ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan grew up in a small Indiana town. Her younger sister admitted that she'd be writing secretly. This admission leads to her being her sister's editor. They co-authored four novels, none of which were published. Her sister stopped after the four, but Susan was totally addicted and continue. She is married to a guy from the same town she grew up and they have two grown children.
Hi, readers! Today Coffee& Crackers are so excited to welcome Susan Crandall, the author of a to-be-released novel, Whistling Past the Graveyard to the blog and have a fun interview session talking about her previous profession, favorite writing spot, running away from home, racism, her novel: Whistling Past the Graveyard and the exclusive sneak peek of her future project! Give a big applause to my guest, Susan Crandall, everybody!
C&C: You were a dental hygienist before right? So, how did you become a writer and what are the differences between these two professions
Yes, I was a dental hygienist. As that profession required a science degree, there isn’t any education overlap. However, being a good writer often comes from being a good observer of people. I think my previous profession provided a good opportunity to study all kinds of people.
I’ve always been an avid reader and love playing with words, but never considered trying my had at writing a novel until my younger sister decided to write something and asked me to help. Once I got started collaborating with her, I was totally hooked. She has since gone on to a career in real estate, but I’m still writing.
C&C: What inspires your writing and where you spend most of your time writing? some writers prefer to write on the beach or beautiful places. Do you have any favorite place?
Everything around me fuels my writing; people, relationships, current events, history. There is never a shortage of ideas and inspiration when you open your eyes and your mind to what’s happening around you. I love to write outdoors. I have a balcony off my office that’s my favorite place. My main requirement is absolute solitude. I can’t write with other people around me. I know some folks like writing at cafes and such, but I’m far too distracted in a place like that.
C&C: In your latest novel, Whistling Past the Graveyard, the story is narrated from a nine year old, Starla's point of view. Why you choose a little girl character? And how you put yourself in a little girl's mind? Is it difficult?
I always put a lot of thought into my characters and how they’ll interact with my plot before I begin writing any book. For this coming-of-age story I wanted to give a perspective of the world seen directly through the eyes of a child—not as an adult reminiscing about an event that happened to her when she was a child. I chose her age carefully, old enough to be beginning to look at the world outside of her own experience, old enough to be able to take care of her own basic needs, and yet young enough that this awakening to the wider world is just beginning and her impetuousness isn’t curbed. I chose the time period and setting carefully as well. Foremost among my reasons for these choices was the need for a time before an organized network that immediately begins searching for a missing child. In the early 1960s small towns, kids Starla’s age regularly went out to play all day long and no one knew exactly where they were. Also, I wanted it to be a time of change in our society; giving me a lot of fuel for conflict and drama.
I really enjoy writing youthful characters and had a great time working on Starla’s story. It did take a few chapters before I found the true rhythm of Starla’s voice, but once I found it, she was a joy to write. And yes, it did take some discipline to keep my adult perceptions and voice out of it. Using this unfiltered child’s point of view gave this story it’s flavor, but occasionally I struggled with how to present certain views so the reader understood that Starla was misunderstanding. When you only have a nine-year-old’s words, a nine-year-9-old’s understanding, you have to figure out ways to convey deeper meaning to the reader.
C&C: Just wondering, have you ever run away from home?
No! Starla is much braver (and more impulsive) than I was as a child.
C&C: About the racial segregation you highlighted in the book, did you do any special research on it? In this modern world, I believe racism still exist, what say you about this?
I did a great deal of research. Fortunately, the sixties was a time period of mass media, so I found a lot of first-hand accounts, film footage and the like to draw from. I have to say, the film footage was the most compelling—I was able to see actual events as they were happening. As for racism in modern day, I feel we have made progress, but are far from the idyll of perfect equality, perfect harmony. And of course, it varies widely around the world.
C&C: For me, Whistling Past the Graveyard will be a huge success. So, what will come next? Any new project in progress?
Thank you! I do have another project brewing. It takes place during another pivotal era in U.S. history, the 1920s. It will have a youthful narrator, but one much nearer adulthood than Starla. Sixteen-year-old Henry is the son of a German immigrant who suffered a great deal of anti-German sentiment during WWI. Henry is falsely accused of a crime and goes on the run with a WWI veteran barnstorming pilot. This story is still in the very early stages, but is beginning to take shape nicely.
C&C: Thank you Susan!
Thank you so much for this interview and your kind words about Whistling Past the Graveyard.
ABOUT THE BOOK
When Starla is grounded on the Fourth of July, she sneaks out to see the parade. After getting caught, Starla's fear that her grandmother, Mamie, will make good on her threats and send her to reform school cause her to panic and run away from home. Once out in the country, Starla is offered a ride by a black woman, Eula, who is traveling with a white baby. She happily accepts a ride,with the ultimate goal of reaching her mother in Nashville. As the two unlikely companions make their long and sometimes dangerous journey, Starla's eyes are opened to the harsh realities of 1963 southern segregation. Through talks with Eula, reconnecting with her parents, and encountering a series of surprising misadventures, Starla learns to let go of long-held dreams and realizes family is forged from those who will sacrifice all for you, no matter if bound by blood or by the heart. - NetGalley
FOOTNOTE: Whistling Past the Graveyard will be published on July 2nd, 2013 by Gallery Books. Pre-order this book : Amazon | Barnes&Noble | IndieBound. I received the e-ARC copy from Netgalley.com for review [Read MY REVIEW]