Author Interview: Susan Helene Gottfried


Today's interview is with the talented Susan Helene Gottfried.
Susan, I sincerely thank you for joining us.
For more about Susan, please visit her website or blog.

Brief Bio:

Susan Helene Gottfried is the author of ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes — Year 1, ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes — Year 2, Trevor’s Song, and ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes — Year 3. She can be found online at http://westofmars.com, where you can find The Meet and Greet, among other goodies.

A tone-deaf rocker-at-heart, Susan worked in retail record stores, in radio stations, as stage crew, and as a promoter while earning two college degrees in creative writing.

Susan walked away from a continued career in the music industry in order to write books, so it makes sense that most of her fiction revolves around rock bands. Once you get those record stores, radio stations, and fellow roadies and promoters under your skin, they never leave.

To fill her time, Susan takes on freelance editing projects.

1.)   What made you want to be a writer?
  • I was born this way. Seriously. I need to write and create characters and stories the way others need to breathe.
2.)   How long have you been seriously pursuing a career in writing?
  •       That’s actually hard to answer, because I’ve been doing it so long. Was it when I was in college and my professor sent a copy of the manuscript I’d been working on to his agent? In graduate school, when the department would pay for us to send out manuscripts to agents and for short story submissions? When I landed my first agent? When I retired from freelance editing the first time to pursue writing? When I published ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes (Year 1)?  Maybe someone would say it was when I was ten and decided to write my first novel. Who knows? Like I said, I was born this way.
3.) If you had to choose three words to describe your writing nook/office, what would they be?
  • Too damn cluttered.
4.) Where do you draw most of your inspiration from
  • Everything and anything. I like to look at life around me and wonder how this character, or that would, would interact with what I’m seeing. If I had to pick just one source of inspiration, though, it would be music. I’m constantly inspired by what I hear on the radio
5.) Give us a one sentence pitch for your first novel.
  • Trevor Wolff, bass player for rock darlings ShapeShifter, may have to make common cause with his mortal enemy – his best friend’s girl --  if he’s to survive the fallout from the secrets he’s been hiding.
6.) What are some of the projects that you are currently working on completing?
  • King Trevor, the follow-up to Trevor’s Song, is scheduled for an April 12 release. I’ll follow that up in October with ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes (Year 4). Behind that will be a stand-alone featuring new characters. I’m still drafting it, so we’ll have to see how it comes out.
7.) What are some of your recent publications?
  •  Last summer, I put out ShapeShifter: The Demo Tapes (Year 3). More info. here.
  • I’ve also had a few short stories in anthologies, which is always a fun way to meet new readers (and for readers to meet new authors). Visit here to check out my short stories.
  • I continue to post blog fiction every few weeks. Whenever I’ve got time to write something, really. It’s worth keeping an eye on my blog for, as I’ve got some recurring characters, such as the Roadie Poet, who aren’t in book form yet.
8.) Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your-pantser?
  • Definitely a seat-of-the-pants writer. To me, the whole purpose of the first draft is to figure out where the story is going. From there, you can craft the beginning and middle into the right shape. Yes, it usually changes the ending, too, but… that’s why writing is a craft. 
9.) If you could only own one book, what would it be? Why?
  • Hmm. That’s a tough one because I rarely re-read books. There are just too many out there to limit myself to one. But if you’re going to make me pick, I’d have to say it would be some compendium that’s thousands of pages long and chock full of great reads. Like 100. Full length.
  • Yes, I’m breaking the rules.
10.) Favorite childhood book/books?
  • Ooh, this is also hard. Let’s go with a series I don’t  mention often: Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series. I have vivid memories not only of the books but of going to the library and going downstairs into the dark hall before getting to the juvenile room, and taking the books off the shelves. It was a very grown-up feeling to do all that by myself, whereas before, my parents or sisters had always come with me.
11.) If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
  • Hmm. I’m not sure. I’ve met so many, and what I take from each one has been so different. I don’t want to limit myself. What if I choose Janet Evanovich so I can learn the secrets of writing comedic characters, but Christie Craig would have been the better teacher?
12.) If you could meet one character in a book, who would it be? Why?
  • Trevor. Definitely Trevor. Why? Well, he comes off at first as this abrasive jerk no one wants to be around. But as you get to know him, you see how deep the guy really is. Add in the fact that he gets away with a brutal honesty that no one else in life gets to show, and you’ve got a slam-dunk. Trevor’s got a magic to him that I simply envy. It’s part of what makes writing him so much fun.
13.) Where do you hope to be as a writer in five years?
  • Making a living from my royalties. Continuing to write and put out great books. Being a bigger presence in the writing community. You know: all the basic world-domination components, run from my home office.
14.) Favorite quote/personal motto:
  • I have a bunch, but I haven’t pulled this one out lately: @$%& it all and no regrets.  That one fits my head space at the moment, I think.
15.) If you could give any advice to other writers, what would it be?
  • Learn the industry! I can’t stress this enough, and it’s become my #1 piece of advice. Learn every last thing you can, from craft to the business end of publishing. Make sure your book is ready to be published; learn what happens when you hit PUBLISH too soon. Learn what it’ll take to market your book, how to approach a book reviewer, the value of a writer’s conference. Learn how to do a reading and how to revel in your fellow authors’ successes. And be sure to learn everything I haven’t mentioned here, as well.

4 comments:

Ashley Chappell said...

Great interview! Susan, you sound very interesting and I look forward to reading your work. Vanessa - the questions you put together for these interviews has prompted so many interesting responses. I've enjoyed reading all of these!

Vanessa Eccles said...

Thanks, Ashley! I enjoy reading everyone's responses too.

Fairday Morrow said...

What a great interview. I liked Susan's advice to writers and it was fun to learn about her.

~Jess

Alice Audrey said...

I'm not entirely sure I'd actually want to meet Trevor in real life. LOVE reading about him, but he can be hard to take.