Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Saturday, November 19, 2005

On the Shelf with Suzanne Strempek Shea

Suzanne Strempek Shea is one of those authors you discover while browsing thru your local library or well stocked bookstore on a quiet day that add some much needed liveliness. Her books are heart-felt ,humorous and bursting with life. She is a novelist and fortunately,many of her titles are widely available such as Hoopi Shoopi Donna,Lily of the Valley(my personal favorite)and,most recently,Finding Finola.

She also has two nonfiction books-one,Songs From a Lead Lined Room,deals with her bout with cancer and the other,Shelf Life,chronicles her first year of working at her local independant bookstore,Edward's Books in Springfield,Mass. Suzanne is a truly sweet person and was kind enough to let me interview her.

I gave her seven questions(number not based on the seven deadly sins,more like the seven dwarves)and here are the results of my inquiry:

1)As a writer,how has working in a bookstore changed
and/or reinforced your opinions reading books and readers?

People read. Books are important to people. Good writing is prized
like diamonds. I see that reinforced daily now that I'm behind the
counter. I always read, books always mattered, I always appreciated fine
writing, but spending the day in a bookstore shows me I'm not in the minority we
might guess is the case in our time-crunched TV-centered culture.

2)Do you think any of your bookselling experiences will wind up in one of your novels?

Oh I'm sure some will at some point. Working with the public is an
endless source of material and as writing can be a very solitary act, it's
great to have that venue in which to poke my head into the world.

3)What's your take on independent vs. chain book stores?

Chains carry my books nationally and internationally and I will be
eternally grateful for that. But I find that most of the independents are
staffed with people who really know what they're selling, go out of their way to
find what you're seeking, handsell titles you might not otherwise come

Yes, you can find very knowledgeable staffers at chain stores, but
certainly not as often as you will in an independent. Would it be too grand to
say that most of those who work in independents do so more as a calling
and that many of those who work at the chains are there to have a job?

4)As mentioned in Shelf Life,your mother drove the local bookmobile when you were a kid-given the chance now,would you like to do the same?

I'm not good with big pieces of machinery, but I'd love to drive some
sort of thing that brought books to readers. There were lines of kids and
adults waiting in those days. That image is in my mind, from both being
inside the bookmobile, and waiting in that line.

5)If you went into a bookstore and found your novels shelved in the Chick Lit section,would that bother you or not?

If I go into a bookstore and my books are anywhere, I'm delighted.
It's still such a thrill to have had my stories published that it never
gets old to find my books in a store or library. Chick Lit sells big. Good for
those authors! I don'tthink my books fall into that category, as they might not fit into mystery or historical fiction, but if somebody puts them there, maybe some of
the good fortune of the neighboring books will rub off on mine!

6)What do you like best about bookselling?

I'd probably say the excitement of the boxes that arrive each day -
what's new, what are people waiting for, what can we put out there that
they'll love. There are so many wonderful books out there, whatever we can do
to spread the word, it's just an honor. Another answer would be that Flo, the owner's mother, keeps a drawer full of chocolate, so that's cool, too.

7)Did you watch the Quills Awards and what is your opinion about book awards in general?

I didn't catch the Quills Awards, but I think it's fabulous that such
wide exposure has been given to the arts. We get more than enough about
film stars and sports stars, shining some light on literary accomplishments is an overdue trend.

Hopefully,Suzanne will be the first of many interviews presented here at Living Read Girl and I thank her most sweetly for her time. Her website is linked above
so if you want to know more her and Edward's Books,please check it out!


Jake McCafferty said...

Original content ... good for you!

lady t said...

Thanks,Jake-I just hope someone out there will see this and get one
of Suzanne's books. She's a good writer and a sweet person(rare combo,some might say!).