A Conversation with Susie Finkbeiner

INSPYs 2016-Susie Finkbeiner

Today we’re talking with another author shortlisted in our 2016 awards as our interview series continues. The spotlight today is on Susie Finkbeiner and her novel, A Cup of Dust (Kregel Publications), which is on the 2016 shortlist in the General Fiction category.

We chat with Susie about the inspiration behind A Cup of Dust, what’s next for her (fans of A Cup of Dust will want to read about this one), and learn what TV addiction she makes time for every Monday.

Where you come from isn’t who you are. Book - A Cup of Dust

Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma’s Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff’s family, they’ve got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They’re who the town turns to when there’s a crisis or a need—and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.

Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother’s unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn’t sure she likes.

Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he’s really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won’t be the only thing darkening Pearl’s world.

While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl’s voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavyhanded. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart. – Goodreads | Amazon

INSPYs: What inspired A Cup of Dust?  When I was 17 I read The Grapes of Wrath for the first time. I’d never even heard of The Dust Bowl before then. Over the next 20 years I researched that era, pouring over books and documentaries and the photography of Dorothea Lange. Then, one day, I looked at my husband and said, “I’m ready to write my Dust Bowl novel.” He smiled and answered, “It’s about time.”
INSPYs: Can you give us a sneak peek into what’s coming next from you? I’m actually working on the sequel to A Cup of Dust. It’s called A Trail of Crumbs and it picks up right where Cup left off. I can’t wait for my readers to experience more of Pearl’s story. 


  • What are you listening to? I listen to all kinds of music. But when I write, I stick to classical music. Debussy is my favorite, particularly his piano pieces. 
  • What are you watching? I don’t watch much television. I find that it sucks away a lot of the time I could be spending with my family, writing, or reading. I do, however, indulge in watching Gotham with my husband on Mondays. It’s fun.

Susie Fink IMG_20160509_134629

  • What are you reading or what’s on your nightstand? I’m currently toggling between This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff and Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson. Next on my list of to-reads is Alison Hodgson’s The Pug List and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I also have a stack of books to read aloud to my kids this summer. I can hardly wait!

Thanks for joining us today, Susie! It’s great to learn more about your novel, A Cup of Dust and the inspiration behind it, plus see what’s on your reading list.


Susie Finkbeiner is the author of A Cup of Dust: A Novel of the Dust Bowl (Kregel, 2015) as well as My Mother’s Chamomile (WhiteFire, 2014) and Paint Chips (WhiteFire, 2013). 

She is currently working on her fourth novel.

Susie is a wife, mother of three, and avid reader. She enjoys time with her family, coffee dates with her good friends, and quiet moments to read and write.

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter

  • What an honor! Many thanks to the Inspys folks. You’re all so lovely (and no, that’s not me trying to grease the wheels).

    • Our pleasure, Susie. Thank you so much for joining in the author interview series. 🙂

  • Staci

    Such an interesting time period! I’ve read a couple of rave reviews about A Cup of Dust. I hope to read it very soon!

    • Staci, It was a wild time in history, that’s for sure! There was plenty of material to write a hundred books about the Dust Bowl. If you read it, I hope you enjoy it!