Let’s welcome Susie to the blog for a fun Q&A.
What kind of research did you do for Death by Sample Size? Did you travel, use the Internet, speak with experts on a topic, etc?
Like my protagonist, I am an apparel sales exec in the greater Los Angeles area. All my stories take place in the Los Angeles apparel industry. From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal where I’ve chronicled the quirky, interesting, and challenging people I have encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. My journal entries are the foundation of my research and writing. I also spent time in the California Apparel Mart, my company showroom, showrooms of colleagues and competitors and observed events. I interviewed sellers, buyers, designers, fashion school teachers, production teams, mart officials, and security people.
That sounds like a cool job. What process did you go through when you picked your characters’ names for Death by Sample Size?
I choose the name of a real person and do a take-off on it. For example, Mr. Schulman becomes Mr. Schumansky.
I’ve done the same thing! Are your characters based on anyone you know?
Yes, all my characters are based on people I know.
Do any of your characters take over and write the book themselves sometimes? Who?
Yes. I always have a specific idea for the beginning and ending of a plot, but often the middle of the story could go several ways. If I am stuck and can’t decide which way to go, I allow the main characters to take over and write the middle of the story themselves. I tell them what mid-story plot options I am considering, and the characters can either choose one of them, or come up with one of their own. The only rule I have is that they can not change either the beginning or end of the story, so whatever they do in the middle has to make sense and work with how the story starts and lead into how the story will end. Of course, the characters are highly motivated to do a stellar job…they know if they don’t perform admirably, there is always the possibility I will write them out of the story or if they really mess up, I can kill them off!
It’s always nice to kill off misbehaving characters. What do you prefer: e-book or print? Why?
When I am at home, I love to snuggle under the covers with a book. I am a traditionalist and love the feel of holding a book in my hands and turning the pages. But when I travel, e-books in my kindle are the way I go.
Same with me. How long have you been writing? When did you decide to become an author?
I have been writing stories since grade school. I decided to become an author when I realized my journal entries were the foundations of story plots.
What did you do when you received your first Acceptance Letter?
Honestly, first I cried, then I ran around the house like a crazy person yelling, “Oh my God! I did it, I did it!”
So funny! We all need a little inspiration in our lives. What’s your favorite quote and why?
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” As a woman who has had a successful career in a traditionally male-dominated industry, I’ve had to grow a thick skin, prove myself worthy to doubters daily, and push my way through all the obstacles put in my way. This quote has been my career anthem for overcoming challenges and has served me well in my writing adventure.
Oh, I hear you, girlfriend! Any advice for the aspiring authors out there? Particularly those who are feeling a little discouraged?
Yes. Keep writing, no matter what, keep writing. Write what you know. If you don’t know it, learn it or don’t write it, because readers can smell a phony after the third paragraph and will stop reading your story. Never let anyone crush your dreams, and most important of all, never stop asking, “what if?”
Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?
I am an enthusiastic and adventuresome traveler. I am an avid reader. I have been a stamp collector since childhood. And since life without ice cream and pizza as my core food groups is unimaginable, to keep my girlish figure, I am a dedicated walker of six miles a day,
Six miles? Wow. Good for you. Thank you so much for chatting with me today!
“The last thing swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected was to discover ruthless buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. When Holly’s colleague is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent on revenge. Get ready to laugh out loud as Susie Black’s Death by Sample Size takes you on a rollicking adventure ride through the Los Angeles apparel industry.”
TAGLINE: Everyone wanted her dead…but who actually killed her?
Angela Wellborn and I nodded politely to one another as we entered A Jolt of Java together the next morning. I cautiously wished her a good morning and took it as a good sign when Angela told me to have a nice day. With any luck, maybe I’d save the account.
I worked my way around the table distributing the group’s coffees. When I handed Sonia her cup, the good vibe I had from Angela quickly disappeared. Sonia’s complexion was gray as day-old oatmeal. Her red-rimmed eyes said it all.
I squeezed her arm. “What happened?”
Sonia’s eyes filled. “I didn’t get it.”
“Did they tell you why?”
Sonia twisted her lips into a bitter smile. “My references didn’t pan out.”
Bunny Frank sat at a table across from us sipping a latte and reading the West Coast Apparel News. Sonia walked the short distance to Bunny’s table. Bunny folded the paper and gave Sonia a shit-eating grin.
Sonia growled, “You’re a miserable excuse for a human being. You couldn’t bring yourself to do the right thing for once in your life. You had to lie and destroy a fabulous opportunity because you could.”
Bunny drew a circle in the air and put her index finger through it. “Bullseye, Wilson.” She wiggled her thumb and flashed an evil smile. “Gotcha right under here and I always will.”
Sonia grabbed the latte out of Bunny’s hand and poured the drink over Bunny’s head. The concoction flowed slowly like lava down Bunny’s face and meandered into her cleavage. Too stunned to react, Bunny sat still as a statue as the foam seeped from her décolletage and stained her white knit top.
Sonia crushed the empty paper cup and threw it on the table. The crowded room was silent as a tomb as all eyes swiveled to Bunny’s table. Not a soul missed Sonia snarl, “I promise I’ll get even with you. I will make you pay if it takes me forever.” Sonia spun on her heel and stomped back to our table. She pointed to the barista’s station. “Anyone for a refill? This round is on me.”
Free Gift to Readers!
Hey, ladies! Want a fashion style guide for how to pick the best bathing suit for your body type? Author Susie Black is offering up a FREE guide to help you find your perfect suit.
View or Download it here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/m2uif48csnf5578/CHOOSING%20THE%20BEST%20SWIMSUIT.pdf?dl=0
Susie Black biography
Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.
She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.
Looking for more? Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Just behind my college graduation, wedding day, and the birth of my son, June 9th was truly one of the most amazing days of my entire life. My debut cozy mystery Death by Sample Size was released for publication. I am humbled, honored, and proud to be able to say that now I am officially a published author! A life-long dream has come true, a hard-fought-for goal has been accomplished.