Sunday, July 9, 2023


I want to thank Susan McNabb for taking the time for this interview!


Suki McMinn writes romantic comedy, contemporary and paranormal romance, and cozy mystery. Her latest release is Four Nipple Sam, a romcom set in the eighties in L.A.

She was a model and commercial actor in Los Angeles for nearly three decades and now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and pets and spends her summers in Tryon, North Carolina.

Suki grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, and earned an English literature degree from the University of Tennessee before pursuing a career in front of the camera in Hollywood. She's a founding member of Tryon Writers and contributes stories to charity anthologies for The New Romance Cafe.

Suki writes nonfiction as Susan McNabb, including her Hollywood memoir, The Opposite of Famous, and her newspaper column, "Tryon Diary."

Learn more and sign up for her newsletter at

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

I have an English lit degree and always had a vague wish to write. At 49, I took a women's writing workshop and discovered fanfiction at the same time. 

These two events opened the flood gates, and I became a writing machine, quickly discovering what I wanted to be my new profession.

Did you have any influencing writers growing up?

I first became enamored with books when my father read Winnie-the-Pooh stories to me. 

English was my favorite subject in school, and I chose George Orwell as the subject of an early thesis. Then, of course, as an English major in college, I was introduced to many influential authors.

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

People in my real life have certainly influenced me to create fictional characters. 

For example, when creating the best friend of a main character, I think of close friends I've had and adventures we've shared and mostly, how they've made me feel.

Where do you draw your book inspirations from?

I often write stories based on my own experiences. 

My fictional settings are places in which I've lived. The events have often happened to me, although I fictionalize them when writing novels. 

When writing nonfiction, of course, I describe them exactly as I remember them, with no embellishments.

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

I do have an outline, and I picture scenes I hope to create, but then I'm really a pantser and let the characters do as they wish. They're never wrong.

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

In most cases, no. 

But a character in my current series looks exactly like an old friend of mine. He and I modeled together in Los Angeles in the eighties, and we're still friends, so I have access to his old modeling photos. My character looks like my friend, but that's all they have in common.

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

Reading for pleasure is certainly a treat that I never tire of. 

For ultimate relaxation, I head to a beach. There's nothing like the warmth of the sun, a view of the ocean, the sound of the waves, the scent of sea air. See? I'm relaxing already.

Who are your favorite current authors to read?

Oh my goodness, that changes with every new book I discover. There are so many wonderful authors writing now. 

I can't imagine how long my list would get, but I would like to give a shout out to the writers of The New Romance Cafe. I've been in several of their anthologies, and it's been such a pleasure to enjoy the work of the authors in that group.

What are your favorite books by others?

All of Jane Austen's books always top my list.

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

Absolutely. I think of setting as a main character, actually. I love being transported to a place as well as the story.

Do you write in single or multiple POV?

Both, depending on the story.

What do you find to be your best research tool?

Don't laugh, but it's my Day Runner. I've kept detailed calendars since 1984 when I moved to Los Angeles. 

For some reason, I kept them all in a drawer, and now they provide me with so many details that can get lost in a person's memory. I refer to them when writing both nonfiction and fiction.

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

Yes, when I write fiction, I'm Suki McMinn. When I discovered my love for writing, my fanfiction name was Suki59. So when I published my first book of fiction, 

I wanted to be Suki, as that's how my readers knew me. I chose to use my husband's last name since I hadn't changed mine legally. I was still working as an actor when I married (at 44), and a name change is a true hassle in that business. 

So I remained Susan McNabb, but I became Suki McMinn when I wrote fiction. You can see why I chose not to hyphenate. Lol.

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

As a fiction writer, I write romantic comedy, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and cozy mystery. 

As a nonfiction writer, I write memoir, and I have a newspaper column. 

Do I have a preference? No, but I do prefer to use humor in everything I write.

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

I moved from North Carolina to Los Angeles as a young woman to chase a modeling dream. I caught it nicely and stayed and worked in the entertainment business for 27 years. 

I was a model, a commercial actor, an extra in film and TV, a stand-in, photo double, and butt double. I also worked many jobs behind the scenes in production—as a makeup artist, a wardrobe assistant, an assistant director, a casting assistant. 

I photo-doubled and traveled as road manager for Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, for seventeen years. 

I was single until I was 44 and dated many interesting men, including Jerry Seinfeld for eight years. 

I also taught at a Beverly Hills acting school for seven years, worked for a commercial production company for four years. 

Anyway, you get the picture. I had a remarkable and interesting life before I decided writing all day in my pajamas was for me.

If you are a duo writing team, how do you share the writing process?

I'm not, but I did start a book once with a writer friend in Norway, which I loved. I'd love to give it another go some day.

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Find readers and other writers. It's a lonely job, and even with super supportive family and friends, you'll need readers and other writers. 

Join writers' groups online and in person. 

Find ways to share your work with readers, even if that means giving it away. (Here's where I start espousing the benefits of sharing fanfiction online.) 

Never stop learning: take classes online and in person, study the business of writing as well as the craft. 

And have fun!

How do you deal and process negative book reviews?

They sting. That never stops. If they have anything constructive in them, I try to read them with an open mind. Then I put them behind me and keep moving forward. 

My life as a model and actor was filled with constant rejection. It's just a normal part of the business. And crazily enough, I chose another profession filled with constant rejection as my second career. 

I can't escape criticism, but I can choose to keep going, so I do.

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

I often feel like there aren't enough hours in the day. 

As an independent writer, I wear a lot of hats. They all have their good moments, but what I'd really love to do is just write all the time. 

I hate wasting hours trying to figure out how to solve some little technical problem with formatting or website design when there are characters trapped in unfinished stories trying to get to their happily ever after.

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

Silence. Except for maybe a little snoring from my dog beside me.

What is your naughty indulgence as you are writing?

Writing itself feels like a naughty indulgence to me. It's where I'd most like to be.

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

Can I go back in time and meet Jane Austen? Mostly to tell her how beloved she'll always be. 

And while I'm in my time machine, I'd love to have a moment with William Shakespeare. What a boss.

What is your schedule like when you are writing  Do you have a favorite writing snack or drink?

I try to do my marketing work early, so I have the rest of the day to write. I do break for lunch, and then I stop when my husband gets home from work. 

I treat it like a job and make sure to balance it with my personal time away from the computer. (When I first started writing, this was a challenge, as I never wanted to stop.) 

In the morning, there's a cup of decaf in front of me. After lunch, a glass of iced tea. Not very sexy, I know, but it works for me.

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

No, I've always needed silence when concentrating. I do love lots of kinds of music, but I can't have it on when I write.

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing?

Yes, but that's okay. I've always had too many pets, but at the moment I'm down to one dog, two cats, and a yard full of ferals I've TNR'd (trapped, neutered and returned). 

My dog does occasionally require something from me, but most of the time, he's sleeping beside me. When he announces it's time for a meal or potty break, I try to explain that I need to finish a thought, but he doesn't care.

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

The technical stuff. I can get so frustrated trying to solve a problem with my computer, and I hate how much time it wastes. Sadly, I'll never be a whiz at that stuff, no matter how hard I try.

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

No, and here's why: 

I once wrote a story in which the main character died at the end. I was so upset and sad that I couldn't sleep. Then I realized I could re-write the story and bring her back to life. Ha! Problem solved. 

But it was then I realized how much I needed a happy outcome to a story, and it's why I love to both read and write romance. Every story has a happy ending. 

I hated that I had put myself through that grief, and I won't do it to readers.

How do you celebrate after typing THE END?

I wish I could say I celebrate (and I should!), but there's always so much more to do. The good news is I love doing it.

I hope you enjoyed this interview!

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