When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
I've loved writing since I was a child. In elementary school, I wrote plays—at least I started to write them. (I never finished any.) As an adult, I thought I wanted to be a teacher. When that didn't work out too well (I only taught for a year), I became a newspaper reporter, and I've been working as a writer ever since.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I have a good friend who has a degenerative back condition and has had six major surgeries in the last few years, leaving her in a wheelchair with little mobility and an enormous amount of pain. But she's the strongest person I know, always willing herself to persevere. When I get depressed over some small, insignificant problem, I think of my friend's courage.
How do you create the characters in your books? Are they based on people you know?
Most of my characters, especially the main ones, come directly from my imagination. Some of my minor characters are combinations of friends, relatives, neighbors, or former co-workers.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
The Bible. Aside from the religious aspect, it's full of wonderful stories. In college, I took an English course called, "The Bible as Literature," which was fascinating. The Apocrypha, sometimes omitted, is great reading too.
If you weren’t a writer, what would be your profession?
I know I wouldn't be a waitress (very tough job!) or a doctor or nurse (I might write about gore, but I hate seeing it in real life). I'd probably be in sales or customer service since I enjoy dealing with people, or maybe I'd be a realtor because I'm nosy and like seeing other people's homes.
If you could trade places with anyone in the world, past or present, real or fiction, who would it be and why?
Mary Poppins (the movie version). I love the way she's able to open her umbrella and fly to any place she wants to visit. As Julie Andrews portrayed her, I also like Mary's demeanor—very business-like, but fun loving, and clever. Also, it helps that she can sing and dance—two things I've always admired in others since I don't do either well. I wouldn't like the nanny part, but then again, she doesn't do much nannying—the kids just follow her lead.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have 3 things, what would they be?
First, I'd want food. Without it, I couldn't do much else. Then I'd like a large supply of legal pads and a package of pens. With paper and pens, I'd be able to write books and create puzzles and word games, which would keep me occupied until I was rescued. (Would it be cheating to ask for a fully-staffed boat to stop by the island and pick me up?)
What is your favorite movie of all time?
Gone With the Wind. I love the book too. As an American history buff, I've always been fascinated by the Civil War era and Scarlett O'Hara is one of the most interesting fictional characters of all time. I also enjoy watching how Rhett Butler, unlike Scarlett, changes. My runner-up favorite movies are Tootsie and The Sting.
What is the one thing that you want all your fans to know?
I appreciate them taking a chance on an unknown author and buying my first novel. I hope everyone who reads and enjoys DUST will contact me. I respond to all my emails from readers.
If you could invite 5 people to dinner, who would they be and why?
My five dinner guests would be Ben Franklin, Joe Namath, Stephen King, Leonardo da Vinci, and Robin Williams. Notice I didn't invite any other women so that I can be the only female at the table. Here are my reasons for inviting this eclectic group:
Ben Franklin: He's my favorite historical person, a Renaissance man who could do just about anything: He was a writer, inventor, diplomat, politician, and, from what I've read, he was also a charming conversationalist, very attentive to women. Sounds like a perfect dinner party guest!
Joe Namath: I'm a huge New York Jets fan and Joe is our hero, the quarterback who won our only Superbowl. He's also a glib speaker—someone who's not afraid to say what he thinks. He'd get the other guests involved.
Stephen King: He's an obvious choice—one of my favorite authors, a best-selling novelist who writes in my genre. I'd pick his brain and try to glean some writing tips that could help me.
Leonardo da Vinci: He's the prototype for the Renaissance man, an artist who was also a scientist, inventor, engineer, writer, and more. He would be another fascinating guest and maybe he'd tell us the story behind Mona Lisa's smile—and whether any of the theories behind "The Last Supper" are valid.
Robin Williams: He's the funniest comedian I know, someone who's a brilliant ad libber. Every dinner party needs a person who can make the guests laugh—and Robin Williams would do just that.
Dust by Susan Berliner
Visit Susan's website and blog.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book so that I could write an honest review.