Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Susan Schoenberger Interview - The Liability of Love

Photo Content from Susan Schoenberger

Susan Schoenberger is the award-winning author of A Watershed Year and The Virtues of Oxygen. With a linotypist as a grandfather, she has ink in her blood and worked as a journalist and copyeditor for many years, including The Baltimore Sun and 12 years with The Hartford Courant. She currently serves as Director of Communications at Hartford Seminary, a graduate school with a focus on interfaith dialogue. She lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, with her husband Kevin. They have three grown children and a small dog named Leo.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Storytelling is how we learn what it means to be human. The experiences I offer in a story might help you understand your own experiences, or put your experiences into a different context. Artists of all kinds are trying to tap into the universal by telling a specific story, whether it’s on a canvas, in a song, through dance, or in a novel.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I used to think I would love being the author at the podium, reading from my work or talking about the writing process. But it’s been much more rewarding to hear from readers who find resonance in something I’ve written. I save every one of those emails, which mean much more to me than a Goodreads or Amazon review, even though I’m supposed to ask for those.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’ve started a novel about a hyperpolyglot, someone who speaks an extraordinary number of languages. It might end up being about something very different, though. I’m never sure where my stories are going to go.

Can you tell us when you started THE LIABILITY OF LOVE, how that came about?
I started writing this book in 2014, just after I finished my second novel. I had an idea about rewriting The Wizard of Oz with a male character in the lead, but it evolved into something completely different. It was originally called Under the Rainbow.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
On one level, I don’t want them to think about the writing. I want them to get swept up in the story and turn pages to see what happens. But on another level, I want them to enjoy the sentence structure, the metaphors, and the word choices that mean so much to me as a writer. So maybe read it twice?

What part of Margaret did you enjoy writing the most?
Margaret is a complicated character. She’s not someone you love right away, and I struggled a bit to make her relatable. I most enjoyed working on her scenes toward the end of the book when she takes back some measure of control.

Did you learn anything from writing THE LIABILITY OF LOVE and what was it?
I learned a ton from writing this book, mainly that I will never be able to stick to an outline, no matter how much I think it works.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
That’s a great question. I would introduce the character Fitz from The Liability of Love to the character Owen Meany from John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, one of my favorite novels. Physically, they’re opposites – Fitz is too big for his age, Owen too small for his. But temperamentally, I think there are some great parallels. Both have huge hearts and a sense of destiny.

  • 1) It received a starred Kirkus review, which means “highly recommended.”
  • 2) I spent six years writing it.
  • 3) You will fall in love with Margaret, Fitz, Douglas, and Brenda, the four characters who tell the story.
  • 4) It’s set in Hartford, CT, a hotbed of liability (the Insurance Capital of the World).
  • 5) It’s set mainly in the 1980s, so you can feel superior about the fashion.
  • 6) It’s not too long (284 pages).
  • 7) You’ll get a kick out of Ollie and Tiffany, Margaret and Douglas’s oddball neighbors.
  • 8) Per the Kirkus Review, it’s full of “pithy observational gems.”
  • 9) It’s coming out in July, so “beach read.”
  • 10) It’s funnier than it might appear.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
That the only thing I can control is the writing. So many other aspects of being an “author” have nothing to do with whether or not a book succeeds, or whether it’s even published.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Attempt to read Ulysses.

Best date you've ever had?
Probably hiking Mount Washington with the boyfriend who would eventually become my husband.

What was the first job you had?
When I was 14, I worked in a bus terminal cafeteria. We would play board games until a bus came in, then we would work like mad, clean up, and go back to the board games.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
That would be three incidents – the births of my children. Even though they’re grown, I think differently as a parent than I would have without them.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
The lake district of Patagonia in Argentina.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Talking to a friend with cancer. When life is precarious, laughter seems like the only thing that matters.

First Heartbreak?
A middle school crush who didn’t know I was alive.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before?
If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written, you’d know the answer is true love.

Margaret Carlyle is searching for an epic love as she heads to college in 1979 after the loss of her beloved mother to cancer. When a charismatic boy named Anders rapes her on their first date, she wants nothing more than to forget it ever happened. But as the years pass, each life decision she makes seems driven by what happened that night.

When Anders becomes famous as an actor, Margaret can no longer ignore her past--and she must make choices that will affect everyone around her, most notably her husband, Douglas, and Fitz, the man who has loved her patiently since college.

This deeply moving novel is a window into class and privilege, the mysteries of marriage, and the destructive power of secrets--and an examination of what happens when we try to bury the past, as well as the consequences of confronting it.
You can purchase The Liability of Love at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SUSAN SCHOENBERGER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Liability of Love by Susan Schoenberger.