The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Posts tagged ‘brain injury’

An Interview with Susan Landis-Steward

Q. When did you decide to become a writer?

A. When I was four. I wrote poems which my father translated from hieroglyphs and stored in my grandmother’s German Bible. One was about a star.

Q. Your grandmother was German?

A. Well, her Bible was. I assume she was. Her last name was Rugenstein. You do the math. My father also said she was Jewish. She was dead by the time I came along. But she married a Mennonite, and they raised their kids Lutheran. You figure it out. I gave up trying to understand my family a long time ago. That’s probably another reason I write.

Q. So you just started a publishing company. What do you know about publishing?

A. More than you might think. I’m a few credits away from a Masters in Publishing. And I’ve been working in the industry for several years as an indexer. Oh, and I’ve had some stuff published. Besides, I chose great business partners.

Q. You write lesbian mysteries?

A. Yes.

Q. ?

A. You asked the question. I just answered it.

Q. Why lesbian mysteries?

A. Write what you know. I’m mysterious and lesbian. I’m also neurotic so my characters are neurotic. My mysteries are fairly autobiographical in many ways, but only those who really know me know which parts are me.

Q. Do you have a dog?

A. What kind of lesbian would I be if I didn’t have a dog? My dog is a Jack Russell Terrier/English Springer Spaniel mix named Good Dog Gwyneth. She’s a pound puppy. She thinks my partner is God. I am merely a door and can opener. Unless I’m going somewhere in the car. Then I become a temporary demiurge.

Q. Why do you use words like demiurge?

A. I have a Masters in Spiritual Traditions and Ethics. I seldom get to use those words.

Q. Are you some sort of religious freak?

A. Why, yes, I am. But not in the way most people think of it. I’m a JuBuEpiscoPagaTarian Universalist who reads the Qur’an for edification and studied for the Episcopal priesthood.

Q. You wanted to be a priest?

A. Until I realized I couldn’t bear to spend another minute with my seminary  classmates, yes.  As a layperson, the Episcopal church had a hard time shutting me up. I liked that. Now I preach in the UU tradition sometimes.

Q. Do you talk about religion in your books?

A. Sometimes. In the second book in my Blind series, I introduce a  woman priest as a character. Write what you know again. I know a lot of women priests. Although I like nuns better.

Q. Nuns?

A. I fell in love with my partner because she wore nun shoes. I love nuns. When I found out she’d done time in a convent, I was hooked.

Q. So there are lesbian nuns?

A. Well, duh.

Q. One of your main characters is blind. Why?

A. As a person with a disability, I’m fascinated by the ways people with disabilities find ways to live normal lives, whatever that means. Since my disability is hidden, I figured a character with a visible disability would be easier to write.

Q. How long have you and your partner been together?

A. Depends who’s doing the math but somewhere around 20 years.

Q. Math?

A. Yeah. I have a hard time remembering how old I am so I get the math wrong. I have to figure out how old the oldest kid is, and then remember which year she was born, and work from there. I get it wrong a lot.

Q. Kids?

A. And grandkids. I’m lesbian, not unplumbed. I’ve got three daughters, and almost four grandkids.

Q. Back to the math…

A. I can’t figure out how my cell phone works either. It has a big red button that says “END CALL” but when I answer the phone my brain says “PUSH ME.” I hang up on people a lot.

Q. About your brain…

A. Traumatic brain injury, October 9, 2002, during simple throat surgery. The brain injury would have been okay except for the three concussions in the years before. Cumulative effect. My brain finally gave out.

Q.  Huh?

A. I died. I did not see Jesus. I did not go toward the light. I caught a jump start from a passing surgeon, and an ancient Asian nurse scared me back to life by yelling, “BREATHE”  every time some alarm went off. For awhile, I was out of alignment, pulled to the left, had a weird kind of aphasia, used a cane to stay upright, and set things (usually things full of liquids) down on invisible tables. I also closed my eyes while driving.  I’m mostly okay now, though. Although, I did get fibromyalgia as a lovely parting gift.

Q. I’m glad your brain is better. What changed?

A. Knitting and spinning. I did a lot of both since I couldn’t work. I made lots of yarn and lots of scarves, hats, and sweaters. Later I learned that using both hands at the same time knits new neural pathways. Since I needed some new ones, I just made them myself.

Q. Thanks. We’ll do this again sometime.

A. Please send someone else to do the interview. Your questions suck.

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