Thursday, December 16, 2021



I would like to thank SUSIE BLACK for taking the time for this interview!


Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but 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. 

When and how did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My mother read to me daily from infancy and taught me to read as a toddler, so words and stories were an important part of my youth. I loved the magic of getting lost in a story, and knew I wanted to create the same magic for others. If I had to pinpoint it, I’d say I knew I wanted to be a writer as early as kindergarten.

Did you have any influencing writers growing up?

Many, but the two that had the biggest influence were:

Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew Series

Frank W. Dixon, author of The Hardy Boys Series

Are any of your characters based on people in real life?

All of my characters with the exception of medical and law enforcement are based on people in real life.

Where do you draw your book inspirations from?

I am a ladies’ swimwear sales exec in the greater Los Angeles area. 

From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal chronicling the interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people I have encountered as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of. 

My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write.

Do you use have a basic outline when starting a new story or do you let the characters lead the way?

I am a hybrid author. I plan the beginning and the end, but let my characters lead the way from the middle they create to the ending. They have a good deal of leeway, but understand that if they don’t do a good job I will take over. 

And if I am really underwhelmed, there is the risk I will either write them out or kill them off.

When you are picturing the characters in your book, do you have a cheater photo for inspiration?

Since almost all my characters are based on real people I know, a cheater photo for inspiration is not necessary.

Many people read as a form of escape and relaxation.  What is your favorite way to sit back and relax?

Reading and music are two of my go-to methods of escape and relaxation. 

I read mainly mysteries and most in the cozy part of the genre. I enjoy classical music, smooth jazz and rock N’ roll oldies. 

I have been an avid stamp collector since childhood and find working on my collections another means of escape and relaxation. I have been literally all over the world via my stamps.

Who are your favorite current authors to read?

I have many, but if I had to narrow the list down, these are the cream of the current crop: Nancy J. Cohen, Carolyn Haines, the late great Joan Hess, the late great Anne George, the late great Donald E. Westlake, the late great Elmore Leonard.

What are your favorite books by others?

The Ax by Donald E. Westlake is my all time favorite. 

I also love all the books in Nancy J. Cohen’s Bad Hair Day series and Carolyn Haines Sarah Booth series.

Do the locations in the stories have any meaning to you?

Yes. I am more of an urban setting reader. I read some books that take place in small towns, but not as much as cities. 

I gravitate to books with locales in either the US or Canada. 

I don’t read too many books that take place in the Midwest with the exception of Joanne Fluke’s cookie series that is in Minnesota. 

I gravitate to southern locales, especially Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and New England, as well as the west coast for urban settings. 

I am not keen on too many foreign locales.

Do you write in single or multiple POV?

I write in the single POV in the first person.

What do you find to be your best research tool?

My stories so far all take place in the Los Angeles Garment center downtown. I go to the Apparel Mart, walk the showroom floors, talk to suppliers and retailers. 

If I need technical research for a specific method of murder, Google is my best research tool or speaking to one of the doctors in my family. 

Legal questions go to lawyers in the family, and police procedure questions go to my local police precinct.

Do you write under a pen name?  Also, do you write under more than one name?

Yes, my pen name is Susie Black. I only have one pen name.

What genre do you write and why is this your preference?

I write in the cozy mystery genre because I love solving puzzles. My parents would certainly confirm I have always asked a lot of questions, and I am naturally curious (some narrow-minded people say I am nosy…go figure…LOL). 

So, writing mysteries was the natural next step for me. It is also the genre I read, am comfortable in, and enjoy the most. 

The bonus is that it is an excellent way to knock off some people on paper who I would have loved to eliminate in real life and still not end up in prison. Extremely therapeutic. I highly recommend it.

Tell me something about yourself outside of writing.  Jobs, accomplishments, family, quirky trait...what led to you being you?

I have one quirky trait that I inherited from my maternal grandmother that I have incorporated into my stories. As a defense to combat a fear of death, I laugh when I hear someone has died.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Write what you know. If you don’t know it, either do the research and learn it, or don’t write it. If you don’t have the creds for what you write, you are toast. Readers can spot a phony by the second paragraph and will never finish reading your book. 

My other advice is keep writing, no matter what, keep writing. Never let anyone crush your dreams and never stop asking what if?

How do you deal and process negative book reviews?

As a sales exec, I am used to rejection, and have learned you can’t please everyone. Since I write for an audience and not for myself, I would rather have a negative review than no review. 

The most effective way I deal with negative reviews is to learn something from them that I can use for future stories. If a reader is confused by a plot twist, going forward I am cognizant not to replicate the same the twist but revise it. 

If a reader was confused by a flashback, going forward I make the flashback clearer with a declarative phrase so the reader understands some of the action was in the past and other action is in the present time.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Remembering to show not tell.

What do you need in your writer’s space to keep you focused?

Staying off social media, not checking E-mails, and staying off my phone. As if. LOL

What is your naughty indulgence as you are writing? 


If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?  And why?

Janet Evanovich  We share a love of zany characters. I’d like to pick her brain and run some I have in mind past her and see how far I can go with them.

What is your schedule like when you are writing? 

I don’t have a writing schedule per se but I try to write every day. I write when I feel like it. I don’t write in the morning. I write some in the afternoon, but most of my writing is at night, but not with specific times set aside to write. Sometimes I write until 1:00 am, other times, until 10:00 pm.

Do you have a favorite writing snack or drink?

Trail mix and strong, black coffee.

Do you listen to music when you write – what kind of music is your favorite?

I do not listen to music when I write. I would be distracted by it and get nothing written. 

Smooth jazz and rock N’ roll oldies are my favorites, along with classical music.

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing? 

We haven’t had a pet in awhile but when we did, I can’t recall any getting in the way of my writing. I made sure they were fed, walked, and entertained prior to starting to write, so they were usually too tuckered out to get in the way of my writing.

What is your kryptonite as a writer?  What totally puts you off your game?

When I have an utterly brilliant idea for a plot twist but it turns out to be awful once I’ve written it.

Have you ever killed off a character that your readers loved? 

Not yet, but it may happen soon. I have been toying with the idea, but haven’t decided yet.

How do you celebrate after typing THE END?

Take out Chinese food or a pizza and wine.


I hope you enjoyed this interview!  

Check out all my interviews/reviews for Susie Black!

Make sure to give Susie a shout-out and FOLLOW her on all her social media!

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