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Author Spotlight, Susan Keene

I met Mystery Author Susan Keene when she taught a Cozy Mystery Mini Class during a writers conference I attended several years ago. She enlightened me a great deal that day. Prior to her class, I had no idea there were so many mystery subgenres. I certainly didn’t understand the subtleties of a cozy mystery or even know the difference between a cozy and a hardboiled mystery. She explained things in a way that was easy to follow and patiently answered everyone’s questions.

Over the years, I’ve found myself at many of the same meetings and events as Susan, and we’ve become friends. In fact, she currently the president of one of my favorite groups, Sleuths’ Ink Mystery Writers. She’s always friendly and ready to share a bit of wisdom every time I see her. Her mysteries are creative and keep me guessing until the very end. I’m currently enjoying Susan’s book, Wedding Cake Murder, which is the first of her Arizona Summers series. It’s quite entertaining, and I have trouble putting it down to attend to my responsibilities, which is the goal of a good book.

Susan Keene has been writing full time for the past ten years. She loves to write mysteries readers can’t solve. Her Arizona Summers Mystery series reached #1 on Kindle. The Kate Nash Series is popular and a fourth book in each series will hit the shelves this year. She does her best to write each book as a stand alone. Susan won her first literary award at age 16. She lives on a farm in the Missouri Ozarks. Chili, the dog in the Kate Nash Series is patterned after her real dog and companion. Chili, who just turned 5. Nutmeg, the dog is the Arizona Summers Mysteries is a composite of several of the dogs on the farm. There are eight. Her three grandchildren and her daughter and sister are a great joy. She loves vegetable gardening, walking around the farm with her metal detector and reading.

It is my honor to introduce my friend, Mystery Author Susan Keene.

1. For those readers who are unfamiliar with you, please tell us a little about yourself.

I have been writing full time for the past ten years. I went to school to become a Radiological Technologist and served on the trauma team at a major hospital. My background is diverse. I have owned a pickle factory and at one time. I was a sales trainer for different companies.

My first real literary accomplishment happened early in my life. I won the American Poetry Award and was pronounced a fellow in the American Society of Poets when I was sixteen. I love research and wrote stories and poems for many publications, being paid with everything from postage stamps to contributor’s copies and small sums of money.

2. What kinds of writing do you enjoy?

I love to write mysteries. My goal is to make sure no one can figure out who the killer is until the last chapter. Once in a while, I go off on a tangent and get an idea that invades my mind, and I must write a book about it, so I have a psychological thriller and a crime novel published also.

3. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?

Creating characters and then letting them go and become real personalities in my mind and on paper. Sometimes I read what I have written and I’m amazed at what my characters do.

4. When did you start writing?

I have notebooks from way back when. I’ll age myself if I tell you how many years I’ve been at this.

5. To what or whom do your attribute your love of reading and writing stories?

While other children were out running the neighborhood, my sister, brother, and I were given quiet time daily to read. To make sure we actually read the books, we gave short oral book reports to my dad.

Before I turned ten, I told myself I was being punished. By the time I was twelve, no one had to tell me to pick up a book. I loved it and still do.

Most of this came from my father who wrote a daily newspaper column for forty years. He was a Dave Berry sort of guy.

6. How have your past experiences impacted your writing?

You can’t live with a writer and not pick up some of the finer points of the craft.

Although Dad instilled a love of reading in me, he also thwarted my creativity with a ruthless red editor’s pen and lines of criticism in the margins. I will say he is the reason I held back so long to make writing my occupation.

7. What are some jobs that you have held?

Before I list the jobs, let me tell you I had a short attention span and got bored easily. My first job was as a clerk in a laundry. I’ve been paid to help people open businesses including an ice cream shop, a bakery and a pool hall/tavern.

I was evening supervisor in the X-ray Department of a major St. Louis Hospital, started a pickle factory, a craft business and at one time trained salespeople how to ask only open ended questions.

8. What made you decide to write about the subjects or themes of your books?

I could always tell who committed the crime or killed the person long before a TV program was over. I thought wouldn’t it be nice to have stories no one could figure out?

It doesn’t take much of an idea for me to start a book. Sometimes it is a woman at the beauty shop or maybe a man screaming at his kids in public.

Also, I manage to slant a book toward a belief I hold dear.

9. Have you met any interesting people while researching your books?

Readers hate it when a detail is wrong or poorly researched. I have made friends with the county sheriff, and he is more than willing to tell me if something is right or wrong. I do the same with a local physician. Some of the medical jargon in my books comes from my own experience.

10. What is the most difficult part of writing?

I love to write. I also love to garden, go out with my metal detector, read, draw and collect rocks to name a few things. Our farm is small so far as farms go. It’s 100 acres, but I love to wander around it. We have horses, donkeys, sheep, dogs, cats and cattle. I just run out of time some days.

Let’s face it. We all need a couple of more hours in our days.

11. Who are some of your favorite authors and why do you enjoy their work?

I love Harlan Coben, James Patterson, Brenda Chapman, Sandra Brown (some of her work), Michelle Paver’s YA books and JK Rollins. I read many books from some of my friends who are great writers but not as well known, Shirley McCann, Tierney James and JC Fields are favorites.

When I read, I don’t have a favorite genre. I read anything that holds my interest, but I put it down if I find it boring. Life is too short, and there are so many books to read.

12. What writing advice did you find most useful when you were honing your craft?

Butt in chair. Write daily no matter what. Don’t edit or revise until the entire story is on paper and we all have 24 hours in a day. How do you choose to spend yours?

13. Do you have any new work just released or coming out soon? If so, would you please tell us a little about it?

I released the third book in my Arizona Summers Mystery series. Bonfire, Barbeques and Bodies. Arizona owns a popular café and Sunday brunch in a resort town.

Hunters who come to the area have come up missing for years. When the brother of one of the missing men comes to the restaurant in search of him, Ary and her boyfriend, the Chief of Police, get involved, and the search for the killer or killers begins.

Arizona has a dog who is nearly human, a mother who gets in more trouble than a five-year-old who is left at home alone all day, and an aunt who keeps things sane.

14. Can you tell us a little about your current project?

I’m well into writing book four of the Arizona Summers series. The new book, Moms, Miracles and Mistletoe is a Christmas book based around my recurring characters. Arizona is adopted and has an interaction with her mother she has never met. A miracle happens, after all, it is Christmas. I think mistletoe speaks for itself.

Thank you for reading Ozarks Maven! If you’ve enjoyed my little seeds of wisdom and joy, please subscribe to Ozarks Maven, Like Ozarks Maven on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @OzarksMaven.

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