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. What is your age?
Susan Schwartz, I am right at a half-century.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I grew up in Richmond, VA and currently live in Goochland, VA
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have been an Operating Room Nurse for most of my 19-year career. I have also taught at small community colleges as well as large nursing colleges. I have two Masters Degrees, one in Nursing and one in Healthcare Administration. I have been married for 29 years, 30 on May27. I have one son, Timothy, who lives in New York and is pursuing his dreams of being an actor on stage or screen. I also have a menagerie of animals – 2 cats named Manchego and Speck, many many fish, and 1 gecko named Zoey.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
While I have had several short stories published, I currently have a non-fiction book coming out on May 31, 2019 entitled Haunted Charlottesville and Surrounding Counties. I am very excited about this work.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in 2006 with freelance articles. I wrote on all sorts of topics and researched these pieces thoroughly. I made some money, but I was more interested in fiction writing. I have worked on short stories and long fiction in the past. I currently have two novels in the works – A paranormal romance and a medical thriller.
As to why I began writing, I started journaling issues I had once being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. It helped to get my feelings on paper, but it also led me to a great writer’s group (Virginia Writers Club) that taught me how to write the proper way.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer when I saw my first story in print. That was “The Sparkling Floor” in Nightmares & Echoes. I was so excited that someone actually enjoyed one of my stories enough to add it to their anthology.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Haunted Charlottesville came from another writer, Pamela K. Kinney. She has written many other haunted books about Virginia in different locations. She told me I should do it as I lived near the area. After considering it for two long years, I finally decided to attempt to do it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I based it on the area I was visiting and researching.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I think I write pretty much like anybody else. I have three to ten drafts before I get something to where it is supposed to be., After that, I get someone else to take a look because when you are self-editing, you always miss something.
As far as genre, I have always wanted to write Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I am a big Start Trek and Doctor Who nerd, but I have never been able to even get the ideas on paper.
I have always said you don’t choose your genre, your genre chooses you. My favourite is paranormal and horror.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All of the haunted book is real and based on my experiences and those of other people I interviewed along the way.
As far as my short stories that are based on real life – All of them. “The Sparkling Floor” is set in the OR, “I Thought You Did” is based on a college initiation. My son was in college at the time doing Rush Week. My third, entitled “Blurred Line,” was based on a writer having some issues in her life. My only non-fiction piece was in the Virginia Writers Club Anthology, entitled “Using my Karate Chops in Nursing.” It was about a little Korean woman I met and helped through surgery with rudimentary Korean until a translator could arrive.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
My short stories didn’t require travel. My haunted book required travel all over the counties included in the book, which numbered about 12. My brother, Cliff Middlebrook, and I spent many weekends travelling to different locations to get pictures, take tours, and do interviews.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover was designed by my publisher, Schiffer.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think it was the one that I discovered on my journey writing the Haunted Charlottesville book. It is the fact that everyone and everything is interconnected in this life. You just have to look deep to find that connection. I was truly fascinated with the way Thomas Jefferson had his finger in almost every pie there was. Very interesting man!
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?
I like to read different genres of books at present. As far as my favourite authors:
Horror – Stephen King, Bentley Little, and Richard Laymon
Medical – Michael Palmer, Robin Cook, CJ Lyons
Thriller – James Patterson, Michael Connelly, David Baldacci, Brad Parks , Kathy Reichs
I like the way they tell a story building up the suspense with plenty of red herrings. I always think I know what is going to happen and then, they switch gears and blow my mind with the ending.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My mentor, Pamela K. Kinney, and my best friend, Anne Silver. These two have pushed me and supported me through my writing, my disappointments and my successes. They are both so incredibly awesome.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I think it could be a great career if you sell enough books. LOL!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would try to get some more ghostly type pictures if possible. They don’t always cooperate with you when you want to get a picture. I would have liked to have had more, but some pictures were iffy, and we didn’t want to use those that we couldn’t tell if they were ghosts or reflections. We picked the ones that showed a true image that we could not explain in any way.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I had to learn many things:
How to outline
How to make an index
How to write a bibliography
How to stay within a word limit
How to add pictures to a book
How to be very patient when waiting for the book to be published
How to write on a deadline
How to start marketing with no experience
How to promote myself
How to research and use the proper information and facts
How to write a nonfiction book, which is totally different from fiction
And plenty plenty more
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
This really wouldn’t be a book to be made into a film. However, it could be a TV show based on Virginia Hauntings. Being nepotistic, I would want my son to host it as well. He was on several episodes of “A Haunting” on the Discovery Channel, so he would be right at home.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Do not edit your own work. Give it to someone else.
Join a writer’s group for feedback and suggestions to make the work better.
Rewrite rewrite rewrite.
Write it all, then edit.
Don’t forget to eat and feed your pets.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I am very appreciative you took the time to read about my new book, Haunted Charlottesville and Surrounding Counties. I hope you will check out a copy and visit some the locations mentioned in the book. I also hope you will write and let me know if you had any ghostly encounters. You can write to me on my website at http://www.susanschwartzauthor.com at the bottom in the contact box.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading a Jeeves Compendium by Wodehouse. Being a fan of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, I love these tales. My son, Timothy, also play Bertie Wooster in a play a few years ago. Just a bunch of hilarious adventures.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember a book from the first grade called Tikki Tiiki Tambo. I think his name was something like Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sar Rambo Charley Barley Ruche Pip Peri Pambo or something like that. I don’t why it stuck in my mind. I also loved Dr Seuss and the Peanuts.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh: Great jokes and one-liners. Snappy comebacks.
Cry: Children and animals being hurt, a great present from family, when I am being driven completely crazy and have nowhere to turn
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Michael Palmer. He was one of my favourite medical writers, who passed away not long ago. Very helpful gentleman with a marvellous sense of humor.
Thomas Jefferson – Just to find out how he accomplished all that he did in his life. Amazing man!
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I like to crochet, travel, read, and bake when I have time.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Right now, I have to tape most of the shows I watch. I have a few I watch religiously though: Big Bang Theory, Saturday Night Live, The Orville, The Rookie, Brooklyn 99, just binge-watched the whole 4th season of Lucifer, and reruns of several older TV shows.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Foods: Variety of cheeses, Spanish Chorizo, Gelato, most vegetables and fruits.
Colors: Deep purple and royal blue
Music: Anything but Opera or Rap (80s Rap usually OK)
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would still be a nurse. I love to help others and get them back to their original state of health.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I would spend it with family and loved ones going over memories and the fun times we had together. I would want them to remember me with a smile, not a sad face.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Never gave up and made it to the finish line.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes, go to www.susanschwartzauthor.com