In My Fuzzy Neighborhood today is author Susan M. Boyer. Susan is the author of the USA TODAY bestselling Liz Talbot mystery series. Her debut novel, Lowcountry Boil, won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Lowcountry Boneyard, the third Liz Talbot mystery, was a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick and is nominated for several awards. Susan loves beaches, Southern food, and small towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone has crazy relatives. You’ll find all of the above in her novels. She lives in Greenville, SC, with her husband and an inordinate number of houseplants.
FF: Can you tell us four words that describe your writing style?
SB: Fast-paced, Southern, humorous, first-person.
FF; Do you have a writing process? If yes, briefly explain.
SB: The first stage is daydreaming, coming up with a crime. Then I write it out in detail—who did what to who, from the villain’s point of view. Next I outline how my detective will solve the case. The first draft comes next, but every day I read and edit what I wrote the day before, so by the time I’m finished, I’ve already edited it once. Typically I let it rest—step away for a few days, then dive back in with another round of edits. Then I print it out and edit again. Things always look different on paper. Once I’m reasonably happy with it, if time permits, I’ll send it to a beta reader. I comb through her notes for things I missed and make any changes that resonate with me. Then it goes to my editor.
FF: Why do you write books?
SB: I love creating stories. I’m a life-long book-lover. Writing my own is my dream job.
FF: What genre do you write in? Which genre is your favorite?
SB: I write mysteries, and I would have to say that’s my favorite, though I read very eclectically. I also love Southern fiction, women’s fiction, mainstream fiction, romance, and some paranormal fiction.
FF: Describe your ideal place of escape to write your books.
SB: The beach, in a one-bedroom oceanfront condo, close enough to Charleston that I can make day trips in for research.
FF: Tell us about Lowcountry Book Club and Liz Talbot.
SB: Well, Liz Talbot is a private investigator, licensed by the state of South Carolina. She lives on the island of Stella Maris, just north of Isle of Palms, near Charleston. Many of her cases take her into Charleston.
In Lowcountry Book Club, she and her partner are hired by a prestigious Charleston law firm to find out who pushed Shelby Poinsett out of her second-floor library French doors into the brick courtyard of her Tradd Street home. Poor Shelby died of head injuries, and her husband was arrested for her murder, though he maintains his innocence. Jury selection starts in two weeks, so Liz and Nate are playing against the clock.
FF: What is your favorite thing to do before a book signing?
SB: Honestly, most of the time I’m traveling, so I’m focused on getting there half an hour early and just having fun meeting readers. I don’t really have any pre-signing rituals, though I do have a particular blue pen I like to use.
FF: What city would you love to have a book signing or speaking engagement?
SB: All of them. I wish I had time and the resources to go everywhere. I can’t think of a specific city I’d most like to visit for a signing other than to say I most enjoy going places where I can meet readers in person who I’ve only previously met through email, social media, or by virtue of the fact that they’ve read my books.
FF: What is your favorite drink or beverage?
SB: I drink a lot of peach iced tea. And I share Liz’s love for Cheerwine (a cherry flavored soft drink). If it’s after five, I love a glass of pinot noir. And champagne—I can usually think of a reason to drink champagne.
FF: Are you an early bird or night owl?
SB: I’m such a night owl. I’m trying so hard to convert myself to an early bird because it would fit the rest of my life better. But it’s just not in my nature. I like to stay up late reading, then get my eight hours in.
FF: If you could collaborate on a book with any author, who would it be and why?
SB: Honestly, I can’t see myself ever collaborating on a book. Writing is too personal of an experience for me. That said, I do enjoy contributing to the occasional anthology or cookbook.
FF: What is one tip you would give authors on how to show appreciation for their readers?
SB: This is hard because most of the authors I know—myself included—appreciate their readers so much and do everything they know to do to let readers know that. The best way I know is to be as accessible as I possibly can through my website, email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and to respond as promptly as possible when a reader reaches out. That said, my sister and I had this conversation recently. She’s an avid reader, but wants nothing to do with social media, and would never dream of contacting an author. I said to her that she was the reader authors needed to figure out how to reach. Her response to me was this: “I don’t want to be reached. I want to browse books, choose the ones I want, read them, and go on about my business. I don’t want to have a relationship with the authors I read except through their books.” And I believe there are many readers who feel that way. Not all of them, of course.
FF: What advice would you give your younger self?
SB: Stick with that English major. Start writing earlier. Don’t take the detour for the steady paycheck.
FF: What is one thing you would change about your life?
SB: If I could have a few more hours every day, that would be great. I could relax and smell the roses a little more. Seriously, I’m really happy with my life.
FF: What is your motto for life and career?
SB: I don’t think I have a motto per se. I have a list of things I try to follow, I guess. The usual things—be kind, treat others the way you’d like to be treated. If you can’t say something nice, keep quiet.
FF: What is your favorite scripture or quote?
SB: One of many favorites is a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
FF: Thanks for the interview.
SB: Thanks so much for having me!
To learn more about Susan M. Boyer and to purchase any of her titles. Visit her at:
Barnes & Noble: http://smarturl.it/BNBookClub