Everyone welcome author Susan Lynn Solomon!
1. What’s the title of your latest release? Link?
Actually, I have two new releases. The first, the short story, “Yesterday’s Wings”, appeared in early October in the online journal, Imitation Fruit. This is the third part of a trilogy that began with my story, “Sabbath”, which earned a nomination for Best of the Net in 2013. More exciting though, was the October 29 Solstice Publishing release of my first novel, “The Magic of Murder”—a mystery with a definite sense of humor (in fact, there were times while writing it I actually laughed out loud). The book is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paper copy editions. If you click on the link, http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO, you’ll find some wonderful 5-star reviews. And cat-people have come to know and like the hefty (Elvira hates being called fat) albino cat that runs through the book.
By the way, Kate, the link to “Witches Gumbo”—the short story my narrator is writing as “The Magic of Murder” begins, can be found at my website (www.susanlynnsolomon.com).
2. Why do you like writing in this genre?
Though “The Magic of Murder” has many paranormal elements, it is at heart a murder mystery—a genre I’ve been fascinated by since my mother handed her 11-year-old child Agatha Christie’s “Peril at End House”. I think my enjoyment of the genre flows from the fact that I’m a puzzle fanatic—crosswords, word jumbles, Sodoku, it doesn’t matter. After all, isn’t a good mystery actually a puzzle to be solved?
Beyond this, “The Magic of Murder” is about people and their relationships. This is true of almost all my stories. How people relate to each other in the most difficult situations is something I’ve been exploring since I first began to write. The complexity of relationships is a puzzle I hope to someday solve.
3. What do you like to read?
I’ll read almost anything as long as it’s well-written. Mystery, romance, paranormal (of course), historical fiction. Once in a while I’ll even settle in with a piece of non-fiction. Most recently I’ve read “Safe Harbor”, by Nicholas Sparks, P.D. James’s “A Certain Justice” (I just can’t avoid a good mystery), “The Tiger’s Wife”, by Tea Obrecht, and “The Flanders Panel”, by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Then, of course, there is the reading I do for research. In this regard, for my new novel—a sequel to “The Magic of Murder”, I’m reading Katz & Goodwin’s “Around the Tarot in 78 Days”.
4. Favorite movie?
I don’t know how to choose a movie favorite. It so depends on my mood at any given moment. I own a large number DVDs that I watch over and over. For example, I adore “Shakespeare in Love”. Historical, romantic, built on the fictitious relationship that metaphorically exists between The Bard and one of his characters—I’ve made notes for creating such a metaphoric love story.
Another favorite is “Sleepless in Seattle”—another love story built on relationships. And then there’s “Message in a Bottle”. I relish both the movie and the book. Oh, and I can’t forget the mysteries. Each New Year’s Eve I climb into my nightie, and binge on The Thin Man movies. This goes back to when as a teenager I baby sat for a neighbor and spent all night watching these films. And Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express”—now there’s a puzzle to solve.
5. What are your writing habits? Music or silence? Daily regimen or spurts of creativity?
The computer I write on is set up in a corner of my bedroom. This allows me to tumble out of bed each morning and start to write…uh, well, not actually—there’s still that darn need to earn a living. But I do write for at least a few hours every day. You see, writing is more than just a pleasure for me. It’s a need. Those days I fail to write, I’m left with a terrible, empty feeling. And guilt (can’t avoid the guilt—my mother was the East Coast distributer of it). To show you what I mean, a few years back I had a bad case of the flu. After lying in bed for two days I felt so guilty about not writing, I slid from bed to my computer, turned it on, andbwrote for what felt like hours. When I recovered and looked at what I’d written…well, you know the term “speaking in tongues”?
Even when I don’t have the flu, some days what I write is mere scribbling. This is my mental meandering while I search for characters that might bring a tale to life. Pages written and discarded, story lines filed away for another day. After a while, though, something magical happens—I don’t know another way to explain it. All at once characters speak to me, tell me what they will or won’t do, say, feel. Then, in a burst a story I need to tell flows from my fingers. When this occurs, I’ll still be at my computer, writing, through an entire night.
Now to answer the first question: when I write I need complete silence. The least sound seems to still the voices telling me their stories. Well, that’s the way writing happens for me: I don’t write the stories, my characters do. Or maybe it’s the ghost living in my house that does the writing… What? I never made any claim to sanity.
6. What was the most surreal moment you’ve had as an author?
This is an interesting question. I suppose I’d have to say it happened in connection with my first published short story. I’d been writing for a number of years, submitting short stories to journals, and building up my collection of rejection notes. The man I work for owns a bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake. One day he asked me to write a short Valentine’s Day story he could print and leave in his guest bedrooms. I’d heard the B &B was inhabited by a ghost, but research didn’t tell me who the ghost was, or its origin. So I did what I always do when I’m stumped: I made one up. When I showed the story to my sister, she insisted it should be expanded into a novel (when Robin gets an idea like this in her head she won’t let up, so it was easier to do as she insisted than to argue with her). In a few months, “Abigail’s Window” was written and edited. Then, just before Halloween, my boss asked me whether the story of the ghost was true, because he wanted the local ghost tour group to stop by his B & B. To deal with this, I broke the novel down into a new short romantic story, and emailed it to the ghost tour people with a note swearing it was true, and that I’d actually met the ghost (yes, I know, the devil has me by the collar and I’m headed south). A few days later I noticed a “Writers Journal” competition for short romances. Well, I had this new short story… The upshot was that the story won an honorable mention. However, the magazine forgot to tell me about it until several years later when I received a note from the editor saying it would be printed in the next issue. Now, if that isn’t surreal, what is?
7. How can readers find you?
Finding me is easy. There’s this bar on Niagara Falls Boulevard…just kidding. I don’t do that any longer. Actually I can be found at my website: http://www.susanlynnsolomon.com Or at the Solstice Publishing website: http://solsticepublishing.com/the-magic-of-murder Or at “The Magic of Murder” Page at Amazon (you might want to take a look at the book and some of the reviews while you’re there): http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Murder-Susan-Lynn-Solomon-ebook/dp/B015OQO5LO
8. What do you know now about being published that you wish you’d known before submitting?
Hmm. Before I submitted “The Magic of Murder”, I wish someone had told me that this wonderful pleasure writing is, suddenly become work when a book is released. Wow! Setting up a website, a Facebook Author Page, pages on Amazon and Goodreads and a half dozen other sites. And talking constantly about my book and how it was written and why (in promoting the book, I’m beginning to feel like the whore my mother was convinced her 17- year-old child would become). And yet, in my quiet moments I have to admit that all this work is as much a pleasure as writing…if only it didn’t get in the way of writing something new. The first draft of “The Magic of Murder” was written in only two months. I’ve been trying to work on the sequel for the past four months and it’s still only half-written!
9. Favorite snack/drink while writing?
The thought of this brings a smile to my lips. Popcorn. Of course, it can’t be just plain popcorn. It has to be a butter popcorn which I load up with butter spray, then sprinkle powdered cheese on every kernel, then more butter spray to hold the cheese on… Yes, I’ve developed an absolute genius for taking a simple healthful food, and driving it directly to my heart.
10. Look at your writing area…what’s the item you keep to inspire you (piece of artwork, figurine)?
On the wall near my computer is a Christmas present I gave myself. I had the cover and first page of my first published story framed. When I feel lost for where to go with a new story, when I feel totally overwhelmed, I turn from the screen, look at the framed story, and remember how hard I’ve worked to arrive where I am today: writing, rewriting, modifying a story after an editor has commented, each step along the way learning and growing. That framed story also reminds me how much I have yet to learn so I might continue to grow as a writer. And that framed story reminds me how worthwhile this journey has been.
Thanks for stopping by, Susan! Best of luck with the writing!