Our chat with Susin…
I’m not sure when or why I wanted to be a writer, but I do know that the opening sentence of my first-ever diary, written at age 11, reads, “This is the first day I’ve written in a diary. The reason I am is cos I LOVE writing stories, and if I do grow up to be a famous writer, and later die, and they want to get a story of my life, I guess I should keep a diary.” Yes, I really wrote that.
I was lucky. An author friend of mine read the first draft of my first novel, ‘Word Nerd’, and liked it enough that she wanted to introduce me to her agent. However, keep in mind that this was after over 20 years of writing for television – I wasn’t new to writing professionally.
Years earlier I wrote a really, really crap young adult novel, and an editor I really admired told me, in the kindest possible terms, that it was terrible. It took me years to try again, which was really stupid. I don’t blame the editor in the slightest – she was right – but I blame myself for being such a coward that it took me that long to try again.
That I turned them into a reader. I’ve had a lot of young people tell me they “hated reading” until they discovered one of my books. That is the ultimate achievement!
I had two: ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak and ‘Harriet the Spy’ by Louise Fitzhugh. I’ve re-read them both recently and they completely hold up – they are still incredible.