Susan McCormick writes cozy murder mysteries. She is also the author of GRANNY CAN’T REMEMBER ME, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease. She is a doctor who lives in Seattle. She graduated from Smith College and George Washington University School of Medicine, with additional medical training in Washington, DC and San Francisco, where she lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in the book. She served nine years in the military before settling in the Pacific Northwest. She is married and has two boys, plus a giant Newfoundland dog. Visit her website at https://susanmccormickbooks.com/

About ‘The Fog Ladies’:

THE FOG LADIES is a cozy murder mystery set in an elegant apartment building in San Francisco where old ladies start to die. Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. The Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in a cool San Francisco evening.

Young, overworked, overtired, overstressed medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.

Sarah resists the Fog Ladies’ perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building. Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?

INTERVIEW:

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

When I was young, I wanted to be a ballerina, a doctor and a writer. All together, all at once. My ballet days ended before they began at age four, when my first performance’s curtsy took out the backdrop and crashed it to the floor. I tried more lessons in high school, but I was far too old. So all that was left was being a doctor and a writer. The latter took me a while. Being a doctor was a straight shot, four years of medical school, three years of residency, then fellowship, then payback the military with a nine-year stint in the Army because they paid for medical school. Being a writer took longer, though I’ve been plotting my stories since those ballerina days and my first “book,” DEATH IN THE CEMETERY,” at age nine.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

The first draft of THE FOG LADIES had far too few suspects, thanks to my hope of “letting the story write itself,” without an outline or plot points. That process gave me the wonderful characters of Chantrelle, Big Owen, inexperienced teen parents of Baby Owen; they wrote their own scenes. But without enough villains, I had to go back and turn perfectly lovely characters into potential killers. So now I outline everything, and plot it all ahead.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas?

Without a doubt, my best ideas come when I am running. Not walking, but running. Plot problems are fixed, new ideas pop into my head, characters evolve, all while I run. I think when I walk I am too mindful, looking at the light in the trees, seeing the tiny flowers at the side of the path, gazing at the clouds, taking in all the beauty around me, almost too much. When I run, I see these same things, but quicker, and bubbling through all this nature comes the answer to how to revive a character thought near death.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

I write nonstop, because that first draft is exciting and my fingers fly on the keyboard. Even now, writing with a plan in mind, magic still happens. In THE FOG LADIES, Enid Carmichael, discovers Starbucks lattes at the ripe old age of eighty. She loves the bitterness, the froth. I wrote that. Then she craved more, and the next thing I knew, she was stealing Starbucks coupons from her neighbor’s newspaper to feed her addiction. She did that. Not me. If I edited as I went, Mrs. Carmichael would still be figuring out how to spell venti latte.

When it comes to writing, are you an early bird, or a night owl?

In the early morning hours, when my family is still asleep, I creep downstairs in the dark and write in the dark and write while the sun comes up and finish when my family wakes up. Our big, slobbery, furry Newfoundland dog, Albert, dutifully follows me in the morning and is my constant writing companion. Early morning is my creative time, my writing time.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

The best writing advice I’ve heard applies to all of life: “butt in seat.” This is not my favorite expression, as I prefer the word “bottom,” but it conveys the notion of immense time spent sitting and writing. In life, I think the single most important attribute we take to any profession, writing included, is showing up on time, with enthusiasm. Putting in the time and looking forward to putting in the time (or pretending to) go a long way to a successful career. 

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

https://susanmccormickbooks.com 

https://www.facebook.com/susanmccormickauthor/

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

The second Fog Ladies book is almost done, carefully plotted out ahead this time with plenty of potential villains. The Fog Ladies find themselves up against a possible serial killer, and Sarah’s friend Helen and her little family might be next. I also wrote a lighthearted children’s picture book about coping with Alzheimer’s disease, GRANNY CAN’T REMEMBER ME, and I envision a sequel to that as well, this time for adults.

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