American West inspires new novel from Cambridgeshire author Susan Haven
Susan Haven, a writer based in St Ives, has had her first novel published and it is an ode to the American West titled Wyoming Magic.
From an early age, Susan was an avid reader of Western novels and, fascinated by the descriptions of places as well as the scenery in the films, she dreamt of going to as many of these places she’d seen, read and heard about as possible.
Widowed at 41, Susan also took up horse riding – a hobby she first got into as a teenager. The opportunity to travel to the USA first arose in 1999 and since then, the adventurous 70-something has been several times, even owning her own horse and training him Western-style.
Romantic and intriguing, Wyoming Magic – which took the author about six months to write – draws the reader into a world of mystery and danger under Western skies, with a thrilling and surprising ending.
Susan, who is currently in the process of completing her second novel, this time set in Arizona, says: “I like the history, as well as the old-fashioned Westerns. I grew up on [American author] Zane Grey since I was about eight years old – my grandfather had the books. I still have four or five of them and they’re now almost 100 years old.”
Susan, a former NHS worker, has visited the USA a dozen times and was there during 9/11, though fortunately on the other side of the country, having flown to Los Angeles from Denver the day before.
“I’m not very keen on towns and cities and whenever I’ve gone over there, I’ve tried to stay away from the East Coast,” she says. “I’ve been to Wyoming and Montana and Utah, Arizona, California – just about everywhere. I’ve flown out there with various friends and driven there as well.”
Susan says her favourite place in the country is Canyon de Chelly, which is situated on Navajo land in Arizona, describing it as “very peaceful”. On Wyoming Magic, she says: “I based it on places I’d actually been to, or driven through, and then used an awful lot of imagination as well.”
She continues: “I don’t know where the story came from. I got a bit bored for a couple of months – I was stuck indoors about four years ago – and I sort of started writing and it just grew... I would like to have based the characters on people I knew but no, it was all imagination.
“I thoroughly enjoyed doing it and I cannot believe how people have taken to it. People who don’t normally read books have picked it up and said they haven’t been able to put it down. I think the description of the countryside and the towns and things like that made it much more interesting. I’ve been very flattered by everybody who’s enthused over the book.”
Susan laughs as she notes that Wyoming Magic, published in August, is “somewhat of an adult book”, adding: “I think I’ve surprised quite a lot of people!”
Wyoming Magic is available now, published by Conrad Press.