Today, Suzie Gilbert is answering my Author in the Spotlight questions. Welcome Suzie, first of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
Sure! I live in the Hudson Valley of New York, and I have two wonderful kids in their mid-20s. I write mostly about wildlife and the environment. For eleven years I worked at a large hospital and rehabilitation center for birds of prey, then I ran a center for all kinds of wild birds out of my house for ten. My kids were seven and eight years old when I opened it, so life was pretty hectic.
What inspired you to start writing?
I never planned to be a writer. I chose Writing as my major in college because I was good at it in school, and I couldn’t think of anything else to major in. But I took a college playwriting course, and my one-act play was produced by a small theater group. I thought of an idea for a movie, bought a book called, “How To Write A Screenplay,” and then sold two scripts to producers in Los Angeles (neither were ever produced). You’d think I would have kept at it, but I got sidetracked. I had lots of different jobs over the next ten years.
Tell me about your journey to publication.
When I worked at the center for birds of prey, I wrote a children’s book about a boy who meets a woman who takes care of injured raptors. I didn’t follow the standard children’s book format, and fifty-two publishers turned it down. Most of them said if I rewrote it according to traditional format they would publish it, but that would have ruined the story. The fifty-third one took it, and Chronicle Books published Hawk Hill in 1996.
I wrote a memoir while I was running the wild bird hospital out of my house. It took years because I could only write sporadically. I thought maybe I could sell it to a small publisher and earn a little money for my bird hospital. But I found an amazing agent, and seven big publishers ended up bidding against each other for it. It was really exciting, and Flyaway: How A Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings was published by HarperCollins in 2009.
Unflappable began as a funny bird story I told my agent. He was sure there would be another bidding war for the completed novel, but the publishers said they couldn’t market it because there was no similar book. They all wanted me to turn it into a murder mystery. I thought that would ruin the story, so I opted to self-publish it.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
Luna Burke and Ned Harrelson are on the run from Key West to Ontario… with her soon to be ex-husband and a small army of authorities hot on their heels, and a homicidal Bald Eagle in the back seat.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
It describes the eagle! When he’s not homicidal, he’s unflappable.
How did you celebrate publication day?
I had a party planned, but then Covid-19 hit and social distancing went into effect. I spent my publication day hiking through the woods, and instead of a party I talked on the phone. Oh well!
Do you have a work in progress just now?
No. Marketing a self-published book during a pandemic is all-encompassing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
Sashenka by Simon Montefiore, and The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
What are you reading just now?
April, 2020 – Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. I heard good things about it, and I wanted a very long book to get me through this very long pandemic.
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
Daisy Jones and the Six. I’m into music and I loved Fleetwood Mac, the band upon which the story is allegedly based. I rarely ever read books more than once, but if I were stuck on an island, I could read this one quite a few times.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
I’m on FaceBook (you’ll see the eagle banner). I’m trying to get the hang of Twitter @SuzieGilbertBks And you can always message me through my website, www.suziegilbert.com I look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks to Kelly at Love Books Tours for inviting me to take part. Unflappable is available now in ebook and paperback formats. You can order a copy here: Unflappable
From the back of the book
Twenty-five-year-old Luna Burke is on the run.
Licensed to care for injured and orphaned wildlife, she is determined to smuggle a homicidal Bald Eagle out of her husband’s private zoo in Florida, reunite the bird with its mate, and get them both to an eagle sanctuary in Canada. Hot on her trail is her furious husband, his bodyguards, the police, conservation officials, and an expert government tracker; aiding and abetting her is a smitten young tech guy, a lethal Navy SEAL turned panther advocate, and an underground railroad of wildlife rescuers intent on protecting one of their own. Waiting in Ontario is a legendary old eco-warrior more than willing to provide refuge…as long as Luna can make it across the border.
About the author
Hi, I’m Suzie Gilbert. I’m a wildlife rehabilitator and author.I live in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley, am passionate about wildlife, and have been working with wild birds for nearly 30 years. I hope you will join me in my quest to raise awareness of how humans and wildlife can coexist in better ways.
I’ve written a memoir about the slippery slope all rehabbers eventually slide down, called Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings (HarperCollins); a children’s book, Hawk Hill (Chronicle Books); and numerous articles, op-ed pieces, and blogs.
My new book, Unflappable, is a funny, dark, sexy adventure about a wildlife rehabber on the run with an eagle, with her soon-to-be-ex-husband and the authorities hot on her trail.