Author Interview: Susan Wingate & SPIDER BRAINS

Most recently, Susan Wingate’s novels, SPIDER BRAINS and DROWNING each reached Amazon Bestseller status in 2012. DROWNING won the 2011 Forward National Literature Award for Drama. She would love for you to read her books. You can find them all under the tab on this site labeled “Books”. SUSAN has written eleven novels, two short story collections, a few plays, one screenplay and tons of poems. Her latest 2011 novel DROWNING  (contemporary women’s fiction), won 1st place in the 2011 Forward National Literature Award and also won a finalist award for the category of Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit in the 2011 International Book Awards. A vibrant public speaker, Susan offers inspiring, motivational talks about the craft of writing, publishing and marketing, and how to survive this extremely volatile (e-)Publishing industry. She presents these lectures for private groups and at writing conferences, libraries and bookstores around the country.

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Welcome to Between the Covers, Susan. Why was writing Spider Brains so important to you?

I can’t say that it started out important to me but by the time I realized the full story, it became extremely important. It started out a teen fiction idea but with zero depth and then came the loss of the main character’s father and her attention-deficit disorder. Then came the bullying issues and the mean teacher. In my opinion, Spider Brains grew into a very special story.

What was the experience like writing Spider Brains?

My husband hated it! LOL. I walked and talked and acted like Susie Speider until I completed the novel. I became subsumed in the character and her voice. I loved it but my husband really believed he’d married a 15-year-old at times.

How did you come up with the title?

Well, Spider Brains came after the working title. The working title was Speider: The “E” is Silent. It felt like too much of a mouthful and I wanted to change it. After the writing of Spider Brains, when I could sit back a ways from it and give it some good thought, the title presented itself. Susie’s wild thinking gave me the ‘brain’ part of the title and then the fantasy part spider scenes gave me the rest. I like it much better than the working title.

Can you tell us more about your main character, Susie Speider?

Susie Speider is an extremely intelligent young lady who tends toward sarcasm and one-upping people, even herself. She loves words and making up words. She has high hopes for her future in the publishing world and she’s got her eye set on working as the editor of the high school newspaper.

What are her strengths and what are her weaknesses?

Susie has the propensity to analyze things deeply. To me, this is her single strength AND weakness.

Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?

There are four key supporting characters: Willa Speider, Susie’s mother; Matthew Ryder, the neighbor boy; Paul Ryder, Matthew’s father; and Mrs. Morlson–the gnarliest of gnarly teachers.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?

Susie has just gotten up from a nap and smells the flaky, buttery scent of a pie her mom has baked for the new neighbors. It’s delicious smell has permeated the air and is dragging Susie “by the nostrils” to the kitchen. And, then, there’s the issue of Justin Beiber.

What about page 65?

Susie has had a bad day at school because of her “Nazi” teacher, Mrs. Morlson and so she’s turned to her favorite instrument– one she’s just learning to play–the saxophone. Her cat, Delilah is there with her on the bed, however briefly when she picks up the sax and begins to blow, hard, to extinguish thoughts from her nasty day at school.

Now that Spider Brains has been published, what’s your next project?

I’m working on two projects actually. The second book in the Susie Speider Series and also an apocalyptic thriller entitled Eschatos. Eschatos will be categorized as young adult also.

Thanks, Susan, for this wonderful interview. Do you have anything you’d like to tell our readers that hasn’t been discussed?

I’d like to say thank YOU so much for having me. It’s been my pleasure to do this interview. -Susan.


Book Excerpt: Crossed Out by Kim Baccellia

Title: Crossed Out
Author: Kim Baccellia
Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: Lachesis Publishing
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1897562683
ISBN-13: 978-1897562680

Following the light can’t be that hard, right?  So why don’t the dead just do it and leave Stephanie Steward alone?  However nothing is ever as simple as it should be as Stephanie learns when her hidden ‘gift’ becomes more than a nuisance, quickly turning into a liability.  If she can’t learn to trust someone with her secret, the world as she knows it will go to hell.  Literally.  But if she doesn’t choose wisely, she might just end up learning firsthand how hard it is to follow that light.  Because she’s next on the list to be crossed out.


Book Excerpt:

I couldn’t deal with Mom and her holier-than-thou attitude about decorating crosses. If she had any clue why I needed to do this, maybe she’d back off. I pushed my hair aside and looked down at the wooden beams. My box of paints and Sharpie pens lay close to my side. I had to get the design just right. Roses, or something plainer? It didn’t help that it was so cold in the garage.

Why was it so hard to help the dead go to the other side? It’d be a whole lot easier if they told me what they wanted on their crosses. Dead girl comes, asks for help, and tells me she’s into pink roses. Yes, that would make my job a lot easier.

But one thing I’ve learned is, life isn’t easy. Cliché, but true.

Figures, this was how I’d spend my time on a Saturday – sitting cross-legged on the floor in our garage, worrying about finishing a cross for some dead girl. In a few hours, Mom would drag me to Mrs. Swanson’s house for a sleepover. I didn’t really have time to decorate a cross.

And each time I tried to sketch, thoughts of the meeting drove any thought of the design out of my mind. I mean, how could I even think of helping others – albeit dead ones – when my own life was such a disaster?

I didn’t want to go. But Mom was using the whole sleepover as a way to get me to be around Hillary, whom she thought would be such a good example for me. But I couldn’t tell my mother the truth – I hated Hillary. Yes, we’d once been close, but it wasn’t as if we were BFF anymore. No, Hillary made sure of that when I’d been stupid enough to trust her with my secret. A secret that was better left hidden. No one believed the dead could talk to you.

According to my last counselor, the only way that could happen is through serious Steven Spielberg special effects.

When I admitted to seeing one of my dead friends, he didn’t freak. No, he did something worse. He ended up suggesting to my parents that I needed to see a counselor – for serious psychological help. I mean, only crazy people see the dead.

And, I hate to say this, but his anti-anxiety and antidepressants don’t keep them away.

Sometimes I wished the drug cocktail could just erase them. It sure would make my life a lot easier.

Sighing, I decided to go with pink roses. What girl didn’t like pink?

A sudden coldness permeated the garage. Jeez, did Dad forget to close the back door again?

I pulled my hoodie tighter. Working in near darkness was bad enough without the drop in temperature.

Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh.

I dropped my black Sharpie.

Over in the corner of the garage loose papers and dust whirled around – a funnel growing larger and larger.

A light shone next to Mom’s holiday plastic boxes, illuminating some Christmas ornaments, tinsel, and wrapping paper.


The childish voice grew louder. A chill went up my back. I know that voice!

I blinked once and when I opened my eyes I saw the girl. Her long dirty blond hair was clumped into two pigtails, and her bikini top and cut-off Levis brought back memories of the YMCA pool three years ago where I’d spent my summers.


Omigod! I pushed the wooden cross aside. A tingling sensation burned through my whole body. Once I helped a dead person cross over, that was supposed to end the whole rescue scenario. The bright light appeared and poof! Well, not this time.

I scooted away, over the rough, cold pavement. This didn’t make sense. Though I was used to visits from the “other” side, having Allison reappear scared me. I didn’t know what to do.

“Allison, why are you here?” My voice broke.

She took a step toward me. Her lips trembled.


Danger? Did that mean her murderer was out of prison? Just the thought of that perv touching or killing someone else made me want to hurl.

“No… another….”

Someone else?

“Allison, what are you trying to tell me?” I slowly got up off the ground. “Is the guy who killed you, out?”

Allison shook her head. It still freaked me out how much the dead looked like us, not fuzzy or semi-transparent like they show on TV. The ones I helped still looked the way they had when they’d been killed, complete with all the blood and stuff.

Yet here was Allison. She should be in Heaven singing in one of those heavenly choirs Mom always talked about.

I bit my hangnail, ripping it off. I couldn’t deal with this. Not now.


The wind picked up, tossing loose papers everywhere. None of this affected Allison.

I had so many questions to ask her. I missed her. I knew she’d understand me, even when others – including my mom – were clueless.

“Allison, what’s it like to be…?”
The wind howled drowning out her answer.

And just as quickly, Allison left.

I felt as if something had punched me in the stomach. I pushed back the sickness threatening to escape. What was going on? But even worse, I didn’t know what to do. One thing had been made perfectly clear. The rules had all changed and no one bothered to give me the new players’ guide.

Crossed Out  is available to order at Amazon. To learn more about Kim Baccellia, visit her website at