Introducing Susanne Winnacker

You may have noticed we had a guest blogger a few weeks ago. That was Susanne Winnacker, the author of the upcoming YA dystopian debut called THE OTHER LIFE.  I'm excited to have her here on the League blog today because not only does her book sound amazing, but she's also a pub sister. Her book will be coming out from Marshall Cavendish in the US and Canada and from Usborne in the UK in Spring 2012.

A little about Susanne. She studied law and is reluctantly preparing for her second state exam. She lives with her husband, a dog and four bunnies in the Ruhrgebiet, Germany. She loves coffee (in every shape and form), traveling and animals.

A little about the book (from Goodreads): 

Sherry and her family have lived sealed in a bunker in the garden since things went wrong up above. Her grandfather has been in the freezer for the last three months, her parents are at each other’s throats and two minutes ago they ran out of food.

Sherry and her father leave the safety of the bunker and find a devastated and empty LA, smashed to pieces by bombs and haunted by ‘Weepers’ - rabid humans infected with a weaponized rabies virus.

While searching for food in a supermarket, Sherry’s father disappears and Sherry is saved by Joshua, a boy-hunter. He takes her to Safe-haven, a tumble-down vineyard in the hills outside LA, where a handful of other survivors are picking up the pieces of their ‘other lives’. As she falls in love for the first time, Sherry must save her father, stay alive and keep Joshua safe when his desire for vengeance threatens them all.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today! Would you tell us a little about your road to publication.

I started writing last year in January. The Other Life was my first novel and I finished the first draft in four weeks (crazy, I know). I revised and then started querying at the end of March. In July I heard from Julia Churchill of Greenhouse Literary Agency who was one of the first agents I'd queried. She'd read my full and asked me to work exclusively with her on revisions. I agreed and when I was done with revisions, she offered representation and I accepted. In September The Other Life went on submission in the UK and sold in October. In November it went on sub in the US and sold in December. It went all very fast. Sometimes I think my mind hasn't yet caught up with everything that happened.  

What inspired you to write the Other Life?

I've always loved watching post-apocalyptic and dystopian movies, so I knew I wanted to write a book with those themes. But when I started working on The Other Life I wasn't sure what it was at first. Numbers and counting play an important role in the book. The main character Sherry counts the days since she's done something - seen daylight or eaten an apple for example - because, after three years in a bunker, those are the things she misses the most about her other life, the time before the rabies. The counting and the oppressing atmosphere in the bunker came to me first, the rest of the story presented itself to me as I wrote.

English isn't your first language, right? Why did you decide to write in English rather than German? 

German is my first language. I learned English in school and over time developed a fierce love for it. I prefer reading books in the language they were written in and often that is English. The same goes for movies. When I started writing, I wasn't sure which language to use. The logical answer would have been German but I just didn't enjoy it. So I decided to give it a try and write in English and suddenly the words flowed and it felt right. After that I never tried to write in German again. It's funny how the brain works because when I think about my books and about new ideas, my thoughts are in English. Sometimes when I tell my husband about publishing he looks at me funny and then I realize it's because I'm using English words. I guess I'm a bit odd.

Who are some of your favorite writers and/or books? Is there one you wished you'd written?

I admire J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter books are so amazing that even my husband loves them. I adore the world she created. I think her books are one of the reasons why Children's publishing is doing so well. Suddenly it was okay to read children's books in public. I saw grown men read Harry Potter in the bus and nobody frowned upon it. Who doesn't wish they had written the Harry Potter books? Another writer I admire is Suzanne Collins. Her Hunger Games books kept me up late at night and made me love dystopian concepts even more.

Are you planning a sequel? What else are you working on?

I just completed the first draft of the sequel to The Other Life. I'll start revising it soon and then I'll send it to my lovely editor who'll hopefully love it.

I'm also working on a new project, a YA thriller, and I'm almost done with the first draft. I've been writing a lot recently and it feels wonderful after working on edits for The Other Life for so long.

Thanks again, Susanne!

If you want to learn more about Susanne and THE OTHER LIFE, you can connect with her on


Jessica E. Subject said...

The Other Life is on my list of upcoming releases to watch for. :)

Lenore Appelhans said...

Wow - 4 weeks to complete a first draft is amazing. It give me hope! ;)

Tracy Bilen said...

Grandpa in the freezer...sounds like this girl has a lot to deal with - looking forward to the debut!

Tez Miller said...

I love that you're multilingual :-)

Heather Anastasiu said...

I love this concept! Post-apocalyptic stories always scare me, but you know, in a good way--chills and such!! I can't wait to read this. And so interesting to hear about your decision to write in English and the decisions behind it. My husband is multi-lingual (he's Romanian, grew up there and only came to the US for college). When we first got married nine years ago, he would mumble in his sleep, and it would be Romanian. Now he mumbles in English! Crazy how enough time spent delving into a second language can really seep in. Anyway, can't wait to read your book! Cheers!!!

Nikki (Wicked Awesome Books) said...

4 weeks?! That blows me away. It's so interesting how different authors have entirely different publishing journeys.

I've been looking forward to The Other Life since I first heard about it, but I never imagined Susanne had wrote it so quickly, or in a language that is not her first. Thanks for stopping by :)

Jenni Merritt said...

This book is definitely on my watch list, and future TBR stack! Can't wait!