Multi-genre author Susan Whitfield writes the Logan Hunter Mystery series: Genesis Beach, Just North of Luck,Hell Swamp, Sin Creek and Sticking Point. She authored Killer Recipes, a unique cookbook, and wrote a women's fiction, Slightly Cracked. She is currently writing an historical fiction titled Sprig of Broom. Susan interviews authors and industry experts on the blog. Web site: www.susanwhitfieldonline.com
Arline Chase is something of
a late-bloomer. She lives in the marsh with the mosquitoes and the muskrats.
She writes some of everything and became a publisher when her own publisher
became too ill to continue.
“Having a book with my name
on the cover was my longtime dream. When
my first publisher, the woman who helped me fulfill that dream, asked me, I was
honored to help keep her project alive. Connie Foster’s dream stayed alive as
Write Words Inc./ebooksonthe.net and now I get to help others achieve their
dreams as well. Life doesn’t get much
better than that.”
Where do you live, and how
has your environment affected your writing?
I live on the Eastern Shore
of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. My people were island people. My environment and
family history has affected most of my books. My Collection, THE DROWNED LAND,
won the Governor’s Award in Maryland and my Novel, KILLRAVEN, is set locally
and remains the favorite of most of my readers. Although Killraven Island is a
fictional environment, the characters who live there and their cultural
heritage are depicted accurately.
How many books have you
A dozen Novellas; one Short
Story Collection; 4 nonfiction books; and 5 novels: KILLRAVEN, GHOST DANCER,
SPIRIT OF EARTH, SPIRIT OF FIRE, and SPIRIT OF WIND. The Spirit Series are
mysteries and feature a Baltimore police detective and his psychic younger
Give a short synop of your
Since KILLRAVEN has proven
the favorite, and is loosely based on family history, if I have to pick one to
feature, I think it has to be that one.
Set in the 1890s, KILLRAVEN
is the story of Hope Voeschell, a young woman brought up in a cult that
believes in non-violence, and DeCoursey Rogers a man who has known violence
first hand, and what happens when an isolated peaceful community is confronted
with a murderer. Killraven is a fictional Chesapeake Bay island, an isolated
place, rich in the traditions of its independent people. The novel is based in
part on characters that originally appeared in the award-winning short story
collection, THE DROWNED LAND.
How much of yourself is
hidden in the characters in the book?
Well Hope (not her real name)
goes back five generations in my family. She is a legend to all her descendents
and was known all her life as a woman of strong character. People have also
said that of me, though whether it is justified, I really can’t say.
Do your characters take on
a life of their own?
Absolutely. They go and do what pleases them and I am
left to watch and wonder.
Which is your
I have a few fleeting
memories of the real Hope Voeschell, who died when I was three or four. I never knew her as an adult, except through
the family stories handed down about her. But by the time I had written her
book, she was very real to me.
What challenges did you
face while writing this book?
I knew my story’s beginning,
middle, and end. I knew my setting. But I didn’t know how to write well enough
to bring off a work of that length. It took me seven years to achieve a novel
length draft I felt came close to “the book in my head.” And ever after that I
have had to explain it to relatives who remembered a “different version.”
Critics complained that “there
are too many widows” in the book. But island men worked the water, a dangerous
occupation, and left many widows behind. So although folks suggested I combine
those characters and have only one widow, all three remained and all have very
different personalities, so I felt they couldn’t take on each other’s plot
turns. Critics have also complained that the book is “more like a TV series”
than a novel. And I suppose it is true that the island is a character in and of
Do you travel to do
research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?
I have traveled some, but
mostly I write about home. I did do a lot of research for GHOST DANCER, because
it is set in Montana. I had never been to Montana, a fact I mentioned to my
then-agent. “No one alive now has been to Montana in 1890, Arline,” she pointed
out. “Just write the da---- book!” She had a hot new publisher and knew she
could sell it if I could finish it in 90 days.
Well five year later, when I actually finished the book, the agent had
forgotten my name and the Hot New Publisher had sunk without a trace. But I had
learned a lot about Montana, the Piegan, and the Great Northern Railroad, so it
wasn’t a total loss.
What do you think is the
greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give
Don’t pay any attention to
all the people who think you can’t do it. There are plenty of folks who will
always say, “You can’t.” My own mother’s reaction to the fact that I meant to
write a book was, “People like us don’t write BOOKS!”
But I started with short
stores and kept on writing them eventually the books came, too. I say, if you
want to do something, do it! Practice
your craft and hone your skills. And do all you can to learn what you need to
know. Keep at it. Never let others
trample on your dreams.
Where do you store ideas
for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?
I used to keep a notebook.
Then I learned that the good ideas will come back and nag you until they get
written, whether you keep an idea file or not.
We all know how important
promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?
I spend more time these days
publishing other writer’s work than in writing and promoting my own. And thank
you, Susan, for this opportunity to talk about my work. I post about my own and other author’s books
regularly on Facebook, and I, too, do have a blog at: