West of Mars owner and head editor Susan Helene Gottfried started talking late in life, closer to age three than two. This wasn’t one of her better ideas, as she immediately began speaking in full, grammatically correct sentences that, within a few years, had turned into fictional stories about talking strawberries. Her first grade teacher wasn’t nearly as amused by this as she was. Neither, most likely, was her mother, but Susan is too afraid to approach that subject.
Despite dreams of growing up and being a zoologist and a DEA enforcement agent (hey, she wanted to drive Sonny Crockett’s cars. Can you blame her?), the one thing Susan could never get away from was words. Fictional words, most precisely, and she found herself enrolled in the United States’ oldest creative writing program at the University of Pittsburgh. She’d already been working at a record store for a few years and … her passion for Rock Fiction was born.
Her love of editing came soon after, as she took a job at the Pitt News as a copy editor.
In regards to both writing and editing, she hasn’t looked back once, even turning down jobs at record labels (yes, more than one!) in order to pursue her love of the written word.
From Pitt, it was on to the country’s second-highest-ranked (at the time) graduate school in Bowling Green, Ohio. Not much to do there but write (and play ice hockey, but that’s a story for another time). After that, Susan worked as a non-fiction editor, taking on the occasional fiction project when she missed her red pencil — the real and the figurative — too much.
In 2011, Susan returned to full-time editing, choosing to specialize in fiction. Those talking strawberries had a pretty big influence on our girl.
See a list of Susan’s books and published short stories over on the section of the website devoted to her. Hey, if that’s not one of the perks of owning this joint, nothing is.