Suzanne Moyers joins the Author Spotlight to chat about her novel, ‘Til All These Things Be Done
Author Name: Suzanne Moyers
Book Title: ‘Til All These Things Be Done
Book Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: September 13, 2022
Publisher: She Writes Press
Welcome, Suzanne! How would you describe ‘Til All These Things Be Done?
Set in tumultuous east Texas a century ago, during an earlier time of pandemic and social upheaval, this unraveling family mystery will haunt you far beyond the final page.
What sparked the idea for this book?
I was 16 when I witnessed my grandmother crying out to the ghost of her long-lost father: Papa! Why did you leave? The expression on her face was so heart wrenching, it drove me to learn more about this hush-hush chapter of family history. The central elements of that story—and the many unanswered questions behind it—percolated in my mind for decades, eventually forming the scaffolding for this novel.
How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you do any research?
Altogether, it took about eleven years to write the novel and bring it to market.
I did do a lot of research for the book. My family has deep roots in Texas and I spent many childhood vacations visiting kin there. Even so, I was surprised at how little I knew about the region’s important and complex history. While I accomplished much of my research online, I also had access to many family heirlooms and documents that fueled my creativity. One of the most in I took a research trip to Texas, where I visited the small town where my grandmother once lived (the model for Bronway) and the orphanage in Waxahachie, which still exists as a foster care facility. (You can read more insights from that visit and how it influenced the novel at suzannemoyers.com/blog.)
What drew you to writing historical fiction?
I have always been fascinated by the history of wherever I happen to be—whether a travel destination or the town in northern NJ where I live. Give me a falling-down house in the woods and I’ll try to figure out who lived there, what made them laugh and cry, how they got through hard times. E.L. Doctorow once said, “The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.” The factual details of history are, for me, a medium for channeling the spirits of those who lived it on a daily basis.
What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?
The mere act of sitting down to write is my biggest struggle. This is especially true now, when I’m busy promoting my novel. Of course once I start writing, I’m good—happy, even! Taking a weekly class or joining a critique group—knowing I have to turn in work on a regular basis—helps me conquer procrastination.
On the other hand, it’s in promoting this book that I’ve also found great fulfillment. Whenever someone—influential bookstagrammer, longtime acquaintance—seems to connect with the story, I know I’ve done my job. People think of writing as such a solitary endeavor but the fact is, in bringing our stories into the world, we’re inviting social connections.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Til All These Things Be Done?
First and foremost, I want readers to be engaged and entertained. The history behind this novel is certainly intriguing and I hope people will be as enlightened by it as I’ve been. But more importantly, I hope readers will relate on some level to the protagonist’s struggle to survive, understand herself, and come to terms with her deepest losses.
What do you hope readers will take away from this story? (see above)
What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?
I’ve been surprised to discover how important constructive criticism is to becoming a better writer. I will never forget attending my first critique group twelve years ago. I was so terrified, I nearly turned around and went home. But after the first few sessions I realized how this feedback was helping to improve my craft. Not only that but these ‘writer-teachers’ also became my tribe, an invaluable professional community I could lean on for all sorts of support.
Any words of wisdom you can give your pre-published writer self (or to a new writer)?
It’s important to consider genre before writing your first book. Much as I love historical fiction, I’m also itching to try my hand at other forms. But now that I’ve built a platform through this novel, it may be hard to ‘start over’ with a new audience. Of course some authors have done this successfully—for instance, historical novelist Emma Donoghue with the contemporary thriller, Room.
And there are workarounds. I’ve already written part of a contemporary psychological thriller. Instead of wholly switching genres, I might now set a similar story in the late 1800s. After all, murder, revenge, greed, and jealousy are not unique to the 21st century.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I love to metal detect, mudlark (search for artifacts along the banks of rivers and streams), and volunteer for archeological digs. I especially enjoy researching the relics I find and connecting them to actual people and events. It’s another form of historical storytelling.
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
Besides the psychological thriller I mentioned above, I’m researching a family of Dutch female traders in New Amsterdam (now NYC) who had an interesting relationship with the famed Algonquin sachem, Oratom. I may also revisit that YA I mentioned earlier—genre be damned.
Where can readers find you?
suzannemoyers.com/press (Includes updated events.)
Thank you, Suzanne! Til All These Things Be Done is OUT NOW.
Set against the rich but often troubled history of Blacklands, Texas, during an era of pandemic, scientific discovery, and social upheaval, the novel offers a unique—yet eerily familiar—backdrop to a universal tale of triumphing over loss.Even as dementia clouds other memories, eighty-year-old Leola can’t forget her father’s disappearance when she was sixteen. Now, as Papa appears in haunting visions, Leola relives the circumstances of that loss: the terrible accident that steals Papa’s livelihood, sending the family deeper into poverty; a scandal from Mama’s past that still wounds; and Leola’s growing unease with her brutally bigoted society.When Papa vanishes while seeking work in Houston and Mama dies in the “boomerang” Influenza outbreak of 1919, Leola and her young sisters are sent to an orphanage, where her exposure of a dark injustice means sacrificing a vital clue to Papa’s whereabouts. That decision echoes into the future, as new details about his disappearance suggest betrayal too painful to contemplate. Only in old age, as her visions of Papa grow more realistic, does Leola confront her long-buried grief, leading to a remarkable discovery about her family—and, maybe, a chance for forgiveness.