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Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Joan, please tell us a bit about yourself and your mystery novel. How did the concept for your mystery The Clock Strikes Midnight come about?

Here’s a little about me. I’m a lover of books, cats, travel—particularly Italy, music and friendship. I am married to a psychiatrist and I have three stepchildren and four step grandchildren. My 95-year-old mother is still going strong and she’s my best friend and my inspiration.

The concept for The Clock Strikes Midnight came after years of work. The book began as a story about the maturation of two teenage girls in a difficult home. With much writing and re-writing it grew into a mystery surrounding the two sisters and their family. I reframed the entire story from the point-of-view of both sisters as adults. Chapters alternate from sister to sister. I wrote the kind of book I like to read—one full of suspense and unanswered questions, with characters who are believable but flawed, and with a resolution of hope.

What sets you apart from other authors in your genre?

The Clock Strikes Midnight is not your typical mystery with a dead body in the room. Instead it’s a suspense book full of mystery. Like most mysteries, the reader will try to figure out what happened, but the many twits and turns promise to surprise but not disappoint the readers in the end.

One thing I tried to do with this stand-alone book was create strong plot and strong characters. Many mystery writers omit the characterization while they are creating plot.

Did you learn anything about yourself from writing your book and what was it?

One thing I learned about myself was that I cannot control what might happen. As a writer, we think we have control over the story, but in reality, we don’t. Someone asked me, “How did you come up with the twists in this book?” My answer is I allowed the characters to be whom they are and whom they become. In other words, I let go of the reins and allowed the characters to move the story along. Once I did that, everything fell into place.

What is the best thing about being an author?

For a person who loves to read and loves to write, what better career is there than being an author? My father was a painter. He created beautiful works on a canvas. I did not inherit his talent. But, what I did inherit was the thirst to create. I do it through words and he did it through paint. The best thing about being an author is I can spend my time reading and creating!

What books have most influenced your life? What are your two favorite books and please tell us why?

Being a voracious reader, it’s hard to say which books have influenced my life. I appreciate beautiful writing and I love a book that makes me cry in the end because it’s over. Many authors have done that to me.

When I look at “favorites,” I seem to always mention two:

Colette—for her beautiful, sensitive writing (almost like poetry) and for the amazing array of characters.

Susan Howatch—for her amazing stories and deep characterization. She wrote from the point of view of different characters in sections of her books enabling the reader to see each from the other’s eyes. I loved that and attempted to mimic the style in The Clock Strikes Midnight.

Posted By Susan Bernhardt

What passions do you have besides writing?

My biggest passion besides reading has to be Italy. My father was Italian and I’m half-Italian. I’ve been to that amazing country countless times and it’s never enough. I love the people, the culture, the art, the history, the music, the food and most of all, the language. The C in my middle name stands for Cetrangelo. Need I say more?


The Clock Strikes Midnight is a race against time in a quest for revenge and atonement. This is a story about hate, love, betrayal and forgiveness.

If you found out you had only 3 months to live, what would you do? That’s the question Janie Knox faces in this fast-paced mystery full of uncertainty and tension that will surprise you until the very last page.

Hiding behind the façade of a normal life, Janie keeps her family secrets tucked inside a broken heart. Everything changes on the day she learns she’s going to die. With the clock ticking and her time running out, she rushes to finish what she couldn’t do when she was 17—destroy her mother’s killer. But she can’t do it alone.

Janie returns to her childhood home to elicit help from her sister. She faces more than she bargained for when she discovers her sister’s life in shambles. Meanwhile her mother’s convicted killer, her stepfather, recently released from prison, blackmails the sisters and plots to extract millions from the state in retribution. New revelations challenge Janie’s resolve, but she refuses to allow either time or her enemies to her stop her from uncovering the truth she’s held captive for over 20 years.

Amazon pre-order link:

Pre-Order on Muse:

People can also find me and all my books on my website:

Posted By Susan Bernhardt

How did the concept for your novel The Brothers' Keepers come about?

The concept for THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS came about by asking myself a series of what-if questions. The question that kicked it all off is, What if we found a document written by Jesus himself? The central story question evolved from there, but that was the start of it.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

My favorite part of the writing process is the research. I am a former college professor, so I have an inclination for obscure books on arcane subjects. Learning things as I go along is my favorite part.

I’m not sure I have a least favorite part, but I would say the hardest part is sitting my butt in the chair and writing the first draft. When I’m writing a new book, I try to sit down at the same time each day (early morning) and write at least 500 words. For me sticking to this goal is the hardest part of writing.

Are any of the experiences of your protagonist or characters based on someone you know? Did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters in your novel?

The male protagonist in THE BROTHERS’ KEEPERS, Nicholas Branson, is a recovering alcoholic, like me. Branson is also more comfortable dealing with life intellectually than emotionally, which describes me pretty well—at least until the past few years.

Did you learn anything about yourself from writing your book and what was it?

I learned that for me true faith in God has to come from within, that it is not located in any institution or organization.

What is the best thing about being an author?

The best thing about being an author is being your own boss, and not having to work for corporate America (including academia, since I believe education has largely become nothing but a business).

What books have most influenced your life? What are your two favorite books and please tell us why?

The books that have most influenced my life are THE BIBLE, the collected works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as well as the works of Friedrich Nietzsche.

My two favorite books are THE BROTHERS’ KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and DEMIAN by Hermann Hesse. These are my favorite books because Dostoevsky comes close to saying just about everything that can be said about the world philosophically up through his time, while Hesse comes close to encapsulating the essence of the spiritual experience.

Which writer would you consider a mentor?

I consider several different writers to be mentors. I’d love to write with the philosophical and psychological depth of Dostoevsky, the spirituality of Hesse, the soul of James Baldwin, the clarity of Hemingway, the plotting of Richard Wright, and the lyricism of William Styron. I consider them and many others to be mentors.

Posted By Susan Bernhardt

What other passions besides writing do you have?

I am passionate about music, especially classical music. I must have classical music playing when I read and write.

Book Blurb: The Brothers' Keepers (A Nicholas Branson Novel Book 1)

Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph, and Jesus’ purported spouse, Mary Magdalene. But what about Jesus’ siblings? What role did they play in early Christianity?

Contemporary Jesuit and renowned religious historian Nicholas Branson is about to find out…and the answer will shake the foundations of the Judeo-Christian world.

It all starts with the murder of a United States Senator in a confessional, and the discovery of a strange religious document among his possessions. At the urging of his FBI friend, Branson joins the investigation. His effort to uncover the truth behind the murder draws him into the search for an eight-hundred-year-old treasure and into a web of ecclesiastical and political intrigue.

Accompanied by a beautiful, sharp-tongued research librarian, Jessica Jones, Branson follows a trail of clues, from the peaks of the awe inspiring French Pyrenees to the caves of war-torn Afghanistan. Along the way, shadowy powerful forces trail the pair, determined to keep safe a secret buried for centuries.

Links for Matthew:



The Brothers' Keepers:


Barnes & Noble:

MuseItUp Publishing:

Conversations Among Ruins:

Amazon Paperback:

MuseItUp Publishing:

Amazon Kindle:

Barnes & Noble Nook:

All Things That Matter Press Paperback:

Posted By Susan Bernhardt

Shorter days, a chill in the air, hot tea, and the perfect book... The Ginseng Conspiracy - A Halloween-themed mystery - Curl up with a killer.

REVIEW: As a rule, cozies revolve around multiple murders in a small community, a likable amateur sleuth, and often food. In The Ginseng Conspiracy, Bernhardt fulfills our cozy expectations and adds a few refreshing touches. The murders in the fictionalized community of Sudbury Falls multiply at an alarming rate. Kay Driscoll as the sleuth is immensely appealing because, like every character in Bernhardt's book, she's multi-dimensional. She's sweet, tough, vulnerable and reckless in her sense of justice. When Kay's husband begs her to walk away from the investigation because her life is in danger, indomitable Kay refuses to stop. She continues her pursuit of the truth and we root for her every inch of the way, holding our breath whenever she puts herself in harm's way.

The plot, without any spoilers-alert, is as follows. While on her way to a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, former nurse and newcomer to Sudbury Falls, witnesses a murder. When the official report claims the death to be accidental, Kay suspects something is amiss and decides to investigate.

With support from two of her friends (Elizabeth, a liberated woman who's never met a man she didn't like, and Deirdre, the quintessential spiritualist concerned with good karma and a balanced environment with the help of feng shui), Kay throws herself wholeheartedly into uncovering the truth, using Sweet Marissa's Patisserie as headquarters for their crime-solving efforts. As the investigation gets under way, Kay and friends encounter a city-wide corruption involving some of the best families in town as well as government officials.

By featuring Sweet Marissa's Patisserie as Kay's crime-solving headquarters, Bernhardt does more than continue a tradition of presenting some of the action in a cozy around the consumption of food. She turns the locale in its mouth-watering splendor into another character in the story. Bernhardt shows great expertise not only in her characterizations and descriptions but also in maintaining tension in dialogues and keeping the tension strong from one scene to the next.

In The Ginseng Conspiracy, Bernhardt shows she has mastered the art of the cozy, providing plenty of red herrings and plot twists to keep our interest throughout. For this reader, a refreshing and most welcome touch was Bernhardt's use of art and music in the narrative. During a visit Kay pays to a local museum, the author's adroit pen turns us into museum goers looking over Kay's shoulders as she views the works of the masters. With equal expertise, Bernhardt drops us into the audience when Kay attends a music gig by her husband's band; the music resonates through and off the pages.

With such a successful foray into the genre, one can only expect many more Kay Driscoll adventures by Susan Bernhardt in the future. Bravo, Bernhardt. Long live cozies!




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