By Basil Sands
Susan hails from Connecticut where she lives with her beloved dog, but New York City lives in her heart and mind and her story. A graduate of Yale College, her fiction has been published in Other Voices, Hawaii Review, and Vignette and she has written for magazines, websites, and newspapers, including Glamour, Girls’ Life, Ladies’ Home Journal, and the Washington Post. As her first full-length novel works its way into the hands of eager readers, she is currently at work on the second book in the Delilah Price series, currently called STUDENT BODIES.
Susan, tell us a little about OVER MY LIVE BODY.
OVER MY LIVE BODY is told from the point of view of my main character, Delilah Price, who realizes she’s the object of affection of a stranger she wants no part of, somebody who doesn’t seem to want to take no for an answer. She doesn’t know what she did to deserve this and doesn’t know how to make him stop and only when violence escalates do the police get involved. A sad truth: this is what usually happens, particularly when the person being stalked isn’t a celebrity of some sort.
How did you come up with your main character Delilah and especially her unique job?
Like Delilah Price, I modeled for art classes but my experience was controlled and comfortable and non-threatening. I started developing the story line then: what would happen to someone in a less-cloistered setting? And of course some of the characters Delilah meets in the course of the investigation tend to insinuate she “asked for it” by posing nude. As if any victim of any crime “asks for it.” Modeling for art classes is more of a matter of numb limbs than sexuality. Artists get that. Delilah poses for art classes, for her peers as well as others in other NYC art classes, to help pay the bills. It can pay pretty well. But she learns there’s a price attached to that, pun unintended.
Art and the art world play a large part in your story. What influences in your real life have spilled into your fiction?
Aside from having modeled for art classes, I also had the rather unfortunate experience of having been robbed at gunpoint a few years before I wrote OVER MY LIVE BODY; that’s real-life “research” I could have lived without and don’t recommend to anybody. But it also got me interested in the investigative aspects of police work. I’m not sure if I would have wound up writing crime fiction had it not been for that unfortunate incident (though I loved writing it). Happily, I came out of it relatively unscathed, if forty dollars poorer.
Are there any particular authors past or present who have inspired you?
I was particularly blessed to have had Peter Matthiessen as my advanced writing instructor in college. His body of work and my immersion in the world of his characters (whether fictional or real, man or beast) made me want to take risks and write what I wanted to write, not follow what had always been done before.
What books are you currently reading or have you recently read for your own enjoyment?
When I’m writing a book, I don’t read others, but I have a pile of books (and I mean, pile!) to be read “later.”
And of course, we must wind down the interview with the standard, run-of-the-mill, deep soul-searching question that every reader of this magazine is dying to have answered: If you were a fruit what would you be, how would you like to be served, and who (if anyone) would you like to take the first bite?
I’d be a coconut—unshelled, unbroken, with just a hole drilled in the shell so my sweet meat and milk can be enjoyed slooooowly through a bamboo straw.
Susan Israel lives in Connecticut with her beloved dog, but New York City lives in her heart and mind. A graduate of Yale College, her fiction has been published in Other Voices, Hawaii Review and Vignette and she has written for magazines, websites and newspapers, including Glamour, Girls Life, Ladies Home Journal and The Washington Post. She’s currently at work on the second book in the Delilah Price series, Student Bodies.