Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.


Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name.

I’m Susan Tarr, and it’s lovely to be here with you all.


Fiona: Where are you from?

I’m waving out from the North Island of New Zealand. It’s Autumn now with very mild temperatures. I was raised down in the South Island where the weather can be quite brutal. We have extremes: hot ther here thermal pools, mud pools, geysers, skiing, diving, fishing, climbing, deserts, islands and beaches galore. We are quite famous for our movies locations like the Lord of the Rings series.  We have a great amount of talent in our people: Russell Crowe, Lydia Ko, Lorde. I could go on but that gives you a wee idea of how proud I am to be called a Kiwi.


Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

I’ve travelled a lot and lived in many different places. The funny thing is I wouldn’t class myself as an adventurer, yet I sailed to Kenya on a 28ft yacht. Seasick the whole way. Hate boats now. But I lived in Kenya for 10 yrs, married there, and began my small family among the African people.


Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

My darling girl is getting married in March. I think I am even more excited than she is.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

Always a dreamer, I wrote little stories at school. When I was overseas, I’d write home to Mum and Dad, and my letters would be 20 pages long. They wrote back and managed all their news on 2 pages.

I have always kept diaries. I have always studied people and their quirky ways, and I can go over a simple conversation and have it end a million different ways. I am a storyteller, like my dad.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That would have to be when I spent 25 years writing a story gleaned from many people inside and outside New Zealand’s mental health system. I followed one particular patient from SEACLIFF Mental Hospital, and wove all the other stories around his. His name is Malcolm.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Working in mental health, and also having some family members admitted as patients into our mental hospitals. I found it easier than some to be objective, while my heart silently broke, and I could see life from both sides. We grew up in a village attached to the SEACLIFF Mental Hospital. I have worked in mental health, in several different hospitals within New Zealand.


Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

‘PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children’ is actually a line from the book by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). Prior to this title being released internationally, it was first published in New Zealand as ‘SEACLIFF a Regular Boy Within’. The title was changed once it was republished internationally because the name SEACLIFF held no relevance to those outside NZ.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

Seems I am heuristic in my writing style. Loosely, that means I collect a ton of words on scraps of paper, then work on them for years until they form the book. I can start out with 250,000 words, which I then cull down to around 85,000.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

All of my books are based on fact or truth. Sometimes I push the boundaries. Sometimes the facts are simply the facts.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

I have a fertile brain and with my note taking I don’t need to travel now. I collect tourism brochures so I can maintain seasons and scenery and other pieces of relevance. I have a series of unpublished books set in Kenya that I will one day get to. I wrote those from diaries.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

My husband and I come up with our ideas. For the latest three books I have a cover designer in Europe, Melinda De Ross, who makes them for me. She is spot on with her ideas. I adore the latest cover she’s made for my soon to be released ALMOST AN AUTHOR.


Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My novels all have separate messages. I write on mental health, history, humour, sexual harassment in the workplace, cancer in woman, pets, and of course about my journey on my way to being an author. Oh, the pitfalls and heartache I experienced along that particular journey. ALMOST AN AUTHOR.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

Recently I discover a thriller writer Netta Newbound. Her plots make hairs rise on my spine, even though I am assured I don’t have any there.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

Netta Newbound. She’s a generous and giving soul. All my formatting and IT stuff is done by Netta. I do not possess one single IT gene.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I’ve been writing for over 25yrs, so I guess I do.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

My latest book is at the formatting stage so it’s still my golden baby. I wouldn’t change anything. Ask me a couple of years. Lol.

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

I relearned all I thought I’d already learned about the writing, publishing and promotional side of being an author. And I discovered how wrong I was.


Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

If she was younger, my Ruby would be played by Sandra Bullock. So a younger version of her. 30-ish.

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

Edit, edit, edit until your brain falls out. Put your MS aside, then edit again. Then you might pass it on to a professional editor. Don’t involve your family. They are either super critical or don’t want to hurt your feelings. Neither are what you need for the editing side of your work. You need honesty not chocolate or brutal words.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Enjoy your craft. Don’t become precious about your writing. Don’t isolate yourself from family and friends. But mainly, just have fun and take time for you.


Fiona: What book are you reading now?



Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

WUTHERING HEIGHTS. I thought it was dreadful back then, but I read it again a few years later and thought it was brilliant. See how fickle I can be? Or perhaps I grew up.


Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Tragedy. Yes, tragedy can evoke both of those emotions. I’m sensitive.


Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

Hah! Writing and mixing with a few select friends for our weekly lunch date.


Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

Psychological thrillers.


Fiona: Favorite foods, colors,  music?

Spicy food, cheese, caramel, cream, garlic. Chocolate! Colours, at the moment green, red, white and black.


Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Say I had a stroke, and was unable to talk, I would dwell in my characters’ lives. Hopefully I would be happy in my new little world of make believe.  If I could talk I’d tell stories all day long. Truthful answer? I don’t have a clue.


Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

“Reserved!” “Deposit paid.”  I have no intention of dying any time soon.


Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

Just my Facebook page. I am lacking in the IT area, remember? Lol.


Amazon Author Page: ​​https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Tarr/e/B00I0I3M9U

​PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children: https://goo.gl/GxKPFA

MIRANDA BAY: https://goo.gl/TLgsUh


JACK Just an Ordinary Dog in the Dog house: https://goo.gl/eqH1xp


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