In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories – author interview – S. B. Lerneer

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In the Middle Book Tour

About In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories

For anyone who has ever sat home alone on a Saturday night…

An engrossing collection of funny, poignant and bittersweet stories about busy young women who find men in all the wrong places (the garage attendant across the street, the stay-at-home dad in the playground, the younger man at the diner counter, the blind date) and discover something about themselves in the process.

These short stories and memoir were previously published in literary magazines and newspapers.



Author S.B. Lerner

About S.B. Lerner

S.B. Lerner worked as an attorney in Manhattan for many years, and in the evenings she wrote and published short stories. They are now available as a collection, called In the Middle of Almost and Other Stories.

After getting married and becoming a mom, she was struck with the importance of knowing family history, so she researched and wrote the story of her father’s fascinating life. It was through learning about his early passion for a Zionist youth group in Poland that she became interested in the subject of her first novel, A Suitable Husband, which is set in prewar Poland.

S. B. loves to read historical fiction and novels set in other times and places, as well as to travel and meet people. Travel time is limited, lately, but she teaches an ESOL class and learns about other cultures through her diverse group of students. When not teaching, doing ‘mom’ things or playing with the puppy, she is at her desk working on another novel set on a college campus in New York.

You can visit S.B. Lerner’s website at, and read her blog ‘Novel Thoughts” through a link on the website. You can find Susan’s book on Goodreads at





Q: Do you write on a computer or with pen/pencil and paper?

 A: Computer. My fingers move more quickly over a keyboard than with a pen, although I always keep a pad next to me, in case I need to jot down notes that aren’t part of the flow of the narrative. When I have tens or hundreds of pages to review, I send the manuscript to my Kindle (you can send word docs to a Kindle). Then I review it away from the computer. When I read it on the Kindle, it feels more like reading a book. That helps give me some perspective on it. I make notes using the Kindle keyboard, but then I have to reenter the changes in the computer.


Q: Do you work from an outline?

 A: It depends. For short stories I never used an outline. They flow more organically and come to a natural conclusion. However, there is one story (the title story, “In the Middle of Almost”) which never felt as though it concluded properly, and yet felt right. I’d love thoughts on that one from readers.

For novels, I do try to use an outline, although it’s definitely not written in stone, and evolves as I write.


Q: Who is your favorite author, and why?

 Ken Follett. His writing is, as he puts it, “transparent” and allows the reader to get completely immersed in the story. He is a good writer, but it is more about rhythm and pacing and he doesn’t get too caught up in trying to be poetic. His books have great plots that grab the reader immediately, as well as romance, and interesting characters. Pillars of the Earth was his masterpiece, but I’ve enjoyed all his work, and read many more than once.



Q: What are a few of your favorite genres and why?

 A: I end up reading a great deal of non-fiction while researching my novels, but there is nothing better than curling up with a good novel. I like suspenseful thrillers, family sagas, and historical fiction from any number of periods, but especially the Second World War. I also enjoy reading short stories. They aren’t little novels; they have their own unique construct. A great story can stay with you forever.


Q: Who or what was your greatest influence that made you want to be a writer/author?

A: I began writing fiction when I lived in NYC and worked as an attorney at a law firm. The city offered all sorts of evening writing workshops and I lucked into an excellent small workshop at Marymount Manhattan College, with a great teacher and a small core group than came back semester after semester. Eventually it caught on, got too large, and our core group broke up. But I’d gotten a lot of encouragement there, and confidence that I could write. In those days I wrote only short stories. I had limited time and strong emotions and the stories almost wrote themselves.


Q: In writing your novel if you could do it again what would you do differently?

 I’m currently working on a novel that takes place during the first Palestinian Intifada and centers around that conflict. I find it very interesting, but the topic arouses such passions in people, that I find it difficult to separate politics from the story. As I create characters and develop the plot, I feel as if people are watching over my shoulder, getting angry. I’ve shown the manuscript to some people, and it seems to upset everyone—right wing or left wing. And yet I look at it as the story of a romance, and kind of Romeo and Juliet for modern times, warring tribes impinging on a natural attraction. Sometimes I wonder if I should have just set the whole thing in another period.



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