It’s a pretty big month for writer Susan Fish. Her second novel, Ithaca, has just been released and she’s busy planning her book launch for October 18, at the Waterloo Public Library. In a slightly unusual step for a book launch, soup will be served. And you are invited.
So why soup? “Ithaca is a story about how sudden change comes into a settled life,” says Susan. “Daisy is suddenly widowed with only a weekly community soup supper to anchor her, when she notices No Fracking signs in her small Ivy League town.” Celebrating the birth of the book with soup is a tribute to her character and a defining element in the story. Who doesn’t love some comforting soup while reading?
Susan is an excellent storyteller and helps people tell their stories well through her writing and editing company, Storywell. “My clients include novelists, memoir writers, not-for-profits and corporate clients; for some I edit, for some I write, for some I work alongside them to help them tell their stories better,” she says. “The work is varied and I love that I can edit a tax document in the morning and a swinger’s club mystery in the afternoon.”
Storywell also offers writerly-type workshops on topics such as How to Plot a Mystery or Thriller and Writing Great Grant Applications. But what is at the core of Susan’s work is connecting people together. “I don’t exactly know how I do it beyond a deep knowing and then a planned introduction, but I get a deep satisfaction from connecting people who should really know each other,” she says. Making connections helps builds community and when two people who should know each other meet for the first time, sparks can fly, and that can be pretty amazing.
And part of that has come from her writer’s group, the Hopeful Writers, who have been supporting and challenging each other for 10 years, including young adult writer, Erin Bow.
“Our group writes very different kinds of work but we believe in each other, are honest with each other, and commiserate and celebrate together.” And of course critique each other’s writing, which can be inherently tricky. However, Susan says, “If you intend the best for someone’s work and care about their vision for it, you can be honest without fear offending.”
Once Susan’s life returns to a bit more normalcy, she will continue to work on a couple of book projects including a slow-to-ignite novel about a woman who builds a castle and farmer’s market cookbook with profiles of marker vendors and farmers.
P.S. Susan’s favourite topic of conversation: everything is interesting.