Sunday, December 4, 2022

Q&A with Susen Edwards




Susen Edwards is the author of the new novel What a Trip. She also has written the children's picture book Doctor Whisper and Nurse Willow. Also a massage therapist and health care educator, she lives in New Jersey.


Q: What inspired you to write What a Trip, and how did you create your character Fiona?


A: I wrote a short essay about losing my best friend to a drunk driver when I was in college. Writing the essay gave me the courage to confront the PTSD that had stayed with me since the night of the accident. One the essay was on paper, I knew I had much more to tell, and What a Trip was born.


Originally, I wanted the book to be a memoir. I envisioned writing one chapter from my point of view and one from my friend’s. After I completed a few chapters, Fiona appeared and immediately took over as the protagonist. Other characters began populating the pages and What a Trip morphed into fiction.


Fiona is vulnerable, naïve, and desperate to find her place in the world. In many ways she captures the universality of a young woman’s coming of age.


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Fiona and her friend Melissa?


A: We only experience the friendship between Fiona and Melissa through Fiona’s eyes. She feels a connection to Melissa through their shared experiences. As Fiona matures, she finds herself moving away from Melissa’s insanity, but through a deep sense of loyalty stays connected to her friend.


I suspect Melissa depends upon Fiona for stability and a connection to reality.

Q: The writer J. Dylan Yates said of the book, “Through the eyes of the wide-eyed Fiona O’Brien, the story is a sensorial immersion in the unhinged explosion of consciousness of the times.” What do you think of that description, and how did you recreate the time period you write about?


A: Yates’s quote captures the times and what I was trying to achieve through my writing. I came of age during the Vietnam War era, but without research and immersion into the past, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the “unhinged explosion of consciousness.”


I plugged into the music of the time, especially some of the antiwar anthems such as John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” The lyrics and rhythms immediately brought me back.


I read articles written at the time and viewed photos of protests and antiwar moratoriums. In the photos I studied facial expressions, clothing, and attitudes. I researched slang from the period to ensure my characters spoke in the vernacular of the “Woodstock Generation.”


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I had a rough idea of the story line, but I never expected Reuben to appear. Once he did, the story took me in an entirely new direction. I worked and reworked the ending several times. The ending I chose gave me chills, so I knew it was the way to go.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’ve finished the first draft of a story of a young woman abandoned by her family who takes a deep dive into the world of international drug smuggling in the late 1970s.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I never expected to fulfill my dream of being a full-time writer, but here I am. My advice to your readers is to never give up on your dream. Stay focused on your goals and remember to enjoy the journey. It’s all we have.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment