Sunday, December 13, 2015

Faith Sullivan Author Interview

Faith Sullivan Author Interview

Faith is one of my favorite authors and happens to be the November Author in the Spotlight here on BookSnob.  I had the chance to ask her some questions and we played email tag for a couple of weeks but finally the interview answers are here.  I am thrilled and you will be happy to know more about Faith Sullivan and her reading and writing life.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?

 I grew up in small-town southern Minnesota, hence the locale of my Harvester novels, I suppose.  I'm married to retired journalist Dan Sullivan, have three grown children, all writers, and a two-year-old grandson Jack, whose parents are a writer and a librarian.  As the child is alarmingly verbal, he's quite possibly headed in the same direction as the rest of the family.

I began writing novels in my forties and have continued for forty-some years, producing eight, with two more "in the oven," so to speak.

2. What inspired you to write Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse?

I was inspired to write Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse because I have worshipped at the Wodehouse altar for about as many years as I've been wandering the novel-writing territory.  And, when I sat down to write about Nell Stillman, a woman I've dealt with in previous novels, though never as a leading character, her life seemed perfect for a union with Wodehouse.  She has a hard life and his stories are an anodyne.

3. Usually an author puts some of his own life experiences in the book.  Did you do that?     Do you have anything in common with your characters?

My novels are never autobiographical though I do avail myself of things I know: small town life; teaching in public schools; Catholicism; and since I was a history major, I enjoy throwing a bit of that into the mix.

4.   Can you tell us why you decided to become a writer?  What is one of your daily writing rituals or

 I became a novelist because I had stories to tell that no one else wanted to write.  Or maybe could write.  They were mine. They grew out of my particular and peculiar brain.  I continue writing for the same reason.  Basically, I am a morning writer, always have been.  In the p.m., I edit or research. I am fortunate enough to have a book-filled office in my home, though I suppose I could write anywhere. Most writers could.  Writing fiction is a fine madness, and those afflicted will find a way to do it, no matter what.

5.   Do you like to read?  What authors or books influence you?

Any fiction writer who doesn't read is either a fool or a liar.  Writing is a craft as well as an art and it must be constantly honed if rot is not to set in.  We learn from each other, as with any art or craft.  So we read and write and write and write.  Among my favorite writers are P. G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen, David McCullough; Geraldine Brooks; the late Bill Holm; and my many brilliant friends  --  novelists, children's writers, poets, etc.  As to what authors have influenced me, all of them in some way.

6.  Name one P.G. Wodehouse book that you believe is a must read for everyone and tell us why?

If, as a reader, one is just setting out on the Wodehouse trail, I'd say begin with any of the Jeeves and Wooster books. Jeeves and Wooster are so exquisitely realized, it is difficult to find their equals in modern literature.  But do not stop there.  Race on to the Blandings Castle books and the Psmith novels, and . . . well, just keep going.

7.  I love that many of your books center around a small fictional town in Minnesota called Harvester.  Was this intentional?  Did you know this would happen when you started The Cape Ann?

The Harvester Books, so called, began when my husband suggested that I should write a sequel to The Cape Ann.  I, in the meantime, had grown attached to the Wheeler family in that same book and had determined to explore the dynamics of a family in which the mother was a severe depressive.  In writing The Empress of One, I found that I savored the opportunity to return to earlier characters, further revealing their complexity.

8.  Nell Stillman, the main character of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse plays a role in some of your other novels as well.  Can you discuss which novels and why Nell’s story needed to be told?

Nell Stillman, protagonist of Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse, appears in The Cape Ann, The Empress of One, and peripherally in Gardenias.  In these novels, I found her both heroic and human, someone extraordinary who would characterize herself as "very ordinary."  And isn't that the way with many of the extraordinary people we encounter?  I suppose one of the reasons I write fiction is to explore this phenomenon of the extraordinary in the seemingly commonplace.

9.  Are you working on a new book?  Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I am at work on two new novels.  I'll speak about the first, Ruby.  It grew out of a recollection in the Wodehouse book of a farmer's hired girl who falls in love with the married farmer across the road and what unexpected consequences ensue.

10. In one sentence tell readers why they should read Good Night, Mr.Wodehouse?

Reading Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse is worth a reader's time because, as well as chronicling the life of an extraordinary woman, it offers fresh insights into the reasons we read and why books are the most accessible of all life-saving devices.

Thanks Faith!!

You can find Faith at her website: