This local writer shares the inspiration behind her soon-to-be-released book and what she loves about Laguna.
By Sharon Stello
After Suzanne Redfearn wrote “In an Instant,” which came out in early 2020, the main characters stayed with her. So when the Laguna Beach author began to pen “Moment in Time,” set to release March 8, those teenage girls, now grown up, made their way into the pages.
“It wasn’t so much an active decision to write a sequel as, when I sat down to write ‘Moment in Time,’ Mo and Chloe from ‘In an Instant’ fell into the roles,” Redfearn says. “My characters are a little like family; I get to know them intimately, and they stay with me even after I finish a book.
“So I think they were just there, still in my brain, but eight years older. It was fun reimagining them as young adults. And because I was enjoying revisiting them, I threw in characters from a couple of my other stories as well.”
Redfearn—an architect by trade, who also co-owns the Lumberyard and Slice Pizza & Beer restaurants with her husband, Cary—fell into writing after she was struck with an idea for a fictional story during dinner with a friend and stayed up writing until 3 a.m. This career change has brought Redfearn much success. For example, “In an Instant,” which follows the lives of a group of people affected by a tragic vehicle accident, became an Amazon Charts bestseller.
“Moment in Time” examines the power of friendship during the most challenging parts of life. Now in their mid-20s, Mo and Chloe are living together in San Francisco with a roommate who disappears after being sexually assaulted. The mystery deepens when the perpetrator turns up drugged and beaten. Her books are all inspired by real-life experiences or discussions.
“The idea for ‘Moment in Time’ came from a disturbing conversation I had with a friend whose daughter was caught in the horrible position of knowing two victims of date rape by the same perpetrator, but with no way to prove it,” Redfearn says.
Her novels often take on difficult themes like this. Redfearn’s other recent books include “Hadley & Grace,” about a woman who needs to escape an abusive marriage and crosses paths with another woman fighting for survival. Then, in late November, Redfearn released an Amazon Original Story titled “The Marriage Test” about an engaged couple that travels to the Everglades to retrieve an item pivotal to a longtime marriage tradition practiced by the bride’s family.
“I’m all about present-day stories about ordinary, relatable people facing extraordinary circumstances,” Redfearn says, “that hopefully leave the reader wondering, ‘What would I do if that were me?’ ”
What’s your writing process like?
Suzanne Redfearn: Novelists typically fall into two categories—plotsters and pantsters. A plotster is methodical: They plan out their books and typically work from an outline or formula. They map out each plot point, and they know how the story is going to begin and end. A pantster “flies by the seat of their pants.” They start with an idea and follow where the muse leads. It is inefficient, but full of unexpected surprises. I am definitely a pantster. My inspiration almost always comes from a moral conundrum, some ethical tug-of-war I want to explore with no obvious right or wrong answer.
What’s next? Are there any other books in the works?
SR: My next book is in the hands of my editor, and the muse for the one after that is slowly percolating in my head. I’m just at the point where I can almost grab hold, but it’s not quite there yet.
What was the last book you read and do you have any favorite authors?
SR: The last book I read was “The Stranger in the Lifeboat” by Mitch Albom. It was very good. My favorite authors are Alice Hoffman, Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult.
What do you like about living in Laguna Beach?
SR: It’s hard to encapsulate the wondrousness of our town. At its heart, it is still a village of creatives, an artists colony. I’ve lived here almost 30 years, and my kids were blessed to go through the exceptional school system. They both possess what I call “audacious optimism”—the belief that they, as individuals, can positively impact the world. I credit it to the environment they grew up in, where, constantly, they were encouraged to express themselves and give back. I’ve been impacted as well, bolstered by living in a place that fosters creativity and where people cheer for their neighbors and root for them to do the extraordinary.
Do you have any go-to restaurants or stores in Laguna?
SR: We are big Thai Bros takeout fans. We also like Another Kind, Bear Flag [Fish Co.], Carmelita’s [Kitchen de Mexico] and La Sirena [Grill]. On the nights Cary has off, we tend to dine in. He’s also an amazing cook, so there’s not a lot of incentive to go out. As far as stores go, I really like Vertigo [Home], Areo and Hobie [Surf Shop].
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
SR: I’ve really gotten into pickleball. The new permanent courts at Alta Laguna [Park] are beautiful, and a wonderful community of players has formed. I also enjoy golf, hiking, traveling and skiing.