Name Susan Clayton-Goldner
Where are you from
I grew up in New Castle, Delaware, moved to Madison, Wisconsin when I was 25, then to Tucson at 27 where I lived until 1991 when we moved to Oregon where I still live.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I went back to school when my youngest child entered first grade and got a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. I enrolled in their MFA program and completed all the course work before we moved to Oregon.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My novel, A Bend In The Willow, will launch on January 18th. I have also signed a contract with Tirgearr Publishing for the publication of another novel, Redemption Lake.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Seems I was born a writer. My father won a typewriter in a poker game when I was six. I taught myself how to type and started a neighborhood newsletter, which I’m sure no one read, but I was very diligent in publishing it every week. I even had an obit section for pets and dead birds.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started to think of myself as a writer after my first poem was published. There was something about seeing it in print that transformed me from a want to be to a real writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book was triggered by my brother’s suicide at age 39.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’d call myself a contemporary writer, with a bent toward the literary—probably because of my training as a poet and my love of metaphor and simile.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles are hard. Sometimes I hit on exactly the write title, but other times it is difficult to find the perfect one. I ask myself “what is the story really about?” and sometimes the answer to that question will reveal a title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
As a daughter first abandons her family to save herself, then returns years later to save her son, she discovers that facing her most broken places is the path to redemption, forgiveness, and true healing.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Most of A Bend In The Willow is a product of my imagination, but I did draw on some childhood events and the personality and profession of my brother for the character Kyle.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I’m an avid reader and have been influenced by many writers. I’m a fan of Jodi Picoult and have read all of her novels. My mentor, James N. Frey, (Author of How To Write A Damn Good Novel) has been an enormous influence in my life. I knew how to weave words when I first attended Jim’s workshop, but he taught me how to tell a good story.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favorite author is Jodi Picoult. I love the way she shows both sides of an issue. Her novel “Nineteen Minutes” about a school shooting, she does such a good job of showing us the “shooter” that you actually have sympathy for him and understand what drove him to commit such a heinous deed.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I belong to a group of writers (12) who have supported me for the last 20 years. We meet once a month for two days and critique each other’s work. We celebrate when ever anything good happens for one of our members. We encourage and console after rejections. They are the best support group a writer could imagine.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, I see writing as my career now.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’m just beginning to get reviews for A Bend In The Willow. So far (I’ve gotten 8 on good reads) they are excellent. In the end, it doesn’t matter so much what I think as what my readers think.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I mentioned earlier, I feel as if I was born to be a writer. It came easily to me in school. Writing has healed me from so many of life’s wounds. I am never lonely—my life is filled with a world of outrageous, funny, serious, foolish and wise characters.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m currently working on a novel called, Unforgettable. It is about a brilliant and dedicated young priest who falls in love with one of his married parishioners.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Completing a novel takes a lot of dedication and hard work. There are times when family issues get in the way and I’m always torn. I want to be a great wife, Mom and Nana. But I am also driven to tell my stories.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. I mostly set my novels in places where I’ve lived or visited frequently.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Tirgearr’s cover designer did a great job with the cover for A Bend In The Willow.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part of writing a book is the discipline it takes to not let life get in the way of your designated writing time.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I used to believe the truth was always the right way to go. When in doubt, just be honest. But from writing A Bend In The Willow I learned that sometimes one has to lie—sometimes it is the greatest kindness we can offer to someone we love.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
I think the best advice for writers is to be tenacious. Work hard. Rewrite. Hire a good editor. And then keep sending your material out. Don’t give up. Dreams can and do come true.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I just finished Jodi Picoult’s new book, “Small Great Things,” and I’m currently reading “Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nancy Drew: “The Hidden Staircase”
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I do both pretty easily. I cried when I got my first review for A Bend In The Willow. My little grandson makes me laugh. When he was three, he looked at me and said, “Nana, you’re a yiddle bit old, but I’m going to marry you anyway.” I still laugh when I think about that.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d like to meet Mary Oliver because I so love her poetry.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I plan to be cremated so there probably won’t be a headstone, but if there were I’d like it to say, “She lived life to the fullest.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I make quilts and stained glass windows. I also volunteer for Hospice
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
This is Us. I very much enjoyed the series Rectify.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite color is teal blue. I like all kinds of music from classical to country western
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’m not sure. But something creative. I’m happiest when I’m creating. Maybe an interior decorator
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?