One question I usually ask writers is about writer’s block. Some believe in it, others don’t. Among those that have experienced it, I’m always interested to see how they get past it. For Susan Whitfield, she used it to her advantage, and changed her project. As a result, a whole new mystery series evolved. It’s a lesson to all of us. When you get stuck, maybe you just need to take your character or story in another direction.
Enjoy this interview with Susan Whitfield.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
I have lived in North Carolina all my life, living on both sides of the state. I taught English for thirteen years and then moved into high school administration. I didn’t really get serious about publishing a novel until I retired from my principalship. I have since published three mystery novels, Genesis Beach, Just North of Luck, and Hell Swamp. I am currently working on the fourth, Sin Creek.
Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?
Hell Swamp is based on a snippet of truth: a woman wrote a nasty note to a 13-year-old who had killed a trophy deer and had his picture in the local newspaper. She called him a murderer. My family of hunters told me the story. My wheels began to spin. I set the novel along Black River where I grew up—major deer-hunting country. I incorporated The Black River Plantation, still standing on the river about four miles from my childhood home. It’s the crime scene of a heinous murder. What I hope readers will take away is the theme running through this book: Know where your kids are, who they’re with, and what they are doing!
Share some of your writing goals.
I like this question because we all need goals in life. Once I put Sin Creek into the publisher’s hopper, I plan to switch gears and write a humorous novel about two women whose friendship faces many trials. I am already doing research for an historical novel about my ancestor, a knight of the Bath. That will be my most challenging project since I’ve always written in present times. Going to medieval times will be quite interesting, indeed. I have also opened my own editing service, so I must be organized to handle it all.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it?
Yes, indeed. I had a bad case while writing Genesis Beach. It completely stopped my writing because I didn’t know how to deal with it. After several weeks of frustration, I decided to start another book, and The Logan Hunter Mystery Series was born. I used the same smart quirky protagonist and added new characters in a new setting—the North Carolina mountains.