Susie Black and Rag Lady Prequel (new Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series)
I met Susie Black, author of the award-winning Holly Swimsuit Mystery series, in the weekly chat room for our publisher, The Wild Rose Press, a couple of years ago. Soon we were emailing each other for advice, which turned into an occasional Zoom and lots of late-night messaging. I’ve read all of her books, some while they were in developmental stages. I’ve been highly entertained by her unpredictable plots and unique characters in her series, especially the recurring Holly Schlivnik and Yentas (her L.A. colleagues in the swimwear industry). Rag Lady, a prequel to the series and my personal favorite (release day, November 15; on pre-order now), was inspired by Susie’s life and career in ladies’ swimwear–and her family (love, love, love that Nana!). And I love that she wrote her prequel AFTER writing the first four books in the series. You’ll laugh and maybe even cry a little over Rag Lady, a funny and nostalgic blast from the past. Enter the contest with a comment at the bottom of this blog by NOVEMBER 1 for a chance to win an electronic copy of Rag Lady (epub or PDF version).
Interesting Factoids About Susie:
- Born in the Big Apple, Susie now calls sunny SoCal home.
- Similar to her protagonist in her award-winning Holly Swimsuit Mystery series, she enjoyed a decades-long, successful career as a ladies’ swimwear sales executive.
- She began her career as a manufacturer’s rep in the deep southern states, traveling thousands of miles in a 5-state territory for 5 years.
- At that time, she was the ONLY woman in that territory doing that type of job.
- She is short (4’9”) and in order to get all her sample bags into the huge trunk of her car, she had to jump into the trunk to get them all situated. Susie incorporated her lack of height–and the consequences of being short–into the personality of Holly Schlivnik, her series protagonist. She detailed the car trunk experience in Rag Lady.
- She’s a college graduate who also reads, writes, and speaks excellent Spanish, albeit “with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals.”
- Susie based her wildly popular fictional standard Poodle/Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud–introduced in Death by Surfboard, book three of her award-winning Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series–on the personalities of two beloved Springer Spaniels, Punim (pretty face in Yiddish) and Trevor.
- She lived on a houseboat for ten years and made that experience an important component of Holly Schlivnik’s lifestyle by having her main character live on a houseboat moored in Marina del Rey, California.
After a decades-long career as a ladies’ swimwear sales executive, she sees the category as “the art of illusion,” with diverse style trends from the string bikini to the tankini introduced to either highlight a woman’s best assets or conceal a flaw. Does the thought of trying on a swimsuit scare you silly? No worries. Susie to the rescue with her “The Fit Guide for Choosing the Right Swimsuit.” This handy resource includes photos of different body types posed in a variety of bathing suits so that you can see the effect of the suit on the figure. It’s a timely booklet to help you match your body type to the perfect swimsuit and is accompanied by advice from Susie Black, an expert in the field of swimsuit apparel. And it’s a hoot to read!
Nancy–How many books have you published?
Susie: To date, I have published four humorous cozy mysteries (Death by Sample Size, Death by Pins and Needles, Death by Surfboard, and Death by Cutting Table) and a prequel to the series, Rag Lady (autobiographically-inspired and slated for publication on November 15th), for a total of 5 published works in 3 years (see book covers with links below).
Nancy–How many unfinished or unpublished books do you have?
Susie: I have one unfinished manuscript that is a work in progress and one unpublished book that has been submitted for contract.
Nancy–You chose to write your books as part of a series. Can you tell us what the ins and outs of writing a series are?
Susie: Certainly. I chose to write my stories as part of a series, but because I like to give options, each book can be read on its own out of order without the reader getting lost. Pretty cool, huh? So, how in the world did I accomplish this, especially with memorable, recurring characters? Click this link and read the way I do it:
Nancy–What is your definition of a successful author?
Susie: When a reader tells me they were up all night reading my book because they simply could not put it down.
Nancy–Do you have any advice for fledgling writers?
Susie: Yes. Take the time to learn the craft of writing. Then keep writing…no matter what, keep writing. Believe in yourself, never let anyone step on your dreams, and never stop asking “what if?”
Nancy–Aside from your writing, what other exciting things have happened to you lately?
Susie: About six months ago–via social media and a mutual colleague–I was miraculously reunited with a dear friend and apparel industry colleague I’d lost contact with when she moved to Europe decades ago.
We picked up the relationship as though we’d just had lunch together the day before. She now lives on the lush, jungle-like, incredibly gorgeous Big Island of Hawai’i and invited me to visit. I just returned from a fantastic 3-week visit with her and her son. The first week I was there, the Mount Kilauea Volcano erupted, and we had the opportunity to witness Mother Nature acting up. We watched in slack-jawed amazement as volcanic steam bubbled up out of the ground and lava spewed over 35 feet into the air. It was an awesome, unforgettable experience.
Nancy–What is your favorite childhood book?
Susie: Hands down, the Nancy Drew series, which got me interested in reading and solving mysteries. As a matter of fact, the Nancy Drew series is also responsible for a new prequel series I am writing the first manuscript for right now. The Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series: The Young Years features my main character, Holly Schlivnik as a high school investigative reporter for her school newspaper. The series is based on my own experience as a high school newspaper reporter and later Editor-In-Chief. Fingers crossed, the first manuscript will be submitted to my editor by the end of this year.
Nancy–Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
Susie: Yes. There were two: Sol Kaufler, my high school newspaper faculty advisor (thank you, Mr. Kaufler!), and my maternal grandmother. Like the protagonist in my series, I always dreamed of a writing career, but life had other plans. When I mused to my grandmother how often I wondered “what if…” she said I was destined to get into the rag biz to write about it, and that my career was the story I was born to tell. She urged me to keep a daily journal that chronicled the interesting characters I encountered and the crazy situations I got myself into and out of during the course of my ladies’ apparel sales career. I took her advice and those journal entries are the foundation of everything I write. Her advice was so pivotal to my writing gig that I included it as a scene in my latest book, Rag Lady!
Nancy–Speaking of your latest book … tell us about it?
Susie: Yes, and thanks for asking! Rag Lady is the prequel to the mysteries in The Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series and is the story of how Holly Schlivnik, the series protagonist, got into the apparel industry. Here is a little blurb to whet your reader’s appetite:
“Recent college graduate Holly Schlivnik dreams of being a writer, but fate has other plans. A family crisis throws her into an improbable situation and her life will never be the same. Determined to make her own luck when things don’t happen the way she plans, the irrepressible young woman takes a sledgehammer to the glass ceiling and shatters it to smithereens. The wise-cracking, irreverent transplanted Californian takes you on a raucous, rollicking rollercoaster ride of her hysterical adventures as a ladies apparel sales rep traveling in the deep South as she ends up finding herself along the way.”
Nancy–What future projects do you have in your bag of tricks?
Susie: In addition to the new prequel series I’ve mentioned, I also have book number six, Death by Jelly Beans, that has been submitted for a contract to my publisher, so keep your eyes open for an announcement in the future. I have in mind a new mystery series set in the California desert but not in the apparel industry as well as a fictionalized version of the true story of a group of Jewish men who collected money from their synagogue congregations and got the New York Jewish Mafia to buy and smuggle arms and ammunition into the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII.
Where Else Can Readers Find You Online?
All Social Media: https://linktr.ee/susieblack.com