Today I'd like to welcome Susan P. Baker, author of “Ledbetter Street” to The Thursday Interview. Before we get started, a quick intro!
Susan P. Baker is the author of five novels, Ledbetter Street, My First Murder, The Sweet Scent of Murder, Death of a Prince, and Suggestion of Death and two non-fiction books, Murdered Judges of the 20th Century and Heart of Divorce Advice from a Judge. A retired judge from Texas, Susan also worked as a probation officer, all of which give her books a ring of authenticity. She is the daughter of an English war bride who married a Yank and moved to Texas. She is the mother of two and grandmother of eight. A former resident of Galveston Island, TX, Susan now lives with her husband in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her favorite food is dark chocolate, tomatoes, brocalli, and tequila, not necessarily in that order.
OK - HERE WE GO !!
No.1 Would you break the law to save a loved one?.. why?
Yes, I would break the law to save a love one if it meant saving my loved one’s life. I wouldn’t necessarily break a law if it would just be to save the loved one from being caught doing something morally wrong. I think people should accept the consequences of their actions as long as they don’t come to physical harm. But if someone threatened someone I loved, I’d do anything I could to save my loved one and worry about the consequences later.
No.2 What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
Anyone can be alive--be a passive lump. Many people, perhaps because of depression or other illness, are inactive, take no risks. Some don’t even leave their homes except when they have to, afraid of what’s outside that door.
To truly live, you have to get out there and take risks. Try new things. Meet new people. Maybe things won’t work out, but that’s okay. We learn from our mistakes. But if things do work out, wow, what rewards that we’d never have had if we didn’t take the chance.
No.3 What motivates you to write?
Something deep within me that I cannot explain motivates me to write. It showed up when I was little and won’t go away even when I’m sure I want it to. I’ve tried several times to quit writing--and have even done it for periods of time, mostly because I had other goals that needed to be fulfilled at that time. For example, when I ran for political office last decade, I didn’t write for two years, except my biography, ads, press releases. There was a great void in my life. I wasn’t happy. I’ve learned that I have to spend time writing or I’ll be miserable to be around. Even marketing, to the exclusion of writing, will make me difficult to tolerate. Writing is like food to me. I have to have it or I will wither and die.
No.4 Why do humans want children?
Human’s want children to share their love. To continue the species. To replicate themselves. Some people want children to carry out their political beliefs or to continue their bloodline, fearing the world will come to an end if people don’t continue in their image (or for some other fanciful reason). Many humans don’t want children, can’t cope with children, and shouldn’t have children. People who don’t want them, definitely shouldn’t have them. The world doesn’t need more dysfunctional people. Unwanted, unloved children often end up in mental institutions and prisons. Unwanted children should be placed with people who want them as soon as possible so they can be nurtured before it’s too late.
No.5 What was the biggest challenge in creating your book "Ledbetter Street" ?
Learning a new “genre.” I had written non-fiction and mysteries before Ledbetter Street. I wanted to see if I could write general fiction and/or contemporary women’s fiction (not romance). At the end, I had a hard time parting with my creation. I spent so many years with them, the people of Ledbetter Street, who are part of my life. Also, I wanted to write from multiple viewpoints. I’d done two before, but wanted to stretch myself into three, not just head-hopping but really getting into the character.
No.6 What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
Patience. When we’re young, we want everything, and we want it as soon as possible. We don’t understand that there is so much to learn. We’re frustrated when things don’t come easily and don’t see that we’re learning from each frustrating experience. I remember sending out manuscripts and how impatient I was to get them back. I did what all the books say, continued writing something else, but that didn’t stop me from hurrying to the mailbox each day to see if there was a response. Now, the Internet at least alleviates that. When I was on the bench, I developed a lot more patience. I realized that everyone has a story, and it was my job to let them tell it. It was terribly hard, sometimes, to allow people to be heard especially when I thought of all the pending cases on my docket, but the rewards that came from allowing someone to be heard were worth it.
No.7 How did you come up with the title "Ledbetter Street" ?
My freshman college room-mate was Patti Ledbetter. We lost contact some years later. I thought if I wrote a book with Ledbetter in the title, maybe someday she would see it and realize I was looking for her. Finally, with the advent of the Internet, I was able to do a search and found one of her brothers who put me into contact with her. We had a couple of years of contact with each other before she died in 2007. I didn’t find out that she had died for a long time because I didn’t receive responses to my emails and my calls. All those years, I was still working on the book and became wedded to the title. When I tried to change the title, I just couldn’t do it. Now that it’s out there, I’ve thought of a subtitle for it. “A Novel of Second Chances.” I might go on Amazon and change my title someday or add the subtitle.
No.8 How do you handle personal criticism?
Not very well, but better than when I was younger. It helps if it’s non-judgemental. It replays over and over in my mind until I’m no longer disgruntled by it. When I was younger, especially when I was in political office, I feared personal criticism because I thought it would affect my re-electability. I learned to look behind the criticism, to look for motivations in the one making the criticism. Often, I’d find the criticism wasn’t about me, but about the person who said it.
No.9 Why should people read your book?
Because it’s a heart-warming story about the people who live on Ledbetter Street, especially Marian who loves her son so much she’s willing to give up everything for him. The people of Ledbetter Street care for each other and help each other, each person growing during the course of the book. Also, the book shows people surviving adversity.
No.10 Why is there something rather than nothing?
I have a very limited science background. My best guess is something was created from elements that were floating around and from that something other elements came along and combined and developed into something more and so on and so on. I don’t believe a white man sitting on a cloud got bored and decided to create the world, the solar system, the universe ad infinitem.
Thank you Susan :)
For taking the time to answer my questions
& the best of luck with your new book!
Check out 'Ledbetter Street' on
Though there are few circumstances where a mother might be able to regain custody of a child she surrendered for adoption, Marian Reid, the proprietor of Reid’s Ritzy Rags, a pre-owned clothing shop on Ledbetter Street in Galveston, Texas, is in just such a situation.
This is a story about mother’s love, but also about Marian’s friends and neighbors, the quirky people who live on Ledbetter Street.
It’s a small story of mothers, children, friends, and personal tragedies of people who have become a family by virtue of their choice of home.