Author Pic Susan TarrWhat inspires you to get out of bed each day?

I’m one of those few people who do not relish a lie-in. My brain wakes, my eyes open, my feet hit the ground, and I stumble into each new day, and doorjamb. Into the kitchen, water heating for first coffee. Oh, yes, and I weigh myself religiously every single morning; I need a guide as to how much shortbread and chocolate I can have on this day. Meanwhile, my computer is firing up.

 Who are your favorite authors?

I have so many but these are among my favorites: John Steinbeck, Jojo Moyes, Joseph Heller, Janet Frame, Jodie Picoult, Bernice Rubens, Louis de Bernieres. Marian Keyes and so the list goes on…

 When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

Reading, shopping, catching up with family and friends. Gardening – if I really have to, since the alternative is a living jungle.

 What is your writing process?

I write ‘heuristically’ or so I’ve been told; all over the place, on scraps of paper, serviettes, and post-its. But it all comes together in the long run. If I happen to overhear a cafe conversation I think suits one of my characters, I note it somewhere.

Generally I have 3 books on the go, so am constantly looking for personalities that fit my characters to inject believability into them.

.How do you discover the ebooks you read?

Through recommendations, or random good fortune.

 Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Love’s Like a Butterfly. It was an offbeat love story involving two mental asylum inmates. It’s come a long way in 25 years, and yet the original characters are still so vivid. It became SEACLIFF a Regular Boy Within. Seacliff was an old colonial mental asylum down south in New Zealand. I lived nearby and worked there. The main characters, Malcolm and Julie, were drawn from inmates I once knew. Dad used to bring different people home for meals. So SEACLIFF was published in New Zealand and later published internationally as PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children.

 Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

Wuthering Heights sticks in my mind but for the wrong reason. It was required high school reading. It bored me witless. And I failed my English exam based on a question about that book. But then I discovered it in my personal collection years later. So, having attained a whole new level of maturity (age!) I read it again, and wondered at the brilliance behind such a story, and the writing.

But I think I teethed on Janet and John, Noddy and Big Ears, The Famous Five and other standard UK primary school titles.

 How do you approach cover design?

I generally have the cover design and title set in my mind before the story even completely forms. Like I have a cover idea down pat, for a book I’ve not fully written yet. (Gorgeous 30-year old sitting on the side of the road with a bundle of her newly printed books, and a suitcase. At the moment it is called The Book Tour.) But when the time is right, my husband and I collaborate. We go through a complex process – argument – and then the cover is birthed. I am a writer but he is an artistic designer. We create our covers together. Funny thing is I have just realised that my four covers feature the main character in silhouette, so it’s a given that my girl with her books will also be in silhouette, or at least a rear view in a dark colour.

For my MIRANDA BAY and WHEN THE ROLLER COASTER STOPS, we used my daughter as the cover model. (We didn’t have to pay her – she didn’t realise the value or copyright of her posing.) We chose the rear views because she threw a giant hissy fit during the photographing, and the front-on pics were just – horrible!

 What are your five favorite books, and why?

Of Mice and Men = Well, Steinbeck is Steinbeck, after all. The simplicity of his writing wraps itself around you.
Geek Love = I accidentally discovered this Katherine Dunn work. Brilliant, crazy, demented writing. Where on earth did this woman get her ideas?
An Angel at My Table = Janet Frame was an inmate at SEACLIFF Mental Hospital, which is where my work PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children is set. I get her! I get her scenery descriptions. I was raised in the Seacliff village, here in New Zealand.
God Knows = Joseph Heller’s take on King David and his court. Hilarious.
The Rain Queen = Katherine Scholes. I was married and began my little family in Kenya, so reading this book and loving it just made sense.
In most of my reading, I am exploring our fragile mind and seeing things from a different perspective. That’s what grabs me; the frailty of our human condition. But I love a good humorous story too.

 What do you read for pleasure?

I would choose something humorous. Or something with a complex plot. My friends are always on the lookout for a special read that might appeal to me.

Describe your desk

Glass in three tiers. I love it. It’s cluttered. It needs to be at least three times the size of this one. I envisage something the size of a house door placed across a couple of trestles. That would do nicely. I need room for a coffee and post-it notes, papers, books, diaries, filing trays, and extra coffee mugs. And a biscuit barrel.

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?

Way down south in New Zealand. Otago is very cold in the winter, with ice formed over puddles. We used to stamp on those on our way to primary school. We lived in the old Seacliff Asylum village, and we shared our little school with patients from there. I later travelled 45 minutes by train to Dunedin, to college. Lots of time for daydreaming.

seacliffbuilding wide thunderclap

I worked at various psychiatric hospitals in New Zealand. That’s when my inspiration for writing about mental health from the perspective of a young boy came about. The boy/man in question visited our home often as we were growing up. Dad would bring him home for meals so he became a small part of our family.

When I sailed to Kenya, East Africa, in a 28ft yacht, and settled there, I wrote letters home to Mum and Dad that eventually turned into stories. And so my journey into travel, tourism and resorts came into being.

When did you first start writing?

Once I left home, I started a diary. I was 17-years old. That was the beginning of my writing journey.

 What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Mostly, I love my thoughts. Mostly, I love the way my brain thinks. My writing generally crosses the genre, and happily so. I make my characters quirky, lovable and extreme. When they come alive they take me down paths I never imagined. That’s when I let go and simply follow them. I form an emotional connection with my characters. Because I have several books on the go at any one time, I can direct whatever emotion I may be experiencing at that time into a specific work.

You know that time in real life conflict when you say, after the event, ‘If only I had said…’? Well, this is my opportunity to say exactly what I would have said given that chance.

 What do your fans mean to you?

They give me a heart-rush. They inspire me to write, write, and write some more. I love my fans! Both of them.

What are you working on next?

THE BOOK TOUR I need to cull 700,000 words down to 90,000.

 What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?

My mouth! I talk, eat, sleep and breathe writing. I love chatting back and forth with other authors. Encouraging them and taking encouragement from them. I’ve also featured in newspaper articles, and interviews on radio and television. Guest speaking spots at various venues. They all add up. But goodness knows where I’d be at this stage if it weren’t for my mouthiness and enthusiasm.

And I belong to several amazing groups. They have taught me so much more than I ever knew about marketing.

What’s the story behind your latest book?

WHEN THE ROLLER COASTER STOPS I write from close or personal experience.

Most books I read about young and gorgeous women with cancer have this miraculous sudden recovery. But what about those who don’t recover? How does that play out for family and friends? Who leaves and who stays and what do they experience along their journey with their best friend?

I wrote the answer to young Bethany’s question, What happens when my roller coaster stops?

Although this story is about cancer and dying, it’s also a humorous, uplifting and insightful romance.

For my medical stories I work with the medical professionals in the particular field.

Books by Susan Tarr

TWITTER Phenomena

PHENOMENA the Lost and Forgotten Children (Historic New Zealand’s colonial mental health system.)




As a child I knew Malcolm, who was then a young man. Dad often invited him home for meals. Malcolm was one of the ‘lost children’ forgotten or abandoned by their families. We followed his story from childhood to adulthood as best we could even after he was eventually discharged back into the community. When considering the tragedy and abuse of Malcolm’s wasted earlier years, it is a story of immeasurable sadness. Yet he ultimately rose above it all, and with admirable strength, courage and innate resilience, was finally able to free ‘the regular boy within’ as he had always wanted.

I was raised within the community of the Seacliff Mental Hospital village so it was difficult to know where fiction ended and the greater truth took over.

To separate the truths from the almost-truths at this stage would be an impossible task, as many of those concerned have died. Therefore I have blended together various stories as representative of our family and friends’ combined belief of what most probably did happen during the period covered. Wherever possible, I’ve used correct dates, names and places. Where there is doubt, I’ve changed names and details for the protection of those still living.

This is Malcolm’s story as I believe it unfolded.

Jack's Cover Pic KDP Cover Final

JACK just an ordinary dog in the dog house


Free Read with KindleUnlimited or 99c

I’m Jack. I’m a real pedigree dog, and I’ve got real papers to prove it.
My parents have abandoned me into boarding kennels in the Far North of New Zealand, while they travel the world. I’m not at all happy about that. However, I shall do my best to maintain my dignity while getting on with the job.
Among these unruly and noisy mutts, I intend to remain aloof and guarded.
And as for that black cat with the skinny tail and missing eye, there’s no way she’s getting anywhere near me. At all!
And I’ll keep a diary so when my parents return they can read how absolutely miserable I have been all these months. Yes, I shall keep a diary…
Miranda bay for Webnode




Miranda, a quirky, strong-minded and lovable young woman, splurges her inheritance on the old Miranda Bay Sanatorium in the sub-tropical Bay of Islands, New Zealand, simply because it bears her name.
She knows little about running a business and depends heavily on loyal cousin Pansy’s expertise.
In her frantic drive for success Miranda hires a motley crew to get cracking on the property.
Hamilton, her lascivious financial advisor, seizes the opportunity to undermine her.
But now with paying guests expected, she must make some serious decisions.
So the guests trickle in – hardly the sophisticates Miranda has envisaged.
At the brink of despair, she experiences deepening depression and manic behavior.
She contrives an outlandish economic solution to the problem.
What follow is intrigue and terror, and an emotional and tender unfolding of events in the face of financial ruin.
Witty and wicked, scandalous and scary, this is a story to make you laugh and cry.
Twitter When the rollercoaster stops (Small)


Amazon.com: ​http://goo.gl/7HVkI1


Bethany, recently returned from Europe, seeks medical advice for a stomach upset. Because of her mixed parentage, she has inherited a specific gene, which has made her a candidate for colorectal cancer. She challenges her diagnosis; she is too young for this kind of condition and she has too much life to live. And so she sets off on a whole new journey of discovery, taking her eclectic group of friends with her.







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​eNovel Authors:


About The Owl Lady

Viv Drewa is a Michigan native who has enjoyed reading and writing since 1963. Though she studied medicinal chemistry at the University of Michigan, her passion has always been writing. She had been awarded third place for her nonfiction short story about her grandfather's escape from Poland. Later, she rewrote this story and was published in the "Polish American Journal" as "From the Pages of Grandfather's Life" and has republished it on Amazon.com as a short story. Viv took creative and journalism courses to help in her transition to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer. She worked as an intern for Port Huron's 'The Times Herald", and also wrote, edited and did the layout or the Blue Water Multiple Sclerosis newsletter "Thumb Prints." She also has a business promoting authors. Owl and Pussycat Book Promotions. Viv, her husband Bob and their cat Princess, live in Fort Gratiot, Michigan.


  1. Great interview! Now I know even more about this talented author! Thought WHEN THE ROLLERCOASTER STOPS was an absorbing, important book to read!


  2. Wow! I’m even beginning to like the sound of me! But thank you all for your wonderful encouragement! And especially The Owl Lady. X


  3. How lovely! So nice to learn more about Susan. And thank you, Viv, for all you do for all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A lovely interview. It’s been great to learn more about Susan and her books and her writing process.


  5. It’s always interesting to learn about author’s lives and books.


  6. Good to get to know more about the Author behind the books!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with Linda, I would love to meet you in person. Book Tour sounds like a terrific book idea. And I’m jealous of your near jungle garden. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A Post-It Note writer! I love it. Very nice interview. Thanks for sharing the personal insight.


  9. Susan, you are endlessly fascinating. Every time I read one of your interviews, I learn something new about you. Your intelligence and wit always shine through! No wonder your books are so enjoyable…


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