Susan Clayton-Goldner: An amazing author and fellow Tirgearryan

I'm delighted to welcome to my blog, fellow Tirgearryan author, Susan Clayton-Goldner. Susan's latest novel, A River of Silence , was published on 24th January 2018 and is already receiving 'five star' reviews.
I've read two of Susan's books so far - A Bend in the Willow and Redemption Lake. I loved both of them and look forward to reading more.

Let Susan tell you a little about the book:

When Detective Winston Radhauser is awakened by a call from dispatch at 12:45a.m., it can mean only one thing—something terrible awaits him. He races to the Pine Street address. In the kitchen, Caleb Bryce, nearly deaf from a childhood accident, is frantically giving CPR to 19-month-old Skyler Sterling. Less than an hour later, Skyler is dead.
The ME calls it a murder and the entire town of Ashland, Oregon is outraged. Someone must be held accountable. The police captain is under a lot of pressure and anxious to make an arrest. Despite Radhauser’s doubts about Bryce’s guilt, he is arrested and charged with first degree murder. Neither Radhauser nor Bryce’s young public defender believe he is guilty. Winston Radhauser will fight for justice, even if it means losing his job.
I asked Susan for a short biography:
Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She has been writing poems and short stories since she could hold a pencil and was so in love with writing that she became a creative writing major in college.
Prior to an early retirement which enabled her to write full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. It was there she met her husband, Andreas, one of the deans in the University of Arizona's Medical School. About five years after their marriage, they left Tucson to pursue their dreams in 1991--purchasing a 35-acres horse ranch in the Williams Valley in Oregon. They spent a decade there. Andy rode, trained and bred Arabian horses and coached a high school equestrian team, while Susan got serious about her writing career. 
Through the writing process, Susan has learned that she must be obsessed with the reinvention of self, of finding a way back to something lost, and the process of forgiveness and redemption. These are the recurrent themes in her work.
After spending 3 years in Nashville, Susan and Andy now share a quiet life in Grants Pass, Oregon, with her growing list of fictional characters, and more books than one person could count. When she isn't writing, Susan enjoys making quilts and stained-glass windows. She says it is a lot like writing--telling stories with fabric and glass.

Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?
A River of Silence is about a hearing-impaired man, Caleb Bryce, who is falsely accused and imprisoned for the murder of a 19-month old child. This is the 3rd book in my Detective Radhauser series. Because of pressure from both the small community of Ashland and his boss, Captain Murphy, Radhauser makes the arrest, but remains convinced Caleb Bryce is innocent. With the help of a young public defender, who wants to prove herself to her father, a world-renown criminal defense attorney, they set out to find the real killer and free Bryce.
The novel deals with issues of abandonment and the effects it has on the child even after he reaches adulthood. It also deals with alcoholism and its aftermath which can cling to the lives it affected for decades. Mental illness and disabilities is also a theme. And the book shows us that sometimes a person who is mentally challenged sees life in a more beautiful way than those of us who are “normal.”
I’d also like to say that I’m so grateful to my readers. I had no idea how much it would mean to me to have a reader write a review or send me an e-mail about how much they enjoyed the book. It means more to me than royalties—just to know someone enjoyed and was moved by my story.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
 Writing is hard work. It takes dedication and a willingness to spend long hours in isolation. There are times when family issues get in the way. Balancing can be difficult. And I’m often torn. I want to be the best possible wife, mother and grandmother. But I’m also driven to be the best storyteller I can be.  

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?
 I’ve written 8 novels so far. I’d say my favorite is A Bend In The Willow because, more than any other of my books, this one draws from my life, what I’ve learned, what I’ve loved and what I regret.  

 If You had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?
 I would choose Timothy Olyphant (from the Elmore Leonard Netflix series, Justified) to play Winston Radhauser because of his rugged good looks and the way he fills out a pair of jeans and a Stetson.

When did you begin writing?
 I don’t think I decided to become a writer. I believe I was born a writer. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. Let’s face it, writing is isolating and doesn’t pay very well. I’m not sure many people would choose to write if they could avoid it or were of sane mind.  When I was a little girl, my father won a Smith Corona portable typewriter in a poker game. He gave it me. It came with 45 rpm records guaranteed to have you typing. It was the beginning of my life as a writer. I taught myself how to type with the help of those records and starting writing poems and stories. I’ve never stopped. I went back to college after my children started school. This time I majored in creative writing.
How long did it take to complete your first book?
 It generally takes me about a year to complete a novel. I’m trying to work faster these days because I now have a publisher and that has changed everything. I recently read a book about a woman who’d taken her productivity from 2,000 to 10,000 words per day. She gave me some very helpful hints about writing faster. And I strive to get 2,000 words a day now. It doesn’t always happen, but I am writing faster than in the past.
Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?
 I believe the first book I ever read that inspired me to be a writer was To Kill A Mockingbird. I was a child when I read it, but it remains my favorite book. Atticus Finch was such a wonderful character. He fought hard for what was right, for what he believed in, even though he knew victory was impossible. He was a man you never forget. He touched my life. I wanted to touch the lives of others by creating my own memorable characters.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
 The best part of the writing process for me is when I get totally immersed in the fictive dream and all concepts of time disappear. People ask me if it is lonely being a writer and sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. Yes, it can be. But once the dream has captured you, it is thrilling, filled with excitement and adventure, and there is absolutely nothing I’d rather be doing.
Describe your latest book in 4 words.
Mysterious, heart-wrenching and human.

Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?
 I have just completed the edits and handed off a stand-alone novel to Tirgearr Publishing. It is entitled The Good Shepherd and is the story of a priest who falls in love with one of his parishioners and she ends up being murdered. I suspect it will release sometime in the summer of 2018.

I’m also working on the 4th book in the Detective Winston Radhauser series. It is entitled, A River of Shame and it is about the murders of two high school students in what appears to be hate crimes.

To  wet your (and mine) appetites here is an excerpt from the A River of Silence:
In only eleven minutes, Detective Winston Radhauser’s world would flip on its axis and a permanent line would be drawn—forever dividing his life into before and after. He drove toward the Pima County Sheriff’s office in Catalina, a small town in the Sonoran Desert just twelve miles north of Tucson. Through the CD speakers, Alabama sang You’ve Got the Touch. He hummed along.
He was working a domestic violence case with Officer Alison Finney, his partner for nearly seven years. They’d made the arrest—their collar was sleeping off a binge in the back of the squad car. It was just after 10 p.m. As always, Finney wore spider earrings—tonight’s selection was a pair of black widows he hadn’t seen before.
“You know, Finn, you’d have better luck with men if you wore sunflowers in your earlobes.”
She laughed. “Any guy intimidated by a couple 14-carat web spinners isn’t man enough for me.”
He never missed an opportunity to tease her. “Good thing you like being single.”
The radio released some static.
Radhauser turned off the CD.
Dispatch announced an automobile accident on Interstate 10 near the Orange Grove Road exit. Radhauser and Finney were too far east to respond.
Her mobile phone rang. She answered, listened for a few seconds. “Copy that. I’ll get him there.” Finney hung up, then placed the phone back into the charger mounted beneath the dashboard.
“Copy what?” he said. “Get who where?”
She eyed him. “Pull over. I need to drive now.”
His grip on the steering wheel tightened. “What the hell for?”
Finney turned on the flashing lights. “Trust me and do what I ask.”
The unusual snap in her voice raised a bubble of anxiety in his chest. He pulled over and parked the patrol car on the shoulder of Sunrise Road.
She slipped out of the passenger seat and stood by the door waiting for him.
He jogged around the back of the cruiser.
Finney pushed him into the passenger seat. As if he were a child, she ordered him to fasten his seatbelt, then closed the car door and headed around the vehicle to get behind the wheel.
“Are you planning to tell me what’s going on?” he asked once she’d settled into the driver’s seat.
She opened her mouth, then closed it. Her unblinking eyes never wavered from his. “Your wife and son have been taken by ambulance to Tucson Medical Center.”
The bubble of anxiety inside him burst. “What happened? Are they all right?”
Finney turned on the siren, flipped a U-turn, then raced toward the hospital on the corner of Craycroft and Grant. “I don’t know any details.”
TMC was a designated Trauma 1 Center and most serious accident victims were taken there. That realization both comforted and terrified him. “Didn’t they say the accident happened near the Orange Grove exit?”
“I know what you’re thinking. It must be bad or they’d be taken to the closest hospital and that would be Northwest.” She stared at him with the look of a woman who knew him almost as well as Laura did. “Don’t imagine the worst. They may not have been in a car accident. Didn’t you tell me Lucas had an equestrian meet?”
Laura had driven their son to a competition in south Tucson. Maybe Lucas got thrown. He imagined the horse rearing, his son’s lanky body sliding off the saddle and landing with a thump on the arena floor. Thank God for sawdust. Laura must have ridden in the ambulance with him.
But Orange Grove was the exit Laura would have taken on her drive home. The meet ended at 9:00 p.m. Lucas always stayed to unsaddle the horse, wipe the gelding down, and help Coach Thomas load him into his trailer. About a half hour job. That would put his family near the Orange Grove exit around ten.
The moon slipped behind a cloud and the sudden darkness seemed alive and a little menacing as it pressed against the car windows.
Less than ten minutes later, Finney pulled into the ER entrance and parked in the lot. “I’m coming with you,” she said.
He shot her a you-know-better look, then glanced toward the back seat where their collar was snoring against the door, his mouth open and saliva dribbling down his chin. It was against policy to leave an unguarded suspect in the car.
“I don’t give a damn about policy,” she said.
“What if he wakes up, hitches a ride home and takes out his wife and kids? Put him in the drunk tank. I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.” He ran across the parking lot. The ER doors opened automatically and he didn’t stop running until he reached the desk. “I’m Winston Radhauser. My wife and son were brought in by ambulance.”

Amazon UK:

Many thanks for coming along Susan.

Out of Africa 4 - Kruger National Park - On safari

sitting and dining area
This was the most amazing part of our African experience.  The park is huge, around the same size as Wales. We stayed on the Imbali Game Reserve. There are twelve lodges on the reserve, plus a central reception, lounge and dining area. It is beautiful.
Our lodge
The stunning central areas
Our gorgeous room
Bath with a view!

  A dry river bed separated us from a water hole where we saw elephants every day coming to drink.
Twice a day we went out in the jeeps. The first start was 5.30 in the morning, returning around 9am for breakfast. For the rest of the day we were at leisure. The second safari was at 4pm until around 7pm when we returned for dinner.
Once dark we were escorted to and from our lodges, as there was always a chance of leopards roaming around.
elephants come for a drink

Our guide, Bradley, looked after us very well. His knowledge of the animals, the information shared, the humour and fun was second to none. 

Every morning he would set up a table, (plus cloth!) to serve teas and coffees. Every afternoon he would do the same but this time there was a choice of wine, beer, G&T, or whatever you wished.
Bradley serves the tea and coffee

There were nineteen of us all together and we divided into two jeeps. We all got on extremely well, lots of banter, sharing photographs and living an amazing adventure.

Always ready for a cuppa

We saw many animals, so close, it was unbelievable.
Not a Zebra crossing but a giraffe!
The Imbali Pride, about 18 of them

Beautiful Impala.

Out of Africa 3 - Victoria Falls

We arrived at the Victoria Falls hotel, in Zimbabwe, to discover we were so close to the falls, we could see the plumes of vapour rising from them. The African name for the falls is The Smoke that Thunders. 
A rainbow effect from the late afternoon sun.

Our hotel was build in the early twentieth century and had a strong colonial feel to it.  The gardens were beautiful. Most days we were greeted by wild Warthogs, monkeys and Mongoose running around. The Mongoose were hilarious, very much like Meercats.
The mongoose gave a comedy show every day!

 The next day we had a guided tour of the falls. They are stunning. The falls are roughly twice the height of Niagara and nearly two kilometres wide. I found Niagara very commercialised but not so here. You go through a gate into the park and then the place is as nature intended.

About to get very wet
We were given capes to wear but still got totally drenched.

The following day we went on a short cruise on the Zambezi. We were hoping for a stunning sunset but it was too cloudy. However it was interesting to be on the river. We saw lots of Hippos and a couple of crocodiles.  We didn't get close enough to them for me to be able to take a decent photo. The boat took us to within 800 metres of the actual falls - definitely a wobble moment!

Hippo eyes popping up

We found Zimbabwe an intriguing place. On the whole the people we met we optimistic and cheerful, looking forward to a better future. They have very little and over the three days we were there, we watched many of them waiting outside the banks in the hope they would open - they didn't.
The American dollar is their base currency now and they were so grateful for cash tips in that currency.

The border between Zimbabwe and Zambia

At the end of the visit we were bused across the Zambezi into Zambia to catch our flight back to South Africa and into the Kruger National Park to go on safari...more of that soon.

Out of Africa 2 -Cape Town and Robben Island

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront at Cape Town was as lively and as cosmopolitan as everyone had told me it would be. We were lucky that our hotel 'The Table Bay' sat right on the waterfront, minutes away from all the bars and restaurants.

It's a beautiful, modern development and I enjoyed visiting it very much.
We didn't just sit eating and drinking - although we did a bit of that! The food is good, the beer is great and the wine is, well, excellent.
We toured around Cape Town itself and the surrounding areas. 

Once you get out of the city there are some fabulous beaches.

We didn't manage to get up Table Mountain.
A clear view as we sailed in.
Although the top was clear when we arrived, the 'table cloth' soon came down.  However we had plenty of other things to keep us busy

The table cloth descends
Four famous South Africans including Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

High on our list of 'must do' was to visit Robben Island, the prison that housed Nelson Mandela for eighteen years.
You need to book a ticket well in advance and be prepared for days when the sea is too choppy and the ferry won't sail.  This is difficult when you're only there for three days.  Fortunately on the third day we made it across.
After disembarking from the ferry, you are ushered into coaches for the last few minutes to the prison. This prison was only for political prisoners.To be honest I could have walked it but it didn't seem to be an option.
At the prison gates, we had quite a long talk by a former inmate. He told us about his own experience: arrest, torture and incarceration.

While interesting the sun was very hot and there was no shade. I think most of us were glad to go inside, where it was cooler.
We were taken to one of the communal cells that a number of prisoners shared. He told us about life there and how they managed to outwit the guards.
A communal cell.
Mandela's cell

Classes were given in politics and current affairs, by some of the prisoners to the others.  They threw covers over the spy cameras in the cells.
Mandela would write notes, which could be surreptitiously passed around.
I was disappointed that we weren't given the opportunity to wander around, by ourselves, and look at some of the photographs and information boards that were there.
After a brief visit, we were back on the bus for a tour of the island and to see the limestone quarry where the prisoners were forced to work. I hadn't realised that there was another prison on the island which housed convicted criminals.
So after a fascinating three days we were taken to the airport for our flights to Victoria Falls. We were going to the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.  More of that later...

I've been away.- Out of Africa 1.

You may have noticed, I've not been around for a while.  At least I hope you noticed.
On January 9th we left Southampton on the Queen Mary 2, bound for CapeTown, a 19 day journey away.  This would be followed by ten days, in South Africa and Zimbabwe, before flying home.

I decided to break my blog into 3 sections.  The first part shows a little of the traditional style of the Queen Mary. Rather than a cruise ship, she is an ocean going liner. The difference in the layout of the ship is noticeable. Most of the public rooms - theatres etc - are in the centre of the ship rather than at the aft or stern. Did you notice my sailing terms!!  Its the pointy bit and the blunt bit for those uninitiated. The ship still likes to have much of the old style grandeur, missing from many others. The steamer chairs were put out every day, once the weather was fine and the restaurant was very elegant.

She is a very steady and smooth ship as her ballast is engineered differently -- don't ask, I haven't a clue!  Her lower decks have sheltered balconies. I imagine you could need these is rough seas, should you choose to actually go out on a balcony at such times!

Three days into the voyage we stopped at Madeira, a place I love and Tenerife. I can't tell you much about Tenerife. I don't know the island and we had torrential rain while there, so I still don't know it.

Eight days of sailing later, we stopped at Walvis Bay, Namibia. This was a place I never expected to visit.  I't's beautiful in a strange way. This county is mainly desert, the Namib desert, which means Vast Place, and it certainly is. We went off on a trip to see the desert. It was intriguing and amazing.

One of our first stops was Dune 7. It is one of the highest in Namibia and and is simply called 7 as it is the seventh dune that was encountered on a trade route.  Many people try to climb it. It is very steep and the sand soft, needless to say I didn't get very far! My legs are too short - that's my excuse!

These plants, the Welwitshia, which survive in the desert, are known as living fossils. I asked our guide how long our footprints would last on the sand. He said at least five years maybe ten!

One of the places to visit, in the desert, is Moon Valley. It has been used to represent the moon's landscape in many films 
We visited the local and colourful town Swakopmund, where Spring Boks are a different sort of hazard on the golf course!

On my next blog, I'll be visiting Cape Town and Victoria Falls, on the Zimbabwe side.

Susan Clayton-Goldner: An amazing author and fellow Tirgearryan

I'm delighted to welcome to my blog, fellow Tirgearryan author, Susan Clayton-Goldner. Susan's latest novel, A River of Silence , wa...