Susan Stoker: Heart-Melting Love, Heart-Stopping Suspense Done Right!

InD: I hear you are in the middle of a big move!
Yes, we are currently living in Tennessee, where we have been for five years. I must be cold blooded because I don't like the heat. It can be 71 degrees in this house but I think, “It is way too hot in here!” I have the thermostat set at 68. We both decided we are not Southern state people and decided to move north, and Maine is north, so that’s where we decided to go!
InD: Did you just put a pin on your map and decide to move there? Maine is beautiful, but there are 50 states. How did you decide which one to go to?
Well, I have already lived in the Midwest and we wanted a house on the coast, but we are not West Coast people, so we didn't want to go to there, although those states are beautiful. In Maine, we could buy a house right along the ocean, so now we have an ocean view and a dock and a beautiful yard! We also have a guest house, and I’ve been inviting all of my friends for a writing retreat. (It is a tax write-off for them, so that helps.) My husband was in the military, so every five years, we start to get an itch and we're like, "Okay let's go, let's go!"
InD: A lot of people after they get out of the military say, “Okay, it has been fun, but I want to put down roots now.”
I think we are still trying to find “our spot”. My husband retired when he was in Kentucky and I was working in Indiana. We liked it there, but then I got a job that moved us up the ladder, but it was in Texas, so he followed me to Texas. We had originally met in Texas and we both really liked it there. But then I quit my job and started to write full-time so I could live anywhere, and in Texas, I missed the mountains, so we moved to Tennessee.
After five years we both said, “Let's keep going north.” And now, in Maine, we have mountains nearby without actually living in the mountains, so yeah, hopefully people will come and visit us in Maine.
InD: I think it’s wonderful you guys have this wanderlust and sense of adventure to where you can say, “Okay, let's try somewhere else!”
Yeah, we don't have kids, so we don't have to worry about schools, and our family isn't in one place. My husband is a volunteer firefighter and an EMT, so he can get a job anywhere. He has already talked to the volunteer fire department where we are moving, and they are super excited. He is going to get a job with an ambulance company and is going to work part-time.
InD: How long have you and your husband been married?
We have been married 23 years, this year.
InD: Wow, that’s awesome! Okay, let’s learn a little about your early years. Where did you grow up?
I mainly grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia. When I was in high school, my parents divorced and I moved to Bowling Green, Ohio, with my mother. There isn’t much there, and it’s very flat. Then I went to Purdue. After college, I got my first job in Texas, so I moved there, where I met my husband online. He was in the army and based at Fort Hood.
InD: Your childhood was spent in Virginia though?
Yep, I lived in Blacksburg through the 9th grade. It is a small, pretty college town, not a city by any stretch. It has lots of mountains and it was a great place to grow up.
InD: What were you like as a child?
I was pretty outgoing. My mom put me in everything. I was a swimmer and I did ballet; I ran track, played soccer, and did gymnastics, and I did all the things kids did in the 80s. No one had fences, so we played kick-the-can games throughout the neighborhood, and at Halloween we just went out and ran from house to house for hours and came back with a pillowcase stuffed full of candy. There were no cars driving people around. If you wanted candy, you had to hoof it and get it your own damn self. [both laughing]
InD: And yet it was safe enough that the parents didn't care.
Maybe it wasn't safe enough, but we didn't have the internet, so you didn't know, you just did it. Nowadays you hear about every little thing, but back then, we were all in our own little bubbles.
InD: Were you a big reader growing up?
Absolutely. I used to go to a monthly book section where there were the Harlequin-type books at Walmart and I would buy like 15 at a time, or I would go to libraries and start at the A's and work my way through.
InD: How young were you when you started reading so much?
Definitely when we were in Ohio. We would go to the library all the time. I have always been a Romance reader because they always have a happy ending. It doesn't matter if it's Contemporary or Suspense or Paranormal or whatever, I just want everything to turn out okay at the end.  
InD: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
I do. I have an older brother who lives in Virginia with his four children, and I actually had another brother, who killed himself when he was 16. I had just turned 14.
InD: Oh no. That had to have changed your entire family's life.
Yeah, to say the least. But you just keep going. You don't have a choice.
InD: How did you handle that at 14 years old?
It was hard. It was obviously way harder for my mom. She had a lot of guilt because she and my dad were separated. My brother was actually high on drugs when he did it, so we would like to think that he wasn't in his right mind, but it was hard. I had lots of good friends, and my mom kept things on an even keel and we muddled on. My older brother went to college the next year, and then we moved to Ohio, which helped my mom a lot. It was hard for me to move in the 10th grade, but my mom couldn’t stay in that house.
InD: Moving would have been really hard at that age.
Yes, because right after something like that happens your friends are everything, and then you move, so yeah it was hard. I had swimming though, and it gave me a steady group of friends in Ohio, which is what I needed.

Read the entire interview in the April 2023 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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