Author Interview - Susan Meissner
Author I draw inspiration from: Kate Morton’s novels always transport me. Her characters are so beautifully drawn – sometimes I have to read twice the way she describes someone; her prose is that delicious – and her plots are always multi-layered and richly woven. Reading her work makes me want to be a better artist of my own stories. I saw on social media yesterday that she just finished writing what will be her next offering to the world. I, for one, can’t wait.
Favorite place to read a book: Any cozy place with a crackling fire, comfy sofa, soft pillows, and a cuppa on the table next to me is my kind of reading nook. I can read just about anywhere – and have been known to do so – but we’re talking favorite place and this tableau is it.
Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with: No question I choose Enzo the dog from The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I have always wanted to talk with a dog. I’m a dog lover from way back and I have long marveled at a good dog’s loyalty, bravery, and desire to please. It’s no accident that the phrase that a dog is man’s best friend got coined. They are amazing life companions to we humans, despite our many faults. I’d like to know why they love us so much.
The moment I knew I wanted to become an author: Perhaps it was my freshman year of high school. It’s hard to name the specific moment because I’ve always loved to write. But I had a great English teacher in ninth grade – who I have coffee with now and again all these many years later – who gave me the affirmation I needed to think of myself as a writer with potential. I just didn’t start writing books then. In fact, I was 42 before I wrote my first novel, but I do remember the moment I knew I had to try to my hand at it. I was a newspaper editor at the time, and my beloved grandfather had just died. He’d been 84. I was 42. I did the math and realized my life was half over and I hadn’t even tried writing one. Fear of rejection had kept me from giving it a shot, but in that moment I decided I’d rather live with rejection than regret. So I quit the day job to write my first book. Best (and scariest) decision I ever made.
Hardback, paperback, ebook or audiobook: Yes, please. I love them all. I make use of them all. I am especially fond of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series on audio. Most are read by Ralph Cosham, who sadly died in 2014 – may he rest in peace. This man is the most talented book narrator of all time. I could listen to him read the owners manual for my exercise bike. Start with number one of the Inspector Gamache books on audio, Still Life. Penny’s books are simply wonderful, and Cosham’s narration makes them sing.
The last book I read: Dreams of Falling by Karen White is not out in the wild yet. I read an early review copy, but it was a great read. It’s part mystery, part love story, part mothers and daughters story, all set on the South Carolina coast near Myrtle Beach. It’s dual-time periods, too, which is one of my favorite kinds of story construction. It hits bookstores in June.
Pen & paper or computer: Computer, but pen and paper for outlining and note-taking and brainstorming a plot. I like yellow pads, actually, the ones with soft blue lines, and a fresh set of mechanical pencils.
Book character I think I’d be best friends with: Anne Shirley is my go-to because she embodies what is best about having a kindred spirit to spend life with. Anne inhabits the Anne of Green Gables books by L. M. Montgomery. Great books.
If I wasn’t an author, I’d be a: Bookstore/Café owner even though I would probably hate the business side of it. I would need a partner to do the math and the Excel stuff and the Quick Books and all that what not. I would want to just fill the shelves, buy the scones, chat with people, pour coffee, pat the store cat, pick the Pandora playlist.
Favorite decade in fashion history: I love the 1950s looks for both men and women. I recently watched the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel series on Amazon Prime – which is set in in the 1950s – and pretty much fell in love with every coat Midge Maisel wears, and I live in San Diego where I wear a coat maybe one day a year. I wouldn’t want to go back to the 1950s to live, just to get the clothes – and the cars – and bring them back to the present.
Place I’d most like to travel: There are so many places I want to see and haven’t yet, but the Greek islands – Santorini, especially – have been on my someday list for a long time.
My signature drink: I tried a Vesper in Philadelphia last year and it was so smooth and sophisticated and delightful. I had to ask what was in it. Lillet is the secret ingredient.
Favorite artist: This may sound lame but my favorite artists are the ones in the piazzas in Italy and France and Spain who daily paint, in open-air markets, such beautiful little canvases that ordinary people like me can afford to bring home and frame and then remember forever those amazing trips to faraway places.
Number one on my bucket list: The number one thing is to be present today, where I am right now, fully engaged with the people I care about. Number two is to see the Grand Canyon.
Anything else you'd like to add: I just discovered a meal prep delivery service and I am in love with cooking again