Name Susan Clayton-Goldner
Age Let’s just say it took quite a few years for my writing dream to come to fruition.
Where are you from
I grew up with four brothers on the banks of the Delaware River in a little town called, New Castle, Delaware. I have also lived in Virginia, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Arizona and now Oregon where I plan to stay for the remainder of my life.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I have two children and I returned to college (having completed two years at the University of Delaware) when my youngest child entered first grade. I got a degree in Creative Writing and enrolled in their MFA program, completing the course work before we moved to Oregon. I continue to do workshops and take classes, mostly in poetry or fiction.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Tirgearr Publishing is about to release my second novel, Redemption Lake. The book is currently available for presale and will release on May 17th. It is the first in a 3-book series with Detective Winston Radhauser. I have recently signed a contract with Tirgearr for the second book in that series, When Time Is A River. It should release sometime this fall.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
It is difficult to remember a time I wasn’t writing. Seems I was born with pencil in my hand. I began composing poetry as a young child and continue to write poems, but less frequently now that I’ve discovered the larger canvas a novel offers.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After my first poem was published, I began to think of myself as a writer. It was published on the back of a church bulletin. I was seventeen. I later published poems in the University of Arizona’s literary magazine.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel was triggered by the suicide of my brother, Bruce. He was 39 years old. I believe I wrote that book to try to figure out what happened to him and why he took his own life. It was somehow easier to assign all the complicated feelings I had during this painful time into fictional characters
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I began thinking of myself as a literary writer, but after taking a few workshops from James N. Frey (Author of How To Write A Damn Good Novel and many other how-to books) I changed my position. He told me if I could write a gripping story with metaphorical and beautiful language—it would be a win/win. I suspect it was my early training as a poet that accounts for my love of metaphor and simile.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Sometimes I know before I start to write what my title will be. I love it when that happens. But more times than not, it takes me a while to find the perfect one. I ask myself “What is the story really about?” and sometimes the answer will help me find a title. I also look at quotations on subjects that are covered in the novel. Sometimes they lead to a title.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Redemption Lake is about an eighteen-year-old boy who is unable to forgive himself for the death of his 12-year-old cousin. He holds himself responsible for the drowning, even though he, too, was only twelve. After making a scene at his mother’s remarriage, he gets drunk with his best friend’s mother and they end up in bed together. They are both shocked and stunned by what they’ve done. She won’t let him drive until he has slept off some of the beer. When he awakens, she is dead. It is a book about truth and lies, betrayal and forgiveness. And how sometimes the most important person we must forgive is our self.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
This book is one of imagination. Though, of course, I drew from my own life for some of the characters, the events are entirely made up.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I’m an avid reader. I love literary books, mysteries and thrillers, and contemporary women’s fiction. My current favorite contemporary writer is Jodi Picoult and I have read all of her novels. I enjoy the way she takes a controversial issue and examines it from all angles. My mentor for the past twenty years has been James N. Frey. He taught me how to tell a good story. I already knew how to weave words.
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?
As I mentioned above, Jodi Picoult is my favorite contemporary writer. I also enjoy mysteries by Dennis LeHane, Thomas H. Cook, James Lee Burke—mostly because of the way they use language. They tell great stories beautifully.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
In addition to James N. Frey, I felt supported by my high school English teacher, David Williams. He took me aside after reading one of my essays for his class. He told me I should consider writing as a career. I’d been writing for years, but never considered devoting my life to it. He was a wonderful Irish tenor who would sing Danny Boy to his students on St. Patrick’s Day.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career? Absolutely. It is what I do now.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Redemption Lake is just starting to get reviews on Goodreads. I believe it now has 10, averaging 4.82. So, I think I’ll leave it just the way it is. In the end, it doesn’t matter nearly as much what I think as it does what readers think.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As mentioned in an earlier question, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in writing. It was something that came easily to me as a student. And as life stated to leave its scars, I discovered that writing could heal.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I’m currently working on the 3rd Radhauser novel, River of Silence. It opens with Detective Radhauser getting a letter from the parole board that the drunk driver who killed his wife and 13-year-old son is up for parole. He is livid and, despite his new wife’s pleas, determined to give a victim statement that will prevent parole. Later that night, Radhauser investigates the death of small child. Eventually, giving into pressure from his boss and a fair amount of evidence, he arrests a man he believes is innocent. It haunts him. Caleb Bryce is innocent and is being framed. I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but I do know that Radhauser will change as a result of this murder investigation. And he will end up forgiving the man who killed his first family—and in so doing, heal himself.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing is hard work. It takes dedication and a willingness to spend long hours in isolation. There are times when family issues get in my way. Balancing can be difficult. And I’m often torn. I want to be the best possible wife, mother and grandmother. But I’m also driven to be the best storyteller I can be.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No. I set my novels in places where I either lived or am very familiar with.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Tirgearr Publishing uses a very talented cover designer. She designed both my covers and I love them.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest thing for me is keeping my butt in the computer chair. It is so easy to get distracted and let life get in the way of time designated for writing.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learn so much from writing my books. From A Bend In The Willow I learned that truth is not always the way to go. Sometimes a lie is the greatest kindness we can offer to someone we love. From Redemption Lake, I learned that you can’t ever forgive yourself if you don’t face up to the truth. From River of Silence, I’m learning that forgiveness can heal the person who forgives.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead.
Timothy Olyphant would make a fabulous Winston Radhauser.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write the very best book you can write. Hire an editor. Don’t rely on friends and your mother to tell you the truth. Rewrite. And then start sending it out. If you get a rejection, and the editor or agent offers advice, take it. If not, send it to someone else. Don’t give up. Tenacity is the best gift a writer can have.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’m so grateful to my readers. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to have a reader write a review or send me an e-mail about how much they enjoyed the book. It means so much more to me than money. Just to know someone enjoyed my story.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading mysteries right now. Just finished Tami Hoag’s The 9th Girl and Cold, Cold Heart. And some procedural books for trials. My son is a lawyer, but I don’t have any legal training—so the new book will take some research
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nancy Drew’s The Hidden Staircase
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love to laugh. And I cry pretty easily, too. I cry when I get a good review (not when I get a bad one) My grandson can really make me laugh. He is so funny. When he was three he said, “Nana, you’re a yiddle bit old, but I’m going to marry you anyway.” I still laugh every time I think of that. It was so sweet and so funny. Books make me cry when the emotion is earned because of the way it was written—or when a character finally gets it and has pole to pole growth because of the events of the novel.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d like to meet Henry David Thoreau because his essays changed my young life.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I plan to be cremated so a headstone won’t be necessary. But I’d want it to say something like, “She knew how to love.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I make stained glass windows and quilts. I also enjoy reading. And volunteering for Hospice.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I rarely watch live TV, but do watch Netflicks. I’ve enjoyed the series, Rectify, Parenthood, The Fosters, and House of Cards
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Teal blue is my favorite color. I like all kinds of music from classical to country western and jazz
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have definitely done something in the arts. Maybe an interior decorator. Or a stained glass artist.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Tucson, Arizona – Eighteen-year-old Matt Garrison is harboring two terrible secrets: his involvement in the drowning death of his 12-year-old cousin, and a night of drunken sex with his best friend’s mother, Crystal, whom he finds dead the following morning. Guilt forces Matt to act on impulse and hide his involvement with Crystal.
Detective Winston Radhauser knows Matt is hiding something. But as the investigation progresses, Radhauser’s attention is focused on Matt’s father. Matt’s world closes in when his dad is arrested for Crystal’s murder and Travis breaks off their friendship. Despite his father’s guilty plea, Matt knows his dad is innocent and only trying to protect his son. Devastated and bent on self-destruction, Matt heads for the lake where his cousin died—the only place he believes can truly free him. Are some secrets better left buried?
Redemption Lake is a novel of love and betrayal. It’s about truth and lies, friendship and redemption, about assuming responsibility, and the risks a father and son will take to protect each other.
Barnes & Noble – Redemption Lake: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/redemption-lake-susan-clayton-goldner/1126040153?ean=2940154076378
Kobo – Redemption Lake https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/redemption-lake-2
Smashwords – Redemption Lake https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/713414
A Bend In The Willow
Willowood, Kentucky 1965 – Robin Lee Carter sets a fire that kills her rapist, then disappears. She reinvents herself and is living a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school dean in Tucson, Arizona. In 1985, when their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine must return to Willowood, face her family and the 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, she gave up for adoption. She knows her return will lead to a murder charge, but Michael needs a bone marrow transplant. Will she find forgiveness, and is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to save her dying son?
Barnes & Noble – A Bend In The Willow http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-bend-in-the-willow-susan-clayton-goldner/1125247084?ean=2940153873626
Kobo – A Bend In The Willow – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-bend-in-the-willow