1. You write the Logan Hunter Mystery series. How did Logan Hunter come to you?
When I finally got serious about writing, I knew I wanted my protagonist to be a strong, capable but quirky southern female investigator. Logan makes a few mistakes along the way, but she always sees that justice is served even if she has to nearly break the rules to do it. Fans of the series love Logan because she’s full of human-ness, if that’s a word. She investigates some horrific cases, gets past the gruesome aspects, and finds the perp. If she gets to knee them in the private parts as she reads them their rights, so much the better.
Hell Swamp is the third novel in the series. Since Genesis Beach was set along the North Carolina Crystal Coast and Just North of Luck was set in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Madison County), I decided to go back to my childhood home in Pender County and set Hell Swamp about four miles from where I once lived. In this book, Logan arrives at Black River Plantation to find the yard filled with cruisers and far too many gaping people. She wades through the crowd to the mansion’s foyer and nearly keels over when she sees a tiny woman gutted like a deer and strung up on her own chandelier. The crime scene has been compromised, to say the least. She owns the nightmare. Deer hunters are her prime suspects and they hated the victim. As Logan works the case, she meets plenty of strange river folks who don’t want to cooperate and whose children lack adequate supervision. Nita Quicki, the victim’s daughter, becomes a prime suspect along with Dick Leak, a busybody peeping Tom. The ending may surprise you.
3. Why did you set Hell Swamp near your childhood home?
When I was growing up, we went to Granny’s at least once a month and had to drive over Beatty’s Bridge on the way. The Black River Plantation sits right in the bend of Black River and I always pressed my little face to the window to take in as much of its beauty and ambiance as possible. I just wanted to get that old mansion into a book while it’s still standing. Since I write murder mystery, it fit perfectly with a gutting in deer-hunting country.
4. Are you a “panster” or an outliner and why?
Both, I guess. I usually start a book with a few ideas in my head and fly by the seat of my pants for a while. When I hit a snag in the zipper, I stop and outline. That gets me focused on where I’m going and where more development is needed and if there are scenes that just aren’t working.
5. Describe when and where you write.
I’m a morning person. I am most inspired in my sunroom that overlooks our lake. I keep pads, pens, and plenty of colorful Post-It notes on the tavern table in easy reach. This room is right off the kitchen where the coffee pot and chai tea are stored. Once I get a rough draft, I move to the computer and the book begins to flow and take shape. I have an old laptop but it hasn’t served me well. I’m looking around for a new one that I can take to the river, beach, or mountains and have enough battery and wireless capacity to get the job done.
6. What is your favorite marketing tip?
I use a variety of promotional venues, but certainly an online presence is key. The visibility is worldwide and I get to do great interviews with folks like the Dames of Dialogue. I ordered hand fans to promote my books and since I attend baseball games all summer even in 100-degree temperatures, I take them along and pass them out. The ladies love them, and an excerpt/review and purchase site are printed on the back of the fan. Each fan has the book’s cover on the front.
Thanks, I’d love to. When I started my blog, www.susanwhitfield.blogspot.com in 2009, I quickly realized that I could not post a new article every day. Well, I suppose I could, but I didn’t want people to become nauseous over blatant promotion of my own books, so I seldom posted anything at all. After several months of promoting myself only, other bloggers began to invite me over to their blogs for interviews about my Logan Hunter Mystery series. This pleased me, and I decided that I’d reciprocate.
That’s how I started interviewing a multitude of writers and other industry experts. I conjured up with a set of questions and each writer responded and sent along book cover images and bio pictures of themselves. For several months I was inundated with appreciative authors, and I absolutely loved doing it. I still interview authors but not 30 in thirty days as I did then. I also wanted to continue to find ways to promote other writers as much as they promote me.
That’s the rationale behind the cookbook, Killer Recipes. I have a friend who writes cookbooks with a twist—something I never expected to do. However, the idea to compile recipes from mystery writers across the country and give them some free promotion would not go away, so I asked other writers if they’d be interested in submitting recipes for a cookbook with proceeds going to cancer research, not into my own personal pocket. Nearly 90 writers signed up.
Many of the writers who submitted recipes were either cancer survivors or have been profoundly touched by this horrible disease. I only wish I’d had enough room to tell each one’s story as well. My grandson, Caleb, was diagnosed with leukemia when he was only two-years-old. It not only devastated our family but also our wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Even strangers stopped by the house and left us fresh vegetables or offered us grand parents words of encouragement. I realized that cancer reaches much farther than the patient.
I am thrilled to say that Caleb is now 10-years-old and cancer-free, thanks to research and a team of incredible doctors. I dedicated this cookbook to Caleb and all other victims of cancer. It is not, however, a low-fat cookbook. It is loaded with delicious recipes of all kinds from simple to challenging, and even though the title sounds ominous, we’re just having a little fun. We even renamed recipes to fit the murder mystery theme. For example my peanut brittle recipe is now “Brittle Bones”.
The purpose of Killer Recipes to raise money for research and simultaneously give writers a little free promotion. Under each recipe I listed the contributing author, book titles, and web sites. We plan to sell these books wherever we do signings. The book will also be available online and at your favorite local stores. If they don’t have it in stock, they can order it for you. It’s also in ebook and Kindle format. Publisher L&L Dreamspell is keeping the price as low as possible in the hopes of more sales for a worthy cause. We’re hoping folks will buy plenty of copies of Killer Recipes to give as gifts and join our efforts.
Killer Recipes print ISBN 978-1-60318-350-5 $13.95
Killer Recipes ebook ISBN 978-1-60318-351-2 $ 5.99
8. Tell us something about your part of the country—we love to travel.
I am blessed to live in North Carolina where we have the mountains and the ocean. I’ve lived on both sides of the state but presently live in Wayne County in the eastern part of the state. I am currently writing a stand-alone novel set here. Come on down any time!
9. Chat about your pets—we love them too.
Ah, I’ve had pets my whole life, but the one who stole my heart the most was my Himalayan, Lexus. I did not know when I used her as a character in Genesis Beach that she would die of cancer before its release. I still sob occasionally.
10. When is your next novel release?
Sin Creek, the fourth Logan Hunter Mystery, will be released around Thanksgiving. It’s set in Wilmington, our state port. This book challenged me on so many levels. I wrote a letter about the “truth” that was the seed for the book and posted it at the front.
11. What is your favorite southern food?
I just came in from picking blueberries, one of my favorite things, but I guess I’d have to say fried okra is my downright favorite southern food along with fried chicken, of course.
12. What’s next for you?
Once I complete the stand-alone, I plan to write an historical novel about an ancestor of mine who was a Knight of the Bath. I have tons of research books waiting for my attention. That may prove to be my greatest challenge yet.