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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Suzanne Jurmain

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? I write for two reasons: first because I can’t help it; and, second, because I believe in the power of stories. Because a great story–either real or imagined–can cross geographic boundaries, bind the past to the present, influence the future, and remind us of our common humanity, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to learn how to write one.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? When I’m stuck, there’s only one solution: stop working, hide the aggravating manuscript, and do something else. Almost any other occupation–from making piecrust to playing Bach–is fine, as long as it is completely absorbing, demands total concentration, and has nothing to do with writing. The cure usually isn’t instantaneous. But if I stick with it, something deep in my subconscious eventually solves the problem; and I can get back to work.

What is your favorite time to write? I’m a morning person. Since I function best between 8 AM and noon, I try to write early and use afternoons for editing and research.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? When I was about eleven and struggling with some school composition, my father–a professional screenwriter–gave me his recipe for writing success: “Tell ’em what you’re going to say. Say it. And then tell ’em you’ve said it.” It was good advice, and I’ve followed it ever since.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? Challenges are always exciting–and, while I believe that today’s turbulent world poses many obstacles for writers, I also believe that it offers opportunities for growth. As a writer of history books for children, I’ve been pushed in fascinating new directions by the need to find stories that make the past relevant for today’s kids, and I’ve been energized by the challenge of using old-fashioned written words to excite and inspire a modern, screen-oriented generation.

Suzanne Jurmain’s Murder on the Baltimore Express is out now with Yellow Jacket.