It’s Author Interview Thursday! Are you ready? Yes… then let’s dive straight into it. Our featured author in the hot seat today lives in Vermont in the United States. She’s had many challenges in life both good and bad that have equipped her to bring something new and fresh to the table as a children’s book author. I read the second book in her ‘Between Me and You’ series and it was clear to see that here was an author who was going beyond the surface level and was writing a book that would leave a positive and long lasting impact on her readers. She has so much to share today, so please join me in welcoming Susie Caron.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up being a children’s book author?
Thank you David Chuka for this opportunity to tell some of my story. My picture book allegories in the “Between You and Me” series, seem to be a natural progression of a multi-career life and many other changes. Throughout my life I have used both blessings and difficulties as opportunities to express who I am and how I can help others. Following graduation, I married my college sweetheart, and taught elementary school and adult education. When we adopted two infants, I wanted to be at home with them, so I opened and operated my own horseback riding school. Later, after following my husband in his career around Vermont, and recovering from struggles with my own health, I enrolled in graduate school for clinical psychology, and graduated in 2002. As a result of fulfilling this earlier dream, I am now a private practice psychotherapist working with children and their parents.
Can you share with us the inspiration behind your book Twee’ and I Am Twee’.
Initially, I didn’t know that I was going to write children’s fiction. I had planned to write several narrative-non-fiction books about my pets. However, I couldn’t decide which one to finish, so I sat down and prayed. After that, I knew I wanted to write something that would resonate with children and adults about universally experienced feelings. Over the years, I noticed that children experienced feelings about many things, but they lacked enough ‘world view’ to be able to express those in ways that made sense to themselves and to their adults. Twee’ , I Am Twee’ and the “Between You and Me” series were the result. I knew I wanted to write stories that illustrated children’s feelings and provide a way for kids to talk about them with adults.
The sequel to Twee’ is just about to be published. What were some of the advantages and disadvantages of writing a sequel?
I can speak to the advantages best. My first book, Twee’, established her character, personality, the setting, and color tones. The work on the next two books,I Am Twee’ (and one not yet titled), then became much easier. I worked on story lines to illustrate how my character Twee’, experienced herself and others and how that impacted her relationships. Because these are children’s books, I also knew that by building a similar pattern into the books, I added familiarity and increased appeal. If there are disadvantages, I think it may be that Twee’ is a limited character because she is planted and thus cannot go anywhere. However, that also helped to highlight her feelings.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a Susie Caron book?
I hope that children and adults will feel good about themselves. Readers have told me that their children ask them to read my books over and over again. This makes me feel good, but I believe it’s because they see something of themselves in my books. They may learn something new, but I want them to realize that they are okay just by being themselves.
What has been your most successful marketing method for promoting your books?
Although online social media is an essential part of marketing, I have discovered that reading to children in libraries and schools is the best marketing method for me. Of course, I love doing that also because it’s fun.
How have you drawn on your experience as a psychotherapist in writing your children’s books?
Absolutely! Children and their parents, caregivers and teachers are always teaching me new things about myself, childhood and how to help adults and children connect.
What were some of your favorite books as a child?
There were so many I loved. As a young child my mother read poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper. Later I read the Nancy Drew mysteries, the Hardy Boys and The Boxcar Children. As a teen I devoured novels by Pearl S. Buck, John Steinbeck, Viktor E. Frankl, and others. As I moved into college, I read everything I could get my hands on about children, child development and psychology.
What mistakes have you made while publishing your book that you would advise other authors against?
I didn’t realize that writing a book would be only 10% of the work. Another 25% was spent researching how I wanted to publish and print. The other 65% is all marketing! Marketing is a brave new world for me. I think I would have started learning how to market much earlier.
How do you reward yourself on completing a book or achieving a specific publishing goal?
When my first books arrive, I cannot wait to take them out and read to children. That’s the biggest reward for me.
Toy Story or Shrek?
I loved both because they are about relationships and especially friendship. I’d have to choose Toy Story though, because of the two characters Buzz Light Year and Woody. Kids interact with these two characters more frequently, in my play room practice. I think the idea of lasting friendship, magical thinking and heroes with flaws makes us all feel better about ourselves and more hopeful for our future.
I understand you own two horses and used to run a horsemanship riding school. What tips do you have for us about riding a horse that most people don’t know about?
It’s difficult to choose: take lessons, always wear a helmet, wear boots…. I think I’d rather share what I used to tell my riding school students. On their first day of lessons kids were nervous. Horses are feeling creatures, who can read body language, and often reflect what humans feel. So while students groomed the lesson horses for the first time I’d say this “You may think you’ve come to ride my horse, but that isn’t true. You have come to give my horse a really pleasant time.” When the kids stopped focusing on their fear and focused on how the horse felt, they readily enjoyed their time together.
What do you love about Vermont and what should a first time visitor do while there?
Vermont has been our home for 33 years and I love the changing seasons. Visitors can find a lot to see and do in Vermont. One of our best sites is Lake Champlain, and the Burlington waterfront.
What can we expect from Susie Caron in the next 12 months?
I plan to finish the third book about Twee’ in the “Between You and Me” series in winter of 2014. After that, I hope to continue to address some of the mysteries of understanding children and how to develop better connections between kids and their adults.
Where can fans and readers of your books discover more about you and connect with you?
You can Find Out More About Me and My Books Twee’, and I Am Twee’ here:
Join my character, Twee’ on her Fan Page, go to:
Follow me on Twitter:
Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the publishing industry?
I believe a writer should write, now and always. Good places to start to write and get feedback are Facebook, Twitter and by all means, set up your own web site and blog. While doing all that, research every means of publishing from traditional to self-publishing, before you decide which suits you best. Find other writers groups, online and in your location. If you write for children, read aloud to kids, from your own work as well as books by others. Most of all, write and have fun! Remember to read to your kids: Twee’ Means You and Me!
Thanks Susie for sharing with us from your wealth of experience. From reading your book, it was clear to see you put a lot of thought into creating a book that would leave a lasting impression. I have to agree with your last comment about writing. The only way we can get better as writers is to keep on writing. Susie’s currently in the middle of a launch for the second book ‘I Am Twee’ in her series. You can visit her Amazon page at the link below to grab a copy and discover why her books would make a worthy addition to any child’s library.
David Chuka’s Note – If you loved this interview and found value in it, please help me spread the word by sharing on your social circles. Simply click one of the social buttons below, so someone else can find some inspiration or knowledge they require to make that next step in their publishing career.
Thank you David Chuka. You generously provide opportunities for authors to gain exposure and a more in depth understanding of what makes us do what we do. I personally thank you for who you are and for your gracious heart. Many Blessings.
Thanks for agreeing to the interview Susie. it was a pleasure having you on Author Interview Thursday and I hope you’ll come back at some point in the future.
Great interview, David. I enjoyed meeting Susie and hearing about her journey. Always interested in hearing about how fellow children’s book authors came to that point in their life.
Thanks for stopping by Barbara.
Like you, I always find it fascinating to discover the various experiences that have combined to shape an author’s style.