author interview · authors · books · cozy mystery · novels · writers

Good to meet you…author Susan Bernhardt

Today sees a book release with a difference. This is the last stop in Susan Bernhardt’s “progressive dessert online book launch”.  Books and pudding – count me in!

Here are the previous stops on Susan’s dessert tour this week.  Check out the salivatory names of her recipes :)  and click on the links to read more.

January 3rd – Lorenzo MartinezKay’s Triple Threat: Triple Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Torte.
January 3rd – Marsha WestDeirdre’s Divine Inspiration: Heavenly mousse au chocolat.
January 6th – Heather Brainerd and David Fraser  – Marissa’s Surprise: Plum Clafouti

And after our interview, Susan is leaving us with the recipe for Elizabeth’s Extravaganza: Éclair au Chocolat.   Time to forget those New Year resolution’s and get baking! :)

helena fairfax, susan bernhardt, the ginseng conspiracyGood to meet you, Susan!  Where do you live? In Wisconsin.

I bet that’s a pretty cold place to be at the moment :(

Where is your favourite place in the world? My favorite place to visit is London, England. I’ve been there a number of times and I remain fascinated.

I’ve been there numerous times, too, and there’s always something new to discover.

Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?  Three summers during college, I returned home and worked in a leather factory, shaving fine hair off of cowhides. The job was coveted by college students because it paid well. To stay sane, I wrote lyrics for a few songs. I kept a paper in my pocket when at the factory and as I thought of the lines I wrote them down. This is similar to what I do with my books. keeping a notebook handy. At the factory, I’d always have songs/music going through my head, hearing Diana Ross and others singing. It helped break up the monotony.

Well, I’ve learned something new today.  I hadn’t realised how this job was done until now.  And what a great way to relieve the boredom.

What book do you wish you’d written?  The Harry Potter series. I’d travel all the time and have homes in NYC, San Francisco, and London.

What’s your favourite song?  I have lots of favorite songs but I would have to say Smooth by Santana. A few times each month, my husband knowing I love the Supernatural album, puts it on and willingly…lol…dances with me to it.

If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them?  I’d love to meet Vincent Van Gogh to try and figure out his mind. He painted masterpieces, yet was thought of as being insane.

What’s your happiest childhood memory?  I have lots of happy childhood memories. One of my favorite ones would be our family tradition at Christmas. Choosing the perfect tree, decorating it, Christmas baking and shopping, Christmas Eve dinner, opening gifts. Going to midnight mass. A full meal upon our return home around 1 a.m. Sleeping in Christmas morning which meant 9:00 a.m. Christmas dinner with family and relatives. Spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s either having company at our home or visiting others in the evenings. Of course school was out so I’d spend time with my friends, ice skating, sledding, etc. Christmas is a wonderful time!

If you had to marry a fictional character, from film, television, or books, who would it be?  I’d marry Phil Driscoll from my book The Ginseng Conspiracy. He’s an artist. He hand crafts guitars. He’s a musician and plays several instruments. Also he is excited about life and love.

What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?  No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.

That’s a great philosophy!

And finally, please tell us about your latest book, where we can find it, and where we can find your blog/website.

helena fairfax, susan bernhardt, the ginseng conspiracyThe Ginseng Conspiracy, a cozy mystery, is my first published novel. Here is the blurb from the back cover:

On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner’s report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the judgement, Kay decides to uncover the truth for herself. Through her personal investigations, Kay exposes a complex conspiracy, woven deep within the thriving local ginseng industry, that involves some of the more prominent figures and families of Sudbury Falls.

With her new friends, the free-spirited herbalist Deirdre and the untamed modern woman Elizabeth, Kay discusses new clues over tea and pastries at Sweet Marissa’s Patisserie, their crime-fighting headquarters. As Kay gets closer to the heart of the conspiracy, additional murders happen in quick succession. Before long, Kay learns that the villains are gunning for her, too. Phil, her musically talented but preoccupied husband, determined to keep her safe, withholds from her the one thing she needs most: the truth.


Who were these people? Was this a pre-Halloween party before the main one? It felt like something sinister was going on, but what? I supposed I should have kept going and minded my own business, but when had I ever done that? My curiosity kept calling me. It was a bit creepy, but I could just take a peek. Not knowing was killing me, so I made the decision to check it out.
Six people stood in a storage room in a circle, all of them wearing the same silk gossamer hooded robes. It was a bizarre scene. No party atmosphere here. Fresh footprints from the mystery people scattered around the thick dust on the floor. Cobwebs covered the wall. This was beoming much more like The Da Vinci Code than I would have liked. All that was missing was a body. I was beginning to think I had been right in the first place. I shouldn’t be here. Way past having a bad feeling about this, the hair on my body stood on end. But I didn’t move for the door. I was determined to stay and find out what was happening.
The robed people all gazed down at the floor. Stepping onto a low box in front of me, I strained my neck to see what they were looking at. Lying on the floor was a person. Had someone passed out? I could see a man. Someone I knew; the professor we saw on our morning walks, who passed our home on his way to the college, whom Elizabeth hadn’t introduced me to yet. I couldn’t believe it. The professor was lying there, looked lifeless. My skin tingled. I held my breath as my heart raced.

The Ginseng Conspiracy can be purchased online at the following:
Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Kobo – MuseItUp Bookstore
Author FB page:


Thanks for the tantalising extract, Susan.  And now for the recipe!

Elizabeth’s Extravaganza: Éclair au Chocolat
Éclair Dough: (20 éclairs)
2/3 cup Milk
2/3 cup Water
4 oz. Butter
1 cup Flour
5 Eggs
2 tsp. Granulated Sugar
Pinch of Salt
Chocolate Cream Filling:
6 oz. Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
1 cup Milk
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Flour
Chocolate Icing:
5 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
2 oz. Butter
1/4 cup Water
Éclair Dough:
Preheat oven to 425°F
In a pot, mix water, milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil. Once butter has completely melted, take off flame, and slowly pour in flour, stirring constantly.  Put the pot back on flame and continue to work it with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring and kneading with spoon until the dough dries out and stops sticking to the sides of the pot.
Take off flame. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring energetically. Fill a baking sac with batter. Butter a baking sheet. Squeeze out “finger-sized eclairs” onto baking sheet, well-spaced. Bake for 10 minutes. Then turn oven down to 385°F and bake another 10-12 minutes with the oven door open.
Chocolate Filling:
Melt chocolate (chopped) and milk in a pot, and bring to light boil, remove. In a bowl, whisk yolks and sugar until it whitens. Slowly add flour, stirring. Slowly add chocolate and milk, stirring until homogenous. Put back in pot, bring to light boil, stirring constantly, until cream thickens and becomes smooth.
When cream cools off (and eclairs have cooled off as well), you can begin filling the eclairs: Cut a small slit lengthwise, and then fill with cream, using your baking sac or a small spoon.
Melt chocolate with water in a small pot over a low flame. Once melted add butter, whisking the whole time. Should look shiny and creamy! Remove from heat. Spread a thin layer on each eclair, using a spatula. Wait until icing hardens a bit to serve it.
Susan, that sounds absolutely delicious, and what a great way to end an interview!
I’m very much looking forward to reading The Ginseng Conspiracy.  If you have any questions for Susan, or any comments at all, please let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

13 thoughts on “Good to meet you…author Susan Bernhardt

  1. Thank you, Helena for hosting me in the progressive dessert party to celebrate the release of my cozy mystery The Ginseng Conspiracy. I appreciate it. It’s been an exciting week for me!


  2. Great interview. Not sure I needed to know about shaving the fine hair off cowhides. Do you include that on your resume? Okay now I am off to search for the chocolate candy I hid from myself after Christmas. Yes, your recipes have stirred the chocolate cravings. Then I’m going to make cabbage soup which I detest on this very cold day in Florida. The soup is supposed to burn fat calories. Hope it works. Best wishes on your new release, Susan.


    1. Hi JQ, I too am trying to burn off chocolate after the holidays :( I’m putting away the biscuit tin and from now on my guests will be treated to carrot sticks and sunflower seeds. Oh, OK – maybe just ONE of Susan’s eclairs :) Hope you enjoyed your holiday, JQ. Thanks for coming!


  3. What a terrific interview ladies! Susan, your book sounds great. Congratulations on your first novel! I’m not sure, but I think my levis got tighter, just reading your recipe!!!!!


    1. Thank you, Lorenzo. I was the youngest of seven children and although it was expected that I would go to college as all of my siblings had, my parents felt it was up to us to earn our way.

      Working in the leather factory during my college summers was great pay. And as I said above, only the lucky college students got in. (And you had to be a college student to get this temporary job.) A good friend friend of mine had an uncle who was a foreman at the factory. That was my in. And even though it wasn’t the most enjoyable job, it along with academic scholarships, paid for the my college and provided an unique experience that I otherwise wouldn’t have known.


  4. Fabulous end to a fabulous book launch! (And yet another delicious recipe.) Since I currently have a leather sofa on order, being hand-crafted in Italy as we speak, I now can’t help but think about some poor Italian college student shaving away at cowhide. Susan, I agree with Lorenzo that this should make it into a future book!


    1. Heather, I love your comment about the poor Italian college student…lol.

      Thank you again for your help in launching The Ginseng Conspiracy. It was a fun time and I appreciate everyone who took part in it.


  5. Fantastic interview! And well done book cover blurb, Susan! I’ve always found this step frustrating beyond belief, but yours is not only succinct, but intriguing. I’ve definitely moved your book ahead on my reading list. Thanks for your encouraging emails over the last few months. I’m so glad Dave Bazan introduced me to you and your work. Best of luck as you continue to market and launch the second book in the series! Rachael C. (K. Lee Ellis)


    1. Thank you, Rachael the visiting the interview and for your well wishes. I’m also glad Dave introduced us. I’ve enjoyed writing to you. Hope we continue to stay in touch.

      Best wishes for your writing as well. Susan


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