Susan Tepper, author of Deer & Other Stories, was so kind as to take some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for me. In reviewed Deer here, earlier this week.
BBB: It seems to me you had quite a few jobs before turning to writing, and some of them sound pretty amazing - actor, singer, marketing manager, flight attendant, tour guide, interior decorater, rescue worker, television producer. Which one of your many jobs was your favorite?
ST: The funny thing is, I liked just about every job I was doing, so at that time that particular job seemed perfect and my favorite. But then wanderlust would kick in, or some life situation that required a change or a move, and I'd find myself in another career. Some things I sought out while others seemed to fall in my lap. While I was working as an interior decorator for a national furniture chain, a woman came into the store seeking decorating advice. It turned out she a principle in a cable tv station, and after working with me, she asked would I be interested in doing a daytime slot about interior design. So I produced that series of shows, about 20 of them. Acting was always my first love, but I kept drifting in and out of that because I needed an income. I worked as a flight attendant for TWA as a chance to escape a bad love affair and to see the world for free, and it was worth every second! Rescue worker was not my choice. While I worked for Northwest Airlines, there was a terrible crash in Detroit. Since I was part of airline management, they "recruited" me along with other managers to work at the crash site. At the time it was devastating, but in retrospect it was a blessing. Everyone who worked that crash seemed like an angel to me. It was a very holy place, and I'm still close with some of the others who worked the crash.
BBB: Wow! Sounds like you've had a lot of life experience! I guess this must be what makes your writing so amazing.
Did any of these jobs in particular inspire you to become a writer? Why did you finally turn towards writing in the end?
ST: I believe that all of life is a conspiracy to move us in a particular direction. The mystics think of it as "soul work." My curiousity led me to seek out many job experiences, all of which provide me with material for writing. Of course I didn't see that until I'd been writing for a while. At least a decade before I began, a psychic predicted I would become a prolific writer. At the time I was an actor and her prediction struck me as absurd. I had no interest at all. Except for one poem that had popped out of me rather spontaneously, I had no other real writing.
BBB: Soul work, huh? I like it!
The imageries in Deer are so vivid; it almost seems as if you lived through all of your stories personally. Which of the stories, if any, were based on personal experiences, and how so?
ST: Everything we write comes from what we have witnessed, dreamt, longed for, overheard, and even despised. We often write what is missing in our lives. There are snipets of my real life in every story, but usually not as the story is written. I tend to disguise my fiction in metaphor. This is not done intentionally. I find my own life kind of boring to write about. It doesn't interest me on the page. And because I write spontaneously, and never plot or outline, it just spills onto the page. I've been called an emotional writer, and I won't deny that. I can see how certain stories evolved based on what was going on with me at the time. But other than that, each story holds claim to its own life.
BBB: In one of my favorite stories in Deer, we go on a train ride with the Beatles. What kind of reasearch did you have to do, if any, to write this story? Did a lot of research go into the other stories as well?
ST: While flying for TWA, I had the chance to visit India. It fascinated me. I also have a close friend who lives in India, the writer Ramesh Avadhani. I did his interview for Cervena Barva Press a few years ago. Ramesh and I email a lot. So I guess India was on my brain when that story began. Also, I had just finished watching some old films about India during the British Colonial period which helped me to recreate the train. I don't really know how the Beatles got into it, I never was a big Beatles fan. I don't do much research, I tend to be lazy in that way. That's why I don't write much non-fiction.
BBB: Honestly, after reading the story, I am SHOCKED to hear that you don't like the Beatles.
Now I want you to tell us a little bit about your writing process.
Do you have any favorite places to write?
ST: Anywhere. Under just about any circumstances. Parts of my first novel were written while my staircase was being remodelled. Very noisy. I just kept typing.
BBB: What about must-haves for while you are writing?
ST: I like to take a break and go out during the day and meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Then I go back to writing. Sometimes I clean the place which inspires me. I heard Joyce Carol Oates speak when I was a student at New School, and she said that she got a lot of her ideas while vacuuming. That stuck with me. Very sensible. You get ideas and your place gets cleaner.
BBB: Awesome that you went to the New School. I used to walk by it all the time when I was living in New York City, attending NYU.
Were the stories in Deer written over an extended period of time? Were you originally planning them as a collection of short stories - I mean, did you write them all specifically to go together or did they just happen to all fit?
ST: The Deer stories were written over a 12 year period. There was no plan at the time, I was just cranking out all kinds of stories. Then Wilderness House Press, who had been publishing a number of them in their anthology, well Steve noticed the deer connection. I wasn't aware that so many deer had come into the stories! I also use other animals. I've got stories with birds, mice, dogs, you name it. So Steve suggested we do a collection of all my Deer stories. He lives on the Wilderness Retreat in northern Massachusetts, and the Deer is his mystical animal!
BBB: That is, indeed, incredibly cool! Like it was meant to be. . .
What are your plans now? Can we expect a novel from you in the future?
ST: I've written 3 novels. The first one was shortlisted in a national contest sponsored by Zoetrope magazine, but my agent at that time couldn't get it published (I am currently without an agent). My second novel may come out by a small press, we're in the talking phase. But my 3rd and most current novel (my baby) I just completed last year. I would like to see it in print. It's making the publisher rounds but it's hard doing that yourself. I really need an agent to push for me.
BBB: I for one hope the novel makes it to print. Good luck finding an agent.
Now, one last question - is there anything that you'd like to say that I forgot to ask?
ST: Yes, I'd like to say "Thank You" for your excellent thoughtful questions, it was a pleasure!
No, thank you. The pleasure's all mine. :-) What a GREAT interview!
Susan was also so kind as to provide me with a copy of her book to give away to one of my lucky followers. And lucky indeed you will be, because this book is AWESOME!
Here's what you have to do to enter:
Follow my blog and leave a comment with your e-mail address. Yep, it's that easy! No follow, no entry! (unless you subscribe, just let me know)
CONTEST ENDS November 28, 2009 at 8 AM Paris time (that's 2 AM on the east coast)
+2 for old followers, just let me know
+8 if you post a relevant comment on my review here. By relevant I mean show that you've read it; don't just say "great review."
+8 if you make an interesting and relevant comment about the interview
+3 for checking out Susan Tepper's Amazon page and tell me something you learn
+2 for spreading the word through twitter or in your sidebar or wherever else you can think of (LEAVE LINKS! otherwise they won't count)
+5 for grabbing my blog button and posting it in your blog (leave a link!)
+5 for posting an actual blog entry about this (again, leave the link!)
That's for a whopping total of 33 entries! Awesome! Don't forget to leave your e-mail so I can contact you!
1)This is not my 100 followers giveaway
2)If you replied to my poll, the extra points you received will go to my 100 followers giveaway; not this one!
Beautiful looking book! Love that cover!
Please count me in. I am a follower.
simplystacieblog at gmail dot com
+2 old follower
How do you decide the questions you ask in the interview? I think this interview had pretty interesting questions. :)
You don't say if this competition is open to us here in the Uk but as I love competitions and would have been leaving a comment anyway .....
I'm a follower who has left a link on their blog.
Great post, I love these author interviews, it's always nice to learn about the person behind the book. It was mentioned that Steve's mystical animal was a deer, I'm fascinated by this and would love to know if the author also had a mystical animal.
Visited the Amazon site - Is there really such a place called Brotherly love? How great would it be to have that as an address.
Only me again - I forgot to leave my e-mail (silly me) it's
new follower and grabbed your button for my blog (so +5 ?)
Hi! And thanks to everyone who has posted a comment so far about "Deer". As for my mystical animal, I would have to say the horse. And I have no stories (yet) that include horses. But stay tuned!
I already have Susan's book, so you don't need to include me in the contest. I'm hoping her other books get into print too. Like Brizmus said, it was meant to be!
I heard Susan read the Beatle's story and I was blown out of the water. It has stayed with me since...
Great interview. I love when you asked her what turned her to weiting and she says "I believe that all of life is a conspiracy to move us in a particular direction." I also believe that to be true. Enter me please. Can't wait to read this book.
sandym204 @ gmail dot com
+2 old follower
+8 for actually reading the interview
+3 checked her Amazon page and learned Deer has 5 stars across the board which is excellant.
+2 tweeted - http://twitter.com/LMsMeeMaw/status/5590376607
Loved the interview! I really enjoyed her answers. Especially hearing her speak of her own life experience and 'soul work' - which I agree with! DEER sounds like a great read! Hmm, I think there's definitely a link between cleaning and writing - I always get my ideas and inspiration when I'm in the shower! :)
I'm not sure if I was following before you posted this - memory is pretty bad tonight LOL
+8 Commented on the interview
+2 Tweeted - http://twitter.com/peacelovevegan/status/5614515542
+2 old follower
+2 sidebar: ireadd.blogspot.com
+5 blog button on my sidebar
Count me in, great interview
I am a follower
She spent 12 years wokring on Deer? wow, so many time preparing it!
ANd she was an actress, it's so curious and interesting how live can change!
+2 for old followers
+3 She has received five Pushcart Prize Nominations! I did not know that
+1 I follow
+8 I left a comment on your review of Deer
+8 I think many authors get ideas in strange ways, but while vacumning is by far the strangest I've heard of so far. BTW: I was never a Beatles fan either
+3 I learned that she structured and implemented a charter flight program for the Olympic Games in Seoul and Calgary.
readingatthebeach at gmail dot com
+1 aikychien at yahoo dot com
+8 if you post a relevant comment on the review
+3 I learned that Tepper worked as an actor, singer, flight attendant, marketing manager, television producer, tour guide, interior decorator and rescue worker.
Would love to be entered. Thanks!
+2 i'm a follower
+8 Commenting your review
+8 It seems like she has a pretty interesting life, visiting India and all the other stuff she mentioned in the interview.
+3 Learnt from Amazon: Deer is her first release.
+2 Tweeted: http://twitter.com/hollyy___x/status/5847143860
+2 Linked on sidebar: http://goodgollymisshollybooks.blogspot.com/
Total Entries: TWENTY FIVE :O
+2 old follower
Looks like a good book, please enter me into this drawing.
Thanks for hosting this giveaway.
Fantastic interview; it's really interesting that all of the short stories are about deer! I want to check this book out. And I can't believe she wrote the book in a span of 12 years - that's determination right there.
+2 I'm an old follower.
+8 I commented on the review.
+8 Commented about the interview.
+3 I learned that Susan has received five Pushcart Prize Nominations for fiction and poetry. Cool!
+2 Posted on my sidebar at http://booksobsession.blogspot.com
Original and intriguing! I hope I win!!!
+2 old follower
+8 comment on Review (very good review!)
+5 grabbed your button ( Tynga's Blog Design did my blog revamp too and I have an awesome new button that would definitely look great on your site :D )
in need of a good book, this looks tasty ( follow by the way)
wheresmyrain at yahoo dot com
Old subscriber / New follower.
geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com
This is an exciting giveaway.
I am a new email subscriber.
I am also a google reader follower.
cenya2 at hotmail dot com
Great interview! I'm now following you.
ronitie.85 at gmail.com
Looks good! I'm a new follower.
tiasbook AT gmail DOT com
You are living my dream-Ile de Paris-I rented an apt. there two years ago to the day-I will tell you the story if you are curious-what are you doing in Paris?
I am now following and want to read this book
I commented on your review + 8
I like that she is a wanderlust has has bounced around + 8
giveaway for Deer tp://brizmusblogsbooks.blogspot.com/2009/11/giveaway-interview-susan-tepper-author.html +2 and
+2 from Amazon I learnt this is her first book.
chocolate and croissants at yahoo. com
Please stop by-I usually go to Paris after Thanksgiving-and am having withdrawal yearning for my macaroons and other delightful baked goods.
+2 old follower
+2 Old follower
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