Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Interview with Susan Simone.

Full Name:
Susan Simone

Do you have a nickname or what do your friends call you?
People at work tend to call me Sus.  I haven’t figured out why yet lol.
They’re just lazy.  That’s part of the plight of having a disyllabic fist name.
Ha!  Probably.

Steven’s Point, Wisconsin

Current hometown:
Millersburg, Ohio

Favorite city and why?
I don’t really have one.  I prefer the country and woods.

Birthday / Age:

How would you describe yourself physically?
Oversize hourglass.

How would someone else describe you physically?
Oh I can think of several ways others describe me, some of them nice and some not so nice.  I’m a proud BBW so I try not to focus on what society has brainwashed us to think is normal or pretty.
Well, you are married, so you’re probably happier than a lot of women that are thin, single, and bitter.  Thankfully the animal shelters always have cats they can adopt so crazy cat lady is always an option.  Or they could just settle for being a spinster.

The first thing people notice about you is…
I honestly have no idea.

Religion, if any?
Asatru… some call us Heathens, no we do not worship the devil.  We don’t even believe the devil exists.  Kind of hard to worship something you don’t believe in.  This was the faith of the Vikings and indigenous peoples of that era.
Ooh!  My room-mate is a heathen!  I’m an antitheist so his metaphysical beliefs are a source of constant amusement for me.  I love messing with him about the rainbow bridge and always pretending to confuse his gods with the Marvel Comics characters from Thor.  But it’s all in good fun and I don’t mind having runes all over the house.
Heathens are a very accepting group.  For us it’s as if the same stories have been told over and over throughout history but through the lenses of the culture of that era.  If you want the truth you have to back to the beginning.
Yeah, that’s what he keeps trying to tell me too.  But then I ask him if he thinks that Thor could beat Superman in a fight and he gets all flustered and leaves the room ranting about Loki.  We have fun.

Are you superstitious at all? Any phobias?
I have a thing about mirrors at night and doll eyes at night.  I actually cover the mirrors in my room part way and when I was a kid my dolls slept on their bellies so I didn’t have to see their eyes.  And clowns.  Not a total phobia, but they’re creepy.
You’re not the only one.  My friend Angela has a thing where she can’t have wall art that has eyes or she feels like they’re constantly watching her.  I always wonder what makes a person want to be a clown.  The only person that puts on clown-face that’s okay in my book is Angus Oblong.  Everyone else can go be clowns somewhere that I’m not.
It’s all Stephen King’s fault.  He just had to make something innocent and silly into an evil child eating spider clown thing.
If you’re going to be scared of everything that Stephen King twisted around into something evil you’d better move to Mars, because life on earth is going to be pretty fucking tough for you.  Wait… Bradbury fucked up Mars for everyone.  Ah well, at least earth has decent beer.  And it’s where all of my stuff is.
The whole world is out to get us!  Screw it, where’s my mead? (Viking honey wine)

Do you smoke / drink? If so, what? Any bad habits?
Sitting on my duff when I know I should be more active.

Current occupation / Dream job:
Actually what I do now.  I’m the executive editor with J. Ellington Ashton Press, and the Senior Artist.  I love helping the author’s dreams come true, reading books before they’re out, letting my imagination run with these idea for cover art.  I have the most AMAZING co-workers ever.  Add to that making time to write is a job requirement and, yeah, it’s great!
That does sound pretty sweet.  What kind of books does J. Ellington Ashton Press publish?
Everything but children’s books.  Eventually we will break into that market as well, but not just yet.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I like to walk in the woods.  I recently gave up Facebook games and started knooking (weird crochet knitting hybrid) with my spare moments.

What is your zombie outbreak survival plan?
Ironically one of my dearest friends in the world is a professional prepper.  He teaches people how to do disaster prep, works with first responders on natural disasters, and does a lot of volunteer work with Zombie Squad.  So he has us storing food and thinking of safety plans for disasters or you know…zombies.  Our plan is to maintain as long as we can and wait for him, and if not head to the woods.  The woods is life, food, and shelter if you know what you’re doing.

Weapon of choice:
Duck, cover and hide?
I would probably be most comfortable with a short sword or a staff, but if they want my brains I’ll take anything I can reach.

Do you have any special skills?
I have 15 years of classical voice study.  In my competitive days I was a coloratura soprano (chics that break glass).  In my old age my voice has lowered to a solid mezzo or first alto on occasion.  I can still get high but not with as pure a sound as when I was younger.  I also etch glass, do bead work, and really any craft I can get my hands on.  I belly dance for fun, but I don’t think I’d do it in public.

Did you go to college and, if so, what for?
I’m a graphic design student at Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online.  And once a long time ago I went for psychology, but life intervened and I never finished.

If you went to college, did you manage to pay off your student loans?
The loans I am accruing now, no.  Working on a plan for that.  My old loans, yes.  And I did it in a way that many people can.  I was an AmeriCorps *VISTA.  This is homeland peace corps.  Basically you’re sent to work and live in America’s poorest neighborhoods to work on programs that build capacity and help people get out of poverty.  There is an educational award after this.  One year as a VISTA gives you over $4,000 towards college or to pay off old loans.  With two years in the program (the maximum) I got myself debt free.  It’s an amazing program and I highly recommend it.  I could talk for hours on the benefits.

Any pets?   If so, what are they and what are their names?
We have two cats.  A big black priss who will only answer to Baby, and white calico (white, pale grays, and pale beige) fur ball we call Miz Storm Cloud, or just Storm.

What is your favorite animal?
Owls and Wolves are my favorites, but really I love all animals.  If I had money I’d open a no kill shelter.  I say I never met an animal that I didn’t like, some I wouldn’t pet, but never one I didn’t like.

Speaking of pets, any pet peeves?
Stupidity?  That sounds awful, but I cannot suffer a fool.  I’m not talking about book smarts vs. street smarts.  There are a lot of different kinds of intelligence.  I’m talking about the people so oblivious to their world they come off like Brian’s dumb blond bimbo on Family Guy.

Favorite / Least favorite Food:
I. Love.  Strogannoff.  All time favorite.  Right now my least favorite food is Gluten.  I recently found I am allergic and getting off of it changed my life for the better.  Gluten is evil, even if it tastes good.

What is your favorite quotation / motto / saying?
I have two.  Let your freak flag fly, because why hide who you are?  It’s not worth the pain and stress of hiding for society.  Exist in the state of epiphany.  It’s this idea that once you have a life changing thought everything else around you changes and one idea crashes into another and another and another until you are in a sea of ultimate possibility.  That’s a scary place to be for a lot of people, but you should embrace it.  Ride the wave and see where the universe takes you.

What is the best thing that ever happened to you?
Babies.  Like all moms I love my kids, but I have a special fascination with midwifery.  I could even be licensed as a midwife if I got in my clinical hours.  Anyway, there was a really special magick to being pregnant.  Wouldn’t trade that or my kids for anything in the universe.

What is the worst thing that ever happened to you?
I have survived a great many things.  Abusive relationships that I thought would kill me, home invasions I thought the same.  I don’t want to dwell on these things.  They happened.  They’re a part of me, but they do not define me.

Ever had your heart broken? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
I’ve had my heart broken a number of times in a number of different ways.  It’s part of life.  It happens.  No major story there.

Ever broken someone’s heart? Is there a story worth telling behind your answer?
I don’t know really.  There are times I think I might have, but I don’t know for sure that these events were as important to them as they were to me.

What is the best thing you’ve ever done?
I’m not sure there’s any one thing.  I live my life by trying to be kind and giving of my time whenever I can, and I have a philosophy about random gifts.  Small things that just make people smile that no one expected.  I do things like that often.

What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?
Again there is no one thing.  I’ve done my share of bad.  Everyone has.  As I get older these mistakes are less and less, but it is part of the human condition.  We don’t always make the right choices and sometimes we act or speak out of anger.

If you could kill one person, who would it be, and why?
I have an ex I mentioned earlier… *laughs*
No, no one that I would kill myself.  Some folks at the top of my shit list, and the top of other’s lists on my behalf, but if I don’t like you I tend to just leave you alone.  Living my life and being happy is a much greater revenge than letting that stuff affect me outwardly.  However I will argue that pedophiles and rapists deserve the death penalty.

What do you do?
Primarily I am a writer, but as mentioned above the job I hope to pay the bills someday is being the Executive Editor and Senior Artist with JEA.

How did you get started doing what you do?
I blame Anne Bishop for that.  *laughs*  I’ve loved books most of my life.  Something I got from both parents.  Anne Bishop has this trilogy, The Black Jewels, that I fell in love with.  There was this character, Lucivar, that I just loved.  The first thing I ever wrote turned out to be 600 pages of fan fic messing with that character.  I did once ask Ms. Bishop to look at it, but there were some legalities involved and well… no one outside of my family will ever read it.  But it led me to making up my own worlds and telling the tales of those that live there.

What is your advice to other people that want to get started doing what you do?
Just do it.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single word, etc.  It sounds trite and over used, but that’s the reality.  If you love it, do it.  It does not matter what anyone else thinks of your work.  It matters only that you can live with yourself and the chances you did or didn’t take at the end of the day.

What are some of the projects you’ve worked on/finished in the past?
Give us a little history if you will.
My first published work is, Silent Heart.  It is the story of a deaf girl that walks unwittingly into the murder of a royal.  Only she can tell the story of what she saw through pictures.  A stranger comes along and saves her from these murderers and together they set off across the country to get to the king.  It’s high action and they survive, night time cliff climbing, abductions, torture, houses under siege, and more.
My next was Under A Twisted Moon.  This is a werewolf book.  The main character has no idea what she is, just knows there’s a monster inside her she has to keep under control.  Events spin out of control and the monster comes out.  She has to deal with the media, an abusive husband, and the local pack that is kind of pissed she just got seen on TV Shifting.  In the end it’s about her finding her strength and claiming who she is.  It’s very close to my heart.  I pulled out some details from my own life and really put my heart out there.

What projects are you working on now?
Morning Song, is a post-apocalyptic, pagan romance that is in editing now and with luck will be out in Jan. 2014.  I’m working on several stories.  The two main ones are Warped Souls which is about a girl who shares her body with a demon after a Ouija board exploded.  The two are forced into this situation.  The other I don’t have a good name for, but it explores the idea of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, or more specifically the horseman of Death.  He finds a girl who needs his help and she has this spark about her he can’t place.  Quite literally Death falls in love with Life.

What are you watching?
As I type this up?  Pit bulls and Parolees on Animal Planet.  I love what Tia does and I think it should be used as a rehab model for both animals and ex cons all over the world.

What are you listening to?
I call my music taste Aluminum.  Heavy on the rock, light on the metal.  Volbeat and Starset are two of my favs, but I still love Adele too.

What are you reading?
An Inconvenient Duchess.  A bodice ripper, horrible I know, but every now and then you need something light and silly.  After that I’m going to read Winter’s Heart by Michael Kanuckel, which has gotten great reviews and I was really excited to get on his free promo and snag a copy.

Favorite author / book?
Do I have to choose one?  Seriously I got like 50.  A Wrinkle In Time, The Black Jewels, Kushiel’s Dart, Mellusine, Daughter of the Forest, Handmade by Robots…  Yeah I’d better stop now.

Favorite band / song?
That changes often too, but right now Starset, My Demons.

Least favorite band / song?
A pox on Pop music!

If you could do anything other than what you do now, what would you do?
Sing and travel.

Who would you want to meet that you haven’t met?
You get three choices: Alive. Dead. Fictional.
I have a long list of people I want to meet alive, mostly singers and writers.  I’m not a fangasm person so no one outweighs any other.
Dead:  Anne Frank
Fictional:  Mildmay, a character in Mellusine by Sarah Monet.

What’s the best and worst job you’ve ever had?
Best job is of course what I do for JEA, worst would be fast food.  I’ve done my time and I hate food service.

Are there any questions that I didn’t ask that you wished I had asked that you would like to answer now?

Anyone you recommend I interview that you can put me in touch with?
Well I work for a publishing house.  There are like 30 authors who would be great.  Ever get low on interview fodder let me know.
It’s not a matter of running low on interviews.  I’ve got eighteen on my desktop to edit as I type this.  But I like giving people an opportunity to promote their work and have something that they didn’t have to craft themselves to share as a promotional tool.  The interviews are easy for me to do since I take a correspondence style approach and make my interviewees do their fair share of the work for their free promotion.  So if you know anyone that would be interested in participating in the interview process, send them my way or make an introduction and I’ll handle the follow-through.
What we like to do for interviewers is put them on our company page and introduce them to the authors, then the authors comment or pm…etc.  Would that be okay with you?
Would that be okay?  That’d be FABULOUS!  Hook it up!
Maybe post your interview after it posts by way of example of what they can expect.
Just make sure you mention that I don’t chase anyone or remind them about their interviews.  I’m not their mother, and if someone doesn’t get their interview back to me, I don’t chase them, I just delete the draft and move on down the list to the next interviewee.  I have to be a big long-standing personal fan of someone’s work to chase them about their interview and I pretty much already ran out of those folks and most of the people I interview I don’t know anything about before I interview them, so, in the words of Tom Atkins… “Thrill me.”

Got any questions for me?
Not yet. *laughs*

Thanks for letting me subject you to being interviewed!

Pitch parade:
Give me all of your links for things you want to promote.   All of them.
Twitter: @SusanS_Writer

About the Interviewee:

Susan is a writer and artist by day, a child and pet wrangler by night, and occasional crazy person on the weekends. She lives in a place where new hybrid cars, beat up farm trucks, and Amish horse and buggies meet in fast food parking lots for coffee.
Susan grew up in central Wisconsin, only to move to rural Ohio in adulthood. She's a country girl through and through with progressive and optimistic ideas of nation and society. A heathen by faith and major sci-fi fan she is an eclectic person and welcomes as much diversity into her life as she can to feed her fertile imagination. She lives by the motto, "Let your freak flag fly!"
Susan is the author of "Silent Heart", "Under A Twisted Moon", "Morning Song", and other titles forthcoming. Susan also has her one and only zombie short in the JEA anthology "All That Remains".   In addition she has published articles on the Yahoo! Contributor Network in a wide variety of subjects such as the validity of deity in the American government and the use of easy to find herbs.
Susan is the Executive Editor with J. Ellington Ashton Press as well as a graphic design student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online Division.  She does a large portion of the cover art with JEA and has worked with businesses in the past for logo creation and event announcements. 

I should add in here I am also doing cover art for authors not with JEA for a fee, they should check my website for details.

About the Interviewer:
Scott Lefebvre has probably read everything you've read and can write about whatever you want him to write about.
Mostly because when he was grounded for his outlandish behavior as a hyperactive school child, the only place he was allowed to go was the public library.
His literary tastes were forged by the works of Helen Hoke, Alvin Schwartz and Stephen Gammell, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.
He is the author of Spooky Creepy Long Island and a contributing author to Forrest J. Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead, Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction, The Call of Lovecraft, and Cashiers du Cinemart.
His reviews have been published by a variety of in print and online media including Scars Magazine, Icons of Fright, Fatally Yours and Screams of Terror, and he has appeared in Fangoria, Rue Morgue and HorrorHound Magazine.
He is the Assistant Program Director for The Arkham Film Society and produces Electronic Music under the names Master Control and LOVECRAFTWORK.
He is currently working on a novel-length expansion of a short-story titled, "The End Of The World Is Nigh", a crowd-funded, crowd-sourced, post-apocalyptic, zombie epidemic project.
Check out the blog for the book here:
Check out the Facebook Fan Page for the project here:
Check his author profile at:
Follow him at GoodReads here:
Check out his publishing imprint Burnt Offerings Books here:
And here:
Check out his electronic music here:
And here:
Check out his videos at:
Check out his IMDB profile here:
Follow his Twitter here: or @TheLefebvre
Follow his Tumblr here:
Check out his Etsy here:
Join the group for The Arkham Film Society here:
Stalk his Facebook at:
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