Monday, September 16, 2013

Straight Chatting from the Library: Susan Sloate

Susan Sloate, author of Stealing Fire, has stopped by The Library to chat about books with us as part of her virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Susan will be awarding a notebook perfect for journaling to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. You can find the other stops on the tour here:

Welcome, Susan. What is the favorite book you remember as a child?

Like most of us, I became an addicted reader as a child, but the one book that really stood out for me was GONE WITH THE WIND, which I read when I was ten. I was going through a horrible time at school—I was the pariah who was being picked on every day—and it was a miserable year for me. I sort of hid in books, which was the only place where life seemed to be sane. I picked GONE WITH THE WIND from my school book-club catalog (it was one for older readers), and I just fell in love with it (as many, many readers have before me). It was so powerful that I not only read it cover to cover, I even memorized parts of it. To this day I can still recite the entire first paragraph of the book word for word. It was the book that really showed me an author’s power to weave a spell over her readers. I never forgot the lesson.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

STEALING FIRE : passionate love story about unlikely soul mates and 1980’s Broadway.

What are you reading right now?

ME & LEE, a nonfiction account of a woman who claims that she was Lee Harvey Oswald’s lover in the summer of 1963 in New Orleans, a few months before the JFK assassination. It’s fascinating, and shows a side of him we’ve never been allowed to see, not to mention a lot of the world he was living in and the people he was working with. A tremendous read.

Do you have any bad book habits?

Yes, and it comes from my days as a story analyst in Hollywood. When I got a new script to read, I wanted to know how much torture I’d have to go through (most of the scripts I read weren’t very good at all)—so as soon as I got a new script I’d flip to the end to see the page count. I hate to admit it, but I still do this today, even with books I’m really excited to read. I try hard not to read anything on the page but the number, though sometimes I can’t help myself.

E-Reader or print? and why?

Both—and for a very good reason! I have a big library of bound books, some of which are old and rare—and I have no intention of giving them up. A lot of them are also not available in any kind of eReader edition (yet), so it would make no sense to get rid of them. And as an author, honestly, I never feel as though I’ve really written a book until I hold the finished product in my hands. You just can’t do that with an eBook, though I get very excited when I download it to my Kindle!

When do you do most of your reading?

At night; I tend to read myself asleep. To me, it’s a great way (not the best way, but a great way) to end the day!

Do you loan your books?

Seriously, I don’t like to. If I like a book enough to recommend it to someone, it’s usually because it’s had a profound impact on me. I’ve found that too often, I don’t get the books back, and that’s made me leery of lending them out to anyone. (To me, lending a book is like lending your child. Wait, that might actually be a good idea … ) A few years ago I started buying up multiples of books I loved, so if I wanted to lend it to someone, I could give them a copy and not mind if I never got it back. I can’t do that with every book, but it does help a little.

How do you keep your books organized?

I have custom-built bookshelves nine feet high and twelve feet wide (three of them). Each section is divided into single shelves about twelve inches high and 18 inches wide, so I have all my biographies in one section, my Hollywood books in another, my books on writing in another, and so on. It makes it very easy to find what I’m looking for.

Re-reader or not?

Absolutely! I feel about books the way I feel about certain movies: you can’t get all the good out of them just by reading or seeing them once. With a movie I love, it tends to be the third time I see it that I enjoy it most (I have no idea why). With some books, I’ve re-read them so often since childhood that now I just read them to look at the words laid out on the page. In some inexplicable way, that’s really comforting. I love those old stories, and still have all the Scholastic Book Club books I bought as a child, about 400 of them. I have no intention of ever giving them away—I’m still reading them!

What would make you not finish a book?

I used to finish every book I started. It was a point of honor: don’t start what you don’t intend to finish. Then a year or so ago I did some quick math and realized I’d never live long enough to finish all the books I want to read in my lifetime. So I got really ruthless: if a book didn’t really speak to me in the first 50 pages or so, I put it down. I think giving an author 50 pages to make an impression is fair; if he or she can’t do it in that time, there are plenty of other authors who can.

Keep books or give them away?

I used to keep all books. I didn’t understand people who said they had no room at home for books. I used to say, “Get rid of your furniture!” Then I had to move at the end of 2012, and I was faced with packing up boxes of books to go into storage. Well, that changed my mind in a hurry. (Do you see a pattern in this interview??? I think I do!)

So I decided if I knew I’d be re-reading the book within six months, I’d keep it. Until then, I’d kept books I last read in 1979 and would never read again. Those went to the book fair that raised funds for our local library. In addition to CD’s, DVD’s and VHS tapes, I donated 600 books at the end of 2012. But I still had 2000 books I couldn’t bring myself to give away! (And of course, I find myself buying more books now—the collection just keeps growing, no matter what I do!)

About the Author:
Susan Sloate is the author of 20 published books, including FORWARD TO CAMELOT (with Kevin Finn), an alternative history of the JFK assassination, STEALING FIRE, an autobiographical love story, and REALIZING YOU (with Ron Doades), for which she invented a new genre – the self-help novel. FORWARD TO CAMELOT was a #6 Amazon bestseller, took honors in 3 literary competitions and was optioned for film production by a Hollywood company. STEALING FIRE was a quarter-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Susan has also written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, including RAY CHARLES: FIND ANOTHER WAY!, which won a silver medal in the 2007 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards, AMELIA EARHART: CHALLENGING THE SKIES, a perennial Amazon bestseller, and MYSTERIES UNWRAPPED: THE SECRETS OF ALCATRAZ, which led to her appearance on a special for The History Channel in 2009, as well as books for five girls’ fiction series. As a screenwriter, she has written an informational film for McGraw-Hill Films and optioned two scripts to Hollywood production companies. As a sportswriter, she’s covered the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets. She’s also managed two recent political campaigns, founded the East Cooper Authors Festival (which put 18 professional authors in 17 area schools in one day) and serves on the Culture, Arts and Pride Commission of the Town of Mount Pleasant.

How do you recognize your soulmate?

In glittery 1980’s Los Angeles, Beau Kellogg is a brilliant Broadway lyricist now writing advertising jingles and yearning for one more hit to compensate for his miserable marriage and disappointing life.

Amanda Harary, a young singer out of synch with her contemporaries, works at a small New York hotel, while she dreams of singing on Broadway.

When they meet late at night over the hotel switchboard, what begins will bring them each unexpected success, untold joy, and piercing heartache ... until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.

STEALING FIRE is, at its heart, a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the transformative power of love.

STEALING FIRE was a Quarter-Finalist (Top 5%) in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.


  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Judith! So happy to be with you in the Library!

  2. I have read STEALING FIRE by Susan Sloate and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a highly unusual romance, You will not soon forget this love story or the characters. We have all read love stories that stay with us for years, this is that type of novel. I could hardly put it down, however sometime the tears would blur the page. If you believe in true love, be sure and read STEALING FIRE>

  3. Thank you, Mary Lou! It's wonderful to get a ringing endorsement like that from a reader! I especially like it when my readers cry :)