Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blog Tour - Susan Berliner

Ten Things You May Not Know About DUST—and Me

by Susan Berliner, author of DUST

Here are a few little-known tidbits about DUST, my new supernatural thriller—and about me—that I hope you'll find interesting:

1. The novel is based on a real weather phenomenon called a "dust devil." These miniature cyclones are powerful enough to toss dust and dirt into the air and they occur all over the United States, especially on hot, dry spring days. In 2003, I read a little news story about a dust devil that collapsed an auto body shop and killed the owner. Since the event happened in Maine, I thought Stephen King would write a book about weird dust. But he didn't, so, a few years later, I did. To see a real dust devil in action, check this YouTube video that's mentioned in the beginning of DUST:

2. Dust devils also occur on Mars. These Martian whirlwinds are huge, but otherwise very similar to the ones on Earth. Last August, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit camera used three colored filters to create a special-effects image of a purple, teal, and yellow swirling Mars dust devil—quite similar to my colorful evil dust. Here's a link to the ScienceDaily article and photo:

3. My first draft of DUST was only 79 pages, more like a pamphlet than a book. I fleshed out the scenes involving the dust's victims and turned them into chapters, added more community involvement, and created several new characters. The novel's still short, but now it's a book, not a leaflet.

4. I wrote the entire chapter of DUST about victim Liza Tremayne on scraps of paper while waiting for a comedy show to begin. I used the show's program and other bits of paper that I scrounged. Now I make sure to always carry a notepad in my bag!

5. One of the experiments my main characters, Karen and Jerry, use to try to destroy the dust came from an unlikely source: an exterminator. If you think you know which experiment he unintentionally suggested, contact me on my website: I'll send an autographed copy of DUST to the first person who comes up with the correct answer.

6. Although I've lived most of my life in and around New York City, I was born in London, England. My family moved to the United States when I was a little girl.

7. It's always easier to write about jobs you already know. As a result, when I needed to create professions for the dust's victims, I placed a couple of characters in jobs I knew well—graphic artist for a magazine (I was the promotion manager for a large chain of shoppers), elementary school teacher (my first full-time job), and salesperson for a telephone directory (a position my daughter once held).

8. Like Adam Ackermann, the teenage character in DUST, I'm a huge "Star Trek" fan. I especially love the original series so I really enjoyed having my characters discuss one of my favorite episodes.

9. Like another DUST character, Marlene Scott, I love "Jeopardy." In fact, I was a contestant on the show years ago when it was filmed in New York City. (I didn't win any money though, just a set of now-outdated encyclopedias.)

10. I'm a two-time school spelling bee champion. Hopefully, you won't find any spelling mistakes in this post—or in DUST!

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About the author

Susan Berliner has been a nonfiction writer for nearly her entire career. She had originally planned to be an elementary school teacher, but left after a year to become a newspaper reporter for Fairchild Publications. She covered men's retailing for Daily New Record, a men's wear/textile trade newspaper, which was the "brother" paper of Women's Wear Daily.

After Susan's children were born, she switched to freelance writing--mainly in education--publishing several book series dealing with editing skills, language arts, and standardized testing. She has also created teachers' guides, student activity sheets, and test passages. During this time, Susan was the project editor for a national science magazine for elementary school students and edited subject-related manuscripts for children in grades 7 and 8. In addition, she freelanced as a local reporter, covering board meetings for the North County News, a weekly newspaper in Yorktown Heights, New York.

When she returned to work full-time, Susan became the promotion manager of the Yorktown PennySaver, a job she held for 20 years. She created many original weekly contests--Phony Ad, Rhyme Time, and PennySaver Prophet.

Susan lives with her husband, Larry, in Yorktown Heights, where she is preparing her second book (Peachwood Lake) for publication and writing her third novel.

Dust by Susan Berliner

While unloading groceries in her Rock Haven condo, Karen McKay notices a strange swirl of red, green, and blue dust. The swirl follows her inside, lifts a porcelain ballerina from her wall unit, twirls it in the air, and throws it to the floor, shattering it into pieces. The following evening, Karen hears her neighbor's dog barking loudly. Upon investigation, she finds her neighbor, Marion, at the bottom of the stairs?dead. At the top of the stairs, a colorful whirlpool of dust circles ominously. Now the feisty librarian must consider the unthinkable: Could the dust be responsible for her neighbor's death and, if so, would it kill again? Karen turns to her ex-husband, Jerry, for help and together they bravely confront the mysterious dust. But will their daring actions cost them their lives?

1 comment:

Sheila Deeth said...

Nice to meet you. And nice to read about dust - yes, I was dusting this morning... Sounds a great book and I will look out for it (I love Steven King).