Fate & Fulfillment: Susan Kietzman on ‘Every Other Wednesday’ (Q&A w/ event details)

Local authors Susan Kietzman (Every Other Wednesday) and Nan Rossiter (Summer Dance) will appear at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot for a joint book signing on Thursday, June 1st, at 4:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public. Location: 2 Green Hill Rd.

The authors will also be in conversation at the Savoy Bookshop & Café in Westerly, Rhode Island on Tuesday, June 6th, at 6:00 p.m. This event is also free and open to the public. Location: 10 Canal St.

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Today, I’m delighted to be in the cyber company of Connecticut’s own Susan Kietzman.

Susan is the author of the recently released novel, Every Other Wednesday (Kensington), as well as three previous titles: The Good Life, A Changing Marriage, and The Summer Cottage. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Connecticut College and a master’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Susan has written for magazines, newspapers, and corporate websites, and taught English composition as an adjunct instructor at two community colleges. She currently readies grant proposals for the Mystic Seaport Museum when not crafting fiction.

Susan Kietzman
Susan Kietzman

Praise for Every Other Wednesday:

“This heartwarming tale … heavily relies on friendship and family, and may prompt one to ponder their life and wonder if it’s ever too late to start anew.”—RT Book Reviews

“For readers of issue-driven, contemporary women’s fiction such as works by Sue Miller and Jodi Picoult.”—Library Journal

From the publisher:

Three women, each facing an empty nest, come together to cheer and challenge one another in this insightful, poignant new novel from acclaimed author Susan Kietzman.

For years, Ellie, Alice, and Joan enjoyed a casual friendship while volunteering at their children’s Connecticut high school. Now, with those children grown and gone to college, a local tragedy brings the three into contact again. But what begins as a catch-up lunch soon moves beyond small talk to the struggles of this next stage of life.

Joan Howard has spent thirty years of marriage doing what’s expected of Howard women: shopping, dressing well, and keeping a beautiful home. Unfulfilled, her boredom and emptiness eventually find a secret outlet at the local casino. Meanwhile, Ellie’s efforts to expand her accounting business lead to a new friendship that clashes with her family’s traditional worldview. And Alice, feeling increasingly distant from her husband, and alienated from her once fit body, takes up running again. But a terrifying ordeal shatters her confidence and spurs a decision that will affect all three women in different ways.

Over the course of an eventful year, Ellie, Alice, and Joan will meet every other Wednesday to talk, plan—and find the freedom, and the courage, to redefine themselves.

Every Other Wednesday

Now, Susan reveals the facts of her fiction …

John Valeri: Your new novel, Every Other Wednesday, is set against the backdrop of a tragedy. How can such events be transformative – and in what ways do you endeavor to juxtapose pain with promise?

Susan Kietzman: Our day to day lives can make us complacent. Tragedy, in whatever form it takes, can wake us up – not only to the wider world but also to a buried, internal longing or conviction. Discovery or change can be painful, but it can also lead to unanticipated fulfillment

JV: You have three strong female protagonists: Ellie, Alice, and Joan. How does this both benefit and complicate the narrative – and what do you hope that your characters reveal about expectations and stereotypes?

SK: I chose to have three female protagonists so they could play off of and learn from one another. It’s harder for readers, at first, when they have to focus on and keep track of three characters instead of one. But Ellie, Alice, and Joan – while each facing a mid-life crisis known as the empty nest – have very different backgrounds and motivations. Their stories are individual, but also complementary.

As far as stereotyping goes, we all do it, whether we realize it or admit it. Twisting well-worn stereotypes, as an author, is one way to create fiction that bumps up against reality.

JV: Fiction is a powerful lens through which to view real life issues. How are you able to weave your own experiences into your works – and what is the role of creative license in taking universal emotions and giving them new life?

SK: I like to think that fiction is a blend of experience, observation, imagination, and creativity. So yes, my characters reflect my experience – but they are not, as many people ask me, autobiographical.

Fiction writers are forever taking creative license; it’s part of the job. It’s important for me, however, that my characters are believable, that what they do or say makes sense for the situations they find themselves in. Creative license enables fiction writers to tell the same stories in myriad ways, whether we are writing about universal emotions like happiness or fear or love or anger or documenting a morning walk.

JV: This is your fourth novel. What do you see as the greatest evolution of your abilities as a storyteller – and what one lesson have you learned that you wish you had known at the beginning of your career.

SK: I’m working on a book now that has nothing to do with my life, with my personal experience – and it is very liberating, as well as challenging.

I’ve learned that publishing is a business rather than an art – and that bestselling books, no matter how well or poorly written, are the books that receive the most attention and praise.

JV: Your books are considered women’s fiction. How can such classifications both help and hinder an author – and how do you conceptualize your own work?

SK: What being a women’s fiction author means is that my targeted audience is women. This can be a good thing, since women are the readers, book purchasers, and book group members. But it’s also limiting, as any label can be. Men, too, might be interested in human stories about complicated relationships and the complex issues that accompany various life stages. The covers of my books broadcast a specific genre, but I think of myself as a fiction writer.

JV: You’ll be doing a joint signing at the Hickory Stick Bookshop with Nan Rossiter (Summer Dance). In your opinion, what is the role of the bookstore within its community – and how might attending such an event enhance the reading experience?

SK: I love Bank Square Books, the independent bookstore in Mystic – and I look forward to doing an event with Nan Rossiter at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot. People who hang out in bookstores, whether they are staff members or browsers, are readers. Readers are knowledge seekers and imparters. I learn something just about every time I walk into Bank Square. And when I attend events and listen to an author speak, I gain insight into why a book was written or why a certain story matters. So when I read the book I’ve seen presented, I’ve had a glimpse into the author’s creative process – and this deepens the experience.

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With thanks to Susan Kietzman for her continued generosity of time and thought.

Don’t forget: The author and Nan Rossiter will appear at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot on Thursday, June 1st at 4:00 p.m.

 

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