Susan McCormick is a writer and doctor who lives in Seattle. In addition to the Fog Ladies series, she also wrote Granny Can’t Remember Me, a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and The Antidote, a timely middle grade medical fantasy released May 2021. The Fog Ladies: Family Matters is the second book in the series.
It starts with getting older
Susan describes her characters in the The Fog Ladies cozy mystery series as spunky senior sleuths aided by an overtired young doctor-in-training. One overarching issue in the series is the age of the main characters.
“Their ages bring up many themes, like grieving and loss, what to do with your remaining years, cricked toes and poor hearing, parenting as a grandparenting, romance when you are older, and how strong female friendships hold them all together to address these issues. One character has a complete transformation, going from believing that the next best thing in her life will be passing into heaven, to seeing that the next best thing is right in front of her and that she and the other Fog Ladies can make a difference and be of significant use to those around them, like when they organize a car caravan to take families to a women’s prison on Christmas Day.”
Back to San Francisco
“I did some of my medical training in San Francisco,” said Susan. “I lived in an elegant apartment building much like the one in the book. Being the cozy mystery lover that I was, I realized the building, with its tenants of all ages who knew everything about everybody, would make the perfect enclosed cozy-like setting, with a killer afoot and nowhere to hide. The name of the book and the idea for the group of older ladies came at the same time: The Fog Ladies, a group of lady friends with too much time on their hands and too much suspicion. And, of course, tea and baked goods. You can count on them like you can count on San Francisco early morning fog burning off by midday.”
What do writing and doctoring have in common?
When Susan was young she wanted to be a doctor by day, a ballerina at night, and a writer all the time. “I gave up ballet after my first performance, when my curtsy shot too far backwards, sending the scenery crashing to the floor. Being a doctor took grit, four years of medical school, three years of residency, then fellowship, then a stint in the Army because they paid for medical school. Being a writer took even longer, and I needed the same grit. Persevere, show up every day, sit in the chair, and write. Each of my books has medical themes woven through. My first book, Granny Can’t Remember Me, is a lighthearted picture book about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The Antidote is a timely middle grade medical fantasy involving infectious disease. The first Fog Ladies book turned on a medical diagnosis. I like to add fun gems to my stories, hidden public service announcements, and in The Fog Ladies: Family Matters, you will find ‘don’t cut a bagel in your hand’ and ‘don’t get a jailhouse tattoo.’”
Susan’s favorite part of writing
“My favorite part of writing is the first draft, when I write without thinking and the characters take over and decide their fates for themselves. In Book 1, a main character wrote herself onto her deathbed in the ICU, and then expected me to save her. In Book 2, fingers flying on the keypad, I enjoyed writing about one character’s pregnancy with all its ups and downs. Then, in the blasted second draft, I discovered her pregnancy lasted sixteen months. Oops. Revision, revision, revision. However, this little mistake forced her to deliver on November first, which is El Dia de los Angelitos, The Day of the Little Angels, to welcome back and remember dead children. This surprise second draft revision allowed an ominous dread to hang over her new little family, as she becomes the next potential victim.”
Unintended research in the retirement home
“Though I didn’t know it at the time, sitting night after night with my mom at her retirement community’s dinner table turned out to be invaluable research when I now conjure up important issues and manners of speech and attitudes for my elderly group of amateur detectives. I have always enjoyed older ladies, their stories, their wisdom, their life experience, and those dinner table conversations were nothing but fun. But they also allowed me a window to see topics that pertained only to them. My Fog Ladies characters have never done this, but my favorite nights were when the table burst into song, old showtunes or college songs.”
Learn more about Susan McCormick and The Fog Ladies: Family Matters at susanmccormickbooks.com. Did you like this interview? If so, click here to read more Behind the Story interviews from your favorite authors.a Rafflecopter giveaway