Please welcome Susan Schreyer, author of the Thea Campbell Mystery series.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I have several types of “perfect” days, to be honest (depending on my current mood), and they all begin with me getting up early! I am my most creative in the morning, so I would begin by getting up around 5 or 6 (depending on the time of year), making a pot of coffee, eating breakfast and then sitting down to write until lunchtime. Afternoon would have me riding my horse, and then back home to write some more (because I would get some great ideas while also getting out of the house and getting some exercise), while my husband cooked dinner (hey, it’s a fantasy, right?). After dinner is family time.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Oddly enough, I have a signature fragrance and it’s not “eu de saddle leather.” It’s Paloma Picasso. I’ve been wearing it for …. uh… a long time.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
All three of these people are authors and, although at very different times in my life and for very different reasons, have had a profound influence on me. Each nudged me toward the path I am now on.
- Elizabeth Peters
- Lisa Stowe
- Walter Farley
Do you listen to music when you write?
No. I need silence when I write. I get distracted too easily.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
It would be dark chocolate peanut clusters–dark themes with a bunch of nuts inside.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
My goal is always to entertain. BushWhacked, however, didn’t exactly begin with the intent of being humorous. It did begin with a body–all my story ideas start that way. This particular body was a bit of a puzzle for me. I knew the bones would be found buried under Thea’s rhododendron, but for the longest time I had no idea who it was. I tried other ideas, but this mystery refused to leave me alone. When I did some brain-storming with my critique partners, I knew the tale would lean heavily toward the light side. Humor was the key that kicked the whole plot into motion. Thea and friends have always had their moments that have made me smile, but this plot made me laugh outright. When it was done, I was honestly surprised to find out how very dark the themes were, but then humor is often that way.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
BushWhacked’s themes include relationships between people who love, and supposedly love, each other. Those are ties I have explored from the first book in the series, Death By A Dark Horse. Love, in all its manifestations, is complex and fascinating, whether it is between lovers, parents and children, friends, or even the attachment between a person and their animal companion. Also, anger, as a theme, is strong in this book. Each person’s background and their emotional makeup is going to influence the way it is expressed, as is their prior history with the person they’re feeling anger toward.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Thea Campbell is the eldest child in her family–by six years. That gave her time to experience the focused attention of her parents in the manner of an only child, and then get “turned loose”–so to speak–when her younger sibling came along. This caused her to be both self-reliant and, because she wanted the parental attention she’d lost, an overachiever. Because she truly does love her sister Juliet, and because Juliet lacks judgment and is impulsive, Thea feels responsible for her well-being. Without a doubt, if there is anyone you can rely on, it’s Thea. On the flip side, she often feels that she and she alone knows best and because she has been in a care-taker role in one sense or another for much of her life, she has trouble accepting help and being on the receiving end of care from others. This is a challenge for her in a love-relationship, and something she must learn if the relationship is to survive.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
- Elizabeth Peter’s Amelia Peabody–independent, devoted to family, seemingly unaware of how others see her.
- Alexander McCall Smith’s Precious Ramotswe–compassionate, principled.
- Katharine Hepburn–her wit and verbal sparring with Spencer Tracy.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Okay, because it’s my dinner party and I plan on being entertained, here are my choices:
1. Joanne Fluke: I’ve heard her speak and she is intelligent, entertaining and wonderfully funny.
2. Rex Stout: his life experiences are varied and fascinating. I love his books and am a fan of P.G. Wodehouse as he was. It delights me no end that he ignored a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee during the “height of the McCarthy era.”
3. Elizabeth Peters: I adore the humor in her books and admire her numerous accomplishments. If I could be her, I would.
4. Mark Twain: no explanation needed here. And I will argue that he wrote mysteries.
5. Alexander McCall Smith: an amazingly prolific writer, with a wry wit and an enviable ability to get into a character’s head.
6. Nancy Martin: a generous, intelligent individual, well informed and with a delightful sense of humor.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on the next Thea Campbell Mystery. At this point, it is considerably darker than BushWhacked, and I can tell you the villain is seriously making my hands sweat! In addition, I’ll be working on promoting my books. I, along with two author friends of mine, Jeanne Matthews and Joyce Yarrow, do panels and appearances at bookstores, art festivals and wherever else they’ll have us. We are billed as “Women Who Kill.” We talk about our books, debate writing processes, and cover other topics that touch even remotely on writing. There’s a good deal of banter and laughter. Fun for the audience and fun for us.
Susan Schreyer lives in the great state of Washington with her husband, two teenage children, an untrustworthy rabbit, two playful kittens and the ghost of a demanding old cat. Her horse lives within easy driving distance. Occasionally, she makes a diligent effort at updating her blogs, “Writing Horses” and “Things I Learned From My Horse,” and writes articles for worthy publications. Mostly, she works on stories about people in the next town being murdered. As a diversion from the plotting of nefarious deeds Susan trains horses and teaches people how to ride them, and when the weather gets to her she works in a veterinarians’ office. She serves on the steering committee of the Guppies Chapter of Sisters in Crime and is co-president of the Puget Sound Chapter of SinC. When she has a minute she cleans her house and does laundry.
Website: Susan Schreyer Mysteries http://www.susanschreyer.com
Blog: Writing Horses http://writinghorses.blogspot.com
Blog: Things I Learned From My Horse: http://thingsilearnedfrommyhorse.blogspot.com
Facebook: Susan Schreyer Mysteries: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Susan-Schreyer-Mysteries/161359303906634