About Susan Fletcher
Q. What is your birthdate?
Q. Previous occupations
A. Waitress, advertising copywriter, magazine free-lancer, college teacher (still going on now).
Q. Favorite job
A. Writing novels for children and young adults!
Q. High school and/or college
A. High school: Palos Verdes, California. College: University of California at Santa Barbara and University of Michigan.
Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?
A. Composer: Mozart
Q. Favorite movie
A. I'm fickle; today it's Tea with Mussolini.
Q. Favorite television show
A. Slings and Arrows (Canadian series). Also West Wing. Also Foyle's War (BBC).
Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
A. Daily work to learn the sorcery of stories.
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Fall seven times, stand up eight.
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. When I think of perfect happiness, I think of times when I am totally in the moment, completely engaged, not wanting to be or even think about a different time or place. Sometimes this happens when I’m writing, when the words are just flowing; I’m not really thinking, just taking it all down, living in that other world. When I was a kid, this would happen when I went wandering through the woods alone, or maybe playing the piano, or maybe dancing. Another ph occasion: holding my daughter in the rocking chair when she was a baby. She felt warm and heavy against me; her hair was silky; she smelled of milk. I could feel her breathing change as she slipped into a contented sleep. I flat-out knew in the deepest place that you can know things, that there was nothing in the world more important than what I was doing at that moment.
Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. I'm actually a bit superstitious about naming my greatest fear. Fortunately, I have many, many other fears to choose from. So let's just go with scorpions. Eek!
Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. I would love to be in Venice, sipping a latte in a sun-warmed piazza.
Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. I have a hard time identifying with most people in history books -- the great and the powerful. But I like to imagine I could be somebody like Marie Curie. She found something interesting and valuable to do, and she just kept at it every day, not knowing if she would discover something awesome, but willing to put in the time, to try.
Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. Nelson Mandela.
Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. I've always used "really" a lot. And "actually." I love the world "fierce." Lately I've been overdoing it with "lovely" and "seriously."
Q. What do you regret most?
A. I regret waiting so long, out of fear, to get serious as a writer.
Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. I would love to be able to dance a flawless, steamy tango!
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. My daughter has grown up to be amazing. I'm pretty much busting with pride, Kellywise, though I know I can claim only a small part of the credit.
Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Courage, lack thereof.
Q. What’s your best quality?
A. I mess up so often myself, that I try to be understanding when others do likewise.
Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. I'm okay with being me, but sometimes the life of a cat seems pretty sweet.
Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I don't know! My mom thinks it's my eyes. (They're like my dad's.)
Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. I'm kind of fickle, but Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) and Mma Ramotswe (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) are way up there near the top.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Again, I'm fickle, but Miss Havisham, with her yellow, withered bridal dress (Great Expectations) is one of my favorites.
Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
A. I actually once had a dream that I met the novelist Charles Dickens. He was at a signing for his latest book, and nobody came but me. I figured I had him to myself, so I should ask him something useful. I knew that his novels were serialized in magazines, a section at a time. As soon as he finished each section, it would be published – before he finished the novel! I can’t imagine doing this, because when I get to the end of a book I realize all the mistakes I made at the beginning and have to go back and fix them. So in my dream, I asked Dickens how he did it. Did he just start at the beginning and write to the end and hope everything fit when he got there? Did he outline ahead of time? Did he know all along where he was heading? His answer was incredibly helpful. Just incredibly. Unfortunately, I forget what it was. So I’d go back and ask him again, possibly with my iPod voice recorder turned on.
Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
A. When you call a business and they make you listen to a recorded phone message with a thousand options, but none of them fits the reason why you called.
Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Hiking, biking, hanging out with friends. Or reading, latte in hand.
Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Actually: children's book author. Backup fantasy professions: Airline pilot, jazz dancer.
Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. 1. Kindness. 2. Sense of humor. 3. Sense of perspective about one's importance in the scheme of things.
Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Grilled cheese on honey wheat berry bread, made with Canadian black diamond cheddar. Nectar of the gods!
On Books and Writing
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
A. An incomplete list, in no particular order. I'm sure I've forgotten lots. Eloise McGraw Khaled Hosseini Katherine Paterson Edith Pargeter (Ellis Peters) Alexander McCall Smith Charles Dickens Leo Tolstoy Mary Doria Russell Mark Twain David Almond Ellen Howard Jane Austen Laurence Yep E.B. White Deb Wiles Nancy Farmer Kenneth Oppel Rita Williams Garcia Kathi Appelt Harper Lee Philip Pullman Neal Stephenson William Gibson Graham Greene W.B. Yeats William Shakespeare
Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. Impossible question. As of this moment, my 5 are below. (Ask me another time and you might get a different list.) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee A Thread of Grace, by Mary Doria Russell Skellig, by David Almond Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
A. More often, I reread my favorite parts of my favorite books, rather than the whole of them.
Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
A. Pay special attention to the things that randomly interest you, especially if you don't understand why.