Susan Santangelo

by Anne Holmes on September 26, 2019

I’m delighted to introduce author Susan Santangelo and share with you this Voices of Baby Boomer Women blog post – in which she answers our celebrated questions.  You see, Susan and I go way back. I first ran into her when I bought the NABBW.

According to Susan, she’d already written the first two Carol and Jim Andrews Baby Boomer Mysteries – the two that have now been updated and reissued as the boxed set Milestones Can Be Murder –  by that time. I’m sure she’s correct. The thing I most remember about the first time we spoke, is that we had instant rapport. It seemed like we’d been friends for ages. After all, we had a lot in common:

First, we were both Baby Boomer women who successfully worked from home – as did our husbands.

  • Most people who hear that both my husband and I work from home wonder how that can be possible. They insinuate that if they had to spend life “24/7/365” living and working with their spouse, a murder would likely ensue.
  • I’m guessing Susan heard the same story, because in her first book, “Retirement Can Be Murder,” protagonist Carol Andrews learns that her husband Jim – who works for a marketing company in NYC –  is thinking of taking early retirement and coming home…to spend all of his time together with her in their lovely Fairport, Connecticut home.
  • As you might expect, Susan writes of how much Carol dreads Jim’s upcoming retirement. She likens it to being “worse than a root canal without Novocain.” She can’t imagine anything worse than having an at-home husband with time on his hands and nothing to fill it — except interfering in the day-to-day activities of their household and driving her crazy.
  • Like me, she had worked as a magazine writer during her her earlier years, though her articles were published in Helen Gurley Brown’s Cosmopolitan magazine, and I’d chickened out on the NYC lifestyle. My work was published in newspapers and magazines catering to a less cosmopolitan female audience.

Second, apparently neither of us spend much of our at home work time interacting with our spouses.  

  • I loved – and could totally identify with – the story she told me about how she started writing her first Carol and Jim Andrews Baby Boomer Mysteries book:  It seems she and husband Joe – also an author – were going to write a series of three books together. From what she’s told me, I imagine the plan was for sort of a “he said/she said” story, because the plan was for each to each contribute chapters.
  • But, says Susan, she actually wrote her chapters – while Joe never got around to his…
  • So eventually Susan just wrote the first Carol and Jim Edwards book herself. And finding an eager audience, she kept going. Currently she’s working on book nine in the series.

Third, we both have a strong interest in assisting women with Baby Boomer related issues. And why not? We’re both Baby Boomers, and demographically, there are a lot of us. Plus, it’s always been suggested that authors choose their subject based on writing what they personally know about. As Susan and I know:

  • There were an estimated 74.1 million Baby Boomers living in the United States, according to the 2016 census figures. (76 million of us were born here in the US, but apparently between deaths and expatriations, we’re now down a couple million.)
  • Every day more of us “senior” Boomers, are hitting the traditional retirement age of 65. (In fact, the oldest Boomers are now 70+ while the youngest are 55.)
  • More importantly, much of what is written about Baby Boomers deals with the financial piece of growing older – taking care of your IRAs and 401Ks, and/or working beyond retirement age, etc. Of course, this is important, because so many Boomers are not financially prepared to retire.
  • But as Susan clearly realizes, very little is written that addresses our emotional issues. Like: how do couples who have been married for years, raised a family, and been leading fairly independent lives, now cope with the fact that the husband and the wife are no longer working daily from 9 – 5 job? Instead, they’re often home, frustrated and getting into each other’s way as they struggle to re-define their roles.
  • And most importantly, Susan understands that it’s often a lot easier to make a point that actually sticks with people if you can tell a story. Especially a story with a bit of humor thrown in… And that’s why she’s been so successful with books on topics like In-Laws, Class Reunions, Marriage, Moving, Second Honeymoons, Funerals and even that sancrosanct topic, Dieting. 

Now that I’ve shared with you why Susan has often been generous enough to autograph my copies of her books with a phrase like, “For Anne, a partner in crime,” I’ll leave you with the proud disclaimer that I have also, on a couple of occasions, enjoyed the opportunity to write a blurb which has appeared on the back and/or inside covers of Susan’s books.  So I am clearly a dedicated fan of Susan’s writing.

Take it away, Susan…

 

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m proud to be an early member of the Boomer generation. I’ve had a long feature-writing career with magazines and newspapers in the NYC area, including a stint at Cosmopolitan back in the Helen Gurley Brown days. Now I’m writing the Baby Boomer mystery series, humorous cozies about Carol and Jim Andrews, a typical Boomer couple navigating life’s rocky road toward their twilight years, with a dead body thrown in just to add to the mix.

I split my time between Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the Gulf Coast of Florida, and share my life with my husband, Joe, and two very spoiled English cocker spaniels, Boomer and Lilly.

 Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

Joe and I have been married 52 years, and we were married on April Fool’s Day. (No kidding.) Two sons, Mark (married) and David, who’s still living the bachelor life in California. Plus a terrific daughter-in-law and two teenage grandchildren.

What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

My family eating dinner together! Everyone is on different schedules today, and there’s no opportunity for the families to sit down together, share a meal, and talk.

 What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I like to think that I speak my mind when appropriate, but know when to be quiet and just listen. I think it’s important for women at any age to know how to do both. And when. I’m lucky that I’m able to give opinions through the chief character in my book, Carol Andrews. She’s very opinionated!

What inspires you?

I’m a 21-year breast cancer survivor. The realization that life can be cut short without any warning inspired me to finally start writing mysteries.

What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

Writing! I’m having more fun than I ever thought possible. And I love it when I hear from readers that they love the books.

 Do you have any interesting hobbies?

Writing is more of a passion than a hobby. But I’d put retail therapy at the top of my list. Or, maybe that’s another passion? I love interacting with Boomer and Lilly. They give me such good advice.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

My favorite movie of all time is High Society with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Celeste Holme and Frank Sinatra. I love the music, and the peek at Newport “high society.” And Grace Kelly is so beautiful in it.

 Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

I love to go to Italy, especially with family.

What inspires you?

I’m a 21-year breast cancer survivor. The realization that life can be cut short without any warning inspired me to finally start writing mysteries.

What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

Writing! I’m having more fun than I ever thought possible. And I love it when I hear from readers that they love the books.

Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.

I try to eat right and watch my weight. And walk a mile every day.

What do you stress about?

The state of our country today!

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

I haven’t seen my natural hair color in years, and use a little makeup, especially around my eyes. Daily moisturizing with Oil of Olay, which one of my sons calls Oil of Old Lady. That’s about it.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

I’ve morphed into a published author. I’ve been very lucky.

Do you plan to retire?
No. Book one in the series is Retirement Can Be Murder. I don’t want to tempt fate!

Are you doing anything to GO Green?

Recycle, reuse whenever possible. Cut down on the use of plastics.

Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

My cancer diagnosis.

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

Well, I’d like to win a Pulitzer Prize for my books but that’s probably not going to happen. But my dog Lilly’s AKC name is My Pulitzer Prize, and she’s enough for me.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community.

I use my books, which contain quite a bit of humor, to discuss problems that Boomers face today. Like retirement, downsizing and selling the family home, destination wedding of an adult child, high school reunions etc. And at the end of each book I provide helpful websites for further information. I often do book talks for nonprofit organizations and donate a portion of book sale to support the organization that’s hosted me.

Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

I have far too many to choose only one.

If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

Live every day to the fullest, and don’t sweat the small stuff!

 

 

 

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