Novelists Unwind Welcomes Susie Finkbeiner



hey everyone so glad to be with you again on godless online I'm Johnny Alexander and I'm here with Susie Finkbeiner who is a CBA best-selling author and we're gonna be talking about her writing journey and also about her latest book all manner of things which is a historic novel Susie's so glad to have you here today thank you for being with me thanks for having me I'm so excited about this yeah me too it's always just so fun to talk about talk to authors about their writing journeys and how they come up with the stories and and all that kind of thing so one thing that intrigued me about all manner things and first let's go ahead and show show the book as Susie and I recording this beautiful beautiful cover it's not out yes I haven't had a chance to read it but by the time you're viewing this it will be out so you'll be able to get it on Amazon or you know Barnes Noble wherever you want to buy your books all manner thinks it is a historical novel bit it's set in sort of a different era than we usually think of for historical novels so tell us a little bit about that and how that came about well all manner things begins in the early summer of 1967 which is it is abnormal um historical and I haven't read a lot of novels set in that time it is the story of Annie Jacobson and her family and it it resolves around the Vietnam War and some of the cultural changes that were going on at the time really it's a family story um it's it's um it's a story about this family that I I really came to love as I wrote it the reason I chose the 60s is because when I was a little girl I remember you know when you snoop your parents things an airmail envelope and I knew it was from Vietnam when my dad was was in Vietnam I didn't read it it it kind of settled in my mind this whole idea of soldiers writing home and what it must have been like for the families who here and things were different than you know there was it was harder to communicate you you're not you didn't have the 24-hour news cycle and so they really depended on these letters and and that's really where this novel was born and I was trolling through some used books one day and I found a book called dear America and it is a collection of letters home from from boys who are in Vietnam and there were a lot of heartbreaking letters or some funny ones there the whole spectrum and I thought I need to write this novel Wow Wow in the Vietnam War I think it's still just so you know I was a young during all that time I mean I don't think you were probably even born yet but you know it's like I so I was looking through your website like some of this stuff's like I was really tickled about but I saw in there and we'll get into that in a little bit but so I just don't like a little bit too young to understand all of that was going on and I didn't have older brothers that were there but you know it's like the World War two vets were always just considered heroes in the Vietnam here dad you know they just came back to a whole different thing as that part of what you have to do and in your story or was that was your story before all of that well um 1967 is when a lot of the war protests back home really started to heat up okay and so um in one of the letters my my character's brother Mike writes home and says tell them to knock it off because of how demoralizing it was to the soldier Shireen actually the long and famously used the word protests in Washington DC New York City and such against her soldiers to kind of demoralize them and say your people are not on your side against them and then I do have a veteran era a young man named Walt Vander Laan who is in the same little small town he comes home from Vietnam and and his experience is is tortured he's got not because necessarily of the people in the town but because of what he experienced when he was and not being able to have resources to find help that's sad that's really that's hard yeah I think it's a really difficult era to write about just because of all the things that were going on and such a people but you know so it's so interesting to me that you tackled it and seemed to tackle it in a very good way from from what I've read about about the story yeah I love what he said that he only mentioned hippies a couple times you know when my mom I told my mom I said um because why not man I talked about my writing quite a bit I'm going to write a sixties book and she said well you know we weren't all hippies right and since it's set in small town West Michigan there weren't there were movies and I actually interviewed my friend Nancy Martin Oski who who lived in West Michigan in the 1960s and she said we heard about them and when I went to MSU I saw them but they didn't come to our town and while hippie culture is interesting it wasn't everything and I think the hippies get more attention than just the average Joe because more attention to what it was like for normal people sorry hippie I'm sure you're fantastic no I mean I was I did where bell-bottom pants I mean I remember being I had my bell-bottoms but now I lived in this I grew up in a farming community in southern Ohio Central Ohio and that we did not see many hippies either I mean some of my cousin's they they start we're here really long and that kind of thing but you know it was just like we were all can't be wannabes from Cilicia but not really I went through a hippie phase one thing that a couple things that that I was reading about your story and you know and in your press materials that kind of stuff and I didn't know this now the story is set in West Michigan which is where you're from where you live but there was just this one line about a unique Dutch community so that was intriguing to me so it's like okay well what about what's unique about the Dutch community and what how does that play a part in your story so if anyone spends any amount of time in West Michigan particularly from in Holland Michigan which of course if you spend any amount of time there you'll see a lot of extremely tall extremely blind people and in West Michigan we have a very lively active proud Dutch culture and I am NOT Dutch even though people think I am and English we every year they have a tulip festival where people dress up in there they're like vintage Dutch clothes old country and they do wear wooden shoes um and if you're not careful you will get hit in the head k6i off if they're dancing we have it has markets everywhere I think it's called Feenstra that I go to sometimes to get mints and cheese and most of my friends around here are Dutch at least a little bit and so learning about the Dutch culture and West machine was so much fun they have a strong sense of family there are some of the most generous people I've ever met and they were just amazing and so I really wanted to honor that and I had the opportunity of interviewing three generations of a Dutch family and and sitting with the OMA the grandma who immigrated in 1946 from from the Netherlands Wow right after the war so Wow her and then and then talking to her children about what it meant to grow up first generation and not not learned to speak English into kindergarten and then my friends the granddaughter talking about how it is now and it was it was such a rich experience and they basically told me I was part of their family with cookies and coffee and mints it's it's a great culture oh that's so cool that is so cool it kind of makes me think of a picture I love you on your website which is just it's really it's really nice you do want to check out Susie's website and there's a picture of you like there's a railroad track in the background and you've got a dress on and it's got all these birds on it and I mean that looks tight I mean I was kind of Dutch to me but then you've also go to denim jacket and I just I'm smiling it was just like this is an adorable picture so you just kind of got your own style going on there I think it's tough for so um anything I can do for attention that picture is interesting because number one I heard after I put it up that it's not it's not necessarily legal to have a picture taken on the railroad tracks oh oh um they can't track me down oh then there's another picture from that same photo shoot where I'm I'm making an excuse my face I'm doing this because there were groundhogs all behind my photographer I'm a city girl I don't know groundhogs eat people I don't know but I don't yeah I'm a farm girl they don't need people but they should be big and in a key I mean yeah you would they usually are afraid though so they don't yeah but but City Gophers might be worse right he might be worse I don't even know I don't yeah well yeah I'm surprised you were seeing them because usually they kind of hide away you know yeah so yeah those are brave they are cute and the photos I saw were really they're very really cute I love that I love that is my favorite dress whenever I need to feel and like injected with confidence I wear my bird dress yeah and that's what I called it I like that and then I heard someone say hey have you seen the bird lady I want to show I mean guys we could just probably talk forever so let me I've got on my Kindle as I told you this morning I'm reading and my mother's chamomile so why should this book to you this is one if I can get it to look good this is what I Suzie's earlier stories no is it your first or second okay that's it and so because I haven't had a chance to read all me and her things yet I was been reading this one and it's just wonderfully written and one of the characters is Olga and she it's written a first-person in Olga just has this wonderful voice I mean you know I mean you could just feel like you're actually in this woman's presents listening to her talk because of her syntax and prediction and her word choice and and there's just so much energy and personality there so tell us about Olga in my mother's chamomile well first of all thank you for reading that part too one that is a story that is really close to my heart and it hasn't it hasn't gotten picked up very often so I really appreciate you ready oh thank you well thank you is actually a character who is based on two of my great aunts my great aunt Bertha and my great aunt Olga who are sisters my grandma's are my grandpa's sisters and I grew up with them from this teeny tiny church and just I I spent my childhood listening to them and really looking up to them and they are they're the two grandmotherly type ladies who when I think of a woman who has lived a faithful life when confidence in Jesus Christ and and wanting to love people deeply it's and so I combined them into one and that book has such meaning to me and that's one of the reasons I see that and yeah definitely the voice is just so starting mean it even just starts out all she's doing is putting her husband's laundry away but yet I mean it so it's just this menial household task and yet it's like you know she loves her husband you know I mean it is just it was just fabulous I wish I'm on deadline right now otherwise I would be just alright um okay so I was looking at your website and your blog and you've got these posts hashtag FBF and I'm sorry I don't know for sure what FB f stands for flashback Friday flashback Friday I was thinking something like that but I wasn't sure so hashtag FB f flashback Friday and and it's wonderful because there's all this these 60s related pose so you know it's a wonderful way to use your research and in your blog post and so one course was the TV shows and I'm thinking oh gosh I remember I was a little bit you know I remember Batman was actually one of my favorite shows my mom tell me it's funny it is and I was probably seven eight years old you know but yeah I loved it and but the one that got me laughing was the blog post about you know what I'm gonna say jell-o jell-o salad my mom did not do that she would look fruit in it there are certain things that are permissible in jell-o some cottage cheese some has to be like the right combination I'm no fan of jell-o so – first of all see jell-o that already I just don't and then to see salmon actually in the jello it was but the one that really got me was the turkey and actually that's when I had to stop mourning on it I actually talked to my friend Denise who is of that generation she was a teen in this and she said well Suzy they weren't necessarily for eating they were more looks and she said we didn't have Instagram and Pinterest we had jello mold that made so much sense to me because it was really important apparently so yeah I'll put a link to that Indian and I'm watching gag warning before or after eating oh my gosh yeah I'm glad that scientists sort of don't swing back on like some things do yeah we don't we don't want that we don't want going well let's just talk a couple minutes about your writing journey so my mother's came and it was your second book and you know how long did it take you to become a published author it's like that's a really you know that can be such a hard long track was it for you or me it was when I was in high school was a was probably the first time someone said you're good at this my my English teachers share in Somerville and Belinda lund they they saw it and all nice they didn't let me make excuses or not and then in college my professor George Brown was another one who said this short story is not a short story it's a chapter like building and having people like that in my life made a huge difference I also come from a long line of artsy people my dad's an author and we've got poets we've got painters we cannot do math but so doing this was was totally logical and my family never questioned it it was just yeah go for it you know which I'm very fortunate and my husband I remember my husband saying it's it's not every day that someone has a dream and one that they can pursue so go after it that's great it is great and I actually my first thing I have her head published was a play that I wrote for church Wow so that's a fun fact and then I I started writing a novel thinking you know this is never going to go anywhere it's just something for me and and then after I finished it I thought I put all that work into this wants to read it are they actually I had quite a few rejections um I it was a first novel I didn't know what I was doing when I wrote it because you can read blogs and books all day long but really the way to learn how to write a novelist to write it totally agree with that I felt the same way yeah yeah and and so after all these rejections I I put it away and I said well maybe the first novel isn't going to sell and that's okay so then I went to my blog and I was kind of in between projects and I said to my my readers let's do a fun challenge where you give me a main character a setting and conflicts and I will write a 1000 to 1500 word short story about it and I said them all in September and I thought I'd get four and I got 31 oh my gosh with little tiny toddlers in the house they wrote 31 short stories in the month of September and I learned so much about my gosh it was crazy there was a lot of caffeine consumed I would guess well yeah because that's more than one a day that's yes yeah Wow it was a little nutso but then an acquisitions editor contacted me after the challenge was over and said when your novels ready I would like to see it nice that was dienes Lehman at white fire okay and they published my first two and then after that I wanted to write a decibel novel and I ran into the secretary at my kids school who said my husband's interested in your books and I said well that's weird who is your husband and he was the publisher for Kregel my gosh so I think part of it has been God setting up different opportunities hmm another part of it has been trusting God enough to put myself out there yeah when he said you know right exactly and then this whisper though has happened pretty organically and it's been a really great I don't know that's wonderful that's one because rebels just great I mean I love them so I mean they're I've not had a bad experience and I've had some of the most talented editors who are careful with my heart mm-hmm and totally busted the whole stereotype of editors oh yeah I agree with you I just AM thankful for single editor I've had on whatever project because they all just bring something so so wonderful to die and you know some are better than others but you know it's still just I love I love getting my edited projects back and and seeing what they have to say and then working through them again that's just like a fun part of the whole process I think well because they want to help you yes better yeah I did trying to be mean they're there they want to work with you to put out the best possible story literally and honestly they make you look so much smarter and they see things that you don't didn't realize you know that you've got these because you know your character so well and you have these preconceived ideas and you don't realize that that never made it to the page you know you you know because like he'll say well why this it's like cool isn't it obvious and it's like well now I guess it really wasn't it was obvious to me in my head but now you know it wasn't really out there so whether when I I write something and it's so important it sneaks its way in four times and somehow even through my my obsessive reading through I don't catch them don't catch it now yeah I yeah I understand that too that's great that's great well and you say your favorite social media is Instagram so we want to make sure people know that and to follow you there and then just one last question before I let you go this has been a lot of fun talking about your stories and just just getting to know you when you're all done with the project totally finished at the end what do you do to unwind you know I'm so close to that in 13 days I think not that I'm counting I got to you first that's when my death maybe that's why we're so relieved not to be working and maybe [Laughter] you know I am looking forward to taking the summer off for writing and just hanging kids and then I read like a glutton I just read as as much as I can I I might pick a TV series to watch then watch TV in a while and you know what I cannot wait to paint my nails no one has ever said that I love that and I start typing it's gonna mess it up yeah just cute and I and I know to you that you read widely I mean I read from from different things I pick up on your blog and I think a couple other places that you know you read outside of inspirational fiction you read quite a mi you too I mean I I'm actually reading Moby Dick right now I mean I've been reading for like five weeks ironically in college I used my my copy of Moby Dick to hold up the light for my fish tank served I miss you want to know something that freaks out my editor what I don't read the back of books I saw that yeah you're probably the only person I know that that does not read the back of books yeah I don't like to know anything which sometimes ends up getting me into book sets I'm like whoa and then those go back yeah but I've also found some real treasures that I probably would not have read right I think that's really cool I mean I don't know that I could do that Bay I think it's really cool you do and I think it's really cool really not yeah now I and I think it's really cool we read outside inspirational fiction because I think we can get so locked into that and there's there are tons of good stories out there I mean lots of great stories actually so all right wine will let you get a bit Thank You Sussie so so much and for this if you are watching we really appreciate it we hope you pick up the copy of Susie's book on Manor thanks P shows the cover one more time yes yes there we go and yeah you'll want to get that a historical novel set in in an era that we don't have that many historical novels about really at least that I don't think in the in the inspirational market so you want you want to get that and thank you and see you next time another online bye bye

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