Exclusive Interview with Susan Lynn Solomon
Today, we're doing something a little different. This is our 16th guest author interview on the Marie Lavender's Books! blog, and fellow author Susan Lynn Solomon is visiting us.
Hi. Thank you for letting me visit.
Of course! It’s such a pleasure to have you here. :)
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out and where can we get it?
I tell people The Magic of Murder is a mystery with a sense of humor. How else can I explain a story in which the narrator, Emlyn Goode, has just learned she’s a direct descendant of Sarah Goode, who in 1692 was hanged as a witch in Salem? How else can I describe the hefty (Elvira has a snit if someone calls her fat) albino cat that pushes Emlyn into a situation she might not survive?
The story is set in Niagara Falls, the place which after years of wandering has become my home. Emlyn’s neighbor, Roger Frey, is a police detective who would like to be more than her friend—very much more. Another of Emlyn’s friends, Rebecca Nurse, whose ancestor took a “short drop” next to Sarah Goode on Gallows Hill, thinks she should forget her past, and let him. Apparently, so does the cat. When Roger’s partner is murdered, Rebecca sees a chance to bring them together. She encourages Emlyn to use spells found in Sarah Goodes' 'Book of Shadows'—a diary of a sort in which the old woman had also written her secret desires—to unmask the killer. But, as Emlyn says, she’s new to this witch stuff. Still, much to Roger’s chagrin, aided by Rebecca—who isn’t much better at it—and prodded by Elvira, Emlyn tries. Of course, neither Emlyn, Rebecca, nor the cat takes into account the unintended and unexpected side-effects of these spells.
With this as a base, you can imagine what I’ve put these poor people through. I still laugh when I think of it.
Oh, yes. I nearly forgot. The Magic of Murder was released just before last Halloween (of course), and it can be found in both a Kindle and a paperback edition at Amazon.
How exciting! I love a good witch story. :)
So, is there anything that prompted your book? Something that inspired you?
What led to The Magic of Murder—promise not to laugh. It started with a dare.
I’m a member of the Just Buffalo Literary Center Writer’s Critique Group. This is a great group of authors, led by Gary Earl Ross, an Edgar Award-winning writer of mysteries. One evening Gary and I were discussing a short story I’d written. After a few moments he asked why I hadn’t tried my hand at a mystery. I explained that though I’ve loved the mystery genre since my mother handed her 11-year-old child Agatha Christie’s Peril at End House, I’d never been able to plot one. Gary stared at me in a way, I must admit, made me a bit nervous. Then he dared me to try. Damn! I’ve never been smart enough to turn down a dare.
But that’s not the whole of it. You see, my sister loves the genre as much as I do. When I told her of the dare, she poked and prodded as only a younger sister can, until I surrendered. Having given my solemn promise I’d write two chapters a week and read them to her each Sunday afternoon, I set to work. In two months the first draft was finished. Of course, I refused to read her the last chapter—the place in which who did it and why is revealed. I told her she could wait until the book was published… What? It’s a big sister’s job to drive her sibling to the brink. Isn’t it?
I’ve always written. As a young child, I kept a notebook in which I put down the strangest fantasies I could dream up (I have no idea what happened to that notebook—I suspect my parents found and read it, and decided to burn it before I actually tried something I wrote). When I got to high school, my interest in prose waned a bit. I learned to play the guitar, and began to write songs. Through high school, I performed with rock bands, and continued to do this through college. I still write a song now and then. After college I traveled with my band, performing all over the United States. After a while I realized I wouldn’t become the superstar of my childhood fantasy, so I gave up the band, and entered law school. Then my writing took a different turn: contracts, business letters, proposals…yawn!
This continued for more than twenty years, until I was in a bad car accident. Two years of recovery—going back to practicing law was more than I could bear. I gave up law, and found work writing feature articles (and anything else they asked of me) for the quarterly magazine, Sunstorm Fine Art. Now my passion for writing was rekindled. Besides the articles, I wrote a number of short stories, and I haven’t stopped telling those lies.
Don’t look at me that way, isn’t a writer of fiction just a professional liar?
LOL. Well, you could say that. ;)
So...do you have any favorite authors?
After what I said at the beginning, could it be anyone but Agatha Christie? I’ve read everything Dame Agatha wrote. Hercule Poirot. Miss Marple. I’ve read their tales over and over, and never get tired of them. I’ve also gotten the complete set of Poirot and Marple DVDs that aired on the BBC. And tonight, hmm…now that I’m thinking of it, a bowl of popcorn and I’ll snuggle under my blanket to again watch the cases of the famous Belgian detective (don’t call him French, Hercule doesn’t like that). Maybe I’ll even learn a creative new way to murder people.
And for paranormal, I’ve grabbed everything written by Anne Rice. She has a way of making even the most unbelievable circumstance ring true.
And I have a few new writers whose works I’m enjoying: Frederick Crook, Maighread MacKay, AB Funkhauser, and for a bit of romance with a twist, you, Marie Lavender.
Actually, I write any place I happen to be. I carry my writer’s journal with me, and write character sketches about people I see; I describe the places I’m at; and, oh, yes, I jot down pieces of overheard conversations. Sometimes that last thing has gotten me into a tad of trouble. Apparently, people object to having a stranger listen to their private conversations—and restaurants don’t approve of someone upsetting other customers. Go figure. Guess my father was right when he’d say I was always “up to no good”. Yet I continue to do it. You see, this is how I learn the way people speak, their mannerisms when they talk, their accents, and the flow of their words.
But turning these notes into stories, I do at my computer in a corner of my bedroom. This is my private 'thinking' place. I write any time of day, every spare moment. You see, writing is more than my greatest pleasure, it’s become a need, a passion. Mornings, evenings, days off from work, this is where you’ll find me.
The best advice I can give fellow writers is to read voraciously. Read everything. See how others ply our craft. Learn from them. This is the way we continue to grow as writers. Then find a group of talented writers to share your work with. Comments from the writers in my group have lifted my prose and helped my see what my stories are really about.