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Contact: Elena Hartwell - elenahartwell@gmail.com and visit me on the web at www.elenahartwell.com

Debut Author Susan Alice Bickford Talks About the Inspiration for Her Novel

I'm so excited to host ITW Debut Author, Susan Alice Bickford this week as a guest blogger. Susan was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Central New York.

After she discovered computer graphics and animation her passion for technology pulled her to Silicon Valley, where she became an executive at a leading technology company.

She now works as an independent consultant, and continues to be fascinated by all things high tech. She splits her time between Silicon Valley and Vermont.

A Short Time to Die is her first novel. 

To learn more about Susan, click on the links below.

Website            Blog           Facebook          FacebookAuthorPage         Twitter  




A Compelling Event

On the last day of my freshman year of high school, two girls did not show up. This was a day of games and fun and we could wear shorts or anything we wanted. Why would George-Ann and Kathy skip school, this day of all days?

They were from a disadvantaged section of our school district, known for pockets of less pleasant behavior. The word was that they had run off to have fun—a euphemism for sex of course.

I wasn’t sure this fit. George-Ann and Kathy and I had snickered at the back of our homeroom class all year. We were friendly but not really friends. Still, this explanation didn’t ring true to me, particularly for Kathy, who was sweet and very young for her age. But it was summer and my concerns faded into as I took up vacation activities.

Two months later, their bodies were found, only a few steps from home. Spoiler alert: No one was ever charged with their brutal murders.

Many years later, I realized I needed to address a deep ache those murders had etched into my heart. I needed to write about a young woman who is faced with mortal danger and manages to escape. Thus the inciting event in chapter one of A Short Time to Die, my debut novel, was born.

Great! I knew I had a compelling beginning. Now what? For the next year, I dug deeper into the awakening those murders had triggered when I was fourteen. Fortunately, I came from a wonderful, happy and supportive family, but that was when I began to see what it meant (and still means) to be young and vulnerable, particularly for girls and young women.

In short: there are a lot of creeps in this world and there is a side of human nature that compels some to look for victims. Happily, there is also an empathetic side of human nature that compels many to reach out and help. Where these two facets of humanity intersect sits the heart of the story I chose to tell.

A Short Time to Die is not the story of George-Ann and Kathy. Marly and her friend Elaine share some characteristics, but this is a different tale, inspired by my former classmates.


Writing A Short Time to Die became an almost magical experience, releasing many complex feelings and intertwined perceptions. When I tried to describe them, they seemed prosaic and ho hum. However, when I decided to show them embodied into elements of my story, I found deeply rewarding journey. 

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