Q&A With Susie Orman Schnall
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Q&A With Susie Orman Schnall
This week’s Q&A is with author Susie Orman Schnall. Susie’s novels are The Balance Project, The Subway Girls, We Came Here To Shine & On Grace. What’s also very impressive is on top of being an author, Susie’s writing has appeared in publications which is The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Popsugar, Writers Digest & Glamour.
Q: When in your life did you realize that your calling was to become a writer?
A: Your question stopped me at the word “calling.” I’ve never thought about it that way, and I’m not sure, if I really think about it, that I would consider writing my “calling.” It’s just something I’ve always enjoyed and been good at. My interest in writing has evolved over the years from poems and stories I wrote while in my teens, to the corporate marketing and communications work I did in my twenties. I didn’t start writing novels until I was 40 and I have loved my work as a novelist ever since.
Q: Is it fair to say that On Grace & The Balance Project novels are somewhat non-fiction novels since On Grace is about turning 40 and The Balance Project is about juggling work life as well as your personal life? What made you want to write about those specific topics?
A: On Grace and The Balance Project are definitely novels, pure fiction. They just happen to deal with issues that have also been covered by others extensively in nonfiction. All of my novels address challenges women face in the workplace and in their personal relationships. I love exploring it all through fiction, creating conflicts for my characters, and then watching them try to resolve them within a fictional world. Plus, because they’re issue-based, they’re perfect for book clubs as they stimulate great conversations.
Q: The Subway Girls & And We Came Here To Shine are historical fiction novels. What fascinated you about writing these novels specifically?
A: I first became fascinated with the histories they explored. I heard about the Miss Subways campaign on NPR and was blown away by the contest itself and by the testimonials of the women who competed. After doing a deep dive into the history, I thought it would be a great premise for a novel, and The Subway Girls came from there. For We Came Here to Shine, I learned about the 1939 New York World’s Fair and specifically Billy Rose’s Aquacade from Esther William’s autobiography. I immediately wanted to create characters who worked at the Fair that glorious summer of 1939. I love slice-of-life history and those two subject matters have so many interesting facets to explore. And the fact that I could create characters who faced personal and professional challenges in those settings made it even more fun.
Q: What is your advice to new authors on how to deal with negative critiques whether that’s reviews, online trolls and family members who don’t support their writing goals?
A: There are always going to be people who don’t like your work. It’s part of the business. It doesn’t feel good, and for some reason one negative review can often times impact me more than 100 positive ones, but I think, time has a way – at least it did for me – of making the negative critiques less painful. There’s absolutely no way to avoid receiving negative reviews, but you have control over how much you expose yourself to them.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: Yes, We Came Here to Shine has been optioned for film, and I wrote the screenplay. It is with a production company and going through the channels in Hollywood, which can be a slow process. I’ve also written a pilot for a one-hour television drama (unrelated to my books), which is also being shopped. Hopefully good news soon!
Q: If you’re writing a new novel now, are you allowed to spoil any details or do you have to keep it under wraps for now?
A: I wrote a new novel—contemporary workplace fiction about female businesswomen—and it’s out on submission. I’m also writing a fun mystery with an author friend, but I can’t reveal anything more about that one now. All I can say is that I’ve really enjoyed the process of co-writing!
Q: What was it like submitting pieces to famous publications? What is your advice to anyone wanting to submit pieces to famous publications such as The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Popsugar, Writers Digest & Glamour?
A: For most of those pieces, I used BookSparks which is a fantastic PR firm that works with authors, and the pieces were in support of the novel I was launching at that time. But to submit directly, it’s important to find the right editor and understand their submission requirements and to make sure your piece fits with the voice and subject matter of the target publications.
My website is www.susieschnall.com and my Instagram is @susieormanschnall.
Thank you, Bianca!