Interview with Susan Grossey

Published 2022-06-20.
When did you first start writing?
As a bookish only child I was always reading and writing. The first specific incident of writing I can remember is winning a school prize at age six for a story called "Bonkers the Witch" - when my grandmother died thirty years later, I found it in her jewellery box, carefully folded and preserved. I wrote for the school newspaper and my college magazine, and as an adult always chose jobs that involved writing. And I self-published my first novel in 2013.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Singapore - my father went there in the 1960s for adventure and to run a bank - and went to an international school. This school had a large library and a welcoming librarian, and so I read and read and read. Being an international school, it taught a range of literature - in fact, our classes were called "international literature" rather than "Eng lit". And so I was lucky enough to be exposed to writing by all types of people from all over the world, which made me realise that the locations and situations may vary, but the human condition - what we fear and what we strive for - is universal.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Like many indie authors, I did not choose this route - but am heartily glad that it happened. When I wrote my first novel I hawked it to about a dozen carefully-chosen agents and publishers. They all replied to my approach - which I now realise is rare - and all said the same thing: this is a very good book, well-written, but it won't sell. Thankfully the self-publishing world was really opening up at that time - 2012/2013 - and so I chose to ignore them and go ahead anyway. And now that I am a seasoned indie author (with seven novels under my belt) I don't think I could go into traditional publishing, even if they'd have me. I am too spoiled by being able to make all my own decisions rather than having to write to a brief.
Describe your desk
I am one of those people who cannot concentrate in a messy environment. For years I shared an office with my husband who is, let's say, at the untidy end of the spectrum, and we had to turn our chairs back-to-back so that his chaos did not distract me! Now he has moved out of the office and I can control it entirely - so I have a long wooden desk with about two square metres of clear space on it. There is a vintage-style radio that I rarely turn on, but it symbolises communication. Around me I have stuck postcards and cuttings from magazines to inspire me - pictures of libraries and gorgeous holiday destinations and wonderful gardens. For greenery I have three pots of succulent plants - they're robust enough to survive my inexpert care. And finally there is a stuffed toy octopus, to remind me that self-published authors are multi-taskers, doing at least eight things at once!
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Notes of Change" is the seventh and final book in my series of Sam Plank Mysteries. Like all the others, it is set in London in the 1820s and is narrated by magistrates' constable Sam Plank. Unlike the others, it has to deal with enormous change in Sam's career: in 1829, the Metropolitan Police was created in London, essentially rendering obsolete the magistrates' constables, and Sam has to decide how to navigate this upheaval. Of course, his daily work does not stop, and when a young man is found murdered behind a gambling club and counterfeit notes start appearing at horse auctions, Sam has to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I am still in the foothills of my book marketing adventure - I have to admit that marketing is not a natural skill of mine, and I have to force myself to stop writing and start marketing. However, I am quite imaginative, and that has served me well. I created a leaflet of the first chapter of "Fatal Forgery" (the first book in my Sam Plank series) and handed it out at my local railway station, and that created quite a bump in sales. I give talks at local libraries, and make sure to talk not just about my books but also about writing and self-publishing, as so many readers are wannabe writers as well. And if people like the person giving the talk, they are much more likely to borrow or even buy their books.
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Books by This Author

Heir Apparent
Series: The Sam Plank Mysteries, Book 6. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 75,510. Language: English. Published: June 24, 2022. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Historical » Regency
A young man returns to London from the family plantation in the Caribbean after an absence of six years to be at his father’s deathbed – and to inherit his estate. But is the new arrival who he says he is? Anyone who doubts his identity meets an untimely end, but his sister swears that he is her beloved brother. Sam Plank comes face to face with the death trade and those who profit from it.
Notes of Change
Series: The Sam Plank Mysteries, Book 7. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 77,090. Language: English. Published: April 21, 2022. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Regency, Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime
In the autumn of 1829, the body of a wealthy young man is found dumped in a dust-pit. Constable Sam Plank's enquiries lead him from horse auctions to houses of correction, and from the rarefied atmosphere of the Bank of England to the German-speaking streets of Whitechapel. And when he comes face to face with an old foe, he finds himself considering shocking compromises.
Faith, Hope and Trickery
Series: The Sam Plank Mysteries, Book 5. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 63,980. Language: English. Published: March 11, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Regency, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
Rose Welford, the wife of a bootmaker, is smothered in her bed in the summer of 1828. Her husband quickly confesses to the crime, claiming that a message from beyond the grave told him to do it. In this fifth novel in the series, Constable Sam Plank is drawn into matters beyond his understanding.
Portraits of Pretence
Series: The Sam Plank Mysteries, Book 4. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 68,050. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Regency, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
An elderly French artist is found dead in his rooms in London clutching a miniature portrait of a little girl. In this fourth novel in the series, Constable Sam Plank delves into the world of art dealing and finds himself navigating the fragile post-war relationship between England and France
Worm in the Blossom
Series: The Sam Plank Mysteries, Book 3. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 63,950. Language: English. Published: October 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Regency, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
In the stifling summer of 1826, the death of a young man in Hyde Park uncovers a web of blackmail and corruption so far-reaching that even the redoubtable Constable Sam Plank is shocked. Susan Grossey’s third Sam Plank novel plunges the magistrates’ constable, his determined wife Martha and his protégé William Wilson into a dark and desperate world.
The Man in the Canary Waistcoat
Series: The Sam Plank Mysteries, Book 2. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 58,580. Language: English. Published: October 27, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Regency, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
In this new mystery, Constable Sam Plank suspects there may be a link between a suicide, an embezzler, an arsonist and a thief in Regency London. As his steadfast wife becomes involved in his investigations, and with a keen young police officer now under his command, Sam finds himself leading them all into a confrontation with some ruthless and brutal adversaries.
Fatal Forgery
Series: The Sam Plank Mysteries, Book 1. Price: $1.25 USD. Words: 56,610. Language: English. Published: October 6, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Regency, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical
It is 1824, and trust in the virtual money of the day – new paper financial instruments – is so fragile that anyone forging them is sent to the scaffold. So why would one of London’s most respected bankers start forging his clients’ signatures? Sent to arrest Henry Fauntleroy, Constable Samuel Plank is determined to find out why the banker has risked his reputation - and his neck.