Meet the VA Chapter of the HWA!

This week we are deeply honored to learn more about HWA member, Susan Schwartz. She is not only an active member in the Virginia Chapter of the Horror Writer’s Association, but she has a fascinating full-time job as an operating room nurse.

I first met Susan during an event where the HWA-VA Chapter worked a booth. I have had the honor of coming down and speaking at one her events in Richmond, which she hosted for another writing organization.

Bryan: Let’s get right into it, shall we? Susan, I have the luxury of already knowing a little of your background. However, there are tons of people out there who might be reading this and have no idea who you are. So, let’s start with a little bit about you.

Susan: I began writing in 2006 with freelance articles. I wrote on all sorts of topics and researched these pieces thoroughly. I made a little money, but I was more interested in fiction writing.

Bryan: I mentioned that I came down to Richmond and presented at an event you held. It wasn’t for the HWA though. I think it was for another group you first became a member of before joining us in the HWA. Tell us a little about that.

Susan: That event was in support of the Virginia Writers Club. In the VWC, I found good mentors and people who wanted to help me succeed and improve my writing. I took over leadership of the club for two years giving back to the writing community and helping to mentor a few new writers.

Susan and Me

Susan and I taking a selfie!

Bryan: I know we talked about this before, but my mother has been a nurse for over forty years. A noble profession, I don’t think the nurses get anywhere near the amount of credit they deserve. Tell us a little about your nursing career.

Susan: I have been an Operating Room Nurse for 17 years. As you can imagine, I see many interesting and gory things while working. I channel many of those sights and sounds into my stories. I love blood and guts, and I tend to write stories where people are getting killed or maimed in some fashion. I try to write them with a twist making you wonder what hit you at the end. I have enjoyed this genre immensely because of its ability to lead the reader into something completely unexpected.

Bryan: I love the idea of the sights and sounds of the operating room informing your writing. I was on the fire department for a few years and I know my experiences certainly inform my own writing. What have you written? Where can we see the work of Susan Schwartz and all of those lovely sights and sounds you bring to life with your words?

Susan: I have three short stories published at present in the Nightmares & Echoes series. They are “The Sparkling Floor,” “I Thought You Did,” and “Blurred Line.” My non-fiction piece in the Virginia Writers Club Centennial Anthology is titled “Using my Karate Chops in Nursing.” I also have a non-fiction book coming in the Fall of 2018 titled Haunted Charlottesville and Surrounding Counties. I am quite excited about my stories and especially, my Haunted book.

Bryan: Many things drive us to become members of the HWA. I know, for me, it was a way to improve my craft and find a better way to access to horror readers. What drove you to join the organization?

Susan: I joined because I saw much potential in networking and getting to know some frightening authors in my own genre. I met you through this great organization, and we have traded some useful advice. I have been a member for 2 years, and I have enjoyed the camaraderie and education I have gotten from everyone. Shout out to Dee South, she is simply awesome.

Bryan: I think some people just see our work and forget that behind every key stroke is the need to associate with like-minded professionals to trade notes from time to time. I know I am better off for our friendship. I see benefits daily from being associated with HWA. How about yourself? What do you feel is the greatest benefit?

Susan: The greatest benefit for me is the networking. I love to meet authors from a genre that many do not fathom writing because it can be too far out there. It is nice to have friends and colleagues who can brainstorm on a plot twist or storyline and not look at you funny for asking the question. Who else could you ask the best way to kill or poison someone and get a straight faced answer?

Bryan: I am reasonably certain that if anyone were to look at my Google searches, they would be pretty sure that I am a serial killer myself. It’s true though, we can sit around and discuss the finer details of killing, murder, and mayhem and have a truly serious discussion about those topics.

I know you love working with new authors, so I am curious what do you think is your best advice to anyone starting out in the genera?

Susan: The best advice given to me by many authors in different genres is to read that which you are trying to write. The greats in this genre, such as Stephen King, Bentley Little, and Richard Laymon, have shown me how to write and what people are looking for when they read this genre. Stephen King also wrote a book, On Writing, which has helped me a great deal as well.

Bryan: On Writing is one of my favorites. You certainly mentioned some high-powered names there. I am curious what is your favorite novel and why does it speak to you?

Susan: My favorite horror story will probably always be Pet Sematary by Stephen King. I even have a black cat that travels with me to every book signing named Church. As to why this is my favorite, it was the first Stephen King novel I read, and I was hooked on the genre. His writing just pulled me in and made me want to write my own. I loved his style and his suspense. I still read everything he publishes.

Bryan: We discussed some of the greats of the past, let’s discuss one of the up and coming stars of today. What is Susan Schwartz working on right now?

Susan: I am currently working on a graveyard story for another anthology as well as working on promoting my new book coming out in the Fall of 2018, Haunted Charlottesville and Surrounding Counties. I also have two novels I am writing, a paranormal romance and a medical thriller. I am also researching for another haunted book toward western Virginia.

Bryan: So, where can we go to find out more information about you?

Susan: My website went live in January of 2017 and has information on future happenings and new books coming out soon. Check it out at

Susan Schwartz PageBryan: Very cool! So, is there anything else you would like to say to the readers out there, as we wrap this up?

Susan: Thanks for your support to all of us who try to put printed word on paper. Without you, we would have no platform to share our deepest and strangest ideas.

Bryan: No truer words have been spoken. Without our readers, none of the characters or plots would ever see the light of day.

I want to thank you all for hanging out with us! From the Virginia Chapter of the Horror Writer’s Association, I want to remind everyone to stay spooky!

-Bryan the Writer; Blogger/Northern Ghoul!

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