Interview with Susan Griner, Runner Up in the WOW! Fall 2019 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, April 14, 2020
Susan is a Japanese-American author of children’s fiction. Her work has been published in Babybug and Cricket magazines. She has also published two middle grade novels.

She lives in the Seattle area with her husband and two daughters.

Read Susan's award-winning story here and then return for an interview with the author.

----------Interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: "The Forager and the Fool” is such a unique story with amazing character development in a short amount of words. We’d love to know where you got the inspiration for this story, and what is was like developing Barb?

Susan: I live in the Pacific northwest where many varieties of prized mushrooms grow as well as those to avoid. I developed the idea for the story after reading about someone who ate the wrong mushrooms and ended up on dialysis. I did eat a slice of wild mushroom tart with a mix of trepidation and curiosity. The character of Barb is a composite of eccentric people I have known. I like unusual people, because they have the richest lives.

WOW: Sounds like the perfect set of circumstances to craft a winning story! You have also published two middle grade novels. Could you share some information about those with us?

Susan: My first book is called, The Cemetery Sleeper. It's about a boy who sleepwalks to a family cemetery. The mystery is whether he's drawn there because he's grieving over his mother's death or if he's being haunted. The second book is called, Shy Ways, and it draws on my life as a Japanese-American growing up in a small southern town during the 70's. The relationship the girl has with her Japanese mother is the crux of the story rather than her difficulty being accepted.

WOW: Having had stories published in Babybug and Cricket Magazines, what advice do you have for breaking into those types of markets?

Susan: I happened to be reading a lot of Babybug magazines to my youngest daughter so it served as research for the kinds of poetry and stories they looked for. I was also keenly observant of all my daughter was interested in at the time. It was a perfect time to write for them, but I couldn't capture that time again. Both magazines list the topics they are looking for on their website so start there.

WOW: I find that to be true, too, that our writing tends to evolve with our children's lives. What books are currently in your “To Be Read” pile?

Susan: The Situation and the Story--the Art of Personal Narrative by Vivian Gornick (she's an exacting writer) and  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

WOW: Are you working on anything new? We’d love to hear details!

Susan: I'm working on a YA novel set on the Silk Road. The main character is a spoiled prince who pretends to be a marriageable princess when the Chinese soldiers take him on a journey across the treacherous desert. I'm enjoying writing it but I sometimes get bogged down by the research.

WOW: That sounds like an intriguing project! Sending you good writing vibes and we look forward to checking out your other work. Thank you again, Susan.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Thanks for doing this interview. I enjoyed reading Susan's interview. Her story is indeed a hoot. (The Velveeta fudge? That had me wondering if there is such a thing, or a crazy, made-up detail.)

Susan--Congratulations. Congrats on winning a spot as a runner-up, and congrats for getting two MG novels published. I'm in the middle of making a last push to get a nibble on one, and waist-deep in queries... so I bow down to you. ;)

The foraging character in your story--what a quirky lady. I'm impressed with how much you packed in not too many words. And the ending was perfect!

Good luck with your future writing... and be careful with those mushroom tarts.

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