The topic today: the hidden and not-so-hidden angst of ladies swimwear.
Please welcome author Susie Black to Write Despite. Susie is a ladies swimwear sales executive, who has cultivated a serious side gig as a mystery writer. Her debut novel, Death by Sample Size, was published this year by The Wild Rose Press.
As a ladies apparel expert, Susie’s got a good handle on what women feel when they stare into that fitting room mirror, and her work is the better—and the funnier—for it. She’s even created a choosing-the-right-swimsuit tips primer. Reach out to Susie, if you’d like one.
Let’s hear a little more about Susie’s journey to publication and what she learned as a pioneering woman executive in an industry long dominated by men.
Take it away, Susie:
I had always envisioned a career as a journalist, but life had other plans. Right after my college graduation, our family had an emergency while my apparel sales rep Dad was at a trade show in Atlanta. When no one from the companies he represented could cover for him, dad asked me to help. Despite having absolutely no background or interest in his business, this was my dad, so of course, I said yes. After a half-hour crash course in how to sell ladies’ apparel, dad left me alone to muddle through running the trade show. When dad returned three days later, he was stunned by the huge number of orders I’d written.
To my astonishment, he offered me a job as a sub-rep. Graduate school didn’t appeal to me and the opportunities for women in journalism were few and far between. So, I accepted dad’s offer, and the adventure of a lifetime began. At the beginning of my apparel career as a sales rep in the deep southern states, I was the ONLY woman traveling a territory. I had to prove myself daily to an industry that doubted a woman’s ability to do the job or last more than a season. I proved all the doubters wrong and broke every glass ceiling.
Like the protagonist in my Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, I am a ladies swimwear sales exec in the greater Los Angeles area. From the beginning of my career, I have kept a daily journal chronicling the interesting, quirky, and sometimes quite challenging people I have encountered, as well as the crazy situations I’ve gotten myself into and out of.
My daily journal entries are the foundation of everything I write. I came to write in the cozy mystery genre because I love solving puzzles. My parents would certainly confirm I have always asked a lot of questions, and I am naturally curious (some narrow-minded people say I am nosy…go figure…LOL). So, writing mysteries was the natural next step for me to take. The bonus is that it was an excellent way to knock off some people on paper who I would have loved to eliminate in real life and still not end up in prison. Extremely therapeutic. I highly recommend it.
One thing I learned during my career is that the type of clothes we choose says a lot about how we see ourselves and how we present ourselves to the world. Our wardrobes speak legions about whether we are followers and go by the trends or are we leaders who are the trendsetters. This insight was invaluable when I became an author and was a major influence on the way I write.
As a female who has succeeded in a historically male-dominated industry, it was important to me to write about the apparel business from a woman’s point of view. All of the characters in the Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series are based on real people, and the central characters are all strong, successful women who have beaten the odds and broken the glass ceiling. Holly Schlivnik, the main character, is based on me with some poetic license taken, of course. All my stories take place in the fast-paced ladies’ Los Angeles apparel industry. The premise behind my debut cozy, Death by Sample Size, is an apparel industry buying office exec was so universally disliked that when she was murdered, that it wasn’t a question of who wanted her dead, it was a question of who didn’t.
Things rarely turn out the way you think they will, but I am living proof that things do happen for a reason. Life is indeed a circle. I got into the rag biz because I was destined to write about it
More about susie
Born in the Big Apple, Susie Black now calls sunny Southern California home. Like the protagonist in her Holly Swimsuit Mystery Series, Susie is a successful apparel sales executive. Susie began telling stories as soon as she learned to talk. Now she’s telling all the stories from her garment industry experiences in humorous mysteries.
She reads, writes, and speaks Spanish, albeit with an accent that sounds like Mildred from Michigan went on a Mexican vacation and is trying to fit in with the locals. Since life without pizza and ice cream as her core food groups wouldn’t be worth living, she’s a dedicated walker to keep her girlish figure. A voracious reader, she’s also an avid stamp collector. Susie lives with a highly intelligent man and has one incredibly brainy but smart-aleck adult son who inexplicably blames his sarcasm on an inherited genetic defect.
Looking for more? Reach Susie at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find Susie on her social media channels: Twitter