Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Interview With H. Schussman

Whenever someone tells me that they enjoyed reading a book, I always ask if they contacted the author to tell them what it was they liked about it. I have yet to find someone who has said they had. I like to remind them that writers love to hear from their fans and often take the time to reply. 

It is just as important to learn what makes a writer decide to write, what inspires them and how they go about the whole process. I would like to introduce you to one of my fellow authors at Vinspire Publishing. Feel free to post comments, I am sure she will be thrilled to respond. 

Tell us about yourself:

I live in Northern California with my husband of 27 years. We travel almost obsessively. An annual ‘vacation’ for us is to go to Spanish language school in some Spanish speaking country for a month. We get to live with a family and immerse ourselves in their culture. Otherwise we love the Caribbean and Italy. The rest of the world is yet to be visited. When home I work full time as a physical therapist specializing in dementia. I’m a guest lecturer at my alma mater on clinical documentation, and also psychiatric and cognitive disorders. I am a clinical instructor, so I get a PT intern for 12 weeks a year. Otherwise I write and workout in my spare time.

 1. How did you choose the genre you write in?

I’m all over the place! I’ve written two action-adventure conspiracy books (or Ethnic Romance depending on how you look at it) with Sean and Sport. The Family Meeting, an epic family saga spanning 80 years is also in the works. I have a non-fiction travel companion book for making a good first impression in other countries. I also write three completely different blogs; travel (Dashing Bold Adventure), food and wine (The Wine Tribe), and my author blog (Author H. Schussman). Humor is the underlying genre for everything I write. My characters make me laugh out loud.

2. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I just write. I fill in an outline as I go for reference. I also keep a character description list to make sure I don’t goof up and change someone’s eye color. And finally, I keep a calendar next to me to make sure I know what day of the week it is. My books go extremely fast in a short time frame.

3. What does your protagonist think about you? Would she want to hang out with you, the creator?

What a creative question! My Protagonist in Counterpart and El Tiburon is Sport. We are pretty similar. She is a physician and I’m a physical therapist, and we both like fitness, healthy food, our amazing husbands, and we’re Christians. Otherwise she leads a much more exciting life than I do, and always seems to be in trouble. We would probably have a lot to talk about. She is the one who makes me laugh. When I try to exclude her from my Action Adventure series I get bored.

4. Which of your characters speaks the loudest to you?

I would have to say Sport, but I really like Craig too. He showed up at the end of El Tiburon and has taken a major role in my current work-in-progress. He has paranoid schizophrenia with auditory hallucinations. He is seriously misunderstood by the average person. I feel like I am helping him be heard and understood.

5. Do you have a message in your books?

Yes, I guess I do. I think in general I like to let my reader form a first impression and then dash it to pieces. Assumptions can be a dangerous habit. For example, in El Tiburon I include a unique people group commonly referred to as The Cockroaches. They live in the Guatemala City garbage dump. (This is a real community of 11,000 people, 6,000 of which are children) At first glance their lives would seem to be hopeless and worthless, having no value to society. In El Tiburon they are the ones who rise as the true heroes, as they keep Sport alive and safe. They ultimately prove themselves to be a diversified people group who care about their community
and resent the power the drug cartel has over them.

6. If you could have one author read your work, which one would it be?

Oh wow…I’m nervous just thinking about it. I would say God, but He’s already read my work J Umm, I don’t know… maybe Lee Child or Bram Stoker? But honestly my first thought was Spielberg because my readers keep telling me my work is like reading a movie. I would want to know if he thought my work was worthy of a movie.

7. Where do your ideas come from?

Somewhere in the scary recesses of my mind. I have a strange process I work through. Basically I sit down to my computer and write what my characters are saying in my head. I’m a secretary. I am also extremely critical of unbelievable plots. When my characters get out of line, making the story grind to a stop I go to my husband. He is my plot breakthrough man. Most of his ideas are crazy, but it gets me to thinking again.

Because I don’t outline my work in advance, I am often surprised by the turn of events. I’ve had characters turn bad (or good) on me. Since I honestly didn’t know how it ends, or who the bad guy is, my writing is tense and unpredictable to me and the reader.

8. What project are you working on now?

I am currently writing Pirates (loosely titled). This is another conspiracy, action adventure. Sean and Sport come into the plot a little later than usual. Currently it is placed in Costa Rica, but I sense it is heading to Italy.

I am also getting prepared for El Tiburon to be released by Vinspire Publishing toward the end of this year (God willing and the creek don’t rise!).

9. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Write! Quit making excuses and write. Your skills will only improve with practice. It doesn’t hurt to read excellent books to train your mind.

10. When do you find you're the most creative, morning or night?

Unfortunately for me, it varies. I can’t seem to pin down a specific time I am the most creative. I write a lot when I travel.

11. If your story were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each character's part? 

Sean reminds me of Brad Pitt or Matt Damon. Sean is sort of a big brawny guy of Irish descent. Sundai Love is a new model who looks like Sport and is short. Sport is a petite black woman of African American and Japanese descent.

12. Do you go out of your way to kill bugs? Are there any that make you screech and hide? :)

It depends on if it’s in my house or not. I kill fleas. I hate them, but they love me! Outside I rarely kill a bug (except fleas and mosquitoes). No insects make me screech and hide, though I considered screeching a few times in Costa Rica. Their bugs are numerous and disgusting.

Venita Louise, Thank you for taking the time out of your crazy schedule to interview me. I also want to thank Dawn Carrington, Editor-in-Chief of Vinspire Publishing, for publishing El Tiburon. I think it is great that she recognized that a married couple could star in a romance! I believe there is nothing more romantic than seasoned couple.

Discover more about H. Schussman at the following links:
A Dashing and Bold Adventure blog:
Author H. Schussman blog:


  1. Venita, Thank you again for this interview. It was fun!

  2. Lovely Interview Heidi and Venita. Good to have you on the other side of the questions Heidi! And you have such an interesting life, can't wait to hear more about 'Pirates'.

  3. Heidi, your books sound almost as exciting and intriguing as your actual life! I love your desire to challenge readers' assumptions about characters and raise up unexpected heroes. Congratulations and best of success with your upcoming release, El Tiburon.