Interview with novelist Susan G. Weidener

I have novelist Susan G.Weidener here today chatting about her newest book: A Portrait of Love and Honor: A
Novel Based On a True Story.
Susan G. Weidener is a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer. She
left journalism in 2007 and wrote and published her memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of
love, loss and dating again
, about being widowed at a young age. Two years
later, she wrote and published its sequel, Morning
at Wellington Square
, a woman’s search for passion and renewal in middle
age. Her debut novel, A
Portrait of Love and Honor
, completes the trilogy, inspired by and
dedicated to her late husband, John M. Cavalieri, on whose memoir A Portrait of Love and Honor is based.
She lives in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.
Welcome, Susan. Please tell us about
your current release.
Portrait of Love and Honor

takes place in 1993 when Jay Scioli approaches author and editor Ava Stuart to
edit his memoir about his years as a cadet at the United States Military
Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War. She is newly-divorced . . . while she has a willing heart, she steels herself
against more disappointment in love . . . until she meets Jay. His story
strikes a chord in her and their connection is almost immediate. Jay is a man
who has said good-bye to
innocence, the
U.S. Army, and corporate America. He
is drawn to the striking and successful Ava.  Facing one
setback after another, their love embraces
friendship, crisis,
disillusionment. Their love story reflects a reason for living
in the face of life’s unexpected events.
What inspired you to write this book?
I loved my
husband very much. For years his unpublished memoir sat in the closet. From
time to time, I would pull it out and reread it. I knew I wanted to find an
audience for his work; the question . . . how?
John, Class
of ’71, USMA, wrote about his years as a cadet at West Point and his battle
with cancer, before his death in 1994. John’s pen name was Jay Scioli. I always
felt his memoir both compelling and beautifully written. The publication of A Portrait of Love and Honor, which is
written in first and third person, and is a combination of memoir and fiction,
is the result and culmination of a long-held dream to see his story reach readers.

Excerpt from A Portrait of Love and Honor:
we arrived in Manhattan, we immediately headed for the one place cadets had
been told to avoid – Forty-Second Street. What a scene we must have cut as we
strolled down the avenue in our dress gray uniforms, gray hats covering our
closely-shaved heads. Out of place, yes, but in a strange way we complemented
the vendors, porno hustlers and street people; all of us melding into the great
American mainstream. We stopped into the first bar we saw and ordered a few
beers. Suddenly we had a personal game plan – take the subway to Greenwich
walked through Washington Square, home of the famous “Beat Generation.” I had
read Jack Kerouac over the summer while lying in my bunk at Buckner and had
tried to identity with that feeling of being free to do anything I wanted –
although in reality my life bore no resemblance whatsoever to this new
lifestyle of the sixties. We walked past shops and cafés, smelled incense and
listened to the sounds of Jefferson Airplane and the Beatles wafting out of
bars and head shops. Suddenly, a voice called to us from a doorway. “Hey war
mongers, get outta here.” We didn’t stop walking, just looked over and saw two
men with shoulder-length hair leaning against a brick wall, laughing at us in
our uniforms and spit-shined shoes. They waved, then flashed us the peace sign.
Bill flashed them a sign, too; half a peace sign.
What exciting story are you working on
love story . . . TBA
When did you first consider yourself a
I guess it
was when I received an ‘A’ in my creative writing class at American University from
a professor who used to be a journalist for the now-defunct Washington Star. A little bit of
encouragement goes a long way! After graduation from college, I landed my first
paying job as a reporter on a suburban weekly newspaper in my hometown. I got
to cover, of all things, the filming of the movie Taps starring two unknowns – Sean Penn and Tom Cruise. It was like
I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do
I would have done it for free.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
Since I
left the newspaper, I’ve worked fulltime as a writer and editor. In the last
five years, I’ve published two memoirs and the novel – along with an anthology
of short stories and poems written by my group, the Women’s Writing Circle. In
addition, I teach writing workshops and act as a writing coach. I also publish
a weekly blog and market my books through social media and at community events
and book signings. There’s not a whole lot of time left over after that.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I don’t
think I have any quirks. As a former journalist, I’m very deadline-oriented. When
I have a writing project, I tend to get right to it. I let it percolate for a
while, come back to it and then revise. I enjoy long walks with my dog, Lily, a
yellow Lab . . . as a way to relax, ponder and jumpstart writing ideas and
As a child, what did you want to be
when you grew up?
Ever since
I read Gone With the Wind, I wanted
to be a writer. I loved romantic stories . . . and stories about women, their
lives, their passions, hopes and dreams. The book The Women’s Room by Marilyn French changed my life. I kept
thinking, ‘this is what I want to do . .
. write a book like this, something that matters, that is important and has a
But I had to make a living, raise two sons on my own . . . and
journalism was the best way to get paid to write. It would be many years before
I could work on writing books.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
My hope is
that my books give readers something to think about, something they can apply
to their own lives . . . lessons learned. And I’m grateful for each and every
reader who takes a chance on my books. I love hearing from my readers and I can
be reached at
Thank you for offering me this opportunity to talk about A Portrait of Love and Honor.
Thank you, Susan!

4 thoughts on “Interview with novelist Susan G. Weidener

  1. Susan G. Weidener says:

    Thank you, Lisa, for the opportunity to talk about my novel and my work as a writer of fiction and memoir. I loved your questions . . . they made my think. I hadn't thought about that professor at AU for years. Best wishes, Susan

  2. Jeanette Watts says:

    I enjoyed your interview, and laughed my head off when I saw that both of us are writers because of Gone With the Wind. You've got great taste ;-p

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