about susan

How did I become a writer?

There were two events that changed the flow of my life.

I grew up in the New York City suburbs, went to college at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. It was there that the first event occurred, in my sophomore year. I, a math major, discovered I was failing not one, but all three of my math classes. And worse yet, I had to declare a major the following week. My goal, at that point, was someday to be a college graduate. Not in math, though.

Instead, I thought, let me choose a major less exacting, a field of study which, not only allows creative conclusions but applauds them. All English majors understand. And so now, I have written 21 novels and about as many (that's a phrase you don't use in math) short stories. And not only do I not remember how to find a square root, I have no idea why anyone would want to.

But I still didn't see myself as a writer. So, I did what unfocused college graduates do, went to grad school. I got an M.A. in Teaching from the University of North Carolina. I loved Chapel Hill, hated teaching junior high.

And then I did social work in Baltimore, Upper Harlem and the South Bronx, and finally, Richmond, California.

Then the second event occurred, one evening shortly after I was married. I was reading a mystery by Agatha Christie and said to my husband, "I could do that."

"Well, you go ahead," said he. You can hear his tone, can't you? He never mentioned that boast of mine again. But bravado early in a marriage can reverberate long and loud, if you don't do something, and quickly. So I took paper to typewriter. That turned into a manuscript, but not one you'll ever see. Be thankful.

It was five years and five manuscripts later that Karma sold.

Since then, I've taught yoga, worked as a paralegal, and been part of the private investigative defense team in a capital murder case. I was a founding board member of Sisters in Crime, and subsequently president. And I'm living outside San Francisco, with the same husband.

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susan dunlap

Big news!  All of the Jill Smith books, all of the Vejay Haskells and the Kiernan O'Shaughnessys are now available as ebooks.  (The Darcy Lotts have been print and ebooks all along.) 

My ebook publisher, Open Road Media, shot a quirky video of me.  What you see here is one minute forty seconds.  The film crew spent two days with me.  Equipment filled my living room so full we couldn't get the front door open. Later, I was striding down the length of the Berkeley pier, followed by a three-man film crew, and a stranger asked for an autograph!  I felt like a star.

They'll use some of the other footage—the B roll—later.  But you'll be amazed at how much material, and settings, are in this video.

The series . . . Should you read the books in order?

With the Vejay Haskell books, the answer is yes.  There are questions in the first one that are answered in the third. 

With the Kiernan O'Shaughnessys, it's a yes, too. You'll enjoy the progression of relationships more that way, and some things will make better sense. 

This is true of the Jill Smith books, too, but to a lesser degree.  There are a lot of them, and you won't tear out your toenails and box your own ears if you read a couple out of sequence.

Here's the ebook link. While you're at the Open Road Media site, check out the rest of their authors.  There are some great videos.