Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Susan G. Cline, Author & Poet

Declared Horse Woman by a member of the Ottawa Tribe, Author Susan G. Cline has deep roots in America. Recently attending the American Indian Council of Indiana Intertribal Powwow, she reminisces with her readers and shares her enchanting stories. Tragically, Susan’s husband passed away several years ago and she continues to mend and recover from her loss; my sincere condolences.

Born and raised on the Texas Gulf Coast, USA, now living inland, Susan is an award winning author, writing captivating fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is a connoisseur of literature, art, poetry, and music…

Welcome Susan!

Susan writes, “I am blessed and not a moment goes by that I do not thank Creator for the joys He allows me to experience. My heart is still in a great deal of pain, yet as I am sitting there among the singing and the Drums, among people who have taken time to come and see us, among those who work so hard to make these Powwows happen, my heart heals a little more. I feel very small, like a speck among all this, just another droplet or dart of light in the sky. I feel very proud to be granted a small place among all of this greatness, this life Creator allows me to experience each day. Many people face or have faced travesties, and yet they smile as they walk, ready to greet the next person. They steer their mind off their troubles and step into a new scenario for a while, so they can heal, even if it's just a little more. That is what stories do. We are all creating one of those, whether writer or not. And whether it is on paper or not, it will be shared to help heal others. It was from this standpoint I answered your questions.”

Do you miss the Texas Gulf Coast?  
YesYes. Moving here from Texas was a big culture shock. The gulf coast offers diversity on every level from people to diversity of customs to music and food. And of course there’s the magnanimous beach and all that goes with that. Living here has taught me how to be myself on levels I would have not learned otherwise. Now, I have many cherished friends here and have established a pleasant life.

What books have you written?
Warrior Woman –Native American Teachings for Healing the Girl Within
Into this Soul (poetry)
This Little Horse Didn’t Go to Market (the true story of a miniature horse rescued by Another Chance for Horses, written in fable and lore format)
Undaunted (nonfiction)
Inevitable Dream (nonfiction)


What is the premise for the 'Rojo' series?
One Wolf inspired the entire series. She belonged to a friend of mine, a full blood Apache. He had a permit for her and she was his dear friend. I was among the few people allowed to interact with her. Wolves are in all the books as main characters.

Family is at the core and soul of the Rojo series, family connections, dismays, flaws, shames, frailties, and ultimately the eternal bond which protects each individual from the world. It is basically about two families dating back to the mid 1800’s.

In that family are the beloved Wolves, as well as the Horses. Along with that is a message of empowerment over the cycle of abuse and abuses of power. The cycle of abuse appears in every one of the novels along with the ways it is dealt with, and what happens to everyone involved, both the good and the bad.

Did your childhood influence your writing career?  
My mother was very much into the arts, all kinds of art; music, books, movies, artwork, anything and everything pertaining to art and born of art. She took me to art shows and galleries. We used to have lunch in day rooms dash antique shops. She had an entire collection of classical music. We spent a lot of early mornings in used book stores set up in Victorian houses. We spent many evenings bundled up on the couch with something she’d baked and strong coffee late at night watching old movies. My mom was a history buff, constantly reading. She was a thriving wealth of information. My mom and I laughed enough for ten people and three lifetimes.

My dad was an ex-Marine, though really there’s no such thing as an ex-Marine. We were up by seven just about every Saturday. As serious as he could be my dad was easily humored. Making him laugh was just fun. He loved science fiction and was rather philosophical. I grew up watching Carl Sagan. Dad was the best mechanic I ever knew, though later in life I met my husband who was just as good. My dad was a talented photographer. He left many of his photos with me which I use in my promotions or just to share because they’re beautiful.

We almost always had gardens and lived in the country. Even though we didn’t have a farm we had just about every other kind of critter imaginable  – birds, hamsters, fish, lizards, dogs, cats, turtles, a couple of rabbits.

So- I am pretty disciplined but easily sidetracked by something funny. I cry easily too and tend to think very deeply about everything to the point of overthinking sometimes. But I see that as strength not a weakness due to my mother’s influence. I prefer fresh raw vegetables and still cook using iron cast skillets, heavy glass or stainless steel like a chef’s skillet. My dad taught me a high tolerance for very strong coffee and hot peppers. I grew up with a lot of spices in general. I can see where all that meshed together influences the way I write.

Are your characters based upon personal experiences?
The region I grew up in is rich in lore. I was born on Galveston Island, Texas, and raised about thirty minutes inland between there and Houston. I grew up with stories of pirates and buried treasures never found. I also grew up learning about and developing a depth of respect and love for the Native American Culture.  

My personal experiences could be another book in itself, but yes many of my own developed perceptions guided me through the scenes. I also consult with Native American friends along the way so I know what not to write as much as what to pen throughout the pages. They are always the first to read my books before they’re published.

 Of all your characters, who is your favorite?
Jackson Martinez. He is passionate and flawed, extremely sensitive and brave anyway. I’ve heard from numerous readers that he can be a jerk too. Some of them even asked me to let Cassie marry Jonathon in another book because Jonathon is sweeter than Jackson.  I did try, I promise, but it just wouldn’t go, because she sees in Jackson what I do. He shuts off his emotions at will and wonders who he is and yet knows exactly who he is, and really, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks – or so it seems. He is the embodiment of life’s contradictions which he allows to mold him into a very complex man. Tragic experiences early in his life as a teenager contribute to this. He taught me about the combining of human frailty and might, and how a person can rise above their own worst mistakes; that treacherous paths can lead to healing, that absolutely nothing is beyond the realms of healing.

You are a poet as well. Please share one of your poems...
This is the one that came to me –

I’ve Seen Storms Like That
by Susan G. Cline

I’ve seen storms like that,
Soft and sweet blue.
I’ve felt rain like that,
Mossy green tumbling down trees
Pressing away swamp air
In the bayou.

Sounds of kindness in the meadow
Abound on birds’ feet
And inland, racing strong and true
Comes morning bright as light itself
On silent lightning mango cool
Around the bayou.

Gulf sings praises of another day
Heaping gravity for the Moon
Scouring shoreline clean and true
Near the bayou.

In come tourists who know it too ~
Adventure’s loping stroll
By waters of wintergreen hue
Along the bayou.
Danger so close and far from home
And nearer safety than ever before
Can await a moment where it seems
To be, to long for, to recall, to feel
Night and day tomorrow once more ~
Hope lying asleep on the floor
With dogs and cats, but mittens no more
For the trek from South to North
And back again to salted shores
Where yesterday brought today, again
And lore
Of days spent knowing something
Familiar would again be once more
And that’s the people of the bayou ~
Tender and strengthened by the past
And tomorrow’s shores,
Unafraid and tourist never ~
        always a visitor
To real hardwood floors
And smoke arising with coffee strong,

And not a blushing one ~
Laughter imminent
Nowhere near forlorn ~
Intelligence between lines
And humored eyes smiling
On the bayou.

When I left there
I brought it here with me ~
The bayou.

But when I go back
I leave this here,
All I touched

Felt it too,
The bayou,

I’ve seen storms like that ~
I’ve felt rain like that.
She’s familiar to me
That bayou island girl.
She gave me a taste
Of mossy shoreline
Scoured shining by water dust
Tasting of salt and sugar spicy tame
Wilder than shame.
I wish I’d known her better,
And can’t remember her name,
But I’ve seen storms like that
And I felt rain like that ~
Green on trees and blue from sky ~
I’ve felt dreams like that,
That I could both taste and smell,
Sweet, salted and spicy hot
All in one flash of a moment
And I closed my eyes
Overwhelmed with this refrain
Of a song I’ve tasted before.

But a taste is all one can handle
Who wasn’t born there
Or destined to be along her shores
So close to the Moon and Sun in one place
So close to the bayou
But of course it isn’t the bayou alone
Nor the bayou which sings her own song ~

It’s that Gulf. It’s that Gulf. It’s that Gulf ~
The only one. The only one. The only one ~
        Of her kind.

That Gulf where the Sun rises and sets in the same place
At the same time
Under the Moon and stars each day.

Fishermen could never understand that,
And knowing they weren’t meant to –
Awaited the Sun just the same.

Brighter clouds have never shown themselves
That way again,
Not since yesterday.

Where do you like to write?
These days I write at my dining room table even though I have two desks, unless I'm using my desk top computer. I like being out in the open where I can be close to my dogs. I have a heavy glass candle vessel in an iron cast holder filled with rocks my husband gave me. It sits on a flat basket right here by me.

What are you currently writing?
I am working on the sixth novel in the series, Deep Roots in Power and on a book I started in memory of my husband called Donnie’s Rock.

What are you currently reading?
My friend is sending me a book to read but she hasn’t told me what it is, says it’s a surprise. In the meantime I am reading what I have written, again.

What is the key to writing the perfect novel?
Stories are like herbs. You have to honor their power. Stories are a part of the wildest in nature, very beautiful and also intense.

It is wonderful for a person to have the innate talent of imparting stories through writing. It is also a continual learning process and a skill needing practice.

To write the perfect novel is to do the work of being you and to be willing to face the void. If all else fails, write about the void. But write. When faced with the emptiness of losing my husband, I went to pen and paper and just wrote whatever came to mind. Some of those writings have found their places either in one of the two books I’m working on or in my blog. Mindless ramblings of a journal can be hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. It is also a way to transform the travail so you don’t drench your pages with wet pain – unless that’s the effect you want. In that case, go for it.

Understand that writing is rewriting. Enjoy, thoroughly enjoy the journey. Do your research. Just write the story. Trust yourself. It’s the only way you can trust your readers.

List ten items that your fans may not know about you...
When I was between the ages of about nine and twelve, I rode a horse named Lady and I rode a cow named Lady too. The horse belonged to my Godmother and the cow belonged to my uncle.

Along with a lifeguard, I almost drowned in the Gulf of Mexico when I was fifteen and had a fear of deep water from then on. About ten years ago I took a six week private “fear of deep water” swimming class and was over my fear by the third lesson. I didn’t have to take any more classes. I still don’t particularly like deep water but it does not terrify me any longer.

I drink dark specialty beer.

I never sleep late.

I was kicked off the school bus when I was in ninth grade for leading what the bus driver said was inappropriate singing. The song was “Mama’s Got a Squeezebox (and daddy never sleeps at night).”

The very first poem I ever read was The Mending Wall by Robert Frost, which brought me to tears.

One of my closest childhood friends was a black Chihuahua named Tiny.

I saved a long haired black Chihuahua from a pack of large dogs when I was twelve. I saw four of them growling and carrying on with one slinging what looked like a black rag. When I realized it was a little dog I grabbed a stick and went running out there and scared them off. His name was Brutus and he belonged to my neighbor. He almost didn’t make it. But when he recovered he often came to my house. He often ran inside my house and headed straight for my room.

I wear my dad’s belt almost every day.

I carry my husband’s wallet in my purse.

I was given the name Horse Woman in 1993 by a member of the Ottawa Tribe who said it was due to my personality traits, which includes both strengths and weaknesses of the Horse.

Connect with Susan…




Anonymous said...

Gina, thank you so much for this interview. You have a beautiful blog and it is an honor to be included among such enormous talent, along with yourself! Your enthusiasm for writing and for horses is contagious and inspiring. Thank you again. May Creator's Blessings be with you.


Gina said...

A beautiful interview, Susan, it was my pleasure. Best wishes always.

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