Interview with Jan Surasky

We are kicking of the New Year by bringing the fascinating lives of our authors to the Kelley & Hall blog. We will be featuring interviews with our authors and giving readers a glimpse into the writer’s life. Today we start off with Jan Surasky. Jan has worked as a book reviewer, movie reviewer, and entertainment writer for a San Francisco daily newspaper. Her many articles and short stories have been published in national, regional and local magazines and newspapers. She has also taught writing a t a litterer center and a number of area colleges near her home in upstate New York. She is graduate of Cornell University and has studied English literature in the graduate department of the University of Rochester. Her novel Rage Against the Dying Light has won the Eric Hoffer Award for commercial fiction. You can find her at

Q:     Tell us the story behind the story. How did Rage Against the Dying Light come to be?

While I was researching an entirely different topic, I came across the entry on Boudicca to which I was immediately drawn. I was impressed with her courage and the beautiful and tragic life she had lived. I knew I wanted to tell her story.

Q:     What was the most challenging aspect of writing Rage Against the Dying Light?

Imagining Boudicca’s story based on the very few facts available and trying to get it right was the greatest challenge. I wanted to do justice to the society and culture in which she lived. Also I wanted to depict the beautiful English countryside which so inspired her courage.

 Q:     What is the message you want readers to take away from your book?

I want readers to see that although Boudicca was a queen, she was also under the same constraints as any human. I want to show that courage lies in all of us to be tapped when necessary.

Q:     Describe your background.

I have worked for a San Francisco daily newspaper as a book reviewer, movie reviewer and entertainment writer. My many articles and short stories have been published in national, regional and local magazines and newspapers.

 Q:     Describe your writing schedule. Do you outline? Any habits?

I write every day. I do not outline but for this book, I had a one word chapter heading for my use only as a guide. I edit my work daily.

Q:     What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading?

The book on my nightstand is a book of Hemingway’s letters recently released from Cuba and so far unpublished. The book I have enjoyed the most this year is The Elephant’s Journey by Jose Saramango.

 Q:    Which authors inspire you?

Many authors have inspired me including the authors of the many fairy tales I have read, Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Thomas Hardy and Ernest Hemingway.

Q:     What have you learned from this experience?

I have learned that a woman who summoned her courage inspired so many.

Q:     What is your advice for aspiring writers?

My advice to aspiring writers is to hang in there, be true to your work and believe in it, and never give up.

 Q:    What are you working on now?

My second novel Back to Jerusalem is in the launching stage and I am working on a third novel.