Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Conversation with Mystery Author Susan Russo Anderson

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Susan Russo Anderson

We are delighted to welcome author Susan Russo Anderson to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of Great Escapes Book Tours, which is coordinating her current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find her schedule here.

Susan is the author of the Fina Fitzgibbons mystery series, which began with Too Quiet in Brooklyn (December 2013; trade paperback, audiobook and ebook formats). We recently had the opportunity to spend some time with her to talk more about her character and the series.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to Fina Fitzgibbons. What is it about her that appeals to you as a writer?

Susan Russo Anderson
Photo provided courtesy of
Susan Russo Anderson

Susan Russo Anderson: The main character of this mystery series is Fina Fitzgibbons, a twenty-two year-old detective who lives with her boyfriend, Denny, in the Vinegar Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. She mourns the loss of her mother, sometimes with an overwhelming ache. She hasn't forgiven her father for leaving. She fears loving and losing. She fears giving up herself. She's wary of trampling on the privacy of others. She's not perfect, not by a long shot. Sometimes she takes Denny for granted; sometimes she's jealous of Detective First Grade Jane Templeton; sometimes she makes snap judgments. But she's smart and she's got that wizard thing going on. And something else about Fina — she never, ever gives up.

OMN: How has Fina changed over the course of the series?

SRA: I try to develop the main characters over time. Some of them grow more than others. Like all of us, they take two steps forward, one back.

OMN: How do you go about finding the right voice for your characters?

SRA: What's challenging for me is to find the right voice for each character. I do that by writing longhand in a notebook, sort of stream of consciousness. What's challenging is finding the right voice for age-specific characters. I'm in my late sixties and find it difficult to think like a thirteen-year-old. I have to read and listen to my grandchildren talking, and write their voice.

OMN: How would you tweet a summary of the first book in this series, Too Quiet in Brooklyn?

SRA: TOO QUIET IN BROOKLYN: A Murder, A Kidnapping, And One Woman Who Never Gives Up http://myBook.to/TQIB

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in your books?

SRA: My series takes place in Brooklyn. None of the situations are real, but I hope they are realistic. I lived in Brooklyn from the late 80s to 2002 and loved it. But you never quite leave Brooklyn, not really. When I go back it seems the same, if a little bit cleaner behind the ears and A LOT more expensive.

OMN: Tell us about your writing process.

SRA: I get up in the morning and write which I do until noon. I work on two books at one time, writing a first draft in the morning, editing in the afternoon. After editing, I market (work on a marketing plan). When I take a break, I walk, which is how I plot or listen to a book or music. I read in the late afternoon until dinner. While watching TV, I tweet and Facebook.

OMN: How true are you to the Brooklyn setting of your books?

SRA: My books take place in Brooklyn, but it is the Brooklyn in my head. Some of the places are real to the extent they exist; others, I invent. But I write fiction, so all places are fictionalized. Which, I suppose, can be said of any place once it's in memory. I'm thinking of a William Faulkner quote: "a place where winter never seemed to touch."

OMN: If we could send you anywhere in the world to research the setting for a story, all expenses paid, where would it be?

SRA: Paris in early summer, looking out over the Seine from my penthouse in a refurbished nineteenth-century limestone on the Left Bank.

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

SRA: Oil Painting, photography. Some of my characters are painters.

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

SRA: Write and read until your eyeballs fall out.

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

SRA: … fascinated with death and the mystery of life.

OMN: Do you use a pen name?

SRA: I use Susan Russo Anderson. I suppose it is one of my legal names, since the middle name is my mother's maiden name. I believe some Hispanics use their mother's maiden name as part of their name. But there are so many Susan Andersons that I had to distinguish myself from the rest.

OMN: How did you come up with the title for Too Quiet in Brooklyn?

SRA: Too Quiet in Brooklyn is a paraphrase of one of the lines in the book. It takes place in Brooklyn, and Brooklyn is many things, but it is never quiet. Unless something bad is about to happen.

OMN: What kind of feedback have you received from readers?

SRA: I think of reviews as something for readers and not authors, so I try not to read them (best-laid plans), but I love the ones that talk about my characters.

OMN: Suppose your series was to be adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing the lead role?

SRA: I'm not good with actor names and also would hate to name an actor in case a reader didn't have that same mental image of my main character, Fina Fitzgibbons. But it would have to be someone with high energy and a mouth.

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

SRA: Favorite book of all time: I fell in love with Paris through the hobo in A Family Under the Bridge. But there were lots of writers and books I loved as a child and young adult: whoever wrote the Nancy Drew books, as well as Georges Simenon, Ross MacDonald, Agatha Christie, James Joyce (not that I understood him when I was ten, but I loved the sound of his language), T.S. Eliot, lots of early twentieth-century American writers, even Hemingway. Love love love A Moveable Feast.

OMN: And what do you read now for pleasure?

SRA: Mysteries and literary fiction.

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

SRA: Top 5 favorite authors:

• Hilary Mantel;
• James Joyce;
• Margaret Atwood;
• Saul Bellow; and
• Anita Brookner.

OMN: What's next for you?

SRA: I'm editing the fourth book in this mystery series and beginning a new series. I think.

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Susan Russo Anderson Book Tour

Susan Russo Anderson is a writer, a mother, a member of Sisters in Crime, a graduate of Marquette University. She’s taught language arts and creative writing, worked for a publisher, an airline, an opera company. Like Faulkner’s Dilsey, she’s seen the best and the worst, the first and the last. Through it all, and to understand it somewhat, she writes.

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

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Too Quiet in Brooklyn by Susan Russo Anderson

Too Quiet in Brooklyn by Susan Russo Anderson

A Fina Fitzgibbons, Brooklyn Mystery

Publisher: Susan Russo Anderson

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)

A Murder, a Kidnapping, and One Woman who never gives up …

Abandoned by her father and mourning the sudden loss of her mother, twenty-two-year-old Fina Fitzgibbons eeks out a living by establishing a cleaning service in Brooklyn called Lucy's. But when she finds a body on a busy sidewalk in the heart of the Heights, she dusts off her PI license and begins searching for the killer, only to discover that the strangled woman's four-year-old grandson is missing. A desperate hunt begins for the kidnapped child.

During the chase, Fina resists falling in love with her boyfriend, Denny, an NYPD patrol officer, steps on the toes of Detective First Grade Jane Templeton, and uncovers secrets about her mother's death. In the end, the killer has a vicious surprise for Fina.

Too Quiet in Brooklyn by Susan Russo Anderson


  1. Thanks, Lance for this wonderful post and for making me look so good.

    1. It was our pleasure having you visit with us today!


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