Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Behind The Words // Susan Helene Gottfried

Susan Helen Gottfried is a multi-talented wonder. She writes, she edits, she designs, she markets. I first fell into her lap (oh she'll love that euphemism) when we were hanging around late last year and we've had a tug-of-war of wit ever since (She's the wit, I'm the war). She writes about rock and roll and, hell, if anyone's been keeping up with me, we all know I love me some pretty rock songs. Without wasting more of your time on my words, lets learn about Susan...

Where Susan Writes...

Jason asked if there's a sheep grazing outside my window while I work and while I wish there was, I remember reading something once that said sheep will eat grass down to the roots. So maybe I'd rather use goats to replace the omni-present whine of the suburban nightmare, the lawnmower. Or bison. Yeah, bison. After all, the Native American Indian folks were able to use every last bit of a bison. That sounds like conservation at work to me -- AND they don't make mechanical rumbles that rattle my walls. I know this. I've had bison graze outside my window before. It was 1998, late summer, and I was in Yellowstone National Park. Paradise.

Back to my work space. After the previous question, does it surprise you to hear my work space is cluttered? I'm slowly mastering the piles, reading the books that need to be read (don't ask how long some of them have been here, okay? It's embarrassing), filing the papers, and filling recycling bags with artwork my kids made me when they were 2. Saving the best is fine. Saving them all is absurd.

It's the books that are going to be the biggest obstacle. There are just too many of them -- around 500 -- and they take up a good quarter of my desk. Yes, I fully intend to at least start to read each one. I never force myself to finish a book. There are (obviously) too many out there.

Once I get all THAT under control, I will have the workspace of my dreams. I think. I don't know. One good thing about the tall piles of books is that they provide me with a privacy screen, as I love to have the blinds open in here, but I don't like the idea that anyone walking by can look in and see me at my desk -- and potentially see what web page I'm currently surfed onto...

The biggest change to my work space that I'm planning is the addition of a couple of new cats. My old ones were just that -- old. They were with me all the time, and I miss that terribly, now that I'm a no-cat house. I need to fix that. It still hurts to sit down at my desk and know there's not going to be a tabby cat jumping over the mess and making his way to sit between my keyboard and my trackball. Rather than make the hurt heal with time, I'd rather have a new cat. Besides, in winter, they keep my lap warm as I work. My office, with three exposed walls, gets awfully cold in here.

Susan's Current Work...

Lately, I've been working on the follow-up to Trevor's Song, which I've tentatively titled King Trevor. If you know Trevor, the title fits perfectly, and I understand there's something about a burger joint crown involved in the book somewhere...

I have no clue when I'll be ready to put it out, unfortunately. I'm plugging away.

Much closer to release is the long-awaited Demo Tapes: Year 3. As the name implies, it'll be the third installment of my popular short fiction anthologies that feature the indomitable Trevor Wolff and the rest of his band, ShapeShifter. It's being copy edited, and then I'll need to format and get the cover from my artist. Hopefully June for that one. Definitely July. Which means it'll happen in August, or even September.

Susan's Advice...

I purposely avoid the "writer giving advice" thing. There are so many others out there doing just that and really, I'd rather shut up and do it rather than talk about it. So that's my advice. Quit talking. Do it.

Actually, the BEST advice I ever heard came from author CJ Lyons. Now, CJ's not just a damn good writer, she's good people, too. (She's so good, she'll say thanks for this plug and not do something bribery-related like say thanks with chocolate. As much as I love chocolate, I have to admire CJ's integrity.) What CJ said was this: Write 2k every day. Read 2k every day.

Write. Read.

Yep. Sounds like a recipe for success to me. That old adage to write what you know includes your knowledge of the craft of writing, folks. Learn it all. Learn how the business works. Watch it change, sometimes by the hour. Learn as much as you can -- and never stop learning.

Finding Susan...

Susan's website:

Thanks for sharing with us Susan! It's always excellent to welcome writers who wish to be so forthright about their process and work space. Despite the rock-and-roll nature of your stories, when it comes to talking about your world you do anything but put on a show--and that's refreshing.


  1. Hi Susan! Love your advice, or CJ's advice.
    I'm like you - I don't think much about the "hows" of writing. Just doing it is hard enough without deconstructing it.

    Nice to see you here at the Reaches.


  2. Explaining it is hard, no doubt. But talking about one's process and habits, I find, can enlighten others. At least, that's my hope with this Behind The Words series. I know I've learned alot from the guests.

    That said, I find it difficult to answer some of my own questions about writing process, so I totally hear what you're saying Eden when you mention the "hows" of writing.

    My own work is best when I don't think about it too much. What's a predicate? :)

    j. //

  3. Wow, Jason. This IS old -- Demo Tapes 3 was released last JUNE, and King Trevor's got a release date of April 12, 2012. Good to see it up, though; it's neat to be able to connect with folk, no matter how long since I wrote it!

    And Eden, it's great to see you here, too. C'mon over to the Meet and Greet while you're making your rounds.

  4. You can fit 500 books on your desk? I'm doing good to squeeze in two.


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