Smith, Susan Arnout (Susan Arnout)
Smith, Susan Arnout (Susan Arnout)
Born in Anchorage, AK; married; children: two. Education: Graduated from University of Colorado, Boulder.
Writer. Worked variously as a television anchor in Alaska, a recreation director on the trans-Alaska Pipeline, an essayist for National Public Radio, a playwright, and a scriptwriter for Lifetime, ABC, and CBS channels.
Stanley Drama Award; finalist for a PEN West award.
(As Susan Arnout) The Frozen Lady, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1983.
The Timer Game, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2008.
Out at Night, HarperPerennial (New York, NY), 2009.
Author's books have been published in five languages and are available in twelve countries.
Susan Arnout Smith is a writer. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, she is a third-generation Alaskan. Smith spent some time growing up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She returned to Alaska where she worked as a television anchor and as a recreation director on the trans-Alaska Pipeline, and published her first novel, The Frozen Lady, in 1983 under the name Susan Arnout. She moved to San Diego with her family, where she became an essayist for National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, a playwright, and a scriptwriter for television programs which aired on Lifetime, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), and Columbia Broadcasting (CBS) channels. Her writing earned her the Stanley Drama Award. She was also a finalist for a PEN West award and a playwright at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.
Smith published her second novel, The Timer Game, in 2008. The first in a planned series, the novel introduces Grace Descanso, a crime-scene technician based in San Diego, California. Descanso is a recovering alcoholic and a single mother, having abruptly quit her job as a successful pediatric heart surgeon while working at a clinic in Guatemala. After arriving on the crime scene of a meth house with blood-spattered walls, she finds the two associates she was working with their throats slit. She manages to kill the murderer, but he gives her a frightening message before dying. She goes on administrative leave and tries to return to her normal life when strange things start happening around her. When her daughter is kidnapped, Grace is forced to play the timer game to get her back against a mysterious figure who seems to know her very well.
According to Betty Webb in a review for Mystery Scene Magazine, Smith "creates a host of sympathetic characters, wringing pathos from a dying madman and gallantry for mere walk-ons." A critic writing in Reviewed by Liz remarked that "The Timer Game is a pulse-pounding race-against-time novel of suspense from a talented writer." Booklist contributor Allison Block mentioned that "flat characters and uneven pacing lessen the impact of Smith's intriguing medical-thriller" novel. A contributor to Publishers Weekly found that "despite a nail-biting premise, Smith can't maintain the suspense," adding that "the reader soon tires of following Grace." Tim Davis, writing on the BookLoons Web site, called the novel "explosive and terrifying," additionally describing it as "an original novel with provocative themes and compelling characterizations [that] moves along at a pulse-pounding pace." Davis further noted that this novel was written by an author "who knows how to write an entertaining, intelligent, and really good medical thriller." Kathy Perschmann, reviewing the novel on the Armchair Interviews Web site, pointed out that "this edge-of-the-chair thriller will keep you up until you finish it."
Smith told CA: "I first became interested in writing when I was nine years old, in response to a class assignment: The Missing Letter. The other fourth graders wrote about misplacing bills or wills … I talked about how the letter ‘r’ had been stolen by this bad elf, and if the rest of the elves couldn't figure out how to get it back, then this poor kid on a pallet (even then, I understood the power of pathos) wouldn't have a Me rry Ch ristmas. The teacher had me read my work to the class, and in this great, sweaty rush, the kids lurched to their feet and gave me a standing ovation. I was hooked.
"My work is influenced by cutting-edge science and the deep work we all do, trying to push back the dark."
When asked to describe her writing process, Smith responded: "I show up, sit down, and on a good day, something happens.
"The most surprising thing I have learned as a writer is that it never gets easier, but it's always fun.
"Out at Night is my favorite book because I get to kill somebody with a crossbow and visit the Bahamas. No, no, The Timer Game is my favorite because I get to craft a deadly version of a scavenger hunt and almost visit Guatemala; okay, not that, The Frozen Lady because it's my love song to my homeland, Alaska.
"On The Timer Game Web site are a series of twenty-two webisodes, or small dramas, that introduce the main characters in The Timer Game five years before the book opens. The last webisode ends in a cliffhanger that paid off in the novel."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 2007, Allison Block, review of The Timer Game, p. 28.
Bookseller, January 11, 2008, "Harper Perennial Pushes Debut Thriller," review of The Timer Game, p. 14.
Mystery Scene Magazine, number 103, 2008, review of The Timer Game, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, October 15, 2007, review of The Timer Game, p. 38.
Armchair Interviews Online,http://www.armchairinterviews.com/ (August 5, 2008), Kathy Perschmann, review of The Timer Game.
BookBitch,http://www.bookbitch.com/ (September 17, 2008), Stacy Alesi, review of The Timer Game.
BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (August 5, 2008), Tim Davis, review of The Timer Game.
Reviewed by Liz,http://reviewedbyliz.com/ (August 5, 2008), review of The Timer Game.
Romantic Times Online,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (August 5, 2008), Liz French, review of The Timer Game.
Susan Arnout Smith Home Page,http://www.susanarnoutsmith.com (August 5, 2008), author biography.
Susan Arnout Smith MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/thetimergame (August 5, 2008), author profile.
Timer Game Web site,http://www.thetimergame.com (August 5, 2008), author profile.