Spotlight: Susan Clayton Goldner -- Write the Very Best Novel You Can Write

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Susan Clayton-Goldner is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest.

Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

REDEMPTION LAKE, released earlier this year, is the first book in a series of three books using the same detective. The second book, WHEN TIME IS A RIVER, was just released this month. She's working on the third book, RIVER OF SILENCE, and hopes to have it to the publisher in October. 

When she isn’t writing, Susan spends her time making stained-glass windows and quilts. She says those two activities are similar to writing—telling stories through glass and fabric.

 

"Be tenacious. Write the very best novel you can write, get it edited and critiqued by other writers before you attempt to publish or do an agent search."

 

What is one of the most surprising things you've learned about yourself or your writing?

I’ve learned that I must be obsessed with the reinvention of self, of finding a way back to something lost, and the process of forgiveness and redemption. These are the recurrent themes in my work.



Aside from the release of REDEMPTION LAKE, what do you consider your biggest writing success right now, at this very moment? 

I'm trying to write faster now that I have a publisher for my work. I set a goal of at least two-thousand words per day. 
 
I've discovered if I take a few moments to think about the scene I'm going to write, jot down the scene goal and how it moves the story forward as well as the characters involved and what they want, that everything comes together. If I make their “wants” opposing, then conflict becomes the natural outcome.



What challenges or fears do you face with writing and what steps have you taken--or do you take--to overcome them? 

I’m retired and so I have time to write, but often the business of life gets in the way. Giving myself the 2,000 a day word goal has helped tremendously. 



If you could go back ten, twenty, thirty years and give your future writing-self one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Be tenacious. Write the very best novel you can write, get it edited and critiqued by other writers before you attempt to publish or do an agent search.



What were the highlights of your editorial work with Free Expressions or attendance at a workshop? How would you describe its overall effect on your professional/creative trajectory?

I attended two BONI workshops at Hood River and hope to attend more. They were fabulous and changed the way I approached my stories in so many ways.

I worked on A BEND IN THE WILLOW and REDEMPTION LAKE with Don and his staff and I sincerely believe they are published today because of the many things I learned at the BONI. It’s expensive, but well worth the money.

 

"Writing involves rejection. It is inevitable. And the only way to deal with it, is to rewrite and try again."

 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given that's helped you as a writer?

It wasn’t really a piece of advice so much as it was his example.

A grenade blew up in my father’s hand during the war. It left him without most of his right hand and with a very crippled leg that required him to wear a brace from ankle to high thigh. He was a carpenter and I watched him struggle to get work, being rejected again and again. But eventually he overcame his many obstacles and became a pretty damn good one-handed carpenter.

If he could succeed by not giving up, I could do the same. Writing involves rejection. It is inevitable. And the only way to deal with it, is to rewrite and try again.


What outside hobbies or interests feed your writing?

I make stained glass windows and quilts. In many ways they are similar to writing in that they tell stories through fabric and glass.


FAST FACTS

What are you currently reading? 
I'm currently reading Kristin Hannah's THE NIGHTINGALE

If you could enter the world of any novel, which would it be? 
The world of Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Do you write to music, or do you prefer silence? 
I prefer to write in silence

Is there a specific food or drink that fuels your writing? 
I often get so engaged in the process of writing that I forget to eat.

You can find out more about Susan at her website, www.susanclaytongoldner.com and her Facebook page. Her books are available from Amazon