Featured Author: Susan Shumsky
Q: In one sentence, tell me something that describes you as a person?
A: I have dedicated my life to helping people take command of their lives in powerful, positive ways, and my books are designed to assist people in realizing who they really and expressing their true purpose and divine plan.
Q: How many books have you written? How many of those are published?
A: I have written 14 books. They are all published.
Q: Do you have an upcoming release? If yes, tell me the title and impending release date.
A: Yes. The tentative title is The Big Book of Chakras. The publisher has not yet told me the publication date. It will probably be in 2019.
Q: Tell me about how you come up with your titles for your stories. Do you create the title before or after you write the book, and does it ever change from the initial title?
A: I come up with titles that I like, but publishers always insist on making the final decision, and they put it in the contract. I always come up with titles before I write the books, because I don't write any books without having a publishing contract. The title almost always changes.
Q: Out of all your characters in all of your books, who/what (sometimes a setting can also be an important “character”) do you think is the most interesting and why?
A: Thirteen of my books are self-help books, with no characters. I wrote one book with characters. It is my memoir: Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles' Guru. Its most interesting character is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He is the main character of the book (other than me). He was the most famous spiritual master of the 20th century—guru of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Grateful Dead, The Doors, Deepak Chopra, John Gray, Andy Kaufman, Doug Henning and hundreds of other superstar celebrities. He was the happiest man I ever meant, with a powerful, charismatic, intoxicating, hypnotic, and mystical personality. He was always laughing, cracking jokes, and making everyone around him feel he/she was the most important person in the universe, that now was the only time that matters, and that this was the only place there is.
Q: If you could “create” your own genre of what you write, what would you call your books?
A: "Spiritual Disclosure"
Q: Without quoting your back cover synopsis, tell me about the last book you published.
A: Susan Shumsky is a successful author in the human potential field. But in the 1970s, in India, the Swiss Alps, and elsewhere, she served on the personal staff of the most famous guru of the 20th century―Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Maharishi died in 2008 at age ninety, but his influence endures through the spiritual movement he founded: TM (Transcendental Meditation). Other books have been written about him, but this spellbinding page-turner offers a rare insider's view of life with the guru, including the time the Beatles studied at his feet in Rishikesh, India, and wrote dozens of songs under his influence.
Both inspirational and disturbing, Maharishi & Me: Seeking Enlightenment with the Beatles' Guru illuminates Susan's two decades living in Maharishi's ashrams, where she grew from a painfully shy teenage seeker into a spiritually aware teacher and author. It features behind-the-scenes, myth-busting stories about Maharishi and the superstars who followed him (the Beatles, Deepak Chopra, Mia Farrow, Beach Boys, and many more). The book is illustrated with over 100 photos that capture the guru and his celebrity disciples in that time.
Susan's candid, honest portrayal draws back the curtain on her shattering, extreme emotional seesaws of heaven and hell at her guru's hands. This compelling, haunting memoir will continue to challenge readers long after they turn its last page. It dismantles all previous beliefs about the spiritual path and how spiritual masters are supposed to behave.
Susan shares: “Merely by being in his presence, we disciples entered an utterly timeless place and rapturous feeling, and, at the same time, realized the utter futility and insanity of the mundane world.”
Susan's heartfelt masterwork blends her experiences, exacting research, artistically descriptive and humorous writing, emotional intelligence, and intensely personal inner exploration into a feast for thought and contemplation. Neither starry-eyed nor antagonistic, it captures, from a balanced viewpoint, the essence of life in an ashram.
Q: Tell me something about yourself that is separate from writing.
A: Since 2001, I had been a tour guide to spiritual destinations in India, the Egyptian Pyramids, Bali, Assisi, Machu Picchu Peru, and more. A public speaker and retreat leader since 1970, I decided to gather like-minded people for fun and camaraderie on exclusive vacations at sea. I invited fellow authors, readers, healers, and celebrity speakers to teach transformational workshops and offer human potential products and services onboard cruise ships at themed conferences.
My first cruise featured a 2012 Maya theme. Subsequent cruises have run the gamut: intuition, shamanism, new life, Valentines love cruise, ancient mysteries, oracle at Delphi to Atlantis on the Greek Isles, Polynesian spirituality in Tahiti, and more. On the ship, participants are offered a smorgasbord of self-development workshops to choose from—so many, in fact, that they cannot possibly attend them all. In addition, there are yoga classes and a nightly UFO Watch—viewing the starlit sky with night-vision goggles.
While planning my cruises, I realized special shore excursions could offer an opportunity to enrich the wellness experience. So I devised uniquely imagined, exclusive shore excursions for my groups, where attendees participate in indigenous authentic fire ceremonies with Maya elders, ancient Native American, Inkan, or Tlingit ceremonies, visits to off-the-beaten-track UNICEF heritage sites, and more. Dozens of attendees have expressed profound life changes from participating in these activities.
The main feature of these special cruises is meeting new friends who share a passion for the cruise’s theme. This is ideal for single travelers who would otherwise find traveling an excruciatingly lonely experience. The collective group energy on holistic cruises produces an elevated, inspirational, unparalleled feeling. Personal transformation through meditation and other experiential processes can be life-changing. Hundreds of attendees’ testimonials bear witness to the results they experience: health, rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, and transformation.
So far, I have conceived and produced 29 sacred-destination tours overseas, dozens of meditation retreats, and 15 holistic themed conferences at sea. My Divine Travels website is www.divinetravels.com and email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Who is your favorite Author?
A: Veda Vyasa
Q: What is the last book that you read? (Not counting anything you wrote)
A: The Love You Make by Peter Brown
Q: When writing, do you have a system or something you plan, or do you just write?
A: I just follow the outline I've written when I created the Book Proposal.
Q: Why do you write?
A: Because I love to write, and because my purpose is to bring my message to as many people as possible.
Q: Do you read your own work a lot? If so, what does it do for you?
A: Well I have to read my books over and over, because I have to edit and proofread them. What this does is it makes the books much better.
Q: What is your favorite type of music? Is there one genre (or song, band etc.) that brings out your creativeness more than others?
A: Classical music. I love Vaughn Williams, Wagner, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi.
Q: As an author, I find that the hardest thing to write (for me) is the synopsis that will be on the back cover or book’s description. When you write, what is the hardest line to write, the first line, the last line or the synopsis for the book?
A: I don't find any of it hard to write.
Q: If you could sit down and have a coffee (or whatever beverage) with anyone, living or dead, from any era, any time, who would it be and why? (You can pick up to 3 persons).
A: Jesus, because I want to pick his brain. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, because I want to get his input about the book I wrote about him. Lord Krishna, because I want to experience his energy.
Q: What does it mean to be a “successful” writer?
A: A successful writer is one who moves readers emotionally, inspires and motivates readers, and changes their lives.
Q: What do you want to accomplish, so when you look back at your life, you can say “I did that”?
A: I want to help as many people as possible to achieve spiritual awakening and to realize God.
Q: Any final thoughts that you want to give to your fans or even future authors?
A: Don't waste your life on trivialities. Instead, realize and express your true nature. Listen to the "still small voice" of your higher self within, trust what it's telling you to do, and, even if you are afraid, follow its guidance with courage and faith.