Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Today I am visiting with Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks. Recently I read their poignant novel Kate and The Kid. A fascinating story about an emotionally damaged little girl, this novel deals with an array of emotions: compassion, abuse, conflict, love, transformation, all involving a strong cast of complex characters. Before we get to the book excerpt, I wanted to ask Anne and Ken a few questions to learn a bit more about them. Welcome!

What do you do to unwind?

Anne: I meditate, and take yoga and aerobic classes.

Ken: I like to walk, generally in Central Park. While I walk I usually have a camera with me just in case something catches my eye. Sometimes I will just bring my binoculars and look for birds. I also enjoy making sculpture and working on the photographs I have taken.

If you could take one year off and learn to do something well, what would it be?

Anne: I would like to make something creative with my hands, something three dimensional like sculpture. Or, I would like to learn more about digital photography technique. It seems complicated compared to the old-fashioned adjustment of F-stop and shutter speed of my long-since-gone trusty Pentax camera.

Ken: I would like to take classes in drawing.

What is the best gift you have ever received?

Anne: That would be a heart that Ken made for me out of plaster years ago when I was a senior in college. It has a light red patina and reads “I love Anne 2/14.”

Ken: When I had just graduated from college, Anne gave me $200 dollars that I used as a down payment on a Volkeswagon Beetle. More recently, Anne bought me a couple of courses at a place in New York that teaches book binding and also offers instruction in using paper in various ways to make small books. It opened up a lot of possibilities.

What is your favorite book? And why?

Anne: My favorite book is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I keep coming back to the predicament of Pip.

Ken: This is a hard question since there are so many great books. But my absolute favorite is The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. I love the way he presents the “story” from different points of view. I also love the way he writes. (Having peeked at Anne’s answer, I have to mention that one of my big favorites is Bleak House by Charles Dickens. It is no accident that the pigeon in Things Are Not What they Seem loved Dickens and followed him to America.)

Please tell us about an important lesson, life has taught you.

Anne: To enjoy what you have and to try not to regret what you don’t have.

Ken: The most important thing I have learned is the importance of hard work in every aspect of life.

Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Where is the best place to eat in Manhattan besides at home or in Central Park? I love to hear about food.

Anne and Ken: We enjoy ethnic restaurants and New York City offers an endless variety. One of our most favorite restaurants was a little store front Yemini restaurant in Bensonhurst that we read about in the New York Times. The place had bread that was out of this world and a bunch of dishes that we have not found anywhere else that are nearly as good. Sadly, it closed. We are still looking for a replacement.

Our existing favorite near where we live is a Middle Eastern place on Third Avenue and 80th Street called Beyoglu. We generally order an appetizer platter with hummus, babajanoush, grape leaves, and many other favorites all of which are perfectly made and delicious. We usually order a few more appetizers not on the platter and that is our dinner. But any of the main courses are also great.

Kate and The Kid Excerpt:

She began to press all the buzzers on the panel in the building’s foyer, one after the other, hoping that some kind soul among her neighbors would let her in. The headache that had started in the cab settled in for the night, pounding just above her right eye. At that exquisite moment, Kate saw the kid -- that ghostly, smudge-faced kid -- sitting on the staircase inside. A one armed Barbie doll was on the step beside her.

"Hi, Sweetie!" Kate said through the wired glass, exaggerating the enunciation of the words to make her meaning clear. "Would you come and let me in, honey? You remember me, don’t you? I live on the third floor?!"

The girl did not budge, apparently still trying for the grand prize in a zombie look-alike contest. At first, Kate felt a twinge of concern for the girl. Why on earth was she out in the hallway so late in the evening? Kate leaned her forehead against the cool glass and closed her eyes. When she opened them again, Jenny took the doll into her lap, whispered something into her plastic ear, walloped her twice across the bottom, and started up the stairs.

"Hey! Hey, where are you going?!" Kate shouted. "Hey you better come back here you little... Hey! Hey, did you hear me?!"

And with the little darling thus doubly emblazoned on Kate's mind, if not yet on her heart, their second encounter ended.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Posted By Susan Bernhardt

A feeling of intense happiness and a sense of great comfort, invade my entire being, whenever I can escape into the wonderful world of fiction, where love flourishes, justice prevails, tolerance is encouraged, compassion is felt, mercy is recommended, good triumphs over evil, and a happily ever after is achieved...! :-)

The positive characters in these books become close friends. They touch me with their sincerity and kindness, delight me with their humour and decency, motivate me with their optimism and wisdom, inspire me with their faith and goodness, impress me with their courage and intelligence, reassure me with their weaknesses and eccentricities, and improve me with their principles and values.

Now, I would like to add, that the same feeling of immense happiness and a sense of well-being, prevails over me whenever I re-read one of my favourite books. 

In fact, re-reading a book actually seems to enhance the pleasure and increase the level of enjoyment :-) It's rather like revisiting someone who is a sincere and loyal friend, decent and compassionate person, and an interesting and entertaining companion. Moreover, I even get to learn something new each time I read a certain book again.

At this point, a confusion can arise, that how can new knowledge be gained from re-reading a book of which the story and it's conclusion is already known... unless maybe the reader is somewhat lacking in either concentration or memory that he or she keeps forgetting the contents of the book...!  

Well, I guess I should confess that this does happen to me sometimes...! :-) Especially if I am re-reading a book after more than five years of interval, and have read numerous other books in between.

However, my claim doesn't really pertain to learning new facts, instead it's more about understanding and appreciating the same old words of wisdom in a better manner.

As we go through life, we experience new events, encounter different people, and feel varying emotions. This process often results in our mental maturity, sometimes accompanied with wisdom, personality development, character strengthening, reinforced values, altered attitudes, added insight, fresh perceptions ...and though the book remains the same, we read it again as a different, and if we are fortunate, improved, person. 

Hence, at the various stages of our lives, every time we read the same book again, we usually manage to learn something new :-)

Now I would like to conclude by thanking Susan Bernhardt for providing with with an opportunity to share my feelings and thoughts on this topic is truly a great honour for me to contribute as a guest writer on her wonderful website :-) Also much thanks to everyone for their time and patience to read my post :-)

Those interested are welcome to visit my blogs:



Posted By Susan Bernhardt

I'd like to share my interview with Lorenzo Martinez, author and blogger.

Lorenzo: When and how did you decide to write a cozy versus another type of mystery? 

Susan: I decided to try my hand at writing a cozy mystery after I read two cozy series by M. C. Beaton. Everything about the cozy I liked, the amateur sleuth, the calm, small town setting that hid wickedly, intriguing secrets. The entanglements, the intricacies that lie in the undersurface of living in that small town, and the focus on the relationships.

Lorenzo: The Ginseng Conspiracy is the first mystery in the series. Did you know from the beginning that you wanted to turn your protagonist’s adventures into a series? 

Susan: I planned to have a Kay Driscoll mystery series from the start. When I love a book I never want it to end. And since there are so many means, motives, and opportunities to decrease a small town’s population, a series was inevitable.

Lorenzo: Your protagonist is a retired nurse who volunteers at a free clinic. Nursing was your chosen profession and you still volunteer at a free clinic. Besides the similarities in occupation, what other traits does your heroine share with you? 

Susan: Many traits are similar. Kay is down to earth. She’s persistent. She doesn’t give up when she wants something. She tries to be a good person and a good friend. She believes in justice: That right is right and wrong is wrong. No matter what, no matter who.

Lorenzo: Although your books are not memoirs, were you concerned how friends and family would react when they saw themselves fictionalized in your mysteries? You have borrowed from your own life, have you based some of the characters on people you know? 

Susan:  My family knows that Kay’s family is based on them. I don’t think they mind and may even like it. As far as friends, I get inspiration for my writing from real life. I draw from my own experiences and those around me. Whenever someone has a writer for a friend, there is always a possibility that the writer may be influenced by the person.

Lorenzo: What gave you the most pleasure writing?  

Susan: The Ginseng Conspiracy and Murder Under the Tree are mysteries first and foremost but there is also a lot of humor throughout the books and that made them fun to write. I was also happy to include some of the things that I love in the stories such as art and music.

Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Lorenzo: What's the greatest reward you get from being a writer? Is your family impressed by your success? If so, how do they express it?  

Susan: Personal enjoyment and satisfaction is the greatest reward that I get. I started writing to challenge myself. And I love writing; creating a world that a reader becomes interested in and excited about. And I love it when people tell me that they enjoyed my book and write reviews.

I don't really think that my family is impressed by my being an author, although I did ask my husband when the question came up for this interview. He said he was impressed. :) Smart answer!

When my youngest son was reading The Ginseng Conspiracy , he said about half way through the novel, he stopped reading and thought, he couldn't believe that his mother wrote this book. I have supportive friends and family who have enjoyed the mystery and are happy and thrilled for me, but impressed?

Probably the only person who is impressed is myself. The novelty of being a published author still hasn't worn off and it has already been a year since my first mystery, The Ginseng Conspiracy came out. I hope the novelty never wears off.

Lorenzo: Your second Kay Driscoll mystery takes place during the Christmas holidays. Your first cozy revolved around Halloween. Are you planning other books in the Kay Driscoll series around a holiday? If so, why do holidays intrigue you?

Susan: My third Kay Driscoll mystery, Murder by Fireworks which will be published this Fall takes place around the Fourth of July holiday.

The Ginseng Conspiracy takes place during Halloween. I've always loved Halloween as a kid with my friends and as a parent, making it a fun holiday for my children. I still celebrate the holiday with friends, such as going to a Witches' Tea or a Witches' Night Out or with my husband to Halloween parties and watching Halloween movies.

I came from a large family where holidays were important and we had many family traditions that went with each holiday. We would go home to my parents' for Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and would know almost exactly what the activities would be for the entire weekend, extending even to the menu, and we loved all of it. I have many fond memories of holiday celebrations.

I just came back from a Caribbean cruise where I did research for a fourth Kay Driscoll. The fourth Kay Driscoll mystery, unlike the others, will not be holiday related.

Lorenzo: Susan's mysteries are excellent and enjoyable reads any time of year. Thank you so much for being my guest. I wish you the greatest success with your Kay Driscoll Mysteries.

Susan: Lorenzo, you're welcome. It's been a pleasure.

Amazon Links:

The Ginseng Conspiracy (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 1) -

Murder Under the Tree (A Kay Driscoll Mystery Book 2) -




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