Interview With Susan Froetschel

Susan Froetschel

Susan Froetschel is the author of two mystery books, "Interruptions" and "Alaska Gray" and she also writes on health, environment and business issues.

Ms. Froetschel is on the faculty of Southern Connecticut State University's Department of Journalism. She was a copy editor at Esquire, House Beautiful, and Self magazines. She was a reporter and photographer for five years at the Daily Sentinel in Sitka, Alaska. Currently she is the assistant editor of YaleGlobal Online (www.yaleglobal.yale.edu).

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Susan. She has just completed her third novel, Royal Escape," in which a fictional British princess struggles to separate her children from a system that reinforces inequality. Ms. Froeetschel states, "Constitutional monarchy is an archaic system that not only burdens taxpayers but denies freedom for the royal family... Like my previous books, 'Royal Escape' mixes suspense and public policy issues."

Not too long ago Susan was interviewed by The Irish World (www.theirishworld.com) and I thought that our readers would be interested in what Susan had to say in the interview.

Is it proper that an American writes a mystery novel featuring the British royal family?

Americans are fascinated with the British monarchy, its connections to our own history and its influence over our own politics - and rightly so. A story from the U.S. perspective can only explore features of the system that may go unaddressed in Great Britain as well as new challenges for the f amily in the modern era. And certainly, some U.S. celebrity and political families share similarities with the British royal family.

What led you to writing about the British monarchy?

In 1996, I enjoyed reading the book "Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics," by Anonymous, whom we now know as Time Magazine's Joe Klein. But I loved how he explored the process behind the presidential campaign. He used his imagination to analyze strategies, relationships and motivation. From a far more distant vantage point, I tried to imagine the thoughts of an unhappy mother who is troubled about her children being put on a pedestal.

Does the story closely follow the biography of Princess Diana?

No, my book only picks up on some common trends that happen to parallel her life story - including the fascination with monarchy and modern divorce, fascination with celebrity, recognition that people, ordinary or privileged, share some common goals, and the natural resistance against any form of inequality. But the book could serve as a cautionary tale for any who might marry into the monarchy.

Does your concern on inequality focus on taxes or the notion of class?

Status that comes by way of birth and not actual deeds is inescapable in any book on the monarchy. But more importantly, I sympathize with members of the royal family and the lack of choice for immediate members. They cannot easily relocate to other countries or freely pursue some careers, and they are bound to traditions on travel, holidays, child-rearing and education. Breaking away from family traditions is much harder for members of the royal family than for the ordinary citizen. Any step in a new direction meets with some resistance from the status quo.

What is the biggest challenge for the monarchy?

Probably their status as celebrities, the constant pressure to serve as role models in a fast-changing and diverse world and the fact that they are always on display. I hope my book reflects these challenges in a fair, yet thought-provoking way and that readers both in Britain and the US will better understand why some members might want to break away.

What were your last two thrillers about?

My other two mysteries are both set in Sitka, Alaska: "Alaska Gray" (St. Martin's, 1994) and "Interruptions" (Five Star, 2004). "Alaska Gray" is about a woman who heads to Alaska for a finance job that suddenly disappears; she stays in town and asks questions, resulting in the death of a young artist. "Interruptions" is about a mother who leads a fight against a cross-island road that would destroy wilderness and doesn't realize how she inspires her young son to take dangerous steps resisting the road as well.

If you were on a desert island and could have four books with you, which would they be?

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