Interview with Susan Corso

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Different kinds of writing bring up different types of joy for me. When I'm writing Mex--the protagonist in my mystery series--it's the sheer joy of writing of a life lived from a spiritual perspective. 24/7/365. It's how I live my life so it's easy for me, fun to live (and therefore fun to write), and generally a good time.

When I'm writing spiritual nonfiction or, really, teaching, the joy is from having overcome some trouble and mastered it enough so I can use it as an example. It reminds me that we're all growing, healing, and doing the best we can here on our lovely planet.

The other day I wrote a blistering complaint letter to the president of my health insurance company because I'd had it with the ten-week runaround they'd been giving me about a prescription. That was a laugh riot because I was writing about a rash on my face that itches like a ... well, a word that rhymes with it and I was mad mad mad at their rhetoric so I wrote the letter with a "chorus," which was, MY FACE STILL ITCHES. I added that every other paragraph! I'm pretty sure I'll hear from them soon with the right medicine.

Writing is really how I best understand myself, and the world we inhabit.
How did you come to write The Mex Mysteries?
I had gone to the White Mountains in Arizona to finish my second book of prayers for peace. I left the cabin where I was staying and went to the post office to send it to my editor in New Mexico, and as I returned home, it began to snow. It was Valentine's Day.

When I got back to the house, it was snowing in earnest. I sat down at the kitchen table and I heard a voice say distinctly, "So, you gonna write my story now?"

I looked around the house. I was alone. I had music, coffee, cigarettes and chocolate. So I said back to the voice, "Sure."

Eleven days later, I was snowed in--so much so that my car had disappeared--and there was a 350-page manuscript on the coffee table. I'd met Mex, who I, apparently, had been considering for quite some time, and followed the story I discovered inside a secret room in my computer.

The night before I left the mountains, I watched the movie of Brigadoon. Friends dug out my car, and I drove back to Phoenix the next day. On the way there, I stopped at a big bookseller to use their facilities and my eyes were riveted to a book I saw at eye level on the way to the loo: Scottish Witchcraft today. I knew the next Mex was about Brigadoon and Witches.

That's how it's been ever since. I'm guided on what to write, when, and how, and I've been writing a book about every other year for twenty years.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The shortest answer is: God. This life has had a lot of overcoming on its agenda, and my faith has grown very strong because of it. I am alive because I serve Her, and yes, I mean what I wrote. I love the life I've built so I tend to be appreciative of how things are. I like doing intuitive readings for people, I like counseling folk, I like, above all, writing every day.

I believe that we are the change we are seeking, and that our everyday choices make up that change. The best gift I can give anyone is a new way to think about an old thing. So that's what I do for myself and others.
What is your writing process?
It differs depending upon what I'm writing. If I'm writing a Mex Mystery ... first, I do a ton of research into whatever social issue I'm addressing in the book as well as the place where I'm locating the story. Often, I'll read a lot of material on the spiritual practice even if it's one I do myself.

I never start a book cold. What I mean by this is that the day I finish a Mex Mystery, I start the next one right then, and write till I'm 2-3 chapters in so I am always in the midst of a Mex Mystery, and never between them. It makes me feel like I'm always writing even if I'm not specifically writing the story right then.

By the time I've done the research, and that usually means I'm taking copious notes about possibilities for the book along the way, I'll get an interior click feeling that it's time to start writing. I almost always know who is murdered before I dive in, but that's really all I know.

Except ... that I listen to the show album, and read the script if I have it, over and over again so that I am saturated with the lyrics and the story. Then when I write, it feels to me like I find this room in my computer that has this particular Mex story in it, and I write the story I discover as I go along. The wild clues that seem to wrap themselves inside and the through the writing are because of the detailed research. I think my subconscious works them out.

It's fun to discover the story as I go--especially the personal, emotional parts of it for all the characters. I do not outline. At all. Ever. And strangely, I find that I best write fiction in the afternoons or evenings rather than in the mornings when my brain is like a laser beam. I need a softer focus to pay attention inside myself and manifest the words on my screen. Also, I never stop at the end of a chapter when I'm in the midst of writing. Instead, I stop after I've begun the next one. That way I stay with the momentum of the story.

Occasionally, I get stuck, like happened for me after 9/11, when I was in the middle of the second novel and i couldn't write for nine months or so. I've learned to be patient with the stuck times, but on the inside I'm not feeling it very well usually!
What are you working on next?
At the moment, I'm deep in the midst of the eighth Mex Mystery, Legally Bond. I've just finished a lesbian/femme butch romance novel, and am writing another one--which begins a series of four so far. I'm also writing a musical comedy based on one of my all-time favorite children's books. Oh, and blogging, and doing videos on Facebook, and writing a basic metaphysics text--the one I wish had been written when I studied it.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh my. How long do we have? I'm a Libra--with four planets in Libra--and a Gemini Moon! No seriously ...

I'm a delirious fan of Diana Gabaldon. I love the Laurie King Mary Russell Holmes books. I read Linda Fairstein. I'm a dedicated [Slytherin, so you know] Harry Potter fan. I've read all the Rita Mae Brown Mrs. Murphy books. E. L. Konigsburg's YA books touch my heart. Victoria Laurie's Psychic Eye books make me laugh. Alan Bradley's Flavia de Luce books generally make me laugh out loud. Dorothy Gilman's Mrs. Pollifax books are partly why I write Mex. Nancy Martin's Blackbird Sisters books are a riot.

For more literary fare, Jeanette Winterson gives me goosebumps no matter what she writes. Madeleine L'Engle's books speak volumes to me--both personally and spiritually. I loved The Mists of Avalon. Susan Griffin's What Her Body Thought takes me different places every time I read it. Sue Monk Kidd's fiction is particularly poignant for me.

Esther Perel's book Mating in Captivity struck me as truly insightful. Everything Angeles Arrien wrote makes me think which I like very much. I read my own Tao for Now every so often for inspiration. All of metaphysician Emmet Fox speaks to me. Donna Henes' The Queen of My Self changed my life completely. Anne LaMott's faith insights are always good for me. Mark Matousek is a lateral thinker who speaks to my spirit. Diane Stein's Reiki books are brilliant.

Right now I'm reading The Diamond Cutter--a brilliant treatise on Buddhism and business, and re-reading the Outlander series.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Oooh, there's a good question. Very rarely by deliberate random search. More likely, I'll look at the recommendations of "If you liked this, you might like ...." Because I read as much news as I do, and I deal with all kinds of people, I tend to get book recommendations more than anything, and if I hear a book recommended more than once I'm likely to buy it.

If I'm using a book for research, I'm more likely to buy a paper copy so I can write and free-associate in it.

The other thing I do is sometimes search genres--partly for research--but more for figuring out what shows up first when I search. It's a mystery to me how algorithms work ....
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, I still have it. It's an essay I wrote just before my 9th birthday. The first sentence reads: "I like to think about fairies and witches." I still do. Only now I call it writing fiction.

I also wrote lots of plays when I was younger--and starred in all of them!
What do your fans mean to you?
The people who read and are touched by my books are people I consider "in my bundle," a Quaker expression for those for whom I pray with care. I set out to combine enlightenment with entertainment in the Mex Mysteries. The thing I hear the most from readers is that they remember who they are spiritually when they read the Mex Mysteries. It doesn't get better than that for me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do a lot of reading. For meditation, which I do daily, I do jigsaw puzzles--my favorites are made by White Mountain Puzzles called collage puzzles. I do a lot of praying. I counsel folk when they reach out to me. I like to do needlepoint. I tend to be in full research mode for the mysteries all the time--I never know when I'm going to be inspired by a social issue that I want to address in a novel. I read The New York Times every day, and I do the crossword puzzle religiously every day.

My beloved and I spend a lot of time together, whether it's just chatting or sitting in silence. We are both faith-based people--his is very different from mine. But we understand one another because of our faiths. We laugh a lot. Enjoying each other is part of our daily experience. Even writing this, I smile because of him.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read on an older Kindle Fire.
Describe your desk
It's two black Parson's tables in an L-shape. A carpenter friend cut the legs off them for me so I'm not perched above the floor and my feet actually reach it--which pleases me and my lower back enormously. I invested in an Aeron chair years and years ago and it was worth every penny. There is a standing faux Tiffany lamp over my computer: I work on a PC, a laptop with a big monitor to my left. My desk sits in a bay window that is supposed to be the dining room of my Arts & Crafts house in the Hudson River Valley. There is a boho chandelier--so tacky that it's fabulous.
Published 2017-10-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Circles of Peace
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 19,380. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Prayer
Circles of Peace takes the author's 35 years of spiritual mentoring experience and applies the practice of inner peace and prayer to transforming fear in all its distressing disguises.
Each Day A New Day for #Innerpeace
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 5,290. Language: English. Published: October 25, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Inspiration » Spiritual inspiration, Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Prayer
World peace is an impossibility without inner peace established and growing within each individual. This book is a 44-day prayer practice for the purpose of establishing inner personal peace. Based on the Christian and Hebrew Scriptures, this book by metaphysician Dr. Susan Corso takes one on a journey within.
Mattress Police
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 94,510. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical
Mattress Police finds Mex in the Hudson River Valley at her pink Queen Anne Victorian. At the summer theatre, a lead in Once Upon A Mattress is murdered. Mex learns the lost secret of the four grail treasures which helps her to unravel the case and the deeper truth about Veronica. Seraphim Groves is the transformative actress who plays the gender slide with Mex, setting her free.
Chicago Valentine
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 79,070. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical
Chicago Valentine keeps Mex at home on Broadway. Six seemingly unrelated folk are dead all over town. Two things link them: each had a single ticket stub to Chicago—The Musical and a mysterious playing card. Mex delves into her own Gypsy ancestry to unlock the mystery of the playing cards, and, she hopes, the murders. She follows her heart, as Veronica reappears, and asks Mex to be her bride.
Butterfly Fan
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 101,450. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical
Butterfly Fan summons Mex to Kyoto, Japan to heal a deeply submerged secret in her own life: the death of her only son. A one-shot production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly commissioned by the okasan of the oldest geisha house in existence entwines Mex with the Japanese Yakuza and a businessman’s murder turned hara kiri. While there, Mex is initiated into Reiki by an amazing Buddhist nun.
Brigadoon Moon
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 125,870. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical
Brigadoon Moon sends Mex to the Western Isles, near the Callanish Stone Circle, where her old friend Waverley King is conducting a production of Brigadoon. Mex tangles with the local aristocrat who harbors a secret identity and who is obscuring a triple murder by using the centuries-old battle between the witches and the Druids as a diversion. She then proceeds to fall in love with Waverley.
Oklahoma! Hex
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 75,080. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical
Oklahoma! Hex finds Mex on Broadway solving the murder of Oklahoma!’s pore Jud. She works with her favorite NYPD Blue a.k.a. cop, Michael Ryan Kelley. The cast is infiltrated with Santería practitioners. She traces its root to Tierra del Fuego where she faces down the leader of a worldwide web of evil. Oh, and she meets her Divine Right Partner, Veronica, and falls in love.