Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in New Jersey in the '70's when being an immigrant was not a welcome thing, even more so than today. We took it in stride because my father had seen the musical West Side Story a thousand times in Syria before we came. So he really had the romantic ideals of just toughing it out, so we did, minus the choreographed dancing and rhythmic finger-snapping of course. There was a lot of attempted arson, kidnappings, bullets and just the usual guard dog poisoning, you know...just regular every day gang-related bullying. The only way to describe it is that 'a fish does not know it's in water' so when you don't know any other life, that becomes your norm. So it was my job every night to go to each door, basement and window to turn on the little motion detectors that would hang on doorknobs and windowsills. I carried a knife, just in case. I was 7-10 years old. My norm was to live without fear. Eventually, I graduated to guns and meat-beaters and jewelry designed to kill any attacker. My writing should be darker and full of action-packed suspense, but it had the opposite effect. Most of my writing is up-beat, positive and patriotic to the land of opportunity. It reflects my gratitude and respect for having lived out so many lives here in the United States and as a global citizen.
When did you first start writing?
I was in the bathroom writing on toilet paper at 7 years old. It was convenient and eternal so why not? I was diagnosed with learning and speech difficulties from Kindergarten - 3rd grade. I had a severe lisping and stuttering problem with extreme shyness. So instead of talking, I wrote to a non-existent audience in a language no one had heard. The actual so-called learning disabilities were actually misdiagnosed from my inability to translate the 3-4 languages I acquired as a child and not knowing which set of words to use with any new person or environment. That prompted high anxiety of talking and stuttering and voila! I was a pull out student to go down in the basement of School # 5 in Clifton, New Jersey. That's where we played Chutes and Ladders for hours. I still don't know why that was supposed to help counter speech impairments. I would lock myself up in the attic and read the same books over and over again until I memorized every word and letter. By 4th grade, I was 6th grade reading level. So I self-repaired what I could not verbalize to teachers or my absentee immigrant parents.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Skin Confessions was inspired by working in a streetfair booth in Palm Desert, California. I launched my business there and was selling my family's medicinal healing ointment, ELAJ Emollient, when people from all over the world would come in to my little booth and tell me their unusual skin stories. That's where I learned about the medical and pharmaceutical industries' love affair of Topical Steroids. Topical Steroid Addiction and the horrible withdrawal was a shocker storyline beyond any medical thriller. Worker's Compensations claims hidden away to protect hospital's bottom line. Who knew skin could be so fascinating and revealing to a myriad of socio-political consequences? One in particular was a gentleman that worked in a company full of corruption and eventually became a whistle-blower that tattle-taled on his company's dirty secrets of using toxic chemicals and polluting. The story was revealed because of a class-action lawsuit that began because of skin conditions being the first indicator that something was seriously wrong! The ultimate canary in the mine story thanks to our almighty skin! How could I NOT write all that?
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had just recovered from a licensing deal that almost cost me my company, ELAJ, LLC. The process of licensing your product or invention or company brand for mass distribution is a parallel universe to the classical form of publishing. You turn over your I.P. Intellectual Property and the exclusive global rights to them and wait for your royalty checks to come in.
That was a brutal lesson to learn. I will NEVER turn over my I.P. to anyone ever again. Even as they step in and invest millions of dollars, there is no one that can market your product, service, or book the way YOU can. Even the best of authors still get the burden of having to market their books. There is NO easy way out.
With Indie Publishing now, everything is so simplified, especially with a game-changer like SMASHWORDS that distributes without exclusivity demands and turning over copyrights or any assets. I'm IN.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The release. It actually is the artist's orgasm. The same endorphins float around in a happy dance of words like an old Leonard Cohen song, "Dance Me to the End of Love." Writing for me is that ethereal jazz bar with dark shadows filled with emotions so thick the bartender is lost in the fog. I'm the bartender. Now, how would you like that drink?
What are you working on next?
The Crazy Stories of Mr. and Mrs. Entrepreneur is my next book. It is the detailed journey of me and my husband's insane out-of-the-box, more like out-of-this-planet ways of getting our separate products into mass retail nationwide without any capital to begin with. No Shark, no investor, no loans, no debt and yet we did it. How?
The real question is, "How did we not kill each other?"
Hoping for April 1st Release (which is his birthday gift).
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Coffee. Coffee inspires me to dare get out of bed. After that, yes, it's the idea of writing. After lying to myself for 48 years that I didn't have time to be a writer, I finally woke up to the reality that I needed to come out of the closet and be loud and proud. I've been a closet-writer my entire life, damn it!
People would clue in to me being a writer and I would scoff it off and say, "no maybe someday...right now I'm too busy being an entrepreneur." The day I decided to fulfill my destiny is when I discovered my true bliss. I exchanged my title of CEO/FOUNDER for AUTHOR and I've been reborn.
Hi, my name is Suhein. I'm a writer. I can say that all day long!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, Walking, Reading while walking. I still run my business, ELAJ, LLC and am happy for that, but only because I've been set free to write. When I was just the CEO Entrepreneur, I was miserable knowing my true writing destiny was out there and I wasn't fulfilling it. Now I can do both and be content.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I think I wrote a ballet story. It was partially written and choreographed with dance routines to express the entire story. It was all played out in my living room for dinner guests by me. So my writing was interpretive in dance at the time. This was my "blue period" during ages of 6-10 years old.
But the grand finale act was followed by Barry Manilow's CopaCabana music which I danced the whole storyline out with Lola and Tony's love affair.
What is your writing process?
It usually is an average ratio of 10:1. Ten hours of research to one hour of writing.
When I read and research, it's easier to get in the zone on the spot and zoom in. It comes fast and furiously.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.