March 7, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Susanna Leonard Hill


Three Times a Charm is back!!! It is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry.



To usher us back into a charming normality is author, Susanna Hill. Welcome, Susanna. Can you tell us about yourself?  


I was born into a family of readers.  From my earliest memory, our home was filled with books.  Seriously.  Filled J  They were actually stacked in the hallway until we finally got some new bookshelves… which filled up quickly… and then there were more stacks J  My parents read to us at bedtime.  They read to us in the car.  If it was too dark to read in the car, my dad would tell us the stories of Shakespeare  - Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear – in his own words so we could grasp the stories, but with many of the soliloquies thrown in for good measure.  I didn’t know, when I was a child, that this was not the norm.  I thought everyone lived like this J



I started writing my own stories when I was 4.  The first ones were pretty simple… “This is my cat.  The End.”  The first real book I wrote that I still have is from second grade.  It’s called The Girl And The Witch (I dare you to guess what it’s about J) and I read it frequently on school visits, much to the kids’ amusement.  I don’t know why they laugh.  It is a VERY scary story!



I always knew I wanted to write, but I didn’t know that anyone could be an author.  I thought authors were mystical beings who lived in huts in uncharted forests and had long unkempt beards.  So I wrote horse stories, and Nancy Drew sequels, and epic poetry for school assignments or just for myself.



But one day when my first child was about 18 months old, and I was reading picture books to her by the minivan load, I thought, you know what?  This is what I want to do!  And that’s when I started writing for children.



I am thrilled beyond measure to be able to say now that I’m the author of 10 published books for children (9 in the US and 1 in the Netherlands) including Punxsutawney Phyllis (a Book Sense Children's Pick and an Amelia Bloomer Feminist Books for Youth pick), No Sword Fighting In The House (a Junior Library Guild Selection), and Not Yet, Rose (winner of a Gold Mom’s Choice Award.)  I love visiting schools and libraries and sharing reading and writing with kids.  I love horses and dogs and have a weakness for oatmeal raisin cookies and good chick flicks :)  I'm an avid reader and, in addition to books for adults, I'm a big fan of picture books and YA. My most recent title is April Fool, Phyllis! released  March 2011 from Holiday House.  I have 5 digital books forthcoming from A Story Before Bed.



What a fantastic story. Your childhood sounds positively charming! Congratulations on so many published books. Are you busy with any other projects, as well?



In addition to my books, I write a blog at Susanna Leonard Hill (http://susannahill.blogspot.com)  It’s a blog for parents, teachers, librarians, home schoolers, writers – anyone who enjoys the world of children’s books.  Would You Read It Wednesdays are especially for children’s writers to try out their book pitches.  Perfect Picture Book Fridays are for parents and teachers looking for great books along with activities of all kinds to expand their use at home and in the classroom.  There are guest interviews with authors and illustrators (and author/illustrators!)  And there is a new question/advice feature called Oh Susanna where readers can write in with questions about writing, reading, books, teaching writing, etc.  We also have writing contests!  And prize giveaways!  Basically it’s all about fun over there J



I also love doing school visits and am very interested in trying out Skype visits with schools that are too far away to be practical or whose budgets don’t allow for an actual visit.



Now for the three’s. Share with us your top 3’s so we can get to know you better.



  • Top 3 books you’ve read in the past year.



Top 3!  It’s practically impossible to choose 3!  30 maybe J  Let’s see… 3…

Red Sings From Treetops by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski – a picture book for ages 5 and up whose language and art are so incredibly beautiful that everyone should read it!

Matched by Ally Condie – a YA dystopian novel with a very interesting premise, well-written sympathetic characters, and an ending that will leave you desperate for Crossed J

The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which I realize everyone else on earth read years ago, but it’s truly one of the best stories I’ve ever read.



  • Top 3 leisure activities.



I’m going for this one because it looks like it gets skipped a lot J  And I’m not counting writing here because technically that is my work.

#1 I love to be outdoors – walking my dogs, running, horseback riding when I get the chance which is practically never but still… J etc.

#2 I love to read!  And I never seem to have enough time to read as much as I want.  Reading by a cozy fire in winter or on the back porch in summer are idyllic.

#3 I love puzzles/games.  Text twist, Sudoku, sporcle… I could do them all the time.  Also, although I’m not much of a TV watcher, I do really love Grey’s Anatomy J



  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.



#1 Steam-roller driver

#2 Fire-fighter

#3 Professional horse trainer or veterinarian J

(As I mentioned above, I didn’t know writer was a choice!)

Apparently I was not cut out for these professions as I find myself a mom and a writer, and very happy to be so J



Susanna, where can our readers learn more about you and your work?










Thank you for visiting with us for this week’s Three Times A Charm. It has been a pleasure getting to know about you and your work. Come back and visit us again!



THANKS!


I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.

43 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this interview with Susanna so very much. Each interview reveals another facet of this gem-in-writer's-clothing.

    This is the first I've encountered your Three Times a Charm -- and it's delightfully charming. Thank you! (off to find the "subscribe" button...)

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    1. So glad you visited, Beth. Hope you find more around here to keep you entertained.

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  2. Kai, thank you so much for having me! It was really fun to participate in Three Times A Charm!

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    1. It truly has been so fun to get to know you. I'm so glad you visited and that you brought your equally charming friends.

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  3. Lol, Susanna, we both wanted to be veterinarians when we were growing up and look at us both now...

    Great interview and thank you Kai for showing us another side of Susanna!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Donna. Susanna is quite adorable, isn't she?

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  4. Kai, thanks so much for letting us learn more about the amazing Susanna Leonard Hill!

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    1. My pleasure, Kirsten. Glad you could join us.

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  5. Thanks so much for stopping by Donna and Kirsten! You guys (and Beth!) are the best :)

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  6. Oh Susanna! This was so much fun! I really enjoyed getting to know more about you. I love that you wanted to be a steam-roller driver LOL :•)
    Speaking of Grey's...I'm wondering if Christina & Owen are toast??

    Kai~Thanks for having Susanna on you blog. I, too, will add you to my blog readings.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the interview as much as I did, Penny. I love meeting people in children's publishing. Thanks for reading!

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    2. Penny! You are a Grey's fan? I thought I was the only PB writer in that category :) Thanks so much for coming over to read!

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  7. Stream roller driver that surprised me. Cool. I started writing for children when my brothers started having kids. Thanks for sharing. Susanna your website and blog are pretty awesome.

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    1. Rena, my best friend always wanted to write for children and I thought, "Whatever!" Then I had kids. "Oh!" Funny how they can change our focus, huh? Thanks for visiting.

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    2. I know it sounds funny, but I really did want to drive a steam roller. I remember it clearly. My mom said, "What will you do if you have a baby?" and I said, "I'll put it on the seat next to me!" Duh! Thank you so very much for your kind words about my website and blog - it means so much to know you like them!

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  8. Every time Susanna is interviewed I learn something new!

    "I have 5 digital books forthcoming from A Story Before Bed."

    Yea! Can't wait to hear more about it!

    Thanks Susanna and Kai!

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    1. Thank so much for stopping by to read, Cathy! And no doubt, knowing my propensity for long-windedness, you'll hear all about those books :)

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  9. Great interview, Kai. I loved the top 3's. Susanna, sounds like you had the perfect childhood for an author. :-)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Margaret.

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    2. Thanks for stopping by, Margaret, and yes, I believe I did :)

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  10. Hello Kai...nice to meet you. :)
    This was a wonderful interview...I love your 3 times a charm questions!
    Susanna...however do you have time to play a game or do a puzzle? Your days must have more hours in them than mine. :)

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    1. Nice to meet you too, Vivian. Glad you stopped in.

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    2. I confess I haven't done a lot of either lately, Vivian! But i do like to :)

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  11. Kai, thanks for this fascinating interview with Susanna! I love how your parents constantly read to you, and encouraged you to always have a book in your hand. They must be so proud of you! Congratulations on having published 10 children's books! It was fun getting to know you better. Julie

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    1. You're welcome, Julie. Thanks for reading.

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    2. Thanks so much for coming by to read, Julie! I'm grateful I have the parents I do, and that I grew up before the tech revolution - who knows, we might have spent out car time on Nintendo instead of Shakespeare and that would have been sad!

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  12. I have read a few interviews about Susanna, but this was just lovely and fresh, much due the Kai's great questions.

    What an idyllic childhood - how cool is it that your dad could recite Shakespearean soliloquies!

    Now, I had some great jobs I wanted to do when I was a kid, but your steamroller driver tops them!

    I was thrilled to read this: "I have 5 digital books forthcoming from A Story Before Bed."

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    1. Hi Joanna. Susanna is a charming guest! Makes my work easy.

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    2. My dad is awesome! I think part of his ability springs from the fact that his father was an English professor who taught Shakespeare his whole career, so my dad got an earful when he was little and it stuck with him :)

      I still think driving a steam roller sounds fun!

      And I don't know when those stories will be out - I can't wait! - but I'll be sure to let you know :)

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  13. This was such a lovely interview. Thank you Kai and Susanna. A childhood filled with books. Sounds like a dream :-)

    And just take a look at that smiling face? The excitement, the joy, the thrill of sharing a great PB with children practically showing through just that smile alone. Love it!

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    1. Doesn't Susanna's childhood sound as if it came from a book? No wonder she's such a lovely guest. Thanks for stopping in, Angela.

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    2. I was lucky! I did have an idyllic childhood, and I was lucky to be surrounded by books. I love that, as a grown-up (I realize I'm throwing that term around rather cavalierly :)) I get to do the thing I enjoy most - writing, and sharing my stories with the kids I write them for.

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  14. Great news on the digital books. I love the threes too.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Stacy! Maybe by the time the digital books are out Enzo will be ready for them :)

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  15. Imagining you driving a steam roller is pretty funny, Susanna! I think you found the two things you were meant to do. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your childhood!

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    1. I cracked up at the steam roller myself. Thanks for visiting, Heather.

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    2. Are you suggesting that I am not cut out to drive a steam roller? What tipped you off? The speeding tickets? Or my propensity to back into stuff?

      Thanks for stopping by, Heather! :)

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  16. EGAD woman! Come hither and ride like the wind with me! I'll even let you ride Mister Ed. This is a standing invite. (Just so you know)

    When I was young my car broke down and I had to drive my brother-in-laws dump truck to the restaurant where I worked. *horrified* I'm thinkin' steam roller driver here (thanks for the giggle). I KNOW you are doing what you were meant to do. Loved reading and sorry I'm late. (I was sick yesterday) I heart you Oh Susanna. Thank you Kai for having my fav picture book author and one of my most cyber besties over today. *waving*

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    1. Hmmm... I might be coming to NC this summer! Maybe I'll take you up on it :)

      I LOVE the idea of you having to drive a dump truck to work! Great visual - you in the dump truck, me on the steam roller :)

      Thanks for stopping by and hope you're feeling MUCH better!

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  17. Susanna, your father was way cooler than mine. Though I have a feeling he didn't remember how those stories went. Oh, who am I kidding. I studied them in High School and I can't remember them either.

    I enjoyed Crossed and can't wait for the final book. :)

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  18. Great job Ladies! Kai your 3's gave us a hilarious peek into Susanna's world. A steam-roller driver? Funny!

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