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Interview With Susie Black

When debut author Susie Black asked five fairly well-known authors in the cozy mystery genre to read her novel and provide a quote for her to use, she really didn’t expect to get a response.

She ended up getting FIVE responses—and all five authors were effusive in their praise for Death by Sample Size. That should tell you something about the caliber of Susie’s debut novel, slated for release by The Wild Rose Press on June 9.

I’m thrilled to welcome Susie Black to my blog today to talk about Death by Sample Size, the series it introduces, her writing process, and much more. Susie is also sharing her book blurb, an intriguing excerpt, and—yes—the comments from those five authors.

Welcome, Susie! Tell us a little bit about Death by Sample Size:

Death by Sample Size is a humorous murder mystery set in the Los Angeles Garment Center. The protagonist discovers buying office big wig Bunny Frank’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey in the California Apparel Mart elevator. When her colleague is accused of the murder, the heroine dons her sleuthing hat and jumps into action to find the real murderer and clear her friend.

How did you get interested in the humorous cozy mystery genre?

I am naturally curious. As a child, I drove my parents crazy with my relentless questions. I love a good laugh, solving puzzles, and the challenge of figuring out whodunit, so this genre and I were a perfect match.

Who is Holly Schlivnik?

Like me, Holly Schlivnik is a ladies’ apparel sales exec in Los Angeles. If Walter Mitty and I had a daughter, Holly is how she’d turn out.

What makes her tick?

She is curious, irreverent, loyal, and tenacious.

Will there be a love interest in the series?

Yes, two men will be introduced later in the series. One man from her past enters her life again and another unlikely man she has a rocky initial relationship with on a professional level in the debut Death by Sample Size becomes a love interest down the road.

Death by Sample Size is the first book in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series. How many books do you expect to be in the series—and when can we expect the next one?

Right now there are five books, but with all the stories from my career in the rag business, the series could easily have an extended run. The second book in the series has been submitted to the publisher and I hope to have it published by the end of this year.

What are you working on now?

I am finalizing the fifth book of the Holly Swimsuit series and mapping out a second series with a different set of characters and locale.

How old were you when you wrote your first story?

I have been telling stories since I learned to talk. I wrote my first one when I was six years old.

Are you an outliner or a pantser?

I am a hybrid. I have the beginning and end of the book outlined and let the story lead me through the middle to get to the end.

Which element of novel-writing do you consider most challenging? (Plot, setting, characters, dialogue, etc.)

The plot.

What comes first, character or plot?


Do you base your characters on real people or make them up from scratch?

Real people. It is rather cathartic to fictionally knock off those who in real life I would like to have eliminated!

What is your favorite part, and least favorite part, of the publishing journey?

Favorite: character development. Least favorite: marketing.

What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Keep writing and never stop asking what if.

What promotional and marketing tips can you offer other writers?

Engage with influencers such as successful authors and don’t be afraid to ask for their advice and help in promoting your book.

What was your favorite childhood book?

My maternal Grandmother saved all my mother’s childhood books and passed them down to me. It is a tie between the Nancy Drew series and The Five Little Peppers series.

If you could bring a fictitious character to life and become friends with that person, who would it be?

Nancy Drew.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?

I have two. Traveling with my maternal Grandmother to Florida and California and spending my summers at my Great Aunt’s summer home at the beach in Far Rockaway, New York.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am a dedicated walker, voracious reader, and an avid stamp collector.

What’s something you’re good at?

Word games and puzzles.

What superpower would you like to have?

Communicate with those who have gone on to the great beyond.

If you could relive a day from your past, which day would it be?

My first visit to Disneyland.

What’s the weirdest dream you ever had?

My novel was chasing me yelling, “This is crap. No one is going to read it.”

You find a hundred-dollar bill in the gutter. What do you do with it?

Buy meals for hungry children.

What talent do you wish you had?

Play a musical instrument.

If people came with warning labels, what would yours say?

If you ask her a question, be prepared for her answer.

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

Traveling a territory in the deep southern states as an apparel rep.

What’s one thing you want to be remembered for?

I was an honorable person who never left my morals at home.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Always trust your gut and believe in yourself.

Would you rather…

Travel back in time or visit a far-off planet of highly intelligent, benevolent beings?

Travel back in time.

Be in jail for a year or die one year sooner than you would have otherwise?

Be in jail for a year.

Be able to teleport or read minds?


Lie on a beach or hike in the woods?

Lie on a beach.

Be an amazing artist or a brilliant mathematician?

An amazing artist.

Be able to fly or able to breathe underwater?

Be able to fly.

Be forced to eat nothing but spicy food or nothing but bland food for the rest of your life?

Spicy food.

Live the rest of your life on the equator or in the Arctic Circle?


Be lost in a bad part of town or lost in a forest?

Bad part of town.

Lose your best friend or lose all your friends except for your best friend?

Lose all your friends except for my best friend.

Never have to clean a bathroom again or never have to do dishes again?

Never have to clean the bathroom again.

Be able to see only in black and white or never eat dessert again?

Never eat dessert again.


Blurb for Death by Sample Size

Winning was the only thing that mattered for ruthless, power-hungry buying office big shot Bunny Frank. Losing was never an option. So, the last thing Ditzy Swimwear sales exec Holly Schlivnik expected when the mart elevator opened was Bunny’s corpse trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey with a bikini stuffed down her throat. With no shortage of suspects, the mystery wasn’t who wanted Bunny dead. Who didn’t? When Holly’s colleague Sonia Wilson is arrested for Bunny’s murder, the wise-cracking, irreverent amateur sleuth jumps into action to find the real killer by sticking her nose everywhere it doesn’t belong. Nothing turns out the way Holly thinks it will as she matches wits with a wily killer hellbent for revenge. Get ready to laugh out loud as Susie Black’s Death by Sample Size takes you on a rollicking adventure ride through the Los Angeles apparel industry.


Praise for Death by Sample Size

“Fashion and foul play converge in this fabulous new cozy mystery series.” ~Melissa Bourbon, best-selling author of the Magical Dressmaking Mysteries

“Death by Sample Size relates the perilous adventures of ladies’ swimwear sales executive Holly Shlivnik. When nasty buyer Bunny Frank is found dead and Holly’s colleagues are implicated, she sets on the trail of a ruthless killer. Details about the wholesale fashion industry are a bonus while you’re trying to figure out whodunit. The well-drawn suspects kept me guessing, and I especially enjoyed the heroine’s unique outlook on life. Holly is a hoot! This is one humorous cozy mystery you won’t want to miss.” ~Nancy J. Cohen, the Bad Hair Day Mysteries

“Susie Black makes an entertaining splash with her debut novel. With lively, quirky characters and a wise-cracking sleuth, the story crackles with energy.” ~Charlotte Rains Dixon, Emma Jean’s Bad Behavior

“This is a funny and thoroughly enjoyable cozy mystery from a debut author. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to the next one!” ~Dianne Harman, USA Today Bestselling Author

“A hoot-and-a-half. The Holly Swimsuit Mystery series comes in only one size—XX Fun! With a cast of colorful characters and snappy dialogue, Death by Sample Size had me turning the pages. I did not see that ending coming! I can’t wait for the next installment.” ~Kim Hunt Harris, Trailer Park Princess mysteries


Social media links:

Facebook Author Page: @TheHollySwimsuitMysterySeries.Author


Twitter: Susie Black @hollyswimsuit

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May 14, 2021

Thanks so much for stopping by, Monique and Jennifer. I'm excited about Susie's upcoming release. (And I'm going to try to stay on the good side of her so she doesn't knock me off in her next book!)


Monique DeVere
Monique DeVere
May 14, 2021

"It is rather cathartic to fictionally knock off those who in real life I would like to have eliminated!" 🤣 That's ace. Great interview, Susie. I'm looking forward to Death by Sample Size release. It sounds like a riveting read.


Holly Schwartz
Holly Schwartz
May 14, 2021
Replying to

Monique, thank you so much. I am thrilled you liked the interview. I hope you enjoy reading Death by Sample Size as much as I did writing it.


Jennifer Zander Wilck
Jennifer Zander Wilck
May 14, 2021

Great interview!

Holly Schwartz
Holly Schwartz
May 14, 2021
Replying to

Thanks so much, Jennifer. I am pleased you liked the interview. I had a lot of fun responding to the questions.

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