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Award-winning Novelist & NASCAR Insider Releases Women’s Fiction at its Best —
Life Lessons, Inspirations, Love and Aspirations – All at Top Speed!
By Susan Strecker
“A fun, detail-rich romp with unexpected depth that takes a deep dive into the inner workings of NASCAR racing in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Inspired by the author’s real-life experience as the daughter of a NASCAR team owner and the sister of a racing star, this is as close to the action as you’ll get without a pit pass. I cheered and cried in equal measure.”
—international bestselling novelist Kristin Harmel author of The Winemaker’s Wife and The Room on Rue Amélie
Set in the fast-paced world of racing, award-winning novelist and insider Susan Strecker writes in Drive, the story of Piper Pierson, who is on her way to becoming a NASCAR superstar driving for her family’s team, Pierson Racing. After a terrible wreck nearly takes her father’s life, Piper trades her dreams of racing for a journalism degree. Writing for the famed NASCAR Weekly newspaper, Piper meets Colt Porter, Pierson Racing’s hot-shot new driver and sparks fly. In a world filled with danger and crashes, Colt’s mantra is that life is beautiful and must be lived as if every day is the last. He helps Piper realize all she has to live for in spite of the past. But when another senseless accident happens, someone she loves is taken from her, testing her new-found philosophy. Drive is the story of hard truths and disappointments, growing up, and holding on to what matters most.
Filled with vividly descriptive writing and warm conversations, Drive is a page-turner that brings the reader into the main character’s world at 200 miles an hour. Ms. Strecker invites the reader to an insider’s view of the racing world, while adding a compelling coming-of-age story for her lovable female character.
There was a time—before my father’s accident—when all I wanted to be was a race car driver. I could change a tire before I turned twelve and learned to drive a stick on my fourteenth birthday. I had no need for college. Short tracks and super speedways were my classrooms, and famous drivers were my professors. My dad and I had it all figured out. I’d drive for his team and take over Pierson Racing when he retired. Then he almost died testing at a crap little track in Tennessee. And after he recovered, I couldn’t get near a race without hyperventilating. I traded my dreams of becoming the first successful female driver for a degree in journalism and understood what it was to miss something I never had.
Two weeks after graduating college, I was having dinner with my best friend, Liza, at Sandwich Construction, the most famous race car bar in the South. “I’m so glad you’re here,” Liza said, squirting ketchup on her fries. “It seems like applying for journalism jobs is your job.” A TV above the bar had the evening news on and was loudly replaying a clip of Vice President Dan Quayle telling the nation that “a mind is a terrible thing to lose.” I asked the bartender to turn down the volume and then spoke to Liza. “It might as well be,” I said. I’d been sending my resume and writing samples to newspapers and magazines for months. I’d had a handful of interviews that led nowhere and had received several letters and messages on my answering machine politely telling me thanks, but no thanks. Regardless, I refused to listen to the voice in my head telling me I was never leaving Charlotte.
“You’re so lucky you got your dream job.” Liza had been recruited by the biggest advertising agency in Charlotte. I’d secretly hoped she’d turn down the offer and we’d move to New York or LA together. But she loved the firm and they loved her. A guy with bright-blue eyes and hair the color of black coffee entered the bar. I put down my burger and watched as he sat next to Liza. Wearing a monogrammed button-down, he probably wasn’t a local. And he definitely wasn’t a driver. Liza reached for a saltshaker, strategically brushing her arm against our neighbor. “Howdy,” she said in a manufactured Southern drawl. She was from Boston. We were randomly paired as roommates our freshman year at UNC and had been best friends ever since. “I’m Liza and this is Piper.” She pointed a blue fingernail at him. “And you are?”
He extended his hand, eyeing Liza’s cleavage while he spoke. “Tack Richards.” “Are you waiting on someone?” she asked. Nothing subtle about Liza. “Can’t say that I am. I moved south for a job and haven’t met many people yet. But my neighbor said this place has the best onion rings around.” Tack’s teeth were so white I couldn’t stop staring at them.
Liza shimmied closer. “People only come to this area for two reasons. Quarter horses and car racing.” She sized him up. “What do you think, Piper? Is Tack a cowboy or a driver?”
REVIEWS FOR DRIVE!
A fun, detail-rich romp with unexpected depth that takes a deep dive into the inner workings of NASCAR racing in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Inspired by the author’s real-life experience as the daughter of a NASCAR team owner and the sister of a racing star, this is as close to the action as you’ll get without a pit pass. I cheered and cried in equal measure.” —international bestselling novelist Kristin Harmel (The Winemaker’s Wife, The Room on Rue Amélie)
“In a tale that mirrors the twists and turns on a racetrack, Susan Strecker weaves a story of love and loss against the backdrop of the NASCAR circuit. You’ll fall in love with journalist Piper Pierson, driver Colt Porter, and the charming cast of characters that guide them to the book’s stunning conclusion. Drive will make you want to get behind the wheel, and its message of fearlessness, of loving the life you’re given, will stay with you long after you cross the finish line.” –Cheryl Della Pietra, author, Gonzo Girl
Susan Strecker brings an authentic voice to her third novel and its NASCAR setting, with her background in the motorsports business. I fell in love with all of her characters—not just the rock-star rookie racecar driver and his beautiful but wounded girlfriend. Even Strecker’s secondary characters are gently flawed, and we love them for their imperfections. Her storytelling drew me in from the beginning and never let me go. Strong themes of family loyalty and self-blame flow through this well-paced story of tragedy, forgiveness, fast cars, and the very human people who own them and drive them.—Susan Cushman, author of the novel Cherry Bomb and the short story collection Friends of the Library
Drive by Susan Strecker is a book that will change your mind about life, grief and loss. As tired as I was one night, I could not put it down. You will come to love all these very personable characters. They are so real and relatable. I know nothing of NASCAR, but you don’t need to. You are driven into the world of a tight-knit family trying to do the right thing for their daughter and their company. Colt, the new driver for the family’s NASCAR race team, gallops into Piper’s heart and shows her that life is worth living. Do what you love and experience it because life takes you for a ride. Powerful page turned you will want to share with a friend. —Suzanne Lucey, owner of Page 158 Books
Susan Strecker’s third novel serves up a combination of high-stakes racing and romance, a peek into the business of NASCAR teams, and the emotional highs and lows of success. Piper and Colt will steal hearts and inspire readers to live life fully without regret. — Jeanne E. Frediksen, book reviewer
Fast-paced and emotionally driven. With unexpected plot twists, DRIVE takes the reader through the characters’ stories, through their transformation and commitments, narrating about their life-altering revelations and rediscovering freedom. A must-read discovery journey for all fans of fantastic storytelling! —Elena Granoth, Library Director, Morris Public Library
A propulsive novel that is guaranteed to get heads and hearts racing. So buckle up and hold on tight because Susan Strecker is about to take you on an exhilarating ride. DRIVE is a victory lap from one of fiction’s freshest voices. —John Valerie, Book reviewer
Drive is the kind of story one easily gets lost in, and is sorry to leave though you’ve raced to the end. —Su Epstein, Ph.D. Library Director, Saxton B. Little Free Library
So thrilled to announce my third novel, DRIVE, has been sold to Koehler Books! It will be released October 15, 2019! Stay tuned for more details.
Check out the APPEARANCES tab for a full list of writing and editing workshops.
Check out the EDITING tab and check out everything you need to know about my editing and copyediting services.
Listen to my interview with the fabulous Martha Frankel on Radio Woodstock’s show, Woodstock Writers Radio.
NOWHERE GIRL is a finalist for CHANTICLEER’S BOOK REVIEW CLUE AWARD.
NOWHERE GIRL is one of STRAND MAGAZINE’S TOP TEN THRILLER novels of 2016.
NOWHERE GIRL WON THE 2016 BEVERLY HILLS BOOK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN FICTION.
Click here to read Writer Story’s interview with me.
Click here to read Serious Reading’s interview with me.
Click here to read Fresh Fiction’s review of NOWHERE GIRL
NOWHERE GIRL is #4 on Popsugar’s List of the 26 books you should read this spring.
NOWHERE GIRL is one of March’s BEST BETS in Women’s Fiction. Click here to read:
Click here to read HARTFORD BOOKS EXAMINER’s REVIEW OF NOWHERE GIRL
KIRKUS REVIEW of NOWHERE GIRL
In Strecker’s (Night Blindness, 2014) latest, Cady Martino is at a crossroads:
her marriage is on the rocks, endangered by lack of communication and problems with infertility, and the sudden rekindling of a high school crush has Cady questioning what she’s willing to risk to find happiness. She has a core group of friends, including her best friend since forever, Gabby, and her brother, David, but her husband’s fascination with her wealth and her own weight issues continue to prey on her self-esteem. Most of all, however, she has never come to terms with her grief for Savannah. When she gains access to interview a convicted serial killer as research for her current book and, at the same time, the local police decide to reopen her sister’s case, Cady begins to discover things about Savannah’s life and death that lead her closer to the truth… The novel offers a very appealing protagonist in Cady. She’s plucky without being annoying, self-aware without being maudlin, and fiercely loyal without being blind. Her group of friends has an enviable bond, and the mystery focuses on personalities and relationships as much as it aims to reveal “whodunit.” In the end, this is a novel about great loss and refusal to surrender to the pain of this loss, showing instead how one can learn to live with it and, ultimately, find forgiveness and love as a survivor.
-Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers
-Susan Wasson, BookWorks
These would seem to be mostly distinct convictions but, on one fated afternoon, as Strecker was driving down the road with tunes blasting, a Red Hot Chili Peppers song called “Scar Tissue” came on.
“The truth is, though, when I got that call, I said, ‘OK’ and just sat down on the floor and cried,” Strecker admits. “If ‘Scar Tissue’ had not been the title, the book wouldn’t have been written. The only reason I was inspired to write was that title. It sounds weird but it’s true. And my kids came home from school and I was weeping on the kitchen floor, they said, ‘Uh, mom, should we call daddy?’”
By now, Strecker laughs about the whole situation. While “Nowhere Girl” isn’t a song title, it is, she says, based on one of her favorite Bruce Springsteen tunes called “Nothing Man.” Plus, “Nowhere Girl” has gotten positive advance praise. Kirkus Reviews, for example, called it “compulsively readable” and a “mystery (that) focuses on personalities and relationships as much as it aims to reveal ‘whodunit.’”
“The book was sort of an accidental mystery,” Strecker says. “I came up with the idea of a set of the twins and the sense of sibling connection. And that’s all I had. Literally, from one moment to the next, as I write, I have no idea. I had no idea it was going to be a mystery. It wasn’t until about the third version that I decided one of the twins would get murdered early on.”
Cady’s survivor guilt is complex. She was the “good girl” who worshipped her sister and, over the years, romanticized Savannah’s rebellious qualities — many of which surface in detail as the novel develops.
One early plot idea is indicative of Strecker’s long process. It occurred to her that the perpetrator could be a schizophrenic killer, the sort of serial monster that gambols through many popular thrillers. That didn’t work out, though.
She laughs, “I was writing along and the police found the killer two weeks later and I said, ‘Hey, I’ve just written a 20-page novel!’”
Subsequent versions had many derivations on that theme that slowly shifted the story to focus on the “whodunit” aspects. Strecker loved Cady and the cast and the core elements of the story, but she had to try all sorts of endings and potential villains. And if she didn’t think a particular scenario failed, chances were her agent and/or editor did.
“It was actually pretty funny,” Strecker says. “I had everything in place and the tone and tension, but I couldn’t figure it out.” She finally called an old friend who happens to be a criminal defense attorney, and asked him how to kill someone and get away with it. His answer — no spoilers here! — sent Strecker off in a new direction that, in turn, inspired a twisty solution that should absolutely take readers by surprise.
Oh, and for the record? Strecker only listens to music to get fired up before she writes, but doesn’t actually have tunes playing during the work. She says, “If I’m listening to really good music — and all my music’s really good — it’s hard for me to dance and type at the same time.”
–Amy Sue Nathan, author of The Glass Wives
–Sophie Littlefield, bestselling author of Garden of Stones
–Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times-bestselling author
–Kristin Harmel, internationally bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting
-Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction Booksellers