Your Next Favorite Author: Susie Black!

She gave “skeleton in the closet” a whole new meaning.

Who wanted Lissa Charney dead? The list was as long as your arm….but which one actually killed her? The last thing Mermaid Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected to find when she opened the closet door was nasty competitor Lissa Charney’s battered corpse nailed to the wall. When Holly’s colleague is wrongly arrested for Lissa’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth sticks her nose everywhere it doesn’t belong to sniff out the real killer. Nothing turns out the way she thinks it will as Holly matches wits with a heartless killer hellbent for revenge. 

Named Best US Author of the Year by N. N. Lights Book Heaven, award-winning cozy mystery author, Susie Black was born in the Big Apple but now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries. 

She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect. 



Hi readers! Welcome to YNFA with Susie Black, cozy mystery author of Death by Pins and Needles. 

Avis: This is your second visit to YNFA, and I’m so glad you’re back with another gripping cozy for us to devour! Your second book in the Swimsuit Series follows Holly Schlivnik once again, as she defies the authorities and solves yet another mystery at the California Apparel Mart! Here’s our first question:

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

SUSIE: Accurately and realistically writing male characters. Fortunately, I have two experts-a husband and a grown son- who I can and do consult regarding male personality traits, how a male character would approach, handle, or react to a situation versus a female etc.

Avis: You are so lucky to have willing family to help you fine tune your male characters! That’s worth so much to a writer! I have trouble with my male characters too, and the male members of my crit groups call me out when I get it wrong! 😊

Here’s our next question:

What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

 SUSIE: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. In my opinion, this book and The Diary of Anne Frank should be required reading for every young woman coming of age. 

Avis: Two thought-provoking and powerful reads. Thanks for these choices, and I know how hard it is to choose just ONE! Both titles are excellent. Our next question:

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking 

care of the reader? 

SUSIE: By delivering to the reader what I promise to. I do this by not leaving the reader hanging at the end, and by giving the reader all the information they need to figure out whodunit on their own. But I make them work for it by throwing in enough red herrings to twist the story into a surprise as to who the killer is. So far, no one has told me they figured out whodunit! 

Avis: Good answer! I know I’ve never figured it out, and I really tried on this one! It will surprise readers, for sure! Next:

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

SUSIE: I think that some aspiring writers do not understand the importance of writing what they know or do not do sufficient research on a topic and their writing lacks the authenticity that readers demand. 

Avis: Amen, sister! Readers are savvy, and they will point out the gaps if the research isn’t thorough! Good call! Next:

What is your writing Kryptonite? 

SUSIE: Overusing certain words. 

Avis: I must ditto you on this one, sister! Next question:

Have you ever gotten writer’s block?

SUSIE: No, not yet…One way I’ve avoided it is by allowing the characters to take the story from the middle to the end. Of course, if I don’t like what they have done, they know I can change it. Or, if I absolutely HATE what they did, they know I can either write them out of the story or kill them off…so they are highly motivated to do a fabulous job.

Avis: LOL! Way to manage your characters! Characters do drive the story, so way to let them keep you in writing mode! Next question:

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? 

SUSIE: Susie Black is my pseudonym. When I chose to write under one, I had to select one I could remember. LOL My real middle name is Susan and Black is the English translation from the German of Schwartz, my legal surname.

Avis: Very interesting! All I know is it’s working well for you and looks great on your covers. 😊 Next question:

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

SUSIE: I have four contracted and completed, but unpublished books that will all be published in 2023. I have one half-finished book that should have been completed a long time ago but keeps getting pushed to the back of the line. I am determined to complete and submit it to my editor before 2023 is over. 

Avis: Wow, Susie! That’s a library! You’ll fill a shelf at the bookstore before you know it! Congratulations, and such good news for us because you give us such great stories! Next question:

What does literary success look like to you?

SUSIE: When a reader says, “I could not put your book down. I stayed up all night reading it because I simply had to find out what happened next.” 

Avis: Another great answer because we are nothing without our readers, and if they love your stories that much, it truly is success! Last question:

What’s the best way to market your books? 

SUSIE: Because I find it impossible to quantify success with most marketing ploys, my knee-jerk reaction to this question was to throw in the towel and hire someone who knows how to do it. But I have found that doing guest spots on podcasts and blogs, and Facebook book clubs are some of the most effective ways to introduce myself and my books to a widespread audience of captive listeners. 

Avis: Marketing is difficult to say the least, but I like your ideas and might borrow the FB book club idea! That’s a good one!

Thank you so much for joining us again on YNFA, Susie! I can’t wait to see what you have coming next, but in the meantime, readers, make sure you pick up a copy of Susie Black’s Death by Pins and Needles. Also, check out Susie’s socials below, and for more details on the book, please read my review of this five-star cozy from award-winner, Susie Black!

Review by Avis M. Adams

Susie Black is at it again! Her newest release in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery series, Death by Pins and Needles, takes us back to the California Apparel Mart with Holly Schlivnik, the Yentas, Queenie, and the world of swimsuit fashion for another murder mystery, one that only Holly can solve.

Holly Schlivnik and the Yentas join forces to withstand the competitive backstabbing that takes place at the California Apparel Mart. Enter Lissa (same as Melissa but leave off the Muh) Charney. Luck seems to follow Lissa as she moves from a successful job in sales for Barely There Swimwear to showroom manager with Royal Swimwear, so why does everyone hate her? Hmmm.

When our hero, Holly, gets stuck in a marketing meeting, she has to rush back to the Mart for a late Friday afternoon meeting with “her majesty” Sue Ellen MaGee, a hard to please buyer. But Holly can’t find her keys to the office. When she goes in search of Lissa who has a spare, Holly finds something that makes her laugh hysterically. Yes, Holly has inherited her nana’s fear of death, and she overcompensates with nervous laughter, so when she finds Lissa’s bloody corpse, she does just that. 

When she finishes laughing, she calls 911. The police follow the clues, which leads them to former showroom manager, newly reinvented multi-line independent sales rep and mother of two, Joan Binder. Joan travels the roads in search of a sale. Where once she worked from a desk, she now works out her car and cheap hotel rooms. Demotion doesn’t begin to cover what Lissa has done to Joan. 

The police see motive written all over this woman, and the blood on her coveralls doesn’t help. When the police arrest Joan, Holly knows they have the wrong person, and she won’t let Joan take the fall for a murder she knows Joan didn’t commit.

Holly goes on the hunt, but along the way she picks up enemies like lint on a mohair jacket. She can handle; hate mail, which don’t frighten her but provide clues, and she proves Joan’s innocence, which means the cops have to search harder for their perp. Holly has really stuck her chutzpah in it now.

Our hero goes through a long list of haters who all have cause to snuff the cold-hearted Lissa, like Eileen, head of her own company, who fell in love with Lissa, but Lissa spurned her. Ah ha, your say. But then there is the handsome recipient of her love, Rez Javadi, or Bobby as he likes to be called, an immigrant who is in danger of losing his green card. He fears deportation, and Lissa refused to marry him to help out. 

Intriguing so far? This delightful cozy follows the intrepid Ms. Holly Schlevnik as she forges her way from clue to clue, against the wishes of LAPD homicide detective “AJ” Yakamura, and Holly does so with all the flair and humor that Suzie Black brings to her all her novels. 

Black has crafted another gem with Death by Pins and Needles. Fans will adore this fast-paced frolic through death, and readers new to Black will delight in her mastery with the cozy mystery genre. Death by Pins and Needles reads like a stand-alone novel but beware because you’ll want to read the first one, Death by Sample Size, too!

Be prepared to read into the night, as Holly Schlivnik’s search for the murderer takes her to dark warehouses and dark, bankrupt businesses to solve the mystery of who murdered Lissa Charney. This is a riveting five-star read!

Published by avismadams

I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in the foothills of the Cascades. I am a published author of fiction and poetry. My debut YA novel coming out soon. I also write picture books, and short stories. I teach English at a local college, and I love any activity in the great outdoors, especially if it includes my dog Zero!

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  1. What a great interview with a favorite author. Love Death by Pins and Needles. I know I’m late by a month — don’t know how I missed this — but I’m sharing it now! Thank you, ladies!


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