Monday, October 28, 2013

Welcome the NEW RED!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Hear that? See that? It’s the Triumphal March from Aida. It’s a stadium-full of people cheering. It’s ticker tape billowing from Manhattan skyscrapers.  It’s the Rose Parade, the Mardi Gras, Bastille Day, Oktoberfest and Fashion Week. Okay, we’re happy and we’re celebrating.
Ta DAH! We have a new Red.
Who? Hey. We’re suspense writers. So read her interview and see how soon you can guess!
Title of your autobiography?
NEW RED: You Think I’m Kidding…. But I’m Not. (I asked my husband what it should be and, according to him, I say this a lot. And now—since I told him I’m writing this for the Jungle Reds—he’s launched into a rendition of “Jungle Boogie.” Oh my.
Book you wish you had written?
NEW RED: I Capture the Castle, by Dodee Smith. Or maybe I just want to live there? It’s about an eccentric family that lives in a dilapidated castle in England in the 1930s. Would love to have artist’s model Topaz dye all my clothes green, be best friends with daughters Cassandra and Rose Montmain, swim in the moat and flirt the Cotton boys, and, of course, write in a castle turret.
Movie you would see again and again?
NEW RED: Amélie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and starring Audrey Tatou. The film is quirky and funny and sad and gorgeous and, most of all, gentle with humans and our many foibles. And the soundtrack is wonderful as well.
Exotic drinks--yes? No?
NEW RED: Yes! But I don’t think cocktails necessarily need to be exotic to be good. Our favorite cocktail bar is Clover Club in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn — it feels like a 1930s lounge, with a stamped tin ceiling, leather furniture and Billie Holiday songs playing. The cocktails are amazing, both classic and newly created. And owner/doyenne Julie Reiner is from Hawaii, so there are some authentic Tiki drinks on the menu as well. 
When in history would you choose to visit? (Reds, this question includes a BIG HINT...)
INEW RED:  know everyone would think the 1940s, given my novels, but I’d really love to visit New York City in the 50s and 60s —see New York City Ballet; go to the Russian Tea Room and maybe catch sight of George Balanchine, Igor Stravinsky and Suzanne Farrell; and, of course, wear adorable hats and gloves
Eeelia or Ellia?  (HUGE CLUE!)

It’s Eeelia. And it’s not even a real name — apparently it was made up by some immigration official at Ellis Island who couldn’t figure out how to write the family’s actual last name, which was Egliotti.
HANK: Okay, now you know!  Welcome to Susan Elia MacNeal!
What you said when you hit the New York Times bestseller list:
 SUSAN:  “Holy cats!” (Except it might not exactly have been “cats”…)
What are you working on now?
SUSAN: Working on the copyedits for The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent (Maggie Hope #4) and delighted to report it’s scheduled to be released in June 2014.  Can’t say much (because my editor will kill me) but it takes place in Scotland, London, and Washington D.C. in the fall of ’41, leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
I’m under contract now for Maggie Hope books #5 and #6, so I’m also researching and outlining #5, The First Lady’s Confidante. I’m happy to be able finally to write African-American characters. My mother-in-law just moved in with us (she prefers Black to African-American though, and really doesn’t mind Negro at all) and told me if I have any questions, I should “have my people call her people.” (She lived in New York City during World War II and remembers the blackout, knitting socks for soldiers, and being terrified a German U-boat would attack from the harbor.)
Pizza or chocolate?
SUSAN: Chocolate. Always chocolate.
Kids? Pets? Husband? Garden?
SUSAN: One kid — Matthew Wallace MacNeal, age eight going on forty-two. This year, he’s into reading Harry Potter, watching Monty Python, fencing, and basketball. (For anyone who read the ballet piece, he’s given up ballet, but because he wanted to move on and try other things, not because of social pressures.)
Two cats. One is Xander, a grey tuxedo who’s basically a tiny, grumpy Ed Asner in a fur suit. The other is tabby kitten Lola, who’s a lot like Goldie Hawn from her Laugh In days.
Husband, yes — Noel MacNeal and we’re just about to celebrate our fourteenth wedding anniversary! He’s a puppeteer who’s worked with Jim Henson and Frank Oz, and works on Sesame Street and with the Muppets. He starred in the shows Eureeka’s Castle, Bear in the Big Blue House, Oobi, and Between the Lions.
Mother-in-law Edna MacNeal also currently lives with us. She calls her walker “Precious,” her iPhone “son of Precious,” and her Kindle “Grandson of Precious.” Every day at 6 p.m. we watch Match Game (the one from the 70s with Richard Dawson—I DVR it on the Game Show Network).
No garden, alas — we live in a condo. Do window boxes count? I have portulacas (aka moss roses) in ours, because they are 1) bright and cheerful and 2) impossible to kill.
Do you watch TV? What?
SUSAN: I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones. Also, Breaking Bad (what an ending!), Girls, Mad Men, Orange is the New Black, Scandal, and Homeland. And everything by Joss Whedon. As a family, we really love Once Upon a Time.
Can you sing?
SUSAN: You know, I studied classical music when I was younger and sang soprano in a first-rate choir and did a lot of Schubert, Mozart, and Vivaldi solo pieces as well. Lots of musical theater in both high school and college, too —classics like Cole Porter and Rogers and Hammerstein, and works by contemporary composers such as Stephen Sondheim. (These days though, it’s mostly jazz standards in the shower….)
Best concert you've ever seen?
SUSAN: One summer during college, a friend of mine and I snuck into Artpark, which is an amazing concert hall right on the Niagara River gorge in Lewiston, New York. It has outdoor seating, so we went into the back, sat on the grass and looked up at the stars as legendary opera diva Leontyne Price sang Gershwin’s “Summertime.” I’ll never forget it.
Secret talent?
SUSAN: Mixing cocktails. I could match martini-making skills with Nick and Nora Charles anytime.
HANK: Two things. No, three. One, I had a cat named Lola.
Two, I had no idea about the singing thing! I just asked because I can’t sing.
Three—let’s welcome Susan Elia MacNeal (her bio is below!) to Jungle Red—and one lucky commenter will win one of her fabulous books!

More about Susan! 
New York Times-bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal is the author of the Maggie Hope Mystery series from Bantam/Random House. She is the winner of the Barry Award, and her books have been nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, and Dilys Awards.

The first novel in the series is Mr. Churchill's Secretary. It won the Barry Award and was nominated for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best First Novel and the Mystery Readers International's Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel. It was also nominated for the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's 2013 Dilys Award for "the mystery title of the year that booksellers have most enjoyed hand-selling," Mr. Churchill's Secretary was also declared one of Suspense Magazine's Best Debut of 2012, Deadly Pleasures's Best Paperback Original of 2012, and chosen as one of Target's "Emerging Authors" series.

The sequel, Princess Elizabeth's Spy, was a New York Times bestseller and chosen by as "Mystery of the Week" and one of "7 Compulsively Readable Mysteries (for the Crazy-Smart Reader)," as well as Target's "Emerging Authors" series. It was nominated for the Macavity Award's Sue Feder Historical Memorial Award.

His Majesty's Hope made the New York Times- and USA Today-bestseller lists and was chosen as one of Target's Emerging Author Series.

Book #4, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent, will be published in spring of 2014 and Susan is under contract for books #5 and #6.

Susan graduated cum laude from Wellesley College, with departmental honors in English Literature and credits from cross-registered classes at MIT. She attended the Radcliffe Publishing Course at Harvard University.

Her first job was as an intern at Random House for then-publisher Harold Evans, before moving her way up the editorial ladder at Viking/Penguin and McGraw-Hill, then becoming an associate editor at Dance Magazine.

Her writing has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Fodor's, Time Out New York, Time Out London, Publishers Weekly, Dance Magazine, and various publications of New York City Ballet. She's also the author of two non-fiction books and a professional editor.

Susan is married and lives with her husband, Noel MacNeal, a television performer, writer and director, and young son in Park Slope, Brooklyn.


  1. Hi, Susan! This is kind of strange [but in a really good way] --- I just started reading “Mr. Churchill’s Secretary” and now here you are . . . . Anyway, it’s so exciting to welcome a new Red!

  2. Welcome to Jungle Reds. I really enjoyed Mr. Churchill's Secretary. I must get back to the series. Dee

  3. YAY Susan, so happy to have you here! Don't start thinking we selected you because of the bartending skills...though now that you mention it, what a plus!

    We so look forward to getting to know you! xoxo

  4. Thank you, Joan and Gram!

    And Roberta, I'm thinking about creating a signature Jungle Reds cocktail in honor of being included. What do you think?

  5. Nothing like fresh blood. Welcome Susan! I have always admired your covers and want to read -- love WWII stories. Maybe I'll win -- although the last time I won a free book here it did not arrive. Julia's ARC I think. Hope I am not in the doghouse.

  6. How wonderful to have you here! I just bought MR CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY last week. Now I'm more anxious to read it!

    Having a new Red is exciting. Congratulations, Susan, and welcome!

    PS. My husband is retired from MIT so I know a bit about schools in Cambridge. :-)

  7. This series sounds like fun, and it's always exciting to "meet" another new Red! Welcome, Susan, I look forward to reading your posts, and to the signature cocktail you might dream up. Always looking for a new one to try, along with new books to read.

    Please do not include me in the pot for the book, as I've won a couple recently. No need to be hoggy! And I'm happy to support good writers like the Reds, although I do appreciate the occasional gifts. :-)

  8. Welcome, Susan!

    I enjoy your books and your Facebook posts. It's exciting to know there will be more Maggie Hope books AND that JRW is another place where I can "see" you!

  9. HI all--and yes, welcome Susan!

    Do you all are the NEW Jungle REd header with Susan? Trying to see if my computer is stubborn this AM..

    off to the office..more to come.. Susan, what're you doing today?

  10. ANd oh, yes!!! We'd love a RED signature cocktail...hmmm.


    Hmm. ANd I know we'll need to do a LOT of testing!

  11. Alas, today I'm spending at home with my sick little munchkin, who has a sore throat and a fever.... Probably a doctor visit in our future. (What, you expected something glamorous???)

  12. Welcome! You are in excellent company here.

  13. So excited to see Susan here again and this time as a bonafide "Red."

    Her books have been on my "to be read" list since her last visit to JRW. Now I just know that they must move to the top of the list.

    Welcome and Congratulations Susan!

  14. Really enjoyed MR CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY! and can not wait to read your other books. Welcome to the RED blog.

  15. Congratulations and welcome! I love your books, Susan, and I think you're a perfect fit to the wonderful Reds. Looking forward to your contributions!

  16. Oh, Susan, I love you already! I was at college in NY in the late '60s and used my part time work money to buy a subscription to the NYC Ballet. Saw Suzanne Farrell (sublime), Edward Vilella (Scottish Symphony!), Melissa Hayden, Arthur Mitchell, Patricia McBride... My first time at the ballet and I had no idea what an extraordinary era it was.

  17. Welcome, welcome, Susan! I loved Mr. Churchill's Secretary and am looking forward to reading the rest of the books. I think you'll make a great addition to the Reds.

    And no, Hank, I don't see the header with Susan's photo in with the other Reds. My browser is Firefox.

    A new Red with a Sesame street puppeteer in the family--I foresee lots of fun with that in the future.

    Congratulations, darling Reds, on the new addition to the family!

  18. No new header here either - using Chrome.

    Welcome Susan! Another bunch of books for the TBR pile. Just what I need!

  19. Welcome, Susan!!! I loved your Mr. Churchill's Secretary and cannot wait to read the next in the series.

    You will love being here and we love having you.

    Kaye, the part-time Red (sorta like Andy Rooney, 'cept I'm still alive . . . ).

  20. You had me at I CAPTURE THE CASTLE! Welcome! Molly Campbell

  21. Hi Susan! So thrilled to welcome you to Jungle Red!!!!

    We two have so much in common (loving London, Joss Whedon--the list goes on and on) but I am also an amateur mixologist, so if you want any help with that signature cocktail, just let me know. Toasts to you!

  22. I checked for the new header, with Susan's photo, in all four of my browsers: Firefox, IE, Safari, and Chrome. It doesn't show up in any of them.

    What a cool job working with the Muppets must be! And I love your MIL's spirit, Susan.

  23. Susan, I spend the drive to and from Magna cum Murder listening to Mr. Churchill's secretary. I absolutely love it and can hardly wait to read the next book!

    Cathy Akers-Jordan
    Davison, MI

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Welcome, welcome, Susan! I'm so happy to have another Red with a kid still underfoot join the group! Also, not gonna lie, I'm very up for the idea of a Reds signature cocktail. Or maybe several seasonal cocktails so we can have tasting parties?

    We're looking forward to spending lots of time together!

  26. Jack, the ARC didn't arrive? Did you send me your mailing address? I'll have to have a stern talking-to with the Mail Department (that would be the Male Department around here.) I'll have it in the post to you tomorrow. Sorry.

  27. Signature cocktail... let's make it pink, not red.

  28. What a great addition to the Reds!! My book club read Mr. Churchill's Secretary and loved it. Welcome, Susan.

  29. Impressive bio and lively interview -- cannot wait to read these books! I love all things British, and especially the 40s.

    I will be in Brooklyn for Christmas, and I plan to have a date at the cocktail bar! Maybe I will dress up 40s style (inspired by Edith Head -- see Google today).

    What a treat to have a new Red!

  30. So so so happy to see you here, Susan. The Jungle Reds are so classy, and you fit right in!! Wishing you lots of success and sending you lots of love, Kim

  31. I recently read Susan's first book and liked it a lot. Looking forward to the rest and to reading Susan here. Note: I saw Leontyne Price in my small town high school auditorium as a kid, courtesy of a wonderful organization Community Concerts. It was just before she debuted at the Met (and the rest is history) Like Susan, never forgot it and loved read about Susan's experience

  32. Welcome Susan. I loved all three of your Maggie Hope books and you're telling me I have to wait until June for a new one?! I'm sure you'll enjoy being part of this very special group of writers. And the blog is so much fun.

  33. The newest Red shows in the header here (Safari); welcome and congratulations, Susan!

    I've had Mr. Churchill's Secretary on my TBR mountain for some time; it just moved to the peak.

    Looking forward to many more in your series and on the JRW blog.

  34. I cleared the cache on my computer, and now Susan's photo is showing up!

  35. Welcome Susan! I loved your post about your son. And I loved MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY.

    Oh oh, have I got the contraption for you, for creating the signature JRW cocktail: the Perfect Drink scale!

    A friend works at the company that invented it. Apparently, they've been doing ALOT of testing at work. :-)

  36. Yes, I am defintely thrilled about the drink.

    Pink grapefriut juice, and...?

    ANd how about the fifties in Chicago? My dad was the music critic for the Chicago Daily News, and took me to ballet with him when I was five or so.I wanted to be Maria Tallchief, or Alicia Alonso.

    (Apparently Yul Brynner was sitting in front of us at one concert, and turned around shushed me.)

    Mom and Dad hung out at The Blue Note, too, with HArry Belafonte and Studs Terkel. (They never took me to that...)

  37. Welcome !! I have not read your books yet, but they are now on my list ! And a big "yes" on anything from Joss Whedon.

  38. Thanks, everyone, for all of the kind words and wishes. I am sincerely touched and feel very welcomed.

    I think in terms of a Jungle Red cocktail, I'll try out a few and then all of you can vote? Hmmm.... I think my first post has just more or less written itself!

  39. Rushing out on a lovely to see you all!

    Bizy. Bakson, as Eeyore used to say.

  40. I loved Mr. Churchill's Secretary so much that I immediately read the next two in the series and they were excellent as well. Can't believe I have to wait until next year for Number 4

  41. Congratulations Susan. Love your book covers by the way

  42. Susan, I'm adding my welcome here. We're so happy to have you as a fellow Red (we'll have to get you the signature pashmina).

    I love the books and am fascinated with WW2. And anyone who is married to a muppet has to be my kind of person!

  43. The books sound great. The covers are wonderful. And I had to move on to the illustrator's website too. Wondrous.

    I'm looking forward to starting on the first one asap.

    (I can see the new banner, yes)

  44. Hi Susan! I just finished the third book in your series. Hurry up, will ya? Got to know what happens next in her love life!
    The stories have been engrossing with all the spy stuff. Keep up the good work.

  45. Hi Susan! Love Mr. Churchill's Secretary and looking forward to reading Princess Elizabeth's Spy.

    I am so happy you are here. xo

  46. Welcome to Jungle Reds. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your exploits, and reading your books.

  47. Susan, you are my type of person, one who loves the arts (I was an oboe major in college) and can't keep plants alive. Welcome aboard. i would love to win your book and get to know you better!

  48. Welcome, Susan. Loved the MS article about you a few months back.. I think you'll like it here.

  49. SHOuld we give Susan some thoughts about what should be in a Jungle Red?

    ANd Susan, how's the kidlet? Sending healing vibes...

  50. Susan, Congratulations on joining such a sparkling cast. Some of my favorites - and the most successful - crime writers around!

  51. Thank you so much, everyone. I look forward to getting to know you!

    Hank, the kidlet is much better, thanks.

    And Julia, it's nice to know there's another Red mom with a kiddo still at home, too!

  52. Hi, Susan. Just discovered you on this and looking forward to following you here, as well as on Facebook. Your books are awesome and congrats on getting a contract for many more! Hurray!

  53. See you all tomorrow--anyone watch TV? It's the Jungle REd chat!.

    and the winner of Susan's book is..well, tell you tomorrow!

  54. Welcome, Susan. So glad to meet a new Red--how fun! You're in such amazing company! AND I always love to discover a new series. : )

  55. Welcome Susan...Loving Your New Home in Brooklyn,(My Hometown) Have not Read your Books yet...It is a BookClub Pick at my BookClub in VT..Lucky us,Lucky Reds..Susan VT...

  56. Welcome!!! Your books sound like a lot if fun. I keep meaning to get one, but I also keep forgetting. I need to write things down.

    Pen M

  57. Susan, we met at Bouchercon and I'm so delighted that I'll be "seeing" more of you on JRW.

    That must be some big condo you live in with a husband, a son, a mother-in-law, Goldie Hawn and Ed Asner. What a hoot!

  58. Welcome Susan-
    It was such a treat to meet you at Bouchercon (Where the Reds were fabulous on stage).
    I look forward to the future books (Can't keep them on the shelf at my Library and now they're in Large Type too-whoo hoo- another group happy!)
    Can't wait to get the recipe for the Jungle Red cocktail