First Chapter Review: Spider Brains by Susan Wingate


The first chapter of Spider Brains by Susan Wingate was sent to me by the author’s publicist.


BLURB: Susie Speider has big troubles. She suffers from A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder). Her future now lies in the cold, calloused palm of her gnarly teacher’s hand–a, one, Ms. Morl-son–and Susie fears she won’t get into college. But when a small black arachnid bites her on the finger, Susie’s nights transform into fantastical adventures. The problem? Susie fig-ures out the dreams are REAL! So, she ups the ante by visiting Morlson nightly…

…AS THE SPIDER! (And on the back of Delilah, her pussy cat ☺)

Through it all, Susie must come to terms with the death of her father. While Matt Ryder, the geeky neighbor boy, deals with the loss of his own mother.

COVER: Very neat. You have the main character, the setting, and the spider tie-in all together. Love how Susie is not looking straight, but somewhere off camera.

FIRST CHAPTER: In a rambling first person narrative, Susie talks all about school, her nerdy word-loving personality, her mom, the death of her dad, and the night she got bit by a spider.

KEEP READING: Definitely.  I like unique characters and Susie fits that bill. Though I have to admit I found the rambling narrative a bit nagging, it stays true to this character’s psychological make up, so it works. And what’s better is that she’s hilarious. Suddenly some random thought pops into her head and she blurts it out, moving the reader in a new direction for a few moments before bringing them back to what she was saying earlier. There are times when she sounds younger than a sophomore in high school, but I remember being that age where you’re still straddling the line between kid and young adult, which creates confusion.  Susie feeling like a nerd and not fitting in well will help many readers relate to her plight, and there’s an air of mystery about the spider bite and what it means for her. I also appreciated the inside details, like a photo of Susie on the first page and the spider web drawings that start and end the chapter. Based upon some of the words and topics discussed, I would say this book is for older teens and up.

I look forward to discovering more of Susie’s story.

File Size: 1365 KB
Publisher: Astraea Press (March 25, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

BN ID: 2940016190914
Publisher: Astraea Press
Publication date: 3/26/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook

I received the first chapter of this book from the author’s publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Interview with Susan Wingate, Author of Spider Brains

Most recently, Susan Wingate’s novels, SPIDER BRAINS and DROWNING each reached Amazon Bestseller status in 2012. DROWNING won the 2011 Forward National Literature Award for Drama. She would love for you to read her books. You can find them all under the tab on this site labeled “Books”. SUSAN has written eleven novels, two short story collections, a few plays, one screenplay and tons of poems. Her latest 2011 novel DROWNING  (contemporary women’s fiction), won 1st place in the 2011 Forward National Literature Award and also won a finalist award for the category of Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit in the 2011 International Book Awards. A vibrant public speaker, Susan offers inspiring, motivational talks about the craft of writing, publishing and marketing, and how to survive this extremely volatile (e-)Publishing industry. She presents these lectures for private groups and at writing conferences, libraries and bookstores around the country.

Thank you for joining us today, Susan. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Absolutely! Well, I love animals and always seem to include them in my writing. I live on a small island off the coast of Washington State where we have a beautiful country home that sits on five acres of lush earth. A large pond brings lots of wildlife to our spot. We see Great Blue Herons, bald eagles, mallards, wood ducks, fox, raccoons and herds of deer. As well, I have two dogs–a Cocker Spaniel named Rocky and a Westie named Robert. And, don’t cringe but we have twelve cats! That’s a bunch but they all came to me as feral cats (wild cats) from around this rural landscape on which we live. Now, they’re all quite tame, fat and happy! We also have fourteen birds–cockatiels, doves and pigeons. Obviously, my husband loves animals (and me) too.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

My father was a writer and I remember him reading to us his work way back when we were just small children. His bachelor’s degree was in English and he minored in speech. So, we always had reading in our lives. He influenced me a great deal. I think I’ve always hoped that one day I might write like him. He usually wrote these fun adventure stories with tons of humor.

But it wasn’t until I was thirty-nine when I began to take my writing seriously. At that point, I believed writing would be my future.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I write both adult and juvenile fiction but with juvenile fiction I can explore the relationship between human beings and other animals. And, even more so with juvenile fiction, where I can bring to life animals who think, feel and act much like humans do. There are several studies that prove animals as being sentient beings, feeling and sensitive beings. I give this notion legitimacy in my stories. But I also like to explore the human condition. For instance, some of my stories like SPIDER BRAINS touch on other serious topics such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and the treatment of ADD. SPIDER BRAINS also deals with the topic of death and loss, hope and redemption.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

I’m not sure that either–adult fiction or juvenile fiction–is more difficult to write than the other. There may be different considerations for each but writing novels, no matter the genre or age, entails the same amount of work. A writer must to come up with a viable idea. A writer must create some sort of road map for the idea. In my case, I develop an outline. And then a writer must log 50,000 words and up, all that will hold a reader’s attention.

Another point for this question is that SPIDER BRAINS almost fell into my lap. Literarlly! I explain this point further in just a few more questions.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

I think nailing the younger characters in each story, in voice and style and action. Young people speak differently than adults and usually with tons more emotion. They talk with their entire bodies–they roll their eyes, flip their hair, make strange sounds when they need to add emphasis, they do this full-body-slump when they’re upset. For me, young people are more interesting to observe because they hold nothing back.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

SPIDER BRAINS: A LOVE STORY tells the story of fifteen-year-old Susie Speider. She sees herself as a nerd and she’s a word freak. One night while Susie is lying in bed trying to sleep, she notices a spider traversing her ceiling. After getting a closer look at the spider and feeling as if they’ve bonded, she puts her finger next to the creature to see if it will climb aboard in order for Susie to put it outdoors. Well, one thing leads to another, as they say.

This is the book’s blurb. I think it tells the story best… “After her father’s death last year and, now, in the throes of a gnarly teacher’s whim, a small black arachnid bites fifteen-year-old Susie Speider on the finger. The bite sends her nights into fantastical dreams about taking revenge on the teacher who, ultimately, holds her college aspirations in the palm of her cold, calloused hand. But after Susie figures out the dreams are real, she begins visiting the teacher regularly… as the spider! And, oh, by the way! Who is that boy spider munching on flies, hiding over there in the corner?”

What inspired you to write SPIDER BRAINS?

One night in bed, I noticed something strange. It was very early in the morning. My husband had gotten up for work and flipped on the bathroom light switch. The brightness shone against the ceiling and there, not too far from the bed, was a spider making its way across the ceiling. I thought about retrieving it and then setting it free outside but before I could set one foot on the floor to do so, a story flashed across my mind. For about an hour I wrote notes covering the over-arching idea which resulted in the novel SPIDER BRAINS.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

The paperback for SPIDER BRAINS can be found at bookstores and on

The eBook for this book can be found exclusively on

People can also buy the book directly from the publisher, Roberts Press at

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

I do! Thank you for asking. My website is and my blog is

What is up next for you?

Well, right now, I’m working on two novels. One is the 2nd book in the Susie Speider Series. The second is in a new genre for me. It’s an apocalyptic thriller. It still falls into the category of Young Adult but the apocalyptic thriller will be new for me. I’m having tons of fun writing that one too.

Do you have anything else to add?

I just want to say thank you for having me on your great blog. It’s quite an honor for you to spend your valuable time featuring me and SPIDER BRAINS. So, thank you very much! It’s been a pleasure answering all of these great questions.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Susan. We wish you much success.