Starting Over by Susan Tepper @ THE NEXT BIG THING

(It’s helpful to have the John Lennon soundtrack of Starting Over while reading this intro.  If you don’t, well that’s fine too).

My book From the Umberplatzen was published this month, December, one year ago.  I had big plans.  Lots of readings had been set up.  I was psyched because I love to read fiction aloud.  Then shortly after Christmas (of last year) I fell off my sister’s big brown mare, Chocolate Tina.  I fell on the dismount, right on my butt, on the hard ground.  It was mortifying and people at the stable looked stunned.  My back began killing me (*you can raise the volume a little on Starting Over).  My readings were cancelled for January and February.  I did read once in February in my own series in NYC using a guest host.  In March, armed with a suitcase of books, I flew to AWP in Chicago where I actually read one flash chapter.  The day I flew home from AWP was the day United and Delta merged (**Volume Up Louder).  They gate-changed my flight 4 times.  This required climbing stairs to a bus to another terminal.  Stairs eight times with a suitcase full of From the Umberplatzens.  My back in extremis, all spring readings got cancelled.  Come May, I was set to read in the Dire Series in Cambridge.  My mom, while driving on a beautiful day, was crashed into by a plumbing truck.  It took one entire month to lease her a car from the Long Island car-leasing mafia, be her personal chauffeur, and straighten out her insurance (***Volume Even Louder, please).  In June my mom had emergency hospitalization, and two heart surgeries followed. Into October now (****CRANK THAT VOLUME)!  Anyway, life is what it is.  I am cranked to be part of THE NEXT BIG THING!  My friend the writer Bonnie ZoBell invited me into this great gig!  Another friend Jules Archer loaned me this space in her funny and fabulous blog world here!


Umber Black Border

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

1– What is your working title of your book (or story)?

My book is titled  FROM THE UMBERPLATZEN (A Love Story)

2–Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well I seem to be a spontaneous writer, so things kind of fall out on their own.  I was lonely for Europe at the time of that writing, so I wrote a female character who was lonely for Europe.

3–What genre does your book fall under?

Literary Fiction.  Totally.  Reviewers have called this book: A mosaic of a novel, a novel in flash, a novella.  Even prose poems!  Huh!

4–Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm… for the role of Kitty (Kitty Kat) the female protagonist, I would cast Natalie Portman.  She has the dark good looks and the acting range required to portray Kitty who is a complex character filled with ambiguities.

For the role of M, the male protagonist, I would cast Jesse Spencer (Dr. Chase of HOUSE).  He’s an Australian actor but could easily play M who is German.  He has the right look, and a nice quiet range that can go deep, and be droll, in the way of my character M.

5–What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 From the Umberplatzen is a quirky love story set in Germany and told in linked flash fiction.

6–Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book was published this year (2012) by Wilderness House Press.

7–How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Well, I wrote the entire book (48 flash fictions) in about two months.  I didn’t revise, except to fix typos and change the word canary to parakeet.

8–What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

In a way it’s a little bit in emotional tone like The Lover by Marguerite Duras, in that there is an abundance of raw emotion told sparely.  I say this with deference, and the utmost respect for the work of Marguerite Duras.

9–Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My desire.  I always write out of desire.

10–  What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s a love story, but not a sappy one.  A lot of playful male/female conflict.  Things both sexes can relate to.  There is some magic realism woven into the plot.  Men have read the book and responded well.  I’ve been told it crosses gender boundaries.  Basically, it’s about two people who can’t make it happen, despite their strong feelings toward each other.  Love is easy in the beginning, then it gets hard.  People know this in their gut.

Coming up in THE NEXT BIG THING are two of my favorite writers!

KATHY FISH was the first person ever to be interviewed in my Monday Chat interview series on the Fictionaut blog. Kathy is a writer whose insights always leave me reeling.  Her debut  fiction collection Wild Life  stunned me with its quiet beauty and intelligence.  Kathy will be at THE NEXT BIG THING on January 15, 2013 @ where she’ll be talking about her latest book, Together We Can Bury It.

Tree Riesener I’ve known through her fiction and poetry for nearly a decade.  We met while she was managing editor at the Schuylkill Valley Journal.  I’ve published quite a few of Tree’s poems and stories at the Istanbul Literary Review, and find her work in both genres utterly ravishing.  Tree will be talking about her new book of fiction, Sleepers Awake, winner of 2012 Treadmill Eludia Prize from Hidden River Publishing, forthcoming in 2013.


No Comments
  • Reply

    Michael Gillan Maxwell

    December 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Wow! I had no idea. Tough year for Susan! I have her book, but I thought the window had closed for me to say something nice about it on my site. Guess it’s never too late. So I’ll be starting over (on that) too! Thanks!

    • Reply

      susan tepper

      December 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      Mike, It seems that drama is following me… last night we had gale force winds similar to the winds of Hurricane Sandy. My round glass deck table was flipped into the air and came crashing down, glass everywhere! I guess that’s the ‘symbolism’ of my ‘world’ ending accordimg to the Mayan Calendar! Thanks so much MGM for your sweet response here!

  • Reply

    frances metzman

    December 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Susan Tepper’s book is intriguing! Thoroughly enjoyed this presentation in the blog. fran

    • Reply

      susan tepper

      December 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      Fran, thank you so much for your read and comment! Happy Holidays!

  • Reply

    Jane Hammons

    December 21, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    can’t keep a good woman down! (no matter how hard you try)

    • Reply


      December 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Jane my Roswell-gal-pal, especially we gals who’ve spent time in Roswell, beat us up and we stand right back up! Thanks for your sweet words!!!

  • Reply

    Joani Reese (JP Reese)

    December 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Good stuff, Susan. What a terrible series of events conspiring to keep you from marketing that fine little book. I wish some well-known critic would pick it up and give it the love it deserves.

    Cheers–here’s to the apocalypse that didn’t happen.

    • Reply

      susan tepper

      December 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      Ah, Joani, it’s already been my ‘Mayan Year’…. But YOU and many other wonderful friends have helped enormously with reviews, blurbs, interviews.. I will never forget all the support my friends have given this book.

  • Reply


    December 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    So glad From the Umberplatzen was born despite all the turmoil! Great interview!

    • Reply

      susan tepper

      December 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Bonnie darling, thank you for inviting me into THE NEXT BIG THING and for your patience as I muddled my way through the format…

  • Reply


    December 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    I hope you’re now recovering well, Susan. From the Umberplatzen is remarkable.

    • Reply

      susan tepper

      December 21, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      dcallen2, I’m ok, it’s my mom who suffered the health issues, etc. but i guess i struggled too, and thank you for this lovely note.

  • Reply

    Mia Avramut

    December 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Superb interview! It was great to discover this window into the genesis of “From the Umberplatzen”. I agree: the parallel with Duras is right on the money! Love you both!!

    • Reply

      susan tepper

      December 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm

      Mia, thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed, and of course you already ‘knew’ a lot of the back-story of my book… your friendship during those times was my ballast. xxx susan

  • Reply

    Miles Tepper

    January 8, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Brava for another (not surprisingly) provocative narrative and interview!

    • Reply

      susan tepper

      January 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm

      Thank you, Mr. Tepper (he is my father-in-law)….

  • Reply

    The Next Big Thing Blog Hop Database « Write, Juggle, Run

    January 10, 2013 at 1:40 am

    […] Susan Tepper (21 December 2012) […]

    • Reply

      susan tepper

      January 10, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      Very cool to be on NATE TOWER’S “TNB BLOG HOP DATABASE” ~ awesome of you to do this for so many writers, Nate!!!

  • Reply

    My turn at The Next Big Thing: TOGETHER WE CAN BURY IT | Kathy Fish

    January 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    […] writers. You can read her response to it on Jules Archer’s blog, Jules Just Write. Susan’s answers are fascinating and so is her book, FROM THE UMBERPLATZEN, and Jules’ […]

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