Monday, July 29, 2013

AUTHOR AUTHOR: SUSAN FLETT SWIDERSKI

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I welcome you to an interview with Susan Flett Swiderski, who blogs at I Think; Therefore, I Yam, and is the author of the recently released novel, Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade, available from Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/Flashes-Lemonade-Susan-Flett-Swiderski/dp/148489071X.

Take a gander at Susan:


And here's her delightful book:


On with the interview:

Q. What was the very first idea you had that got you started on this book?

A. It began with the premise of two women, one black and one white, who are lifelong best friends. It tickled my sense of whimsy to pick names more commonly associated with one race and do a switcheroo. Ergo, the white gal became Pearl, and the black gal, Candy. The story built layer by layer from there.

Q. What's your writing process like? Did it change as you worked on the novel?

A. I started with a basic (very basic) outline of what I wanted to happen, chapter by chapter, and then began filling in all the empty spaces by writing the stories from points A to B in longhand. Needless to say, I went through a lot of notebooks, but my brain seemed to function better with a pen in my hand than by staring at a blank computer screen. When I typed each chapter into my (believe it or not) Apple IIE, I did the first edits as I went along. Since so many years elapsed since that first draft and the day I pulled it out of the closet and decided to scan it into my PC and give it another go, I’ve become more comfortable doing edits and rewrites directly in the computer. Even so, when I get stuck, I still revert to paper and pen.

Q.    What have you learned about publishing a book that might be helpful to other writers?

A. If you aren’t qualified to design a topnotch cover and do a professional formatting job, pay someone who is.  If you aren’t a pain-in-the-patootie stickler for proper spelling and grammar, (like I am) consider hiring a professional editor, as well.  Nothing will ruin an otherwise good story faster than lousy formatting and poor editing.

Q.    How much of you is in Pearl, or in other characters? Is Pearl's family based on your family, or on people you've known?

A. Pearl is unique in some ways, but I also think of her as Everywoman. She and I share many common traits, but I think most women will see something of themselves in her. By the same token, many male readers seem to be identifying with George. No characters are directly based on people I’ve known, but I think most writers borrow memorable attributes, whether good or bad, from people who’ve made an impression on them.

Q.    If the book were made into a movie, and you got to choose the actors, whom would you pick?

A. I’m gonna punt this one right back atcha. Once upon a time, I imagined Jane Fonda as Pearl, but unlike us, she’s gotten older, and would no longer fit the part. I don’t watch enough movies to be up-to-date on actors, so you guys tell me. Here’s what we need in three 50-something roles: a short attractive blonde to play Pearl; a tall slender black woman with chocolate-colored skin, almond-shaped eyes and short Afro… oh, and of regal bearing and grace, to play Candy; a tall man with a lot more face to wash than there used to be, (i.e. balding) thickening around the middle, with a boyish grin. All need to be equally adept at playing comedic and dramatic roles. Lots more roles, but let’s leave it at these three. (Unless you have some scathingly brilliant ideas, Janie.)

Jane Junebug says: I would cast Meryl Streep as Pearl because only the best will do for this part. I think Viola Davis would be great as Candy. How about Tommy Lee Jones for George? 

Q.  Are you working on another book? If you are, please tell us a little about what we can expect in the future. 

A. Yes, and it’s a lot more ambitious than this one. Depending on how it plays out, Blast Rites (tentative title) may turn out to be three books, or one long-assed book split into three parts. In the first part, a man lies his way into the good graces of a Korean War widow, who refuses to believe her daughter Samantha’s complaints about him. When he dies in a mysterious explosion, Mom blames Sam for his death. Part two takes place during Sam’s stay in a girls’ reform school. What’s totally cool is not only have I found info about a reform school that existed in Maryland during the time frame of my story, but have found and joined an online group with women who were actually in there! (How cool is that?) The third part takes place after Sam is released from the reform school, and becomes a student at the University of Maryland. I have some reeeeally delicious twists planned for this last part.

Q.  Who are your favorite writers and what are your favorite books?

A. That would be a very long list. Just to name a handful: Michael Crichton, Jodi Picault, Iris Johansen, Stuart Woods, (more his earlier stuff than recent) Tami Hoag, and Anne Tyler. LOTS, lots more.  I love a bazillion books, but one of my favorites is A Prayer for Owen Meany , by John Irving. The brilliant way he tied up all the story lines at the end had me all but cheering.

Q.  I think you're very witty. Does your family think you're funny, or do they roll your eyes when you say something hilarious? 

A. I’ve been known to get a few eye rolls and groans from them, but for the most part, they’re an appreciative audience.

Q.  Do you laugh at your own jokes?

A. Heck, yeah! But it’s also a lot of fun to say something outrageous with a deadpan expression.  Like one time, my mother and I were sitting side-by-side on the sofa with our feet resting on the coffee table. Everybody was just sitting around watching television, no talking. Boooooring. So I turned to my mother and said, “Are my feet in your way?” She said no, so I moved my feet a teensy bit, and said, “Are they in your way now?” Again, she said no, so I moved them again. When I asked the third time, she cracked up.  And popped me one. 

Thank you, Susan, for answering my questions. Gentle Readers, if you don't follow Susan at I Think; Therefore, I Yam, then I think you'll want to start. Now. Check her out. She's so funny and interesting.

On Wednesday, I'll review her novel, Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade, available from Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/Flashes-Lemonade-Susan-Flett-Swiderski/dp/148489071X. Hint: I loved it.

Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

48 comments:

  1. Love her! Great Q&A! The story sounds really good, and Meryll Streep, I'd be going to see that movie!

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    1. Thanks, Sandra. We can't go wrong with Meryl Streep.

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    2. Cool. We'll have to see if Meryll's available.

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  2. An interesting interview. It's always enlightening when creative people share their thought processes.

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    1. I agree, and Susan is very creative.

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    2. Yeah, but you should hear about some of my cockamamie ideas that fizzled!

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  3. Okay...I just bought this for my Kindle. That one-click purchase thing on Amazon is going to be the death of me. I also bought Treadwell on your recommendation. I now have 7,365,254,982,354 downloaded books on my Kindle. And I have no time to read. But once I'm finished dragging my head through the Game of Thrones series, I'll be onto other things...

    -andi

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    1. Don't blame me because the world is full of great books to read.

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    2. Oh yeah...and one more thing. Maybe I'll write a book someday, and you'll recommend it. Then I'll have to buy that one too.

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    3. Oh yeah...and one more thing. Maybe I'll write a book someday. And you'll recommend it. Then I'll have to buy that one too.

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    4. Thanks, LittleMyoo. I appreciate it, and hope you enjoy Pearl's story. I know what you mean about how easy it is to buy books for Kindle. It can be downright dangerous. So many books, so little time...

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    5. I think you might get a free copy of your own book. Maybe.

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  4. Apple IIe- oh, my- I had such a love affair with mine and now I haven't even thought of it for at least a decade!

    That book sounds terrific, and I love the switcheroo with the names Pearl and Candy. I really like how you explained how you started with your ideas and expanded them ultimately into the book.

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    1. Thanks, Shelly. I loved my Apple IIE, too, and really dragged my feet about giving it up, until a friend told me all the Apples had been stolen from his special needs class at school.

      It's funny how some "grand ideas" germinate and others fizzle, isn't it? Once Pearl and Candy got into my head, I couldn't let them go.

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  5. I just bought her book. I also clicked over to her blog & stole a video for mine!! I'm now following her.

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    1. You'll love the book, and I know you'll enjoy her blog.

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    2. Thanks, fishducky! I do appreciate it. (I'm already a fan of your blog.) Welcome aboard.

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  6. HUH! Well, technically, even though I haven't gone to bed yet, I guess it IS Monday...

    Thanks, Janie. I appreciate your hospitality, dear lady. And I like your choices for the movie, too. (I even know who they ARE!)

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    1. You're welcome. It's a pleasure to visit with you in my bloghouse.

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  7. I think I need to read that book. Hope it's on Kindle!

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    1. Yes, ma'am, it's ready and willing to move into your Kindle. It works and plays well with other books, too. And doesn't eat much.

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  8. Nice post.

    Thanks also for stopping by my blog. I can't read more than one book at a time. Good you can multi-task.

    Enjoy your week.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My It's Monday, What Are You Reading

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    1. I've always been a multi-tasker. You should read Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade. I bet you'd love it.

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    2. Yeah! What Janie said...

      Seriously, we bloggers are constantly bombarded about all the new books, books, and more books on the market, and it'd be impossible to keep up with and read all of 'em, even if we wanted to. (Annoying, isn't it?) If "Hot Flashes & Cold Lemonade" sounds like your kinda book and finds its way onto your reading list, I'll thank you kindly and hope you enjoy it.

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  9. My favorite stories are "black and white"...Shawshank, The Help...I bet it's a good book.

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    1. I like wearing black and white. I have an outfit from White House Black Market. Does that count?

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    2. I like wearing black and white, too. But race really isn't an "issue" in the book. It's more of a matter-of-fact kinda thing.

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  10. I love your interviews, Janie! I shall add this to my bazillion books on my Amazon wishlist. ;)

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    1. I know you'll enjoy this one.

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    2. Thanks, Rita. It feels kinda good to be on a wishlist.

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  11. Hello Susan, the book sounds great very much like a book I would like and you well you sound pretty great too.......

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    1. Cool. Thanks, Jo-Anne. I hope you DO like it. I dunno about "great", but I ain't half bad. Mosquitoes can't resist me.

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  12. Really cool interview! Susan is so funny. I'm looking forward to reading this book.

    Great job, girls!

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    1. Thanks, Carol! You are such a sweetheart.

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    2. Thanks, Carol. Being old ain't half bad... I always wanted to be the class clown.

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  13. Hi Janie - and Susan .. what a great interview - and I love the way Hot Flashes and Lemonade is layered up ..

    The new book sounds a challenging one -

    Gosh I need to read! Cheers to you both .. Hilary

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    1. Cheers to you, Hilary! Your visits are always a pleasure.

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    2. Thanks, Hilary. Every time I see that new picture of you in that spiffy hat, it makes me smile. Cheers back atcha!

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  14. a lovely interview, ladies! I love the plot of Susan's book :)

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    1. Thanks, Dez. The language in the book is pretty down-to-earth without using the eff word... just in case you ever have to translate... HA!

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  15. Great questions and excellent answers. I want to read it.

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  16. I'm about 1/4 through the book, but hadn't caught on to the Pearl/Candy switcheroo. But as soon as Susan explained it, it made total sense to me. It's just what Susan would do. And it made me laugh.

    Before I read Janie's suggestions for actors, I immediately thought "Meryl Streep" and "Tommy Lee Jones." Hah! For Candy, I was thinking Halle Berry, but when I googled Viola Davis, I have to agree she might be a better choice.

    Looking forward to Susan's next book!

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