Susan Elizabeth Phillips didn’t think she’d write so many books in her Chicago Stars series of contemporary romance novels set in the world of a suburban Chicago professional football team. “After four, I said, that’s the last one. After six, I said, that’s the last one,” she tells Show Daily as we discuss the eighth in the series, First Star I See Tonight (Avon, Aug.). “I think I’m out of fresh ideas and I’m not going to write a second-rate novel. And then I get a great new idea and I write another one.”
First Star I See Tonight is the story of Cooper Graham, a former star quarterback for the Chicago Stars, and Piper Dove, the rookie private detective he hires to watch the employees at a nightclub he owns—but she’d rather keep an eye on him. To ratchet up the romantic tension still further, Piper is a Chicago Bears fan.
Phillips admits that, besides being incapable of planning ahead, she is also highly disorganized, which is especially cumbersome when one is writing novels in which characters from previous books tend to make cameo appearances in later ones. “My readers pay attention to the tiniest details,” she says, recalling the overwhelming response she received from them when she got the jersey number of Kevin Tucker, the hero of This Heart of Mine, wrong in a subsequent novel. To avoid such errors, when she can’t remember details from previous books that pertain to the one she is in the midst of writing, she asks her 77,000 Facebook fans to crowdsource research assistance. “I’ll ask, for instance, if anyone is reading It Had to Be You, and if so, do Dan and Phoebe have a swimming pool,” she explains.
Now that she is finishing First Star I See Tonight, Phillips is asked if she has started thinking about her next project. “Oh, no,” she says without missing a beat. “This is definitely the last book.”
Phillips will introduce her new book at a number of events this week, beginning today with the “Women in Fiction” panel, 2–3 p.m., at the Downtown Stage, and the “Big Authors Panel III” on women’s fiction at Library Journal’s Day of Dialogue, at the UIC Forum, 725 Roosevelt Rd.,
4 p.m. She’ll sign books in the Autographing Area on Friday, 11 a.m.–noon, at Table 9.
This article appeared in the May 11, 2016 edition of PW BEA Show Daily.