An Interview with Suzanne Trauth

I read and loved What Remains of Love by Suzanne Trauth when it came out and I’ve been thrilled to see it garner accolades, such as winning first place in the Women’s Fiction category of the Firebird Book Awards, being named a finalist by the American Book Fest in the General Fiction category, and being a finalist for a 2023 HEMINGWAY Book Award for 20th Century Wartime Fiction.

Novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and nonfiction writer Suzanne Trauth joins us today to discuss What Remains of Love.

What inspired you to write What Remains of Love?

Through a family member, I met a woman in 1997 who lived in the south of France. After spending time with her, I was so touched by her life story I asked if I could write about it. She agreed and over the course of several years I visited her and she wrote to me, detailing her personal account of World War II. Part of the book was inspired by her life from 1944-45 and her experiences surviving the war in Nice, France. The remainder of the novel is a contemporary family story about love, honor, and forgiveness, that provides a framework for the historical aspects. It’s a mix of history, romance, and mystery. I was so fortunate to meet my French friend…her life was such an inspiration.

How much and what kind of research did you do?

The research was fun! Besides letters from my friend in the south of France describing her life during those years, I visited France several times—Nice, Monaco, little villages along the French Riviera. I watched a lot of films from the period and read biographies, letters, and histories. Studied maps of the area. There is such a wealth of information on WWII in France, but not all of it about the south. 

Tell us a little about Your Dodie O’Dell mysteries? How did writing What Remains of Love differ from the mysteries?

The Dodie O’Dell mysteries take place in northern New Jersey, not far from New York City. One of the mysteries travels to the Jersey Shore. Hard to write about New Jersey and not include the shore. The mysteries are humorous, lighter, and feature an amateur sleuth, a community theatre, and a restaurant. Plays, food, and murder! Writing them was fun, but also I had to keep to a strict deadline as the books came out every ten months. What Remains of Love was a twenty-five year labor of love. I didn’t have a publisher for twenty-four of those years! But I knew I had to complete the project and it involved several editors and numerous rewrites.

You have an amazing background. Tell us about the steps on your journey.

I was a college professor of theatre for many years and, during that time, I wrote articles and published non-fiction—specifically, an acting text. In the 1990s, I took a class at the Gotham Writers Workshop and started writing screenplays and eventually transitioned to writing plays around 2007, because myself and a co-writer wanted to chronicle the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina. But my full-time writing took off with the novels starting about ten years ago (not counting What Remains of Love which was on the back burner for over twenty years) with the Dodie O’Dell mysteries.

Have you won any awards other than those for What Remains of Love?

I also still write plays and several of them have been finalists and semi-finalists in contests and festivals.

Which of the disciplines you’ve worked in do you fine the most exciting? And why?

Writing in different genres is exciting for different reasons. I enjoy the screenplays and plays because I work best with structure and those two genres demanded close attention to structure. I also love writing dialogue. Novels are fun for me because they allow more room for the characters and story to breathe, greater opportunities, and more time, to develop character and story. Although I am a bit of a pantser, I find myself outlining more these days and tightening structure in my novels as well.

Is there a story that you want to tell that you haven’t gotten to yet? If so, will it be a novel, play, screenplay or nonfiction?

This is a great question…I have the beginnings of a new mystery series that I would like to develop. Borderline cozy, amateur sleuth, also set in New Jersey. Getting back to series writing would be fun. I miss it. I would also like to write the screenplay for What Remains of Love and see where that might go.

Were you influenced by any writers?

Many! There are so many mystery/thriller writers that I admire: Lori Rader-Day, Megan Abbott, Louise Penny, Elly Griffiths, Tracy Clark, S.A. Cosby, Hank Phillippi Ryan.

I also am inspired by Anthony Doerr, Bonnie Garmus, Geraldine Brooks, James McBride. So many wonderful authors, so little time.

Are you a reader? If so, what genres do you read? Do you have a favorite writer?

See the answer above that includes my favorites! I read a lot of mysteries but also books by prominent, bestselling authors. Occasionally I read non-fiction.

Best part about writing/publishing?

The day I type “The End” and the day I receive a box of ARCs in the mail. The other best part is the sheer joy of creating a world out of thin air populated by flawed but relatable characters.

Worst part about writing/publishing?

I love writing the first draft when “anything goes.” Revising subsequent drafts is more challenging for me. Though I love the final draft! I also feel that marketing my books is a challenging aspect of the publishing process, though I enjoy blogging (and being a guest blogger!) and speaking at conferences where I meet fellow authors and learn more about the writing process. I spent a good amount of time in the past two years promoting What Remains of Love at book clubs, libraries, and bookstores and it was great fun. But marketing can be a demanding part of the publishing process when you are eager to get back to the computer keyboard and create.

What’s next? Will you continue to write the O’Dell books or will you try something new?

For the moment, the Dodie books are on hiatus. I have a new standalone mystery that I am doing final edits on. It is much darker in tone than the Dodie mysteries. And, as I mentioned earlier, there is another series percolating…

Thanks for this interview. I appreciate sharing my thoughts with you and your readers!

And thank you for taking the time to talk to me

Suzanne Trauth is the author of the novel What Remains of Love, a first place winner in Women’s Fiction, Firebird Book Awards, a finalist in General Fiction, American Book Festival, and a finalist for the Hemingway Prize. She authored the Dodie O’Dell mystery series—Show TimeTime OutRunning Out of TimeJust in TimeNo More Time, and Killing Time—and her plays and screenplays have won awards in contests and festivals and been developed in a variety of theatres. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and the League of Professional Theatre Women. She taught in a university theatre program for many years and lives in Woodland Park, New Jersey.

Catherine Maiorisi

Catherine Maiorisi is the author of the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series featuring Corelli and her partner Detective P.J. Parker–two tough women, fighting each other while solving high profile crimes. A Matter of BloodThe Blood Runs ColdA Message in Blood, and Legacy in the Blood are all available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks narrated by Abby Craden.  

In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.


  1. Nice interview! I will check out her books for sure. Glad to know I’m not the only pantser/outline person around! LOL!

  2. This sounds like a true labor of love, Suzanne. What an undertaking. Congratulations on all the awards. Also, so glad you had a good experience at Gotham!

  3. What a great story about the background of What Remains of Love! I will definitely check it out

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