Author Spotlight: Susan Helene Gottfried

Today I am happy to welcome Susan Helene Gottfried to Mommy's Reading Too!  Susan is the creator of the fictional world of ShapeShifter, the rock band headed by Trevor Wolff and Mitchell Voss. You can follow the group in the novel, Trevor's Song and in 3 shorter volumes made up of short stories about the band's early years: The Demo Tapes Year 1, The Demo Tapes Year 2, and The Demo Tapes Year 3.  Check out the website for more info about the characters, rock fiction, and how to get copies of your own!

I had the chance to read Trevor's Song, Demo Tapes Year 1, and Demo Tapes Year 2; I loved these books. The characters may not always be seen in the best light but as you learn where they are coming from and they grow as a person you can't help but have a soft spot for them! The reading is quick and snappy and moves well which kept me interested at all times. I really like the Demo Tapes format as they were quick little snippets that gave me a glance at where ShapeShifter came from. This is one series I am going to keep an eye on!

I recommend this to all fiction lovers who want a great story and think that it would be great to get an insiders look at the music industry or the making of a band.

Tell us about yourself.

I'm Susan Helene Gottfried, or Susan at West of Mars as I'm commonly
known. I'm no one special, not really. It's what I DO that's so awesome. I
write Rock Fiction, and am one of the genre's biggest champions. I might
have even been the one who gave the genre its name, but that's probably up
for debate among other Rock Fiction fans.

At any rate, I have four books out in the Trevolution series, with two
more set to come out in 2012. Three of the four currently in print are
short stories -- some as short as 100 words -- for when you only have a
minute or two in your busy life to read.

Tell us about your writing experience.

I've been telling stories ever since I could talk. Between then and now,
I've earned a BA in English Writing from Pitt and my MFA in creative
writing from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. I might have more
books stowed under my bed than most writers these days, but at some point,
I'll go pull all that old stuff out, revise it so it's shiny, and put it
up for sale.

What lead to you coming up with these books?

I was pregnant and had just broken up with my literary agent. This was
back before Self-publishing was something other than paying to have 5,000
copies of your book taking up space in your garage.

I was watching Metallica on VH1 and the idea for Mitchell and Kerri hit
me. The heartbeat of the Trevolution, Trevor Wolff, came along later.
Maybe about ten minutes later. Trevor's hard to deny when he wants to be

Part of the reason I was inspired by Metallica is that I'd spent years in
the music business during high school and college. I was this close to
taking a job at a record label -- I had offers from three -- but walked
away in order to write books. That decision sealed my fate, by and large:

I am a Rock Fiction author.

What led to your decision to self-publish?

I was actually encouraged to follow this route, back in 2008, by literary
agents and editors. They could see that Trevor had created a following,
but they didn't think it was a big enough following to take a chance on.

At that time, self-publishing was just becoming a viable option for people
like me, who had a smallish project. There was no Kindle, no Nook. Not

What obstacles did you come across in the process?

Because The Demo Tapes (Year 1) came out so early into this
Self-Publishing Revolution we're now living, the biggest obstacle was that
the negative impressions many have about self-publishing were much, much
more widespread. The attitude was that if you "had" to self-publish, you
couldn't write.

Although that attitude has changed quite a bit, there are still people I
didn't discuss my career path with until six months ago. And THEY brought
the subject up. Imagine my surprise when best-selling authors admitted
they'd been following my career!

Would you / are you planning to self-publish more books in the future?

Yep, there will be two more books in the Trevolution. King Trevor is aimed
for an April 12, 2012 release. It'll be the follow-up to Trevor's Song.
And then I'm hoping to have Demo Tapes (Year 4) out the following October.

I have something new in the works, as well, new characters with more of a
romance in the plot. I may shop that to some agents I know and see what
they think of it. If they're not in love, I'll self-publish. It's a great
way to reach directly to a reader, and to open channels of communication
with readers. I love it. Love that the industry is giving us these


  1. Thanks for hosting me, Jennifer! Thanks, also, for the kind words about the books. I knew you'd dig them!

  2. Seems like I always only have a minute or two for reading, but I'll make room for ShapeShifter.


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