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Creative Spotlight on Author Sasscer Hill

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Creative Spotlight on Author Sasscer Hill

In this post we get another look into the mind of this fantastic author. Be sure to listen to our chat via Spotify above. I loved chatting books and horses with her.

Tell our readers briefly about yourself.

In my former life in Maryland, I was involved in horse racing as an amateur jockey and racehorse breeder for more than thirty years. As a writer, my mystery-thrillers portray the world of horse racing and the skullduggery that big money and gambling so often attract. My newest novella, Murder at the Willcotts Hotel, out as an eBook on October 1 2023, is the third in my Janet Simpson Mysteries Series. Please listen to this FREE AUDIO of Chapter One here: I left the racing and breeding, sold the farm and moved to Aiken, South Carolina in 2012. Aiken is a dressage, fox hunting, and racing paradise. It has given my husband and me an excellent new home.

Can you tell us about your most recent release? Album? Song? Art piece? Etc.?

My most recent release will be the eBook version of Murder at the Willcotts Hotel. This mystery invites readers on a captivating journey into the enigmatic world of crime and intrigue. Set against the backdrop of the elegant Willcotts Hotel, this gripping mystery unfolds with a blend of suspense and sophistication. As the doors of the upscale hotel open to reveal a shocking crime, the author weaves together a web of secrets, lies, and unexpected twists. With an eye for detail and a knack for creating multi-dimensional characters, Hill draws readers into a labyrinth of clues and motives, where amateur sleuths and seasoned detectives must navigate through the labyrinthine corridors of the hotel to uncover the truth. "Murder at the Willcotts Hotel" promises a riveting tale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, eagerly turning pages to uncover the hidden truths that lie within its luxurious walls.

What inspires you?

The spirit, determination, and heart of a good racehorse have always inspired me. Writing a good chapter of a mystery always leaves me surprised and hoping I can do it again as I write the next chapter. Somehow, I do. Like a good horse in the final furlong, I manage to dig into my heart and pull out a winning novel or novella. My earlier novel, Flamingo Road, won the $10,000 Ryan Award for The Best Book in Horseracing, leaving me astonished and grateful that I was born with a talent for storytelling.

Over the years, reading mysteries by authors like Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Dick Francis, Robert Parker and Robert Crais have always inspired me to write better.

What is your creative work routine like? Do you balance it with another job?

Since I left the horseracing business behind, mystery writing, marketing and publicity comprise a full time job.

Do you plan out your creations? What is your creative process like?

I always do a brief plot outline before I start a story. As I write, that initial plan provides signposts to keep my story from wandering off into the weeds.

I find mystery harder to write than suspense. Creating a clever puzzle that both entertains and mystifies the reader as they follow a trail of subtle clues is not an easy thing to do. I recently read a new Mary Higgins Clark novel and was amazed by the intricate puzzle revealed at the end. I write mystery/suspense, and fortunately, this genre, in my opinion, does just fine with an intricate plot minus the extraordinarily clever puzzle aspect. If the novel is well written, has surprising twists, and those "aha" moments of insight into a character’s psyche, and the underlying elements that created them, I am good to go.

Do you have a self-care routine, or do you want to have one? What do you do or wish that you did to take care of your mental health?

I wish I had found a mentor earlier in my career. Many years ago, I wrote a mystery novel and found an agent. He sent it to all the big New York publishers. The rejection letters from these publishers left me devastated and without hope. I wasted five years feeling sorry for myself before finally taking a mystery writing course. There, I met other mystery writers, both aspiring and award winning, who commiserated and told me their own sad stories. I realized I wasn’t alone, and my next novel was published and became a finalist for both Agatha and McCavity Best First Book Awards.

Now, I believe in myself, and to stay relaxed and healthy I walk my dog with friends who have dogs. I have a yoga mat at the foot of my bed, and every morning I roll out of bed and do stretches to welcome the day. It’s a great way to stay sane in an insane world.

What is your favorite creation thus far?

I have three series and each one is different, with characters aged from twenty-three to sixty-one. It is impossible for me to care more for one than another, but if I had to pick one, it would be Full Mortality as that is my first published book and from the time when I first began to believe I could be an author.

Do you have a character that is your favorite over others you've written into creation?

I do not have a favorite. I love all three of my heroines in my three different series.

Are there any recurring themes in your work?

Yes. The themes found in all my novels are chase the dream, fight the odds, help the helpless, and you-get-what-you-give. These come from my years raising, breaking, and conditioning racehorses. From seeing them bloom to the extraordinary thrill of watching one rocket down the stretch, take the lead, and win the race.

What does success look like to you, considering your creative passion?

Success is hearing from my readers that they love my books. Nothing is more rewarding.

What has been one of the biggest lessons you've learned since starting this journey? Never give up.

What advice would you share with new or aspiring authors/singers/artists/etc?

Keep going.

Where do you get your ideas for world-building?

From the incredible world of horse racing.

Picture the winner’s circle. Notice the poverty-level groom who holds a hundred-thousand-dollar horse for a trainer who may be living large, or only hand-to-mouth. With them stands the rich or possibly almost-broke-owner who may also be a white-collar criminal. Or he might enjoy a golden life of lofty social status. Now, notice the jockey up on the winning horse. Did you see him make the sign of the cross before he risked his life once again to mount thousand-pound animal who races in a mob at speeds up to 40 miles an hour? I have, many, many times.

Now watch the horse, the real hero of this group in the winner’s circle. He might be sore, or tired, but he still dug deep to find the heart and courage to pull out the win. They are amazing animals, and I am so lucky to have bred, raised, and owned a few of them. The cheating, the pageantry, the criminals, the heart and courage–– I’ve seen it all.

Where can our viewers/readers/listeners find you and your work?


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