Suzanne Redfearn believes she suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out). Perhaps that’s why she serves as one of Laguna’s Literary Laureates, is a licensed architect, co-owns and operates the Lumberyard restaurant and Slice pizzeria with her husband, and has a new novel, “In An Instant,” due out in March. She’s also a mother to two children and skis, golfs and plays tennis—or whatever else they want to do—with them.
In 2008, Redfearn used the economic lull—and lack of architecture jobs—to write three novels. Her fifth book, “Hush Little Baby” was the first to be published. It was followed by “No Ordinary Life,” published in 2016. “Had I been busy being an architect, I never would have had the time to learn the craft of writing, and therefore, would never have become an author,” she said of making it into the world of published authors.
Redfearn said she tries to write stories readers can relate to and that make them think. Her stories are “What-if-that-were-me stories”—explorations of some moral or ethical dilemma to which there is no absolute answer.
“In An Instant” is about a catastrophe, but the real story takes place after the catalyst, in the aftermath of the calamity, when the ramifications of the choices each of the survivors made come back to haunt them. “I think what makes the characters special is how normal they are. They are ordinary people who survived a harrowing accident that caused them to make impossible choices. Some acted better than others, but no one was the heroic, noble person they believed themselves to be before the accident. They discover the limits of their humanity, and it’s what makes them relatable,” Redfearn said.
Redfearn intentionally makes each character culpable, forced to make impossible choices that had irrevocable consequences. “Most of us would like to believe we would do the right thing in the face of catastrophe. I wanted to question that assumption and force even the most moral characters to have their goodness tested, pitting it against their desire to survive and testing their loyalties—to their loved ones, their friends, a stranger—and shattering the heroic view they held of themselves,” she said.
The story is narrated by Finn, a 16-year-old girl who dies in the accident, her fly-on-the-wall perspective allowing an unveiled look at the characters even in the moments they believe they are alone. “In a sense, this was a way of capturing the viewpoint I had as an adult looking back at the incident of my childhood as opposed to how I viewed it as an 8-year-old frightened little girl,” Redfearn said. The book has been the number one bestseller on Kindle since its First Read release on Feb. 1.
Redfearn’s own reading preferences include books that make her think. Among her favorites are Sally Rooney’s “Normal People,” “Educated” by Tara Westover, and “The Power of One” by Bryce Courtenay.
Not one to be idle, Redfearn plans to have her next book ready for a January 2021 release. It will be a story about two women on the run with their children. “I’m very excited about this story. The idea was to write a modern retelling of ‘Thelma and Louise,’ and while the inspiration is definitely there, it turned into something else entirely. I love the characters and the wild ride these two remarkable women take on the path to self-discovery,” she said.
“In An Instant” is available from Amazon and at Laguna Beach Books.