Susan Koefod’s mystery series debuted with WASHED UP, which was praised by Library Journal (September 2011) as “a smashing debut with astute observations and gorgeous prose” and listed as a top 200 pick on Library Journal’s debut novel list in October 2011. The book is a 2011 Midwest Book Award finalist.
Her second book, BROKEN DOWN (September 2012), has been called a “fast, fresh and smart follow-up… in what promises to be a first-rate series” by Edgar Award-winning author David Housewright. She lives in Minnesota with her family.
What inspires you to write?
The mystery of why we do what we do is a huge inspiration to me. My novels are definitely character-driven and I like to see how character quirks play themselves out. I also love the natural world and am particularly inspired by my home state of Minnesota.
Tell us about your writing process
I generally start with an idea – maybe one culled from the real world. In mystery writing, it’s pretty simple. Someone has to die! And someone needs to figure out why. I’ve occasionally written from outlines, but have a general idea of the ‘story arc’ in my head. Create a situation (a murder), deepen the story with flawed characters trying to cope with problems in their lives. Then challenge those characters and bring them to the breaking point. Guide them to a break-through in their personal world, one that allows them to see what they haven’t seen before in their own lives. This kind of break-through allows them to see the world anew, see clues they missed before.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I do get tired of my characters’ problems (see the question “Tell us about your writing process”) – just like we get tired of our best friend’s dramas and wish they would go away. Both the characters/friends and their problems. I think “why are they so blind?” Of course, in my characters’ cases, I’ve made them that way. But it’s the same in real life. We have behavior patterns. We get stuck in a rut. We’re human.
Still, it all gets to be too much and by the time I finish writing a book, I need a break from morose detective Arvo Thorson and OCD social worker Christine Ivory – who really do love each other but just can’t get it together to have a decent working – and romantic – relationship with each other.
But then I start to miss them. My characters nudge me when I’ve been ignoring them for awhile (i.e., between books). I have even dreamt about them. And another chapter (i.e., book) begins in their lives.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I pitched my debut mystery everywhere – to agents, to publishers – and got no response. After I had ‘given up’, I located North Star Press and found that they might be a perfect match for my novels. They agreed! I was thrilled to get a great review for my debut mystery, WASHED UP, by Library Journal. It was the icing on the cake after years of struggle.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that they way that the stories are delivered will continue to change (ebooks, audio books, self-publishing) but people will always want to tell stories and others will want to hear them.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print