Susan Morse is the author of the new memoir The Dog Stays in the Picture: Life Lessons from a Rescued Greyhound. She also has written another memoir, The Habit. She has worked as an actress in New York and Los Angeles, and she lives in Philadelphia.
Q: Why did you decide to focus this memoir on your rescued greyhound, Lilly?
A: From the very start of our relationship, Lilly was a major preoccupation, and my feelings about her were coming from a deep level. She was a dream subject – a fascinating combination of strength and fragility infused with both subtle comedy and the poise of a tragic heroine.
Q: You write of Lilly, "It's no accident I've been so distracted by a dog with anxiety issues--we're one and the same, Lilly and me." How do you identify with Lilly, and what impact has she had on your life?
A: I really related to Lilly’s anxiety – I knew it – that disaster-complex-type terror that seems completely irrational and out of proportion. We each had our reasons for anticipating calamity, and we both needed to keep our fears from paralyzing us. Seeking to calm Lilly gave me insight into myself, and, best of all, a way outside of myself.
Q: Your book also focuses on your adjustment to your children's departure for college. What advice do you have for other parents experiencing the empty nest syndrome?
A: Here’s my all-time favorite empty nesting tip: Think of something you’ve always wanted to do, set a goal, and pursue it.
Q: What reaction have your family members had to your memoirs?
A: The general reaction is positive. They’re kind enough to let me have a bit of a go at them because I make them laugh, and they can tell everything I write comes from a loving place.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m in the early stages of a two-year research project for a third memoir which involves a lot of time outside the house interacting with strangers – quite the opposite of what life was like at home studying Lilly and thinking about the empty nest. This time the challenge is I’m having so much fun I’m not sure how I’ll be able to sit still long enough to actually write when the time comes!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Advice for authors who have to read their own audio books: Eat nothing but hardboiled eggs on recording days. I wish somebody had told me that before we started mine. I was sent home once because my stomach absolutely refused to shut up.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb