Hello Susan. Thank you for appearing for the interview. Could you tell us something about yourself and how did writing happen to you?
~~ I lived in Kenya for 10 years, and wrote many letters home to family in New Zealand. Mum was convinced I was living in an uncivilized environment. Yes, I was, if that’s what you would call a hotel room overlooking the East African beaches. From there we moved into a house that was furnished with Jomo Kenyatta’s furniture, were married and started our little family. So not as uncivilized as Mum might have been imagining. But my letters were very descriptive to put her mind at ease.
If not writing, what is the second best thing you would have taken up with equal passion?
~~ Art and piano. Loved them both equally but traded them for my writing once I got hold of a word processor.
What influences you to take up the pen and write? Are your novels inspired by real life? If yes, then how?
~~ Very much inspired by real life characters and situations. My daughter is my main character. She leads such a varied and funny life. Always up to something. But then she is a large part of my life too, and together we make for some realistic characters.
You have written a number of books. It is understandable that each book is an author’s baby but then, you must have at least one favourite! Which one is it and why is it your favourite?
~~ “PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children” was my baby. It took me 25 years to research New Zealand historic mental health. Most of my family worked in mental health at some point. The main character, Malcolm, was a visitor to our home when I was a child. It seemed natural and logical to write his story.
But now I find I have shifted my favour to “When the ROLLER COASTER Stops” That’s now my favourite book.
Contemporaries whose work you admire? Anyone with whom you would like to trade places?
~~ Not really. I am happy with my place in the world.
How much time do you devote to research? Are there any tips you want to offer aspiring writers on researching methods?
~~ I immerse myself in my characters for several years. And also the subject behind that particular book. Read, read, read. I write notes all over the show, then type them into a word doc with the title followed by ENDS. My job/passion is then to fill in the space between the two. Oddly enough, the title is often the first thing that comes to me.
What are your top pet peeves as a writer?
~~ Just not enough hours or energy in a day.
What is the best compliment that you ever got from a fan/reader?
~~ That my writing of PHENOMENA is familiar to Steinbeck. I list John Steinbeck as one of my favourite authors. Perhaps some of him has rubbed off onto me. One could always hope…
Your working space looks like…?
~~ A tiny plastic collapsible table with 2 inches to spare around my PC. And a stack of Post-it notes.
Last one, please share an excerpt from any of your books.
~~ Malcolm from PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children
‘He waited to feel the need to talk. He felt nothing. There was little he could remember and nothing to encourage him to take an interest in his life. If he used to be different, like they said – and sometimes he knew they were right – they must have taken his thoughts captive and left him with only fringes and tatters, not enough to live with. He wondered where they stored his stolen thoughts. Maybe they stored them in the morgue with the little high-up window. Hah! As if memories would try to escape.’
It was lovely interacting with Susan for the interview. Do get in touch with her if you have any queries 🙂
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