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Featured Author: Suzanne Tyrpak March 23, 2011

Posted by Jaidis in Featured Authors.
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It’s time for a new Featured Author here on Juniper Grove! Today I would like to welcome Suzanne Tyrpak, who generously allowed me to interview her in order to find out more about her book, Vestal Virgin, and her thoughts about writing.

Welcome Suzanne!


Without giving too much away, can you tell us what Vestal Virgin is about?

Sure, here’s the description:

Elissa Rubria Honoria is a Vestal Virgin–priestess of the sacred flame, a visionary, and one of the most powerful women in Rome. Vestals are sacrosanct, sworn to chastity on penalty of death, but the emperor, Nero, holds himself above the law. He pursues Elissa, engaging her in a deadly game of wits and sexuality. Or is Elissa really the pursuer? She stumbles on dark secrets. No longer trusting Roman gods, she follows a new god, Jesus of Nazareth, jeopardizing her life and the future of The Roman Empire.

How long did it take you to write this book?

I finished the first draft over five years ago. I did several rewrites, came close to getting a deal, then I went through a divorce. My world got turned around, and I just couldn’t focus on anything as long as a novel. Publishing my collection of short stories, Dating My Vibrator (and other true fiction) gave me the impetus to go back and do another rewrite of Vestal Virgin.

What was your inspiration to write this book?

I traveled to Rome with a group of writers from the Maui Writers’ Conference. Our instructors were: Terry Brooks, John Saul, Mike Sack, Dorothy Allison and Elizabeth Engstrom. Talk about a dream trip. I fell in love with Italy, Rome in particular. A travel book I read contained a short blurb about vestal virgins; it mentioned they were sworn to thirty years of chastity and, if that vow were broken, they would be entombed alive. That got me going

Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.

Sex, drugs and Rock ‘n Roll—in ancient Rome.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In fifth grade. But first I had to be a dancer, then an actress, then a writer. So that’s what I’ve done—with some major sidetracks!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I will go to great lengths to get information—for example I went to Egypt so I would know how it felt to stand in the Sahara. This may stem from an awful experience with a seventh-grade English teacher. I spent a great deal of time writing a story about a girl who cuts school, goes into New York City by train, and smokes pot. The teacher gave me an F and told me I should write about what I know. Her comment acted as a catalyst for my wild youth.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I live in Colorado, so I like to bike ride and ski. I also love to cook—especially Mediterranean food—and I enjoy throwing dinner parties for fellow writers.

What does your family think of your writing?

I told my father (he’s 95) that I got blurbs from Terry Brooks and Tess Gerritsen. He seemed completely unimpressed, told me about his neighbor who published a book—also self-published—but he can buy it at the local bookstore.

My friends think it’s great.

How many books have you written so far?

Completed three novels, one non-fiction book, and a short collection of short stories.

How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

Went out with my writing friends for happy hour!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a published author?

What Terry Brooks told me: Write, write, write; Read, read, read; Write, write, write: Repeat!

Do you hear from your readers much?

Mostly in my head.

What do you think makes a good story?

Great characters and tremendous conflict—internal and external. Setting is also important. Torture your characters.

Is there anything that you find challenging in your writing?

These days, finding the time. I work two jobs.

Do you ever experience writer’s block and if so, how to you overcome it?

Yes. Just start writing. Tell the inner-critic to take a hike.

What is the last book you read?

I’m always reading—fiction and non-fiction—but I’m a slow reader. The last book I read and loved, is the original, uncensored version of D.H. Lawrence’s, Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Is there anything you need in order to write? (ie music, silence, chocolate)


Do you have any writing projects you are currently working on?

Another novel—Agathon’s Daughter, suspense set in classic Greece. I’m about a third of the way through a first draft. Also knocking around some ideas for short stories. A guy I work with at the airport is also a grave-digger. I’m hoping I can tag along one night when he and his son dig a grave…

If you could have dinner with 1 person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Shakespeare. I bet he had great parties.

If you could travel into the past or future, where would you go and why?

I’d like to go to one of Nero’s parties, but I wouldn’t want him to notice me.

What does the word success mean to you?

Doing what I love to do.

If you had to have one word or phrase written on your forehead for an entire week, what would it be?



Thank You Suzanne Tyrpak for stopping by and being a Featured Author here on Juniper Grove!

I recently had the pleasure of reading Vestal Virgin and you can find my review Here

Get your own copy of Vestal Virgin on Kindle!!

Please take a moment to visit Suzanne at the following sites:

Suzanne’s Blog



Happy Reading,




1. Suzanne Tyrpak - March 26, 2011

Thank you for having me as your guest, Jaidis. I enjoyed the interview!

Jaidis - March 27, 2011

It was my pleasure! Keep up the great work! :)

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