Thursday, April 09, 2015

A Conversation with Mystery Author Suzanne Spiegoski

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Suzanne Spiegoski

We are delighted to welcome author Suzanne Spiegoski to Omnimystery News today.

Suzanne's debut mystery is The Fisherman's Lily (Touchpoint Press; January 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we recently had the opportunity to spend some time with her talking about it.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to Lily Dietz, the lead character of your mystery The Fisherman's Lily.

Suzanne Spiegoski
Photo provided courtesy of Suzanne Spiegoski; Photo credit © Gilles Decamps

Suzanne Spiegoski: Dynamite comes in small packages, and Lily is just that. An Asian-American NYPD homicide detective, her ambitious and forthright character gets in the way of her everyday life. Petite and attractive, she is also willful and tempestuous. Conflict is a given in many of her relationships as she tries to balance them with her career and own personal demons of manic depression and alcoholism. What I admire most about the protagonist is her will to do — to take action, regardless of its consequence or circumstance, she keeps trying. She's a fighter and a survivor.

OMN: Into which mystery genre would you place this book?

SS: It is definitely a crime fiction novel but like an onion, it has many layers. I would describe The Fisherman's Lily to be mixture of police procedural, detective fiction, thriller/suspense and a family saga. It is very dark and I wouldn't say it is for everyone (it can get quite grisly) but other parts of the novel discuss the complexity of our emotions, such as redemption, sadness, guilt, anger … love and how it all correlates within the relationships we have with others and ourselves.

OMN: Tell us something about the book that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.

SS: I'm a proud German Shepherd owner and in general, a dog lover. I love the breed so much I felt compelled to create a dog character in the book, Cuffs, Lily's beloved K-9 working-line GSD. He is her shadow, her confidant and best friend.

OMN: Give us a summary of The Fisherman's Lily in a tweet.

SS: NYPD homicide detective Lily Dietz becomes engrossed in the hunt to catch a killer who favors Asian-American women — a category she herself falls into.

OMN: How did you go about researching the plot points of the story?

SS: I've spent countless hours in Internet research. If I had my friend's search through my history browser, they would find some sketchy Google searches! I have an enormous appetite for reading and a good chunk of my reading is solely based on research purposes. I have consulted many people within the crime related field: retired detectives, private investigators, medical examiners, etc.; and I also have a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University, concentrations in the police process, forensic anthropology and behavioral sciences. The most challenging topic to research is the psychological side. When you create an intricate character whose purest foundation is evil, you're diving into some treacherous waters.

OMN: You live in New York City and the story takes place there. How true are you to the setting?

SS: We've all heard the phrase 'writers write what they know' but I like to take liberty with what I see around me. I enjoy observing people's behavior, studying facial movements, finding their interests, dialogue, even smells; this is all integral to my writing. I've been in New York for nearly ten years, so of course, with my debut novel I really wanted it to take place there. I used real locations to not only to have a reader that may not be as familiar with the setting, but to those that are could also relate and escape in a world they already know. It is a different experience for everyone, but I definitely wanted to have the readers see the city through my eyes.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests? And have any of these found their way into your book?

SS: I'm also a photographer and figure skating coach with a keen interest in cooking, music and of course, books. I love spending time with my husband and our German Shepherd, McQueen. Of course these activities creep into my writing, but I do make an effort to also write about other subjects I'm not as familiar with, but what I love to write most about is the human condition and what we all feel everyday. The crime side of it is actually the best part, but I like to mix the two worlds together as I strongly believe they are linked, or rather bound to one another. Star-crossed lovers, if you will.

OMN: What is the best advice you've received as an author?

SS: The best advice? From the words of Oscar Wilde, "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." That, and write. Write everyday.

OMN: Complete this sentence for us: "I am a mystery author and thus I am also …".

SS: … a killer, a cop, a detective, a judge, a lawyer, perhaps a cannibal who enjoys fava beans and Chianti, overall a teller of a thousand tales; but you will always principally be the writer.

OMN: How did The Fisherman's Lily come to be titled?

SS: The protagonist is Lily and the antagonist is the Fisherman. Because the Fisherman is the main character's chief opponent and also in relation to possessive obsession, I found it appropriate to title it this way.

OMN: Was this also your working title while writing the book?

SS: When I had the first ideas of writing the book, I had called it A Spy of White Lilies but after wanting the storyline to be completely in the crime world, I opted for The Fisherman's Lily.

OMN: How involved were you with the cover design?

SS: Unlike many writers, I have my publisher, Touchpoint Press, to thank for giving me the liberty to create my own cover, especially since I already had a specific idea in mind. The original idea is from me but full credit goes to my wonderful husband who so generously took the time to bring the cover art to life and on paper!

OMN: Suppose The Fisherman's Lily is adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing the key roles?

SS: The idea of the book being translated into a movie has always been open to me and has been from the beginning. When I started writing The Fisherman's Lily I right away envisioned a whole cast of actors that I thought suited well with the characters and that would also help stimulate my creativity. Some of these actors include Lucy Liu, Maggie Q, Dean Winters, Takeshi Kaneshiro and more. I even created inspiration boards of photos, short bios and settings interlinking everything together.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

SS: I read a ton of R.L. Stine's books as a young child. The especially loved the Goosebumps series and read more of his novels when I became older. At ten I started to read Stephen King, Robert Stevenson, Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett. I can definitely say what I read influences what I write. I write what I love to read, and to me this is the best way.

OMN: Have any specific authors or titles influenced how and what you write today?

SS: The Silence of the Lambs and The Bone Collector — Thomas Harris and Jeffrey Deaver were the first two authors who heavily influenced my deep love affair with the crime fiction genre. Stephen King, however, is the first author who made me consider even the possibility of becoming a writer. I read Carrie when I was 10 and loved how much it freaked me out. He is the one to thank for all those sleepless nights reading his books with a flashlight underneath the covers as a kid! I still get that same rush when I read his work, and I really do aspire to bring the same kind of feeling to the readers of my work.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.

SS: Top 5 favorite films:

1) Hannibal
2) Se7en
3) 25th Hour
4) Eastern Promises
5) 2046

OMN: What's next for you?

SS: Keeping busy! I'm currently marketing my debut novel and working on my second novel, developing a series on Lily Dietz and her mixed up world.

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Suzanne Spiegoski grew up in Los Angeles and Detroit, and has a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University. She is also a photographer and professional figure skating coach. She lives in New York City with her husband and German Shepherd, and is currently working on her second novel.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Fisherman's Lily by Suzanne Spiegoski

The Fisherman's Lily by Suzanne Spiegoski

A Lily Dietz Mystery

Publisher: TouchPoint Press Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)

When Lily Dietz, an ambitious yet short-tempered Asian-American NYC homicide detective, and longtime partner John Fremont begin to work a unique but gruesome murder case, cryptic clues in the evidence start to link with Lily's dark and troubling past — one deeply imprinted with many psychological and emotional issues.

Borderline manic-depressive and a self-destructive alcoholic, Lily is strikingly beautiful and spoiled by her younger brother, CJ, a NBA All-Star basketball Knicks player, due to guilt uprooting from their own family history; separations of heart-wrenching losses and disappointments. The hunt for the killer escalates when the detectives discover more than one murder. Someone with cruel and twisted intentions motivated by a taste for sophistication yet also deprivation is targeting and brutally mutilating Asian-American women. And somehow, the murderer knows Lily far too well.

Soon the game of cat-and-mouse becomes a thrilling chase from beginning to end, where Lily's reality and the people in it begin to doubt her, not only as a detective but as a person. Who will be able to save this damaged soul? Or who will be the one to destroy it?

The Fisherman's Lily by Suzanne Spiegoski


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