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I love when people ask me questions about books, writing and reading.

Thank you so much for this opportunity! You can find a downloadable high resolution photo on my web site here: http://susanwiggs.com/press.shtml
10 Questions for Susan Wiggs
1. What was your favorite book as a child?
SW: I loved so many books as a child, it’s hard to narrow it down. Yertle the Turtle by Dr Seuss was the first I bought with my own money. I sobbed over You Were Princess Last Time about a girl whose mean sister cut off her long, beautiful hair (I had long, beautiful hair.). Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White was one I read again and again. The whole world is in that book–life, death, friendship, family, loyalty, humor, pathos, suspense, drama and an uplifting ending…everything I hope readers find in my own books.
2. What is your favorite book right now?
SW: An unfinished novel called Daisy+Logan+Julian, by my favorite author (me).  I’m not being facetious; I really do love this book and I’ve wanted to write it for a long time. It’s about continuing characters from past books, and I can’t wait to write their story. But I do have to wait, because I have other deadlines to meet. Soon, though!
3. What book do you like to give away as a present?
SW: I Like You by Amy Sedaris–it’s everyone’s childhood in one big, funny book. Meeting God In Quiet Places by F. LaGarde Smith is a comforting book about walking, meditation and prayer. And Literary Feasts, a cookbook with photos and recipes by famous authors with an intro by chef Greg Atkinson; the proceeds go to raise money for libraries.
4. What book are you reading right now?
SW: The Reserve by Russell Banks, about privileged families at an Adirondack Mountain retreat in the 1930s. It’s wonderful!
5. What book have you always wanted to read, but haven’t yet gotten around to?
SW: The da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I believe I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t read it yet.
6. What book would you have liked to have written yourself?
SW: Same answer as #2 above–the book about Daisy from my series, The Lakeshore Chronicles. I wish I was already done with that book! I feel so much pressure to do a good job on that book, I’m almost afraid to start it. I don’t want my readers to feel let down.
7. What book (not your own) should have made the bestseller lists?
SW: Love in Bloom by Sheila Roberts–a book about all the loves that fill a woman’s life. It’s wonderful, the kind of novel you want to share with all the women you know. And Oxygen by Carol Cassella, an absorbing page-turner with a huge heart and many intriguing twists. Both books deserve a wide audience.
8. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
SW: David Copperfield (I’m a sucker for writers in novels), Huckleberry Finn, Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo) and Frodo Underhill from The Lord of the Rings. All of them were such strivers; they never gave up. My favorite romantic hero is (no surprise) Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice.
9. Who is your favorite fictional heroine?
SW: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh–she inspired me to be a writer. Jo March from Little Women –another writer who never gave up. And Jane Eyre, who never gave up on love.
10. What is your “guilty” reading pleasure?
SW: I never, ever feel guilty about reading anything. All reading is good. Books that are dismissed as frivolous by some readers can be life-changing for others, so I would never want anyone to feel guilty for reading anything. I sure don’t!
Thank you!

10 Questions for Susan Wiggs

1. What was your favorite book as a child?

Hello, Charlotte!

Hello, Charlotte!

SW: I loved so many books as a child, it’s hard to narrow it down. Yertle the Turtle by Dr Seuss was the first I bought with my own money. I sobbed over You Were Princess Last Time about a girl whose mean sister cut off her long, beautiful hair (I had long, beautiful hair.). Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White was one I read again and again. The whole world is in that book–life, death, friendship, family, loyalty, humor, pathos, suspense, drama and an uplifting ending…everything I hope readers find in my own books.

2. What is your favorite book right now?

SW: An unfinished novel called Daisy+Logan+Julian, by my favorite author (me).  I’m not being facetious; I really do love this book and I’ve wanted to write it for a long time. It’s about continuing characters from past books, and I can’t wait to write their story. But I do have to wait, because I have other deadlines to meet. Soon, though!

3. What book do you like to give away as a present?

SW: I Like You by Amy Sedaris–it’s everyone’s childhood in one big, funny book. Meeting God In Quiet Places by F. LaGarde Smith is a comforting book about walking, meditation and prayer. And Literary Feasts, a cookbook with photos and recipes by famous authors with an intro by chef Greg Atkinson; the proceeds go to raise money for libraries.

4. What book are you reading right now?

SW: The Reserve by Russell Banks, about privileged families at an Adirondack Mountain retreat in the 1930s. It’s wonderful! And Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, who passed away suddenly this August. 😦 Wonderful book on storytelling.

5. What book have you always wanted to read, but haven’t yet gotten around to?

SW: The da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. I believe I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t read it yet.

6. What book would you have liked to have written yourself?

SW: Same answer as #2 above–the book about Daisy from my series, The Lakeshore Chronicles. I wish I was already done with that book! I feel so much pressure to do a good job, I’m almost afraid to start it. I don’t want my readers to feel let down.

7. What book (not your own) should have made the bestseller lists?

SW: Love in Bloom by Sheila Roberts–a book about all the loves that fill a woman’s life. It’s wonderful, the kind of novel you want to share with all the women you know. And Oxygen by Carol Cassella, an absorbing page-turner with a huge heart and many intriguing twists. Both books deserve a wide audience. In the children’s arena, Looking for Bapu by Anjali Banerjee and Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors should have been bestsellers.

8. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

SW: David Copperfield (I’m a sucker for writers in novels), Huckleberry Finn, Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo) and Frodo Underhill from The Lord of the Rings. All of them were such strivers; they never gave up. My favorite romantic hero is (no surprise) Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Restraint can  be so sexy. I wish someone would explain that to Barkis.

9. Who is your favorite fictional heroine?

SW: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh–she inspired me to be a writer. Jo March from Little Women –another writer who never gave up on her dream, even when her bratty sister burned her manuscript. I cried harder then than I did when Beth died! And Jane Eyre, who never gave up on love.

10. What is your “guilty” reading pleasure?

SW: I never, ever feel guilty about reading anything. All reading is good. Books that are dismissed as frivolous by some readers can be life-changing for others, so I would never want anyone to feel guilty for reading anything. I sure don’t!

 

Harriet rocks!

Harriet rocks!

In my Book Brahmin interview, I was only allowed to list one, but I had an ever-changing array as I grew. 

 

 

Favorite book when you were a child:

SW: Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I slept with it under my pillow so I could channel Harriet, and started carrying a notebook everywhere I went. I still do that. 

Note: Please do not see the movie! It ruins the book. Movies have a nasty habit of doing that, except in certain cases, like The Wizard of Oz.

Other contenders for my favorites:

  • You Were Princess Last Time – Long out of print; don’t recall the author
  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – probably the most flawless book ever written
  • The Watchbirds – another out of print, an author/illustrator I can’t recall

So many more. But I’ll shut up. List your childhood faves in Comments. 

I’m a tough sell when it comes to movie adaptations of books. When the book is a beloved children’s classic–even tougher. When the adaptation is a feature-length film based on a 32-page picture book…well…. But the good news is, the director is Spike Jonze and the story was adapted by Dave Eggers. And the trailer is very watchable. See for yourself here. What do you think? Will it be the next Wizard of Oz?

a booksigning for my friend, Suzanne Selfors

a booksigning for my friend, Suzanne Selfors

Another Q from Deborah: Back in ’89, you wrote a picture book, The Canary Who Sailed with Columbus. How did that book come about? Have you considered writing more children’s books?

SW: I wrote it for my daughter, who was five at the time. I’d been researching a historical novel about the first Columbus voyage, and we made a family trip to Spain, so it was a way to give her a glimpse of the process. I didn’t really expect to publish the children’s book, but the illustrator and I put something together and we sold it to a small Texas publisher. I loved it, because I got to do school and library visits and meet adorable young readers. It would be fun to do another one day, but there’s nothing on the horizon at this time. Children’s book publishing is tough–a bunny-eat-bunny world out there!

How about you? What writing project have you tackled just for fun, or for your kid?

This very small but very interconnected town is crawling with writers. There are enough of us that we made the local paper’s year-end roundup. It’s incredibly nice to live in a place where the work one does is valued.

best_of_bainbridge-fave-authors1

Here’s the excerpt about island writers:

Written on the island

Steadily documenting the work of Bainbridge authors over the course of a year is pure pleasure for a reader and writer. Seeing them compiled into a single “year in review” entry is jaw dropping.

Whether your drool is awe- or envy-inspired, wipe it off and get to the library or bookstore.

Fiction ran the gamut, from juicy to literary. Kristin Hannah glowed with “Firefly Lane,” Susan Wiggs gave us “Just Breathe,” and Carol Cassella provided the remedy with “Oxygen.” Meanwhile, Judith Reynolds Brown celebrated a “Turkish Wedding,” Anthony Flacco came out of the woodwork with “The Hidden Man,” Jonathan Evison explored familial (dys)function in “All About Lulu,” and David Guterson took us into the backwoods while examining the duality of manhood in “The Other.”

In verse, MacArthur Award winning poet Linda Bierds published “Flight: New and Selected Poems.”

History and biography scored. Mary Woodward published “In Defense of Our Neighbors: The Walt and Milly Woodward Story.”

Ann Gowen Combs and her brother, Geoffrey Gowen, documented another island legend and father with “Sunrise to Sunrise: Vincent Gowen’s Memoirs.” Michael Lisagor turned his “Romancing the Buddha” into a one-man stage play.

Gary White turned 30 years’ worth of passionate research into “The Hall Brothers Shipbuilders.” Wilkes Elementary School teacher Warren Read explored his family’s history of racism in “The Lyncher in Me.” And Richard LeMieux documented his years of homelessness in “Breakfast at Sally’s.”

(These last two, while not technically island residents, made the “island” cut by virtue of proximity as well as worth.)

In photography and how-to, a pair of Kathleens, O’Brien and Smith, published “The Green Home Primer,” a design-focused guide to creating an environmentally sound domicile. Michael Diehl made churn visually fascinating with “Crossings: On the Ferries of Puget Sound.” And two women with a taste for the island raised funds for the Kitsap Humane Society with “Flavors of Bainbridge.”

Other nonfiction included “Evangelical vs. Liberal” by James Wellman and “Understanding Your Child’s Puzzling Behavior” by clinical psychologist Steven Curtis.

Which leads us to the kids. Suzanne Selfors followed last year’s “To Catch a Mermaid” with the young adult novel “Saving Juliet,” later adapted for the stage at BPA.

First-time author Andrea von Botefuhr gave us “The Land of Smaerd.” Julie Hall presented “A Hot Planet Needs Cool Kids,” while science/how-to fave Lynn Brunelle tackled shoe-tying with “The Zoo’s Shoes.”

Finally, George Shannon gets mention this year for “Rabbit’s Gift.” Though published in 2007, the charming winter-themed picture book, resonant on so many levels, earned a 2008 Washington State Book Award for children’s fiction.

What’s better than a brand new novel from a beloved children’s author?

A free copy plus a $40 certificate to buy any book you want! See below for entry info:

FORTUNE’S MAGIC FARM

fabulous for readers 8-12

fabulous for readers 8-12

In Fortune’s Magic Farm (coming March 1, 2009), Isabelle meets two people who share a very special magical skill.
Imagine your own story in which your hero discovers that he or she has a special magical power. Write a few paragraphs about the moment when your hero discovers that power.
Email your story to Suzanne at mail@suzanneselfors.com. Be sure to put “contest” in the subject line. Or mail your story to Suzanne at Writing Contest, PO Box 10414, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Include a drawing if you’d like.
Four winners will each receive a $40 gift certificate to the bookstore of his/her choice and a signed copy of Fortune’s Magic Farm. Winning stories will be posted on Suzanne’s website. Entry deadline: February 1, 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

*** CALENDAR ALERT ***SAVE THE DATE

WRITING IN THE GARDEN OF THE GODS
Field’s End Writers’ Conference 2008Photo by s.j. luke, onsetimagery

WHO: This year’s line-up of authors and speakers includes: Roy Blount, Jr. (keynote speaker), Stephanie Kallos (opening speaker), Knute Berger, Alice Acheson, Lyall Bush, Laura Kalpakian, Thomas Kohnstamm, Rosina Lippi aka Sara Donati, Jennifer Louden, Nancy Pagh, George Shannon, Charley Pavlosky, Sheila Rabe aka Sheila Roberts, Suzanne Selfors, David Wagoner, and Timothy Egan (closing speaker). Professional actor Ron Milton will be on hand for the Page One sessions.

WHAT: Third annual Field’s End Writers’ Conference, “Writing in the Garden of the Gods.”

WHEN: Saturday, April 26, 2008
9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE: Kiana Lodge
14976 Sandy Hook Rd. NE
Poulsbo, WA 98370

DETAILS: This one-day conference, held at the spectacularly beautiful Kiana Lodge near Bainbridge Island, is a combination of lectures and breakout sessions presented by an eclectic group of people in the literary world.

The day offers three groupings of breakout sessions. Guests will select three workshops to attend according to their interest (literary fiction, poetry, nonfiction, screen writing, dialogue, genre, travel writing, editing, journalism, historical fiction, and commercial fiction). Each breakout session will also offer a Page One workshop, where conference guests can anonymously submit the first page of something they’ve written for possible live reading and critique by the guest authors.

Lunch is provided and there will be an early evening wine and cheese reception and book signing providing conference guests, authors, and speakers a chance to mingle. Shuttle buses will be available to carry walk-on ferry passengers to and from Kiana Lodge.

Registration begins February 1, 2008. Early registration is recommended as the conference is limited to 250 guests and has sold out in the past. Cost to attend is $135 if you register before February 28, 2008 and $150 after March 1, 2008. Groups of 5 or more can register for $130/person. To register for the 2008 Field’s End Writers’ Conference, visit http://www.fieldsend.org.

Founded in 2002, Field’s End is a writers’ community whose mission is to inspire writers and nurture the written word through lectures, workshops, and instruction in the art and craft of writing. Located across the Puget Sound from Seattle on beautiful Bainbridge Island, Field’s End is an affiliate of the nonprofit Bainbridge Public Library, which is located at 1270 Madison Avenue on Bainbridge Island. For more information, call (206) 842-4162 or visit http://www.fieldsend.org.

###

MEDIA CONTACT:
Kirsten Graham
Concept 2 Launch
(206) 890-3435
kirsten@concept2launch.net

kirsten graham
c o n c e p t 2 l a u n c h, LLC
creative consultants
innovation
.connections.results
t.206.890.3435
e:kirsten@concept2launch.net
http://www.concept2launch.net

2007, like every other year, is the year of the book. Fully confident that none of my friends or family read my blog (really, they don’t), I’ll post a partial list of some of the books I’ve bought as gifts this year:

A moment of silence, please. Madeleine L’Engle has died at the age of 88.

Madeleine L

A WRINKLE IN TIME was one of those books I read as a child and thought, wow. I am Meg. To this day, every protagonist I write in my own books seems to be a smart, awkward, vulnerable, strong-at-her-core female, which is the archetype Meg embodies. I didn’t know that when I was in 5th grade. I just know I related to her on every level.

Later in life I read WALKING ON WATER, one of the single best books on the art of writing ever published. It is “must” reading for every writer.

I have a signed copy of A WRINKLE IN TIME because I was privileged to meet Madeleine when she visited a school where I was teaching about 15 years ago. I loved meeting her. She was Meg, all grown up. Smart, awkward, vulnerable, strong-at-her-core. She will live to eternity in the hearts of readers.

I have the best little writers’ group on the island and we’re celebrating the debut novel of one of our members. Suzanne Selfors is having a gala launch for her novel, To Catch A Mermaid, an exuberant adventure for young readers. If you’re in the area, stop by the Eagle Harbor Book Company on Sunday, September 9 at 3:00pm. Wear your Viking helmet!

Suz

Never has the term “homegrown” been more fitting. Everything about debut author Suzanne Selfors is homegrown, from her Bainbridge Island childhood to her spectacular organic garden, which surrounds the historic house built by her pioneer ancestors. On a storybook farm, filled with blooming flowers and orchards, heirloom tomatoes, free-ranging chickens, ducks and bunnies, Suzanne might seem as though she inhabits a Disney movie.

However, like many writers, she has her dark-and-twisty side, too. This is evident in her first novel, To Catch a Mermaid, a rollicking fantasy adventure with an irresistible balance of humor, the sort that’s broad enough to appeal to kids and sly enough to please their parents. Suzanne’s books also feature the sort of pathos and danger that brings to mind Roald Dahl at his very best. Maybe it’s that Nordic sensibility–Suzanne’s ancestors came from Norway and settled on Bainbridge in the 19th century.

Although she has homegrown roots, Suzanne also has a first class education. She studied at Bennington College in Vermont and graduated from Occidental College in Pasadena, California. She earned a Master’s in communications from UW, married a pilot and moved into a house on the island that has been in her family for generations.

Suzanne’s favorite library memory is of the day she found a stray dog hanging around outside the library door–an adorable cockapoo. “We ended up adopting her and she was the family dog through most of my childhood. We always joked that she was the very best thing we ever checked out from the library.”

Today, one of her favorite features of the library is the books on tape, which she listens to on long walks. “Right now I’m listening to StarGirl by Jerry Spinelli,” she reports. And of course, the library is the ideal place for this busy mother of two to get some writing done. “I use the back tables all the time. Plug in my laptop and escape from the distractions of my house. I get tons of work done.”

Note that she calls writing work. Over the years, I’ve encountered many emerging and aspiring writers. Hundreds, really. But of those hundreds, very few understand the work involved in the process and then make the journey to being published. Like Dorothy’s journey through Oz, there are all kinds of pitfalls along the way. The first time I met Suzanne, she was an emerging writer just finishing her first full-length novel. Almost immediately, I knew she would one day join the ranks of the published. She had the smarts, creativity, drive and stick-to-it-iveness that it takes to launch and sustain a writing career. And the talent.

Behind every “overnight success” is a plan that might be years in the making. Suzanne joined the first-ever novel-writing class offered by Field’s End through the library. Instructor Michael Collins, an acclaimed writer based in Bellingham, was her teacher and mentor in the class.

Suzanne’s writing quickly gained the attention of one of the top literary agents in New York City. Michael Bourret of the Jane Dystel Agency responded to the unpublished manuscript with the kind of enthusiasm a writer dreams of: “When I first read To Catch a Mermaid, I was blown away,” he says. “It’s rare to find a novel that feels like a classic the first time you read it, but that’s exactly [the way this story] reads. It reminded me so much of books and authors I’d loved from my childhood, like Mary Rodgers’s Freaky Friday or the novels of Roald Dahl, and I could imagine children for decades falling in love with this timeless story.”

Michael was not alone in his enthusiasm. The book was sold at auction–something that is exceedingly rare for a first novel–and landed with Little, Brown. Michael has high hopes for To Catch a Mermaid, certain of its broad appeal, “which feels both nostalgic and modern.”

In addition to writing an incredibly strong novel, Suzanne followed it up with not one but two encores–a second middle-grade fantasy novel for Little, Brown and a young adult literary comedy for Bloomsbury. The author’s professionalism and creativity were a huge plus for this agent. “Suzanne, as an author, is a dream,” Michael comments. “She writes from the heart, and has a burning desire to tell stories (and not just for children). She will have a long, successful career writing many kinds of books, and I’m really honored to be a part of her world.”

He has no idea. I wonder how Michael, a native Brooklynite, would fit in with the duck pond and henhouses?

Way to go, Suz! You’re living the dream! cake

How to Read Like a Grown-upSuzanne Selfors’s All-Time Favorite Books

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

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