Harmony Book Reviews

Interview: Suzanne Supplee

Posted on: December 27, 2008

I absolutely adored Suzanne’s book, Artichoke’s Heart, (see my review here) and Suzanne is extremely nice to chat with. So I’m very happy to present this interview to you. Enjoy!

What was your inspiration for Artichoke’s Heart?

I was sitting in the chair at my hairdresser’s, and I had all this glop on my head, and the lighting was bad, and that black cape is always hideous, and there were mirrors everywhere. I couldn’t wait to leave! Suddenly, I had this idea about a girl who couldn’t escape because she worked there. I guess it’s appropriate that Rosie was born in a beauty shop.

Did you ever experience anything similar to what Rosemary was going through during Artichoke’s Heart?

Yes and no. I gained weight when I went away to college, but I was never overweight in high school or taunted the way Rosie is. I relate to Rosie’s internal struggles—her lack of confidence, her desire to fit in, her need to be closer to her mom. I have struggled with all these things.

Which of the characters was your favorite to write about? Who was the hardest to write about?

Moms are always difficult. Of course, I am a mom, so I tend to understand their side of things, even if I don’t agree with their choices. But, I also know what it’s like to be a teenager who doesn’t get along with her mom. I try to balance the teenage girl who is still very much alive in my heart (even though chronologically I’m WAY past that stage) and the mom I am today. This is always, always tricky!
I think my absolute favorite character is Richard. I LOVE him! He’s so funny and sweet and complicated. He’s frustrated with where he is in life, too, and he’s a good friend to Rosie. He’s probably the only person who really gets her, at least in the beginning of the book.

What would be your advice for teens struggling with issues similar to Rosemary’s?

I think it would be to try to love yourself the way you are TODAY, not six months from now when you lose weight or achieve some goal you’re trying for. Whether you’re big or little, pretty or just average, you are irreplaceable. Sounds sappy, I know, but it’s true.

What was your road to publication like? Can you share any of your experiences with us?

It took me years and years to get published. It was so frustrating and heartbreaking at times, but I am an extremely determined person. I never, ever gave up, and when one book didn’t sell, I wrote another. Finally, a wonderful agent, Ann Tobias, agreed to represent me, and she passed Artichoke’s Heart on to Julie Strauss-Gabel, my brilliant, talented editor at Dutton. Julie and Ann are such smart, talented women, and I am so very lucky to be able to work with them.

Are you working on anything right now? What can you tell us about it?

Yes, my next book is Somebody Everybody Listens To, and it’s the story of Retta Jones, a Tennessee River girl who wants leave her small town to become a big-time country music star. I’ve also written a novel for Penguin’s Students Across the Seven Seas series called When Irish Guys Are Smiling. Irish Guys was released this past January, and it’s available in paperback.

Do you have any crazy habits while you write? For example, do you have to be in a specific room or do you only write at night, etc.

I am a very cold-natured person, and I sit right next to this roaring space heater to keep warm. My husband will come home and find me hunched over my computer, and he’ll say, “Uh, you realize it’s like a hundred degrees in here, right?”

Do you listen to music while you write? Who are some of your bands/singers?

I love all kinds of music—everything from Barry Manilow to the Doors to Dolly Parton. I’m very eclectic when it comes to music. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of country music because of the book I’m working on—Garth, Faith, Carrie, Tyler, Dolly, Hank, Johnny, Loretta, Patsy. Aerosmith and Bon Jovi and Madonna seem to dominate my playlist when I’m at the gym. I’m addicted to my iPod, and I have the bad hearing to prove it. I’m like the poster child for TURN THE MUSIC DOWN.

Who is your favorite author? What are some of your favorite books?

Right now I’m reading a new author, Sarah Quigley. Her book will be out in spring 2009, and it’s called TMI. She’s super funny! I’m also reading Twisted by L.H. Anderson, and I just finished John Green’s Paper Towns, although I keep calling it Paper Dolls for some bazaar reason. I’m a huge Sarah Dessen fan, too. In addition to YA, I love the classics—Flannery O’Connor, Steinbeck, the Brontes, Hemingway, Thomas Hardy (I’m completely hooked on him), Anne Tyler, Lee Smith, John Irving, Ayn Rand. I could go on and on and on. So many books, so little time!

What advice do you have for any aspiring writers reading this?

Read. Write. Rewrite. Never give up. And, really, if you’re a true, blue writer, giving up isn’t an option; writing is something you HAVE to do. Also, read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.



2 Responses to "Interview: Suzanne Supplee"

[…] Suzanne Supplee’s interview is also really cool. […]

Great interview. I love Artichoke’s Heart!. Thanks for the great advice.

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