Saturday, May 29, 2010

Author Susan B Pfeffer Interview

At some point in April, I was in a Walmart store in the book section. A previous author I had done a review for- her book was on the shelves and at the time I didn't have my cell phone with me to snag a picture for her as she had asked. A second trip I had my cell in hand. After I fought through the many books looking for it, I was stopped at a book titled "This World We Live In" by Susan B Pfeffer. It had a compelling synopsis and I took a pic and sent it to her. As soon as I got home I sent the picture to her and inquired about an ARC and an interview. Below is the interview with Ms. Pfeffer. I want to thank her for the time and opportunity she has given myself and my readers. I can only hope you make #77 and surpass that! Thank you Susan.

You began your writing career back in 1970. Did you ever think you would have written this many books to date?

I always knew I'd write a lot of books. I'm a quick worker and I never had any other job.

There was a point when I thought maybe I'd hit 100 books, but then as I got older, I realized that wasn't going to happen.

I gave myself a party when the dead and the gone was published, since it was my 75th book. At that time, I didn't know I'd be writing This World We Live In (#76) and I certainly didn't anticipate I'd write another book (as I am right now).

But if my career ends with 77 books, I'll be more than satisfied.

As such an accomplished author have you any future plans for a website?
Every now and again, I think about it, but it seems to take work. In addition, I'd have to know what I'm doing. So it's on my maybe list, but not on my gotta do it list.

You've written over 60 books for children and young adults. What is it about this age group that is so interesting for you?
Writers have different themes they return to numerous times. Mine is Family In Upheaval. It fascinates me to take a family, put them in an unexpected situation, and see what happens.

Writing about children and teenagers gives me a strong opportunity to examine families.

Also, I like writing relatively short books, and my vocabulary level died in fifth grade. So I'm particularly suited for writing children's and YA books.

"Just Morgan," your first book was written in your last semester at NYU. Did you ever think it would get published?
When I wrote Just Morgan, I wasn't thinking about getting it published. I wrote it because I'd been told writing a book would be a good way to get a job as an editor.

I gave the manuscript to one of my professors, who said he thought it was publishable. He sent a letter of inquiry to a small publishing house he knew. They agreed to read the manuscript. After they had, they met with me, made some suggestions. I did what they told me, resubmitted the manuscript, and they accepted it.

After my professor read the book, but before it had been submitted, my father (who never wanted me to get my hopes up), said it was very unlikely it would be accepted. My older brother said he thought the publishing house would make suggestions and then accept it.

My brother was delighted to be right and my father was delighted to be wrong.

And I was delighted I was going to be a writer and not an editor.

In regards to the age group you write for, what do you wish for them?
What I wish for everybody. Satisfaction.

On your blog you offer writing tips and advice. Do you do workshops also?
I haven't done a formal writing workshop in many years. But sometimes when I do a school visit, I'll include a writing workshop as part of my presentation.

Have you done any readings for children and YA? If so, what is the experience like for you?
Mostly when I talk to children or teenagers, I discuss my writing and answer their questions. So I almost never do readings for them.

Poor Scooter! Cats are infamous at veterinary appointments. Do you have any other pets?
For most of my life, I've had two cats. I had the same two for more than a decade. Then they died within a few months of each other.

A few months after that, I adopted Scooter. He's a year old now, and a total lunatic. But I love having him (and my guess is he love's having me).

Is it frustrating when you are doing queries for your new books? Doing one for each novel has to be exhausting?
I love talking about my books and I thoroughly enjoy discussing my career. So, while I do find other aspects of writing books to be frustrating (rewrites, waiting for the money to arrive), handling queries doesn't bother me.

Is it hard to sell rights to your books with foreign publishers, as opposed to American ones? Or is there really no difference?
I have no idea. I really don't. For the vast majority of my professional life, I've worked through a literary agency, and someone there sells the foreign rights.

I assume they work pretty hard, so I don't have to!


  1. What was your hardest book to write so far in your career?

  2. Ms. Pfeffer, I am a huge fan! I downloaded "Life As We Knew It" and "The Dead & The Gone" onto my iPod. I didn't have enough room to bring the books. Do you know where I could get a free download of "This World We Live In"? Thank You, -E.