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Susan Branch Interview (Page 4)

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…I was a valley girl and I had come from this very different place. Where I came from I knew everyone at the supermarket, and now I was in New England, and the people weren’t as friendly and I was really alone. Then the phone call came: “Your book has sold” and suddenly I had a voice. And that was a gift. I was gifted. I still think it’s a miracle. I didn’t paint until I was 30, and I always think, “Where did that come from?”

Sarah: That’s incredible, I love that story. Now, what was the publishing process like for you? You turned in your 50 pages, they loved them…

Susan: Well sort of. When I had the 50 pages done, I was in my house by myself and I fake threw confetti over my head and then went, “OK, now what?” I just didn’t know what to do. So I took those 50 pages with me to downtown Vineyard Haven and I went door to door to door in all the stores because all the people who worked in the stores were women. I kept asking all of them, “Do you know anybody in the publishing business?” “Do you know anybody who might know anybody?”

I got lucky, because the next day, one of the gals who works at one of the stores, Sandy, called me and said she knew a guy who used to work for Little Brown and Company. I was so lucky to get in on that. He stopped by my house, and he liked the pages! So he wrote the president of Little Brown, and they called me! They said, “Bring the book in.”

Now that is where the fear came in. Getting dressed, getting ready to drive to Boston for that meeting, that was very scary. Shaking in my boots. But I went in there and said, “Here are my pages, they’re all hand-written.” It was a very nice meeting, it was a very nice person whom I met, and it just kind of went from there.

Sarah: How long did it take from that meeting until it was actually published?

Susan: Well, it was four or five days later, and they called me and said they were going to do it. They offered me a $20,000 advance and said that I had a year to finish it. I needed to do 164 pages within a year. And that was it. So I sold my book, and I kept waiting for them to say, “Kidding! We were just kidding!” I’m serious!  You should see my diary from then! I was really sure they were kidding!

But I did the rest of the pages and then all of a sudden all these things started happening, newspaper and radio interviews. There was no such thing as Barnes and Nobles or Amazon, everything sold through little bookstores, and some smaller cooking stores. But we didn’t have gifting shops or anything that just hadn’t started yet. It was a much simpler time than it is now.

Sarah: I read that when you received your first fan letter a few months after the first book was out that you were so blown away that you cried…

Susan: Yeah, I just thought it was a letter from someone I didn’t know, I didn’t think it was going to be a fan letter, I just figured it was someone who’s address I didn’t recognize. And it just surprised me.

You know, even the second book was a surprise to me. They called me and said, “OK, what are you going to do for your second book?” And I thought, “Are you kidding me?  I’m doing another one?” I was so surprised because I thought all authors were rich and I thought that they just wrote one book, and that was it.  And I was surprised that they wanted another one. Then, once I had done the second one, I was all ready to do the third one.

Sarah: What was your experience writing the second book?  Was it really different from the first book?

Susan: The second one they wanted really quickly. It takes me about a year and a half to…(cont)

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