Charlie Suisman Interview Published on: 21, May 2020

Tell us about your childhood. How did it affect you as an author?

I read all the time as a kid. It was something that everyone in my family did. One of our inevitable questions to each other was "What are you reading?" But of all the things that reading taught me were imaginable, becoming an author wasn't one of them!

What inspired your first original story? Did you share the tale with anyone?

A friend of mine recently sent me a very short story (two paragraphs) that I wrote when I was in first grade and was reprinted (with others) in the school newsletter. It had a nice O'Henry twist at the end, lol.

When and why did you choose to become an author? Whom do you write for?

I don't think I've become an author. I think I'm becoming one. I started writing for myself and then, when I was occasionally making myself laugh, I thought that maybe others might enjoy it, too.

How has been your experience of being a founder and publisher of Manhattan User’s Guide?

It was a great, 28-year experience. I've now closed the publication down because the idea of 'getting the most out of NYC' is just not relevant for the foreseeable future.

How did Manhattan User’s Guide become the longest-running city newsletter?

Attrition. We just get plugging along and our overhead was comparatively low.

What inspired you to write your first novel, Arnold Falls?

A combination of my living in the Hudson Valley for a period of time, and the 2016 presidential election. I was looking for a sense of community and a sense of humor that I wasn't finding IRL, as the kids say, so I decided to create a place I wanted to live.

Who inspired the character of Jeebie Walker?

It wasn't one person, but the kind of people who are passionate about something beyond what seems like all reason. I love those people, who feel so strongly about something, even if the fate of the world doesn't hang on it. And Jeebie grew out of that, but being completely flummoxed by the prospect of love is the thing I love most about him.

What are some of the biggest challenges of being a fiction author?

Writing. Rewriting. Editing. Showing it to anyone. All of it.

What is the one thing apart from writing that you enjoy doing the most in your free time?

I put the things I love most in Arnold Falls: music, food, animals, colorful characters, but also travel and learning new stuff.

What is your creative process like? How does an idea in your head become a novel?

I'm in awe of people who can outline a whole novel and then sit down and write it. I can't do that. But I'm not a seat-of-your-pantser either. I have to have an ending in mind, a theme, a plot driver, and a few characters - at least that's what I had starting Arnold Falls.

What are some of your biggest fears when it comes to writing?

In this case, it was that it wouldn't be funny to other people. People find different things funny, and different kinds of humor appeal to different people. So I was cognizant of that. I thought, well, if the humor can encompass wit and pratfalls, maybe that will work. And it's interesting to me what scenes or even lines people say they laughed out loud at - there's a range, for sure.

What was your favorite part, and your least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

Once I decided to go the indie route, I had to get over my strong aversion to self-promotion. The way I get around it is to promote the book, not the author. The best part is I get to make all the decisions. I'm a bit of control freak, just like Jeebie in the book.

What was the best advice you've ever received related to writing and could you share it with us?

Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. The one-step-at-a-time approach is, for me, the only way to keep going.

How are you spending time during the lock-down (covid-19)?

Trying to write, walks with my dog, binge-watching Netflix et al, eating chocolate.

How did you first come across AllAuthor and what made you join? What are your thoughts on the website so far?

It was through the Alliance of Independent Authors website. I find the website very helpful, with lots of great resources.

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