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Susannah McFarlane

Author, New Speakers

With over 1 million books sold in Australia alone, Susannah is one of our most popular children’s authors, writing books kids love and parents can trust. Contagiously energetic and inspiring, Susannah’s workshops for primary school students take kids’ reading and writing to a new level of engagement and enjoyment.

Where were you born?

I was born and grew up in Melbourne (there’s a whole story for grown ups there about my adoption and late-life reunion with my biological mum, as told in my memoir Heartlines. The Year I Met my Other Mother).

What other jobs have you had?

The jump into writing is quite recent for me – most of my career has been in book publishing, first marketing and then publishing in both Melbourne and London. From very bad editor to better publicist and marketeer then onto management and then back to the books as a publisher.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I write and publish with agenda I think – with Zac Power and Boy vs Beast it was reading literacy, creating books that kids, especially boys, would want to read and be able to read. With EJ Girl Hero it was to create a series that would inspire girls to be brave, to stand up and be their own hero.

What have been the highlights of your career?

As a publisher: meeting the creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, Rev Awdry, in the study in which he wrote the books; creating the Zac Power series that got so many boys, including my son who inspired it, into reading.

As an author: EJ titles being shortlisted for the Children’s Choice Awards every year since the series launched; and one little girl writing to me saying that the series had helped her to stand up to a girl who was bullying her at school.

Where have your works been published?

ANZ, USA, Asia, Italy, Brazil, Turkey and soon, France and Portugal.

What are you passionate about?

Creating books that kids want to read  – my strategy has been ‘muesli dressed as coco pops’ – books that are attractive to kids but also good for them – without their necessarily knowing!

I am also seriously keen on helping young girls find a place of strength and confidence in an increasingly tough world. By writing the EJ stories that inspire or creating girlheroproject.com as a platform to showcase what young girls are doing around the world, I want girls to realise and take hold of the power they have to help make the world a better place.

Haven’t I seen you before?

Probably, it’s a ridiculously small place.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

My latest project is Four Fairytales for Feisty Girls to be published in September 2018 by Allen & Unwin.

Feisty – ‘typically one who is relatively small, lively, determined and courageous’

This collection has been a delight to write, re-casting classic fairy tales with girls who can and will rescue themselves. They certainly won’t say no if a prince wants to help but they have got things covered and they will make their own happily ever afters.

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