About the Author:
Susan Berliner has been a nonfiction writer for nearly her entire career. She had originally planned to be an elementary school teacher, but left after a year to become a newspaper reporter for Fairchild Publications. She covered men’s retailing for Daily New Record, a men’s wear/textile trade newspaper, which was the “brother” paper of Women’s Wear Daily.
After Susan’s children were born, she switched to freelance writing–mainly in education–publishing several book series dealing with editing skills, language arts, and standardized testing. She has also created teachers’ guides, student activity sheets, and test passages. During this time, Susan was the project editor for a national science magazine for elementary school students and edited subject-related manuscripts for children in grades 7 and 8. In addition, she freelanced as a local reporter, covering board meetings for the North County News, a weekly newspaper in Yorktown Heights, New York.
When she returned to work full-time, Susan became the promotion manager of the Yorktown PennySaver, a job she held for 20 years. She created many original weekly contests–Phony Ad, Rhyme Time, and PennySaver Prophet.
Susan lives with her husband, Larry, in Yorktown Heights, where she is preparing her second book (Peachwood Lake) for publication and writing her third novel.
For more information on the book and author, please visit: www.susanberliner.com
Q: Thank you for this interview, Susan. Can you tell us what your latest book, DUST, is all about?
A: DUST is a supernatural thriller about an evil swirl of colorful dust that sneakily attacks random victims in a quiet suburban condo community. The heroine, Karen McKay, a librarian, battles the evil dust with the help of her ex-husband, Jerry, and an intuitive dog. It’s a fun read for women, men, and teens.
Q: Is this your first novel? If not, how has writing this novel been different from writing your first?
A: DUST is my first novel. I have written a second novel and am currently working on a third book.
Q: How difficult was it writing your book? Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?
A: I didn’t find writing the book to be difficult. But the revising and editing processes were long and tedious. When I looked at my completed first draft, I counted just 79 pages, so I knew I had a lot of work to do.
I didn’t have a problem with writer’s block during DUST. However, at one point with my second novel, Peachwood Lake, I had trouble writing about a period of time (an afternoon) in the narrative. Rather than sit and struggle, I skipped past that chapter and picked up the story’s action at a later point. Then, when I figured out what I wanted to write, I was able to go back and fill in the missing pages.
Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel? Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?
A: Most people have loved DUST. Readers have praised it for being a fast-moving story—a great, fun read that kept their interest. Some even said they couldn’t put the book down. DUST has a surprise ending that people don’t figure out.
My unusual experience is how I got the idea for this novel. It came from a little news article about a dust devil (a miniature tornado) that destroyed an auto body shop and killed the owner. Since the incident happened in Maine, I was sure Stephen King would write a book about strange dust. I saved the article, found it several years later, and realized King had never written the novel. Suddenly, I had an idea, which became DUST.
Q: What is your daily writing routine?
A: I try to write each morning, aiming to finish one scene of my book. That usually means I’m writing about 200-500 words. I know that doesn’t sound like much because most writers seem to aim for at least 1,000 words a day. But I like this slower pace, especially since I don’t have a deadline. Also, before I write a new scene, I review the previous day’s work—and I always find something that needs to be changed. Everything I write goes through numerous revisions.
Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?
A: I relax by doing crossword puzzles and playing online Scrabble-type word games. I also enjoy cards (bridge, May I, and poker). I’m a sports fan, following the New York Mets & Jets. In the summer, I try to swim every day. And, of course, I love to read.
Q: What book changed your life?
A: Until I was 13 or 14, the only books I read were romances for young readers. Then I found an old novel in my parents’ bookcase and decided to read it. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck led to my lifelong love of literature.
Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?
A: To the Bronx and Beyond
Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”
A: I am very serious about my new career as a novelist.
Thank you for this interview, Susan. I wish you much success on your latest release, DUST!
About the Book:
While unloading groceries in her Rock Haven condo, Karen McKay notices a strange swirl of red, green, and blue dust. The swirl follows her inside, lifts a porcelain ballerina from her wall unit, twirls it in the air, and throws it to the floor, shattering it into pieces.
The following evening, Karen hears her neighbor’s dog barking loudly. Upon investigation, she finds her neighbor, Marion, at the bottom of the stairs—dead. At the top of the stairs, a colorful whirlpool of dust circles ominously.
Now the feisty librarian must consider the unthinkable: Could the dust be responsible for her neighbor’s death and, if so, would it kill again? Karen turns to her ex-husband, Jerry, for help and together they bravely confront the mysterious dust. But will their daring actions cost them their lives?
So the dust can strike at any time,” Jerry continued. “You saw it at twilight and evening. We both saw it in the middle of the night, and yesterday it showed up in the afternoon.”
“The dust’s picked up and thrown a porcelain figurine, a watch, a baseball, and scariest of all, a person…Marion.” Karen’s eyes teared when she mentioned her neighbor’s name.
“So all we have to do is find a way to stop something that can appear and kill us at any time, with no warning,” Jerry said. “Sounds easy enough.”
Karen shook her head and sighed.
READ THE REVIEWS:
“Ms. Berliner reaches into the comfortable places of your consciousness and implants this super-force of malignancy that appears to be unstoppable. The usual authorities cannot be brought in to assist, as the evil dust can appear and disappear at will, and of course, who will believe the few people who have actually witnessed its destructive–yet highly unbelievable–force? She has woven a very comfortable setting, in a very comfortable community, with very comfortable people together with an apparently unbeatable foe–as ethereally light as the air around us, yet as deadly as the most feared supernatural event. Dust is a great read!”
“The book was great! What I liked most was that I couldn’t figure out the ending. Pure suspense! A lot of similarities to Stephen King. Can’t wait until the movie version!”