Patricia Earnest Suter Interview: “True events are almost always my inspiration”

patricia suter

This week Patricia Earnest Suter, non-fiction writer and author of the fiction Dash One: Dark talks me through her work and how she came to start writing about an array of topics.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style.

My writing style is adaptable and casual. I have written primarily nonfiction, so far. In it, I exhaustively research the subject while taking care to not insert myself. An author’s beliefs or modern sensitivities should not influence historical narrative.

Currently, however, I am working on a science fiction tale. In both, I write casually as opposed to scholarly and prefer a friendly tone. The fictional work, Dash One: Dark has a little quirkiness too. Fiction allows the author to insert a little of themselves.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?

I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA (psychology/sociology) but my husband and I transferred to Europe before I developed any career footing. After my oldest was born, my mom and I spoke about the lack of interest kids had in genealogy and history.

Together we created Kids and Kin, a book designed with activities to get children involved in researching their family history. That was in the 1990s.

Later, Mom and Dad followed the grandchildren to Delaware, where we lived. I joined Earnest Archives and Library. We were approached and asked to write The Hanging of Susanna Cox: Pennsylvania’s Most Notorious Infanticide and the Legend That’s Kept It Alive.

As I researched Cox, I found records of Anton Probst’s horrific murders of the Dearing family in Philadelphia. I could not interest anyone in the story and dropped it and continued on to write about Pennsylvania German, Peter Montelius.

The Dearing’s story kept digging at me and I decided to finish it and self-publish. By then, my original idea changed. It was no longer a tale of murder but became a comparison of monsters. The Face of a Monster; America’s Frankenstein was born. After FOAM’s release, I began working on Dash One: Dark. Now, I have too many ideas and too many other stories to quit.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

True events are almost always my inspiration. Even in Dash One: Dark, the science fiction aspect is based on real events. People never cease to amaze.

I am incredibly lucky, in that I have never suffered writer’s block. A difficult section might prove problematic but if I take a break and sleep on it, a solution will come to me (usually in the middle of the night).

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

I would love to say Mary Shelley. Was I correct about my few suppositions in FOAM? But I have long been fascinated with Ambrose Bierce. He had the acerbic tongue but was made of many layers. It would be fascinating to watch as they were revealed.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

You are going to regret having asked that question. Yes!!! Mom was well known in the field of Pennsylvania German fraktur (illuminated manuscripts). She wanted to finish her flagship book, Papers for Birth Dayes 3rd edition before she died. It wasn’t meant to be, so dad and I are finishing for her. Hopefully, we will have it completed by the end of 2018.

Nearly complete is Patent no. 1054 (working title only). It is a true story about the William Stoy family. They experienced changes met by the colonists and Americans. They faced the soul-searching experienced by people in an emerging country. The Stoy family challenged issues such as religion, women’s roles, immigration, and education. Meanwhile, Stoy held the “cure” for the bite of the mad dog. Even George Washington sent a servant to Stoy for aid. After William’s death, his wife Maria Stoy continued the family business in spite of challenges to the cure. Theirs was an incredible journey.

Dash One: Dark is now with several beta readers. Their responses have been terrific. I will fix any incongruities and soon begin looking for an agent. Dash One has huge potential as it provides a new look at a familiar concept. Its premise could continue for years without becoming boring and it will easily lend to a visual medium such as television or movie.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

I have to be honest, a friend dragged me kicking and screaming to Twitter. I had been unable to figure it out but she got me to a point that I was able to navigate. Somewhat. I still do not know what I am doing half of the time.

As luck would have it, I stumbled into a writing group. Some use traditional publishers and others are independently published but I am having a fantastic time talking with them and then reading their work. It is like having additional insight from authors that have not been possible in the past.

Like, a professor asks, “What did Mary Shelley mean by this?” Anyone can take an educated guess, but no one knows the reality. In this case, talking with authors allows true engagement and introduces an entirely new reading experience. I have bunches of new works from new authors, and old favorites, that excite me.

Thanks for taking the time! You can find out more about Patricia HERE.


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