I’ve known Susan Solomon for a few years now, having hosted her here on my blog several times before. It’s a delight to host her again, so firstly let me say ‘Welcome back, Susan’. As always, there are a few questions that I’ve been dying to ask. The first being:
You’re quite a prolific writer, Susan. How do you get over writer’s block – if you suffer from it?
I don’t often suffer from writer’s block, but quite recently I had an episode of it. I’d gotten about halfway through writing a new Emlyn Goode Mystery, in which I kill a couple of members of my writers group (it’s all right—they volunteered to be murdered), when I got stuck.
For two days I tried to fight my way through the block. Nothing worked and I had to delete everything I wrote. Finally, on the third day, I gave up and stayed away from my computer. The next morning when I woke up, I had the answer. It was so simple, really. I just had to rename one character, which changed several motives. When I went to my computer that day, the words flowed again.
Lesson learned. I can’t fight writer’s block. All I can do is stay away from writing for a day or two…or more.
What sets you in the mood for writing?
Nothing special, I can write anywhere, anytime. This is because I carry my writer’s journal with mewherever I go. I make notes in restaurants, hotels, meetings, book signings, airports. I note what the places look like, how people dress and speak; their body language when they speak and are spoken to. Also, I tend to snoop into people’s conversations. Once or twice it’s resulted in me being asked to be asked to leave a restaurant—apparently people object to my listing to their private conversations.
All of this is important, though. From this I’ve learned garnered a number of the characters that fill my novels. Several of my published short stories have grown from these notes.
Do you have set times and places for your writing; and if so how do you deal with those family visits, etc, who interrupt you?
Most of my stories are written on my desktop computer at home. This is in a corner of my bedroom, and normally I’m sitting in my pyjamas and robe. I try to write every morning, seven days a week. Often, when a story is in progress and the words are flowing, I’ll continue through most of the afternoon. I can do this, because I’ve reached a time in my life when I can be a full-time writer.
In my room, on the wall to the left I have a framed copy of the first two pages of my first published short story. I had these pages framed so I never forget the thrill of learning a story has been accepted. On my desk at my left hand is my ashtray with a cigarette burning in it. On my right—depending in the time of day—I’ll either have a large mug of coffee or a glass of wine (I prefer cabernet). Because I have so much time available for writing, I try to be gracious if I receive a phone call or someone knock on my door. There are those times, though, when I’m lost in a story and everything is working, when I’ll ignore any attempted interruption. Of course, for a few moments I might shout at the walls of my room a few words my mother would have washed my mouth out for using.
Which famous author do you listen to for advice, be it via YouTube, radio, TV or book?
Much of what I know about writing I’ve learned from Gary Earl Ross, a friend and former moderator of one of my writers’ groups. Gary is an Edgar Award winner, and for years taught creative writing on both high school and college levels. I still turn to Gary for advice.
The stories I love, ones I grew up with, are those of Agatha Christie. As a child I didn’t read much until, when I was eleven, when my mother gave me a copy of Peril at End House. I was immediately hooked, and before I graduated high school I’d read everything Christie wrote, and had started on the Sherlock Holmes stories. These are still the places to which I turn for plot construction and character development.
Is there a book you’d love to write and has been in the back of your mind for some time and, if so, can you tell us about it?
There was a book I’d wanted to write for a while. It’s very different from the murder mysteries I so enjoy writing and reading—and recently I was able to write it.
When I was much younger I wrote songs and performed with a rock band. At that time I met a number of interesting people, including a number who were dealing secretly with transgender issues. When the fact I would never be a rock superstar finally got pounded into my head, I went to law school, and eventually represented several of these people.
For years I’d wanted to write the story of their struggle, and recently I completed a novel based on that. This is called, Dancing Backwards. and combines the stories of several people into that of one person’s struggle to become the gender ‘to who which she should have been born’. To me, this is a powerful story. Because it isn’t a story Solstice Publishing (the publisher of my Emlyn Goode Mysteries), I’m currently seeking an agent to represent it.
Formerly a Manhattan entertainment attorney and a contributing editor to the quarterly art magazine
SunStorm Fine Art, Susan Lynn Solomon now lives in Niagara Falls, New York, the setting of much of her work.
Since 2007 her short stories have appeared in literary journals. These stories include, Abigail Bender (awarded an Honorable Mention in a Writers Journal short romance competition), Ginger Man, Elvira, The Memory Tree, Going Home, Yesterday’s Wings, Smoker’s Lament, Kaddish, and Sabbath (nominated by the editor of Prick of the Spindle for 2013 Best of the Net). A collection of her short stories, Voices in my Head, has been published by Solstice Publishing, and her latest short story.
Susan is the author of the Emlyn Goode Mysteries. A finalist in M&M’s Chanticleer’s Mystery & Mayhem Novel Contest, and a finalist for the 2016 Book Excellence Award, her first Emlyn Goode Mystery novel, The Magic of Murder, has received rave reviews, as have the novelette, Bella Vita, and the novel, Dead Again, which was a finalist for the 2017 McGrath House Indie Book of the Year.
In the latest Emlyn Goode Mystery novelette, The Day the Music Died, Ms. Solomon once more demonstrates that murder can have sense of humour.
On Christmas Eve, Emlyn and Detective Roger Frey are at the historic Echo Club for the Niagara Falls
police precinct’s annual holiday celebration. A joyous night—that is, until the body of a man is found in the stairwell. A man Emlyn knows too well. Now Emlyn refuses to rest until she figures out who killed him, and why. Can she find a clue in her ancient relative’s Book of Shadows before the killer finds her?
What does Emlyn Goode do for Christmas? Good friends, good food, and…murder!