Getting Historical with Susan Braun: An O2O Author Interview

We have a different genre of book to share with you today! Up to this point, all the authors we’ve interviewed have written books that were based on their own life experiences from memoir to DIY to life skills. We’re pleased to present our first interview with an author who has written a biography. As a teacher, Susan Braun offered a unit on this eccentric historical character for her students which eventually became the basis for a book. Not So Happily Ever After is the result of Susan’s countless hours of research and time spent peering into the life of King Ludwig II. Never heard of him? Read on!

LIIcover“Think history is boring? Then you’ve never met King Ludwig II, who inspired Walt Disney with his magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle in the clouds. He ruled Bavaria for twenty-two years, inspiring its people by his support for the arts. Yet he was known by many as Mad King Ludwig. He rarely appeared in the capital or attended any government functions. He slept most of the day and stayed awake all night. He dined with his horse and waved pistols at servants. He created a fantasy world inside his castles, complete with caves and trap-door tables. To this day, no one is sure exactly what caused his untimely death in a lake.

Who was this man: fairy tale king? Insane eccentric? Mad King Ludwig’s life followed many twists and turns on its way to Not So Happily Ever After.”

Susan BraunO2O: What was your inspiration for writing this book?

SB: I have been intrigued by Ludwig since learning about him in high school German class. I began researching him, and every year that I taught school, I included a learning unit about him for my students. They found him fascinating, too — he’s just one of those historical figures that seems too amazing to be real.

O2O: Are there any other fascinating people from history that you would like to write about?

SB: I’ve been thinking about the possibilities of writing about Empress Elisabeth of Austria. She was a cousin of Ludwig’s, and the two were very close. I talk a bit about “Sisi,” as she was known, in the Ludwig book, but she’s fascinating in her own right. Stay tuned …

O2O: Was there anything different or surprising about writing this book than when you wrote your previous book?

SB: My previous book had been a memoir, so writing about someone else’s life was different in that it involved more research. I found myself using notecards as I read various books about Ludwig — similar to the process I used when writing research papers in high school and college.

O2O: What were your writing habits?

SB: I have written each of my books by spending one hour per day writing. It’s amazing how much can be accomplished in just one hour of uninterrupted, focused time each day. I chose a time when I was alone in the house. For that hour, I put “mood music” on Pandora and didn’t check Facebook, my email, or anything else. After several months, my rough draft was ready.

For this book, my music was Richard Wagner, since Ludwig had been so inspired by his music.

O2O: Was there a writing quote or mantra that kept you inspired?

SB: Just one hour each day … just one hour each day …

O2O: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?

SB: Just begin! That’s the hardest part. I had always wanted to write a memoir for my kids, but for years it was just a dream. Finally, one January, I decided I was going to start doing SOMETHING. I sat down with pencil and paper and began writing some very rough notes. Five months later, I had a rough draft of a book completed. Make yourself write something toward your book every day.

O2O: How has blogging helped or contributed to your life as a writer?

SB: Although I’ve written for most of my life, blogging was the springboard that led me into more serious writing (I’m considering writing books to be “serious writing”!). Writing every day, as a blog often requires, is a wonderful practice for improving one’s skills. I began blogging reluctantly, at my fifth grade daughter’s suggestion. Now, my blog and the readers I’ve met through it feel like friends.

O2O: Will you write another book?

SB: Maybe!

Where to Buy Not So Happily Ever After


Susan has a copy of Not So Happily Ever After to giveaway! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment telling us who from history you are fascinated with OR which biography has been your favorite to read. Giveaway closes midnight (PT) Tuesday, June 28th. Winner will be notified via email on Wednesday, June 29th.

More About Susan

Susan Barnett Braun earned a BA in retail management from Indiana University and an MA in education from the University of Alabama. She taught for eight years in northeast Indiana, earning a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Study Scholarship.

After becoming a mom to three daughters, Susan found her calling in the home for several years. But as her children grew up, Susan returned to writing. She has had work published in Parents, Children’s Ministry, and The Secret Place. She also wrote online for Yahoo/OMG and blogs at Girls In White Dresses.

Her other books include a memoir, I Love to Tell the Story, and books for children: Kate Middleton, A Biography for Children, Sophie, Pay Attention (Rhoda, You Too)!, and A Dog Called Naaman.

*No Purchase Necessary. Void Where Prohibited By Law. Entry period will run from Tuesday, June 21, 2016 through midnight (PT), Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Entries must be received in those time frames to be valid. Contest is open to One2One Network members, 18 years of age or older, and a resident of the United States of America. Winner will be chosen via random draw and notified via email. Please see Official Rules for Giveaways.


  1. Julie Waldron says:

    I am fascinated with John F. Kennedy.

  2. I loved a biography of Eric Liddell that I read recently. Thanks! This book sounds like a great one.

  3. Kim Reid says:

    I am fascinated with Marie Antoinette of France!

  4. I love Queen Elizabeth!

  5. I’m fascinated by Marie Antoinette and her whole time period. Such a tragic, horrible time!

  6. I am fascinated with the history of Jesus!

  7. Rachelle Anderson says:

    I am fascinated with Mary, Queen of Scots

  8. I love Egyptian history

  9. I’ve always been very interested in Frida Kahlo.

  10. Alexandra Oller says:

    I’ve actually visited Neuschwanstein castle when I was in middle school. I’ve always been very interested in history because I toured Europe as a child. My biggest fascination has always been with the Tudor family.

  11. Brenda Guardado says:

    Helen Keller, her courage from what I read is unreal. She’s had to face battles I could only dream of.

  12. Farrah Shumway says:

    I’m fascinated with George Washington. Thank you for the giveaway.

  13. Faye Gates says:

    I was always fascinated by Isadora Duncan, the dancer.

  14. Catherine II of Russia fascinates me.

  15. I always enjoyed reading about Anne Frank.

  16. Gabrielly says:

    I am fascinated with John F. Kennedy.

  17. I love genealogy and have been really fascinated with my own ancestors. I am a descendent of Charles Durang who was an actor and dancer in Philadelphia in the 1800’s. I am finding myself even more interested in history as I do my research and this book sounds so interesting! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  18. Deborah says:

    I recently finished listening to The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir on Audible.

  19. Love Queen Elizabeth I