I'm a SoCal native and the middle daughter of three girls. I've always loved to write. Even before I could write, I was making up poems out loud, or so says my mother. I was in community journalism for ten years, but I think I've found my wheelhouse in novel-writing. I am the leader/moderator of a local writer's group, a pastor’s wife and the mother of four young adults. When I'm not writing, I direct the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at The Church at Rancho Bernardo in San Diego. I love history, travel, snobby coffee, great books, and long walks on an uncrowded beach.
What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
My dad is a writer, my adult daughter is a writer and I'm a writer, so I'm inclined to believe the writing itch is a DNA thing. It shows up in my family without any of us pounding it into each other. My parents encouraged me to pursue my passions and gifting. If I had had the itch to be a ballet dancer, they would have encouraged me to give it my best shot. That is the best kind of influence a kid can have when they are dreaming of their adult career - the courage to go after those dreams.
What was the first book you ever wrote about and was it ever published?
The first book I wrote was when I was eight and it was called A Bout Patsy Miller. No joke. I wrote the title in crayon just like that. And it will never see the light of publishing day. I have it hidden. All joking aside, my first real novel was Why the Sky is Blue. I wrote it in 2002 and it was published in 2004.
Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I don't like there to be any music of any kind when I am writing, not even movie soundtrack music, which many of writer friends can't write without. I like to plot my books on a yellow-lined pad with a mechanical pencil. I suppose those quirks might be unusual to some. But they don't seem so unusual to me now that they are part of the fabric of my writing life.
My characters all have a special place in my heart, after the book is done and published and I've had some time away from them. When I first finish a book I can't wait to send them packing to Disneyland so they will leave me alone for awhile. They are like house guests who outstay their welcome. But I think Lauren in The Shape of Mercy is the character who comes to mind as the one most close to me. I am not like her, and yet I am. I am not a daughter of privilege and I don't have the same flaws and virtues she has, but I saw in her my own proclivity to judge people. We are all little judges when it comes to how we see people. Many times we make those judgments based on fear and what the crowd says. Fear is a poor tutor and the crowd is very often wrong.
What is the best gift you have ever received and who gave it to you?
If we are talking material gifts, I can't think of anything that is that precious to me; that is, precious to the exclusion of everything else. The best non-material gifts I ever received were and are my four kids - who are now all young adults. And God gave me those! With help from the hubby, of course.
What is something that you have always wanted to do, but just haven't gotten around to it yet?
Gulp. Finish my college degree. I really, really want to. There's always something else to fund. Right now, it's my kids' college educations. Some day, though...
What is your all-time favorite book?
So not a fair question. I love so many books. And as my perspective on life and aging changes, so do my all-time favorites. Let's just go with "Go, Dog, Go" by the amazing P. D. Eastman. Still a favorite after all these years.
Other than yourself, who is your favorite author?
I am happy to say I am not my favorite author!! I love Kate Morton and Geraldine Brooks. They are divinely talented writers.
If a TV show was based on your life, what would the theme song be and why?
How about that Charlie Brown theme song by Vince Guaraldi? Lots of happy piano notes, some syncopated beats, brushes on the snares. It's happy and chic and a little off and not too serious.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I hear spare time is cool stuff! Just kidding. Sort of. Life is very busy but I like to travel, taste new food and cultures, take in concerts and plays, and be with my family.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Yes. I am not even kidding. I like both. I can do both. Just not at the same time.
What is your favorite TV show and/or movie?
Favorite movie is You've Got Mail. Favorite TV show at this moment is Smash. It just started. But I loved the premier.
If you had the opportunity to go anywhere you wanted, at anytime in history, where would you go and why?
Egypt at the turn of the 20th century. It was still safe to go to Egypt then and yet not so far back in time that we didn't have conveniences like steam engines and screens and aspirin. I've always wanted to see The Valley of the Kings and the pyramids.
You are given an unlimited budget to plan your ultimate party. Please describe it (i.e. Where would it take place? Who would be on the guest list? What would be on the menu? Would there be a theme? etc.). Let's say Santorini Island with Greek food of course and the theme is Greek!
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a book called The Girl in The Glass which will release in the fall of 2012 year with WaterBrook. Part of it is set in Florence, Italy – one of my favorite places. I have a young travel book editor headed there for lots of compelling reasons, one of which is to meet a woman who claims she is the last of Medici and that the great paintings and statues talk to her.
Where can people connect with you online?
www.susanmeissner.com is my web home. @SusanMeissner is my Twitter handle and my Facebook page is also just my name. I love hearing from readers. The email is on the contact page on my website.
Thank you so much Susan for being on Hardcover Feedback!
Thanks for having me!
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