“I always wanted to be a writer,” says Palm Desert resident Susie Black. “But in my day, there weren’t a lot of opportunities for women in journalism.”
Instead, she says, she fell into a job in the garment industry. “My dad was a rep on the road and I was visiting my parents after I graduated from college. I wasn’t getting anywhere on a writing job and my dad needed help at a trade show. professional. I went there, I did very well and he offered me a job.”
The job took Black to Atlanta, where she became a traveling salesman. She focused on swimwear, and her unplanned career spanned decades. “It was the biggest testing lab for being a writer,” she says. “I kept a journal, which I still do every day. And I chronicled all the crazy things that happened to me. And believe me, there were a lot of them.”
A Coachella Valley resident since 1991, Black’s first published work, released last year, is the cozy and humorous mystery “Death by Sample Size” (Wild Rose Press Inc.) which, as you’ll probably guess from the title, is set in the fashion industry and begins with a murder: “She was tied up with duct tape like a dressed Thanksgiving turkey ready for the oven with a bikini stuffed in her mouth…”
Don’t worry if you’re disgusted; it’s about as graphic as the tome gets. Black describes a cozy mystery as “a mystery gone light,” a mystery that doesn’t have much blood and guts. Something along the lines of “Murder, She Wrote” or the works of Agatha Christie.
“In a cozy mystery, there’s always an amateur sleuth, and they get kind of stereotypical. But I’m not a very stereotypical woman. Most of the stories are set in small towns. You’re a librarian. You own a book store. candy. I blew the mold on this. Mine is set in a big city and mine is a professional woman.
The story follows swimwear sales manager Holly Schlivnik, an irreverent and wise amateur detective who springs into action to find the real killer after a co-worker is arrested for murder. Naturally, nothing goes the way Schlivnik thinks as she faces off against a cunning killer bent on revenge.
While Black says the murder was his invention, the victim is based on a real person. “And I can tell you there was nobody in the industry who wouldn’t have liked to kill her, but nobody did.”
The book spawned a series, dubbed the Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series. And although it’s her only published novel to date, Black says she’s written six more books and about 18 in the works.
Black likes to keep his writing process organic. “I plan the beginning and I plan the end, but I let the characters take me from middle to end. And if I don’t like what they’re doing, I threaten to kill them or write them out.”
Hailing from the Big Apple, the award-winning writer (Canadian company NN Light named her America’s Best Author of the Year 2021) says she loves life in the desert and is proud to have reached her goal of becoming a published novelist. .
“There are two things about my writing that I’ve really enjoyed so far,” she says. “No. 1, no one who read the book understood who made it, which thrilled me. No. 2, it gave me the opportunity to write about the garment industry of the a woman’s point of view. It’s never been done before. There was “Death of a Salesman”. There was “Save the Tiger”, but they were all from a woman’s point of view. And having been a successful woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, I really wanted my voice to come out.
“Plus,” she says, “it’s very therapeutic to be able to kill people without going to jail.”
To learn more, visit authorusieblack.com. Sign up for her readers list and you’ll receive a free swimsuit fitting guide.
As editor of philanthropy and special sections of The Desert Sun, Winston Gieseke writes about nonprofits, fundraisers, and locals giving back. Join it at [email protected].