets off to a foreign country, where she finds that she has the courage to tackle whatever adventures come her way.

The hero Stefanos is a pure fictional creation. He’s smart, handsome, sexy, and intuitive – and he’s also infuriating, particularly to a Western woman. I just love the guy, and I loved having Kieran teach him a lesson or two. (And vice versa, of course.)

Crete countryside where Kieran hiked and found Stefanos’s cave

I like to think that his young cousin Leksi (the macho and charming imp), the village wise woman (she’s really a witch), and the mysterious British siblings (or are they?) are characters Mary Stewart might have enjoyed. As for the ghost… Well, he appeared and I think he belongs there. See if you agree.

Town of Chania

When I visited Crete, it was in the days before cell phones were prevalent and before the Internet dominated the world. In some ways, life seemed more immediate back then. You had to experience it personally and intimately, not filter it through technology and social media. As you’ll have seen in Fly Close to the Sun, that’s exactly what happens to Kieran when she comes to Crete in 1998.

This book has gone through many revisions over the years, and each time I’ve returned to it I have felt the joy of traveling back to Crete and spending time with a braver-than-she-knows-it heroine and a heart-stopping hero. I’m delighted to now share their story with the world.

Books by Susan/Savanna

Cover of the new book "Champagne Rules" - a black man and a white woman kiss in deep wine-coloured light