From Children's Librarian to Children's Author
An interview with
Suzanne Williams

  Suzanne Williams is an award-winning children’s author (Library Lil, My Dog Never Says Please, and the Princess Power series) who loves to share her passion for reading and writing with others. Though now a full-time writer, Suzanne was an elementary-school librarian for twenty-four years and also taught writing. She has spoken at over 250 schools across the country and at conferences for teachers and librarians. A firm believer in every student’s ability to learn to write well, Suzanne relishes the challenge of making the craft of writing “user friendly.” She loves seeing students discover and give voice to the stories within their lives.  

Q: What did you do before you became a children's author?

SW: I was an elementary-school librarian.


Q: What first got you interested in children's books?

SW: Well, I’d always loved reading them as a child, of course. And after I became a children’s librarian—and later, a mom—I got to read them all again, old favorites and new ones. Reading all those wonderful books made me want to try writing one of my own.


Q: When did you start writing children’s books?

SW: I liked to write as a child, but I never thought about trying to get published until I was in my thirties. My first book, which is still in print, was a picture book called Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name. It was published in 1990.


Q: How many books have you written?

SW: That’s a tricky question. I’ve written far more stories than have ever been published. Many of my early stories and even some stories that I write today will never be published. I consider them “practice.” But of all the stories I’ve written so far, 22 have been published as books.


Q: Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite?

SW: Humpf . I don’t play favorites with my books. Doing so would be like asking your parents, “Who’s your favorite child?” How could they answer? (Unless you don’t have any siblings!) All of my books are near and dear to my heart for different reasons. The truth is, my favorite book is always the one I happen to be working on at the time. Seeing a book develop and take shape is the fun part for me. By the time a book is actually published I’ve moved on to a “new” favorite.


Q: Who are your favorite authors?

SW: Tough question. I have so many! I’ll name a few of them anyway: Louis Sachar, Barbara Park, J. K. Rowling (of course), Arnold Lobel, Kevin Henkes, Jack Gantos, Bruce Coville, Mary Downing Hahn, Phyllis Naylor, Kate DiCamillo. Okay, that’s enough for now


Q: Why do you write books for kids?

SW: Because I can, because it’s fun, and because it’s so rewarding when a child tells you they love your books.


Q: Where do you get ideas for books?

CK: A lot of my earliest stories got their start in real life. My children would say or do something funny, and I’d find a way to work what they’d said or done into a story—as part of what a character said or did. My daughter at age two saying, “I'm not a pumpkin, I’m Emily,” in response to my calling her that pet name, led me to write Mommy Doesn’t Know My Name. Of course, I add and change events as needed to make a satisfying story. One of the fun things about writing fiction is that you can change what really happened to what you WISH had happened! Things going on around me, what I remember from my own childhood, ideas I get from reading books and watching movies, and my personal philosophy of life also influence the things I put into my stories.


Q: What are you working on now?

SW: A six-book series for HarperCollins called Fairy Blossoms (for ages 7–10). Here’s what my editor wrote for the jacket of the first book: “At Mistress Lily’s Fairy School, Daisy is learning to be a fairy helper to humans—and she makes the most wonderful new friends! Violet can turn invisible. Poppy can shape-shift. Marigold can change her wings to match her clothes. Daisy doesn’t know any magic at all, but she gets a chance to discover her own special talent when a human in trouble needs the fairies’ help!” I’ve already written the first five books in the series and am currently working on a first draft of the sixth. The first three books will be published next summer (2008).


Q: What tips do you have for aspiring young authors?

SW: Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Be passionate about your subject. Make it something you CARE about. Experiment with different kinds of writing. Have fun. If you to want to get published, try sending your work to magazines that publish work by kids. First read the magazines to get an idea of the quality of work in them. Don’t be discouraged if your work is rejected. Get honest feedback from friends you trust, and try to make your work better. Practice and perseverance pay off!


Click here to read more Ask the Author interviews.

If you are interested in inviting Suzanne Williams to your school, click here!