Rancho Santa Fe among settings in author’s suspense thriller


By Kathy Day

If you don’t know Susan Blick, chances are you won’t know just how much of her own life she’s put into her new book “Borrowed from the Devil.”

Bits and pieces of her life and friends are woven throughout the fast-paced 372-page work that she describes as a “suspense thriller” in which her main character gets involved with the mafia. When her best friend’s husband is mugged and her best friend disappears, the plot moves quickly into the world of unpaid loans and threats.

“It’s about making a decision you think is so right that is so wrong,” Blick said, clearly enjoying talking about her book at her Del Mar townhouse where she and her husband, Sam, have lived since 2008.

It’s set in Del Mar as well as Rancho Santa Fe, where they used to live, and it’s chock full of local landmarks people will recognize, even though they have different names.

It features an interior designer, which Blick was, and a lawyer, which her husband is, although she says he’s not at all like the one in the book.

“Some of my girlfriends see themselves in the characters,” she said. “I was really careful. I didn’t want to offend anyone.”

She promises none of the characters are real people, even though the main one – Beverlee Smirnoff – takes her name from Blick’s younger sister.

“We’re very close … she’s the person who would know where to look for me if I ever went missing,” the author said.

While this is her first published novel — she self-published it — it’s not the first she’s written. That was a 120-page tale she composed as a fourth grader growing up in Chicago.

The inspiration for “”Borrowed from the Devil” came during a phone call home.

“One day I was talking to my mom about my best friend who knows so much about me,” she said, explaining that the conversation revolved around the bonds of universal friendship. “She said, ‘You should write about it.’”

Once she decided to do that “the words just came out,” Blick added. “I never had to add or pick up up a loop or a thread and it was all sewn up at the end.”

That is, except for one thing: A twist at the end that leaves an opening for a sequel, which she’s already working on.

Over the course of the past year she wrote and edited. In the process, her mom read part of it and immediately asked for the next chapter.

About halfway through she asked her husband, a land use attorney with an office in Rancho Santa Fe who is a former Del Mar and Chula Vista city attorney, to critique her writing. Until then, she said, she had hidden it from him.

Since they share an office, he was sitting nearby as he was reading it.

“He was shaking his head and just said ‘Wow,’” she recalled, noting he was very supportive during the process as well as helpful with words. “He’s my little thesaurus.”

And, she added, he was the one who suggested ending it with a question mark.

The title came from the story line — “someone borrowing from someone who was a devilish character.”

She chose to self-publish because she didn’t want to take the time to shop it around to publishers.

Pleased with the results so far, she says many of her readers are men – which surprised her since the only “publicity” has been word of mouth.

“The best compliment is that people have told me they stayed up past midnight to finish it because they couldn’t put it down,’ she said, adding that she thinks it’s a perfect book for a book club although she has yet to suggest it for the group she’s in.

“It’s about friendship and bonds with girlfriends and relationships and how families can be shattered so quickly.”

When she’s not at her desk working on the next installment, Blick can be found walking on the beach or around the neighborhood with Sam and their new Australian shepherd puppy, Gracie. She’s the second Aussie they’ve owned, replacing one they lost to cancer recently.

Blick loves golf and painting and, now that she’s not running her interior design business, she has more time to enjoy her friends – and get new story ideas.

‘Borrowed from the Devil’

• By Susan Blick

• From $11.50 at


• Local book signings are planned.