Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born and grew up in Melbourne, Victoria. I live there now although I also lived in London for seven years.
Where did you go to school?
I went to a school called Ruyton Girls’ School in Kew. I used to walk up the hill wishing it was further away so I could catch the tram.
Did you have a nickname?
No (at least, not one anyone has told me!) but, when I was younger, everyone called me Susie rather than Susannah. When I finished university, I started using Susannah because I thought it made me sound more ‘grown up’!
What were you like in school?
I loved school. I loved the sport, the drama, the friends. However, according to my reports, I ‘needed to curb my enthusiasm in class’. I think that is teacher-speak for talking too much, which was probably true.
What is the naughtiest thing you did?
I loved the pop group ABBA and I had lots of posters. When I was a little older, I sold my ABBA posters to the junior school girls. I thought it was rather entrepreneurial but the school took a different view. I also, for reasons I can’t remember, decided it would be fun to be rolled up in a rug and put in the doorway for the music teacher to trip over. We thought it was hilarious, the music teacher less so. Needless to say, I know better now and I don’t think anyone should do either of these things!
What was your favourite book growing up?
Without a doubt The Enchanted Wood
by Enid Blyton. I still remember sitting on a mat listening to it in Year 2 and imagining that I too was jumping over the brook into that magical forest. I really wanted to go to down the slippery slip — I wonder if that’s why EJ12 goes down a mission tube?
Who is your favourite children’s author?
That’s too hard, there are so many, but I do love Lauren Child, Louise Rennison (her Georgia Nicholson books are laugh-out-loud funny for young teenagers) and John Marsden’s So Much to Tell You
was one of the reasons I became a children’s book publisher. It made me realise the power a story has to help change people and the way they see things.
What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
My favourite colour is yellow (but it used to be blue).
My favourite food is mango if I’m being healthy and white chocolate if I’m not.
My favourite movie is different depending on my mood. Mamma Mia
because of all those ABBA songs, The Sound of Music
and a Swedish film called House of Angels
Who inspired you to write?
My daughter initially. I wanted to write an adventure story where the girls took centre stage. Emma Jacks in EJ12 Girl Hero is named for my Emma.
How did you get started?
I had been working in children’s book publishing for over twenty years when I started to write my own stories. I had published series such as Zac Power and Go Girl! then took a break from publishing. It was then that I began to write.
How old were you?
I was 39.
Why did you want to be a writer?
I didn’t so much think about becoming a writer, I just wanted to write the EJ12 Girl Hero series. And then other ideas started to develop as well.
How do you think up ideas?
I’m not sure. I do a lot of looking out the window and wandering around! Often things I read or hear about spark ideas.
Do you have a special place where you write?
I write at a big table overlooking a lovely park — sometimes I think I spend too much time looking out the window but it’s such a good view to wonder from.
Wht is the best thing about being a writer?
Being able to do what you love for your job. It’s a very special privilege.
What would you have chosen to be if you were not a writer?
Probably my ‘other’ job, publishing — you get to work with so many clever and fun people. When I was growing up I wanted to be a vet.
Which famous people from the past would you like to talk to?
I’d love to invite some of history’s most impressive women to dinner so they could all meet each other — Queen Elizabeth 1, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, Caroline Chisholm and Amelia Earhart. If you don’t know who they are look them up!