Meet the faculty of the 2019 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.
Susan Fletcher, Author
Susan has written twelve books for young readers, including SHADOW SPINNER, DRAGON’S MILK, and JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR. Collectively, her books have been translated into nine languages; accolades include a Golden Kite Honor Book, the American Library Association’s Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults, BCCB Blue Ribbon Books, and School Library Journal’s Best Books. Susan taught for many years in the M.F.A. in Writing for Children program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Bryan, Texas.
What attracted you to children’s books?
When my daughter was young, a children’s librarian took me through her collection, pulling out her favorite picture books and novels. They knocked me out! I had no idea so much wonderful stuff was being written for kids. I had always wanted to write and, in fact, I was writing and publishing magazine articles for adults at the time. But after reading those kids’ books, I was never the same again—and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my working life.
What’s the best part of your job?
I don’t know if the best part comes at the beginning or toward the end of writing a novel. The beginning: The excitement of a new idea, when anything is possible, when I want to read and read and find out EVERYTHING about the subject. The end: Or almost the end…when the world I’ve created feels solid and real to me, when I know my characters as well as my best friends, when I can feel it all coming together, and just KNOW it will work as a book.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part for me is the business end: Putting myself out there on social media, keeping up with trends, promoting my work. Like many writers, I’m an introvert, and creating a world on the page is my comfort zone. But I’m really glad I’ve forced myself out of my writing cocoon, because in meeting other children’s writers I’ve encountered some of the most amazing people I’ve ever known…and have found a community of precious friends.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?
Gosh, I’ve been given so much good advice, it’s hard to pick out just one thing. What comes to mind now, though, is something my first editor, Jean Karl, told me: “It’s better to have a good book than a book in a hurry.” I’m a slow writer by nature, and I find that when I take a little extra time to let a book marinate, and then go over it carefully line by line, I feel much better about the final result. And when I consider that I’m still getting royalties from a book that came out in 1989, the longer view makes sense to me.
Come see Susan Fletcher at the 2019 Austin SCBWI conference, May 18-19, 2019