Hi there, guys and dolls! Well, look at that. Another month is passing before our very eyes. Being that it’s almost Halloween, I think we’re all due for a treat rather than a trick, don’t you? For yours truly, that means to share an interview with a fellow cozy mystery author, and this month’s friend is Susan Bernhardt, who is just simply divine. Do sit yourself down and settle in with a hot toddy or two and get to know this delightful lady and her work a bit better.
Thank you, Barbara Jean Coast for having me on your beautiful website today. It’s great to be here and I look forward to answering your questions. I have two series that I am presently writing. The first is the Kay Driscoll Mystery Series. The main character is Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town whose tenacious nature tells her city officials are attempting a cover-up and she must expose the truth. With her new friends, the free-spirited herbalist Deirdre and the untamed modern woman Elizabeth, Kay discusses new clues over tea and pastries at Sweet Marissa’s Patisserie, their crime-fighting headquarters. The titles in the series are: THE GINSENG CONSPIRACY, MURDER UNDER THE TREE and MURDER BY FIREWORKS. I’m presently writing the fourth novel in the series.
A month ago I had the first book in a new series published titled A MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY (An Irina Curtius Mystery). The protagonist, Irina Curtius is a retired ballet dancer who runs a ballet school for small children on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A young neighbor and friend, Stephen Kramer becomes ill over time. When he travels for business and is away from home, his health improves until he returns home and then his health deteriorates again. He dies and Irina sets out to prove that her friend was murdered. Subplots involving other main characters are a returning love from her college days, Robert and a stranger to the neighborhood who seems to be everywhere Irina goes.
All of my mysteries are character and plot driven with plenty of twists and turns and red herrings. The stories are filled with layers of tension to keep the reader turning the pages as quickly as they can.
2. What is your writing process like? Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?
Before my husband retired, I used to write part of each day. Now I write two full days a week. I think I’m actually more productive knowing that I only have these days. I start writing the first draft and write anything and everything that pops into my head for the story, no matter how strange it may be. I don’t edit at all during this stage. There will be plenty of time for that with revisions. I usually do about five revisions looking for different things in each revision, such as tension, humor, description, etc. Then voilà…I have the finished product.
3. What exciting moment or moments have made you realize that you were really an “author”?
When I started writing my first mystery THE GINSENG CONSPIRACY I considered myself an author. I began writing as a challenge to myself. I had reread THE QUICHE OF DEATH by M.C. Beaton and I thought that I could write a mystery as good as that one. I set goals for myself and all have been met. The goals were that I wanted to be traditionally published, I wanted my mystery to be on Amazon, and I wanted to sell a certain number of books.
4.What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?
To tell you the truth, this hasn’t happened to me yet. I’ve never experienced writers block or a lack of inspiration. When I’m having a problem with a scene, I think about it in various places. In the evening, in bed before I fall asleep, I think of the problem I am having in hopes that I will dream a solution and often I wake up and I do have a thought on what I was trying to write. Often when I go in the shower, again, I think about what I am trying to write about and often times I’ll also think of a solution. I keep a pen and pad of paper in the shower so I can write the ideas down. If I’m taking a walk alone, I’ll think about the problem and sometimes find a solution. I carry paper or a recorder. This is one of the things that I enjoy about writing, thinking about a problem area in my book, dwelling on it, and coming up with a solution.
5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?
I would have to say M.C. Beaton influenced me to begin writing. As I mentioned before, I thought I could write a mystery as well as she had and I took writing on as a personal challenge. I thoroughly enjoy Sue Grafton. Susan Wittig Albert, Ann Purser, Rhys Bowen, etc. I love other mysteries written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Arturo Perez-Reverte, B.A. Shapiro. I love a great mystery and I am totally thrilled when I come across a new author, a new series or book.
Susan, it’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know more about you and your writing. And friends, be sure to give her books a read. They’re all available on Amazon by just clicking on the titles through to the links. No tricks (unless you count great plot twists and red herrings), just treats for you, dear readers :-).