Coffee and Conversation with Susan Detwiler

Good Friday morning friends! As promised, we have the lovely Susan Detwiler gracing the Cyber Cafe today. Susan will be giving an Author’s Book Club (ABC) event on Sunday, April 19th.


Susan is the the author and illustrator of the picture book Fine Life For A Country Mouse, published in 2014 by Penguin. (For more behind-the-scene scoops on her amazing book, check out this interview.


She is also the illustrator of several books for children including On the Move, Big Cat, Little Kitty, and the award-winning titles Pandas’ Earthquake Escape and One Wolf Howls. She joined the SCBWI in 2003, and recently stepped down as the Illustrator Coordinator for our region after nine years of much-appreciated service. Susan is currently a co-blogger right here at ATEB. 


Awesome to see you in the Cyber Comfy Chair! Let’s get started. First off, what was the very first story you ever wrote about?

I got started early. My mother recently found a tiny little book – one inch across – that I wrote and illustrated at age 8, titled People. It’s kind of short, at seven pages plus a cover. Page one, “Some people are pretty.” Page two, “Some people are not pretty.”

And the first story you illustrated, what was that about?

People. But after that, I remember illustrating a collection of poems for an English assignment in junior high school, and thinking, This is really fun! I’d like to do this ALL the time.

If you could be any book character for a day, who would you pick and why?

Harriet M. Welsch, because I understand her. I absolutely loved and identified with the book Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh when I read it in 6th grade, and I love it still. Harriet is curious about her world and the people in it, and wants to figure things out.

One of my all-time favorite books as a child! I reread it dozens of times. How do you describe your illustrating style and has it changed throughout your career?

Years ago I used to try to make everything I drew or painted look as true-to-life as possible, but I’ve found that realism is not always the best goal, especially when illustrating for children. I strive to loosen up and be more whimsical now.

You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! What’s the first book you crack open?  

I have a collection of Shakespeare’s plays that I have always wanted to read and study, but never had the time to focus as much as that would require.

Excellent choice! If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?  

Exactly what I am doing.

If you could have coffee and conversation with any famous deceased writer or artist, who would you pick?

Beatrix Potter. Hands down.



Which living writer or artist would you pick?

Probably Anne Tyler… I have enjoyed her books for most of my adult life.

You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?

I would buy some very nice wine and invite friends to share it with me.

You had me at wine. I expect an invitation. What is your favorite quote?

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

~Benjamin Franklin

The last time you stopped by, you shared how you listen to NPR or alternative rock while illustrating. What do you listen to while writing? 

Silence. Writing is hard!

If you could sum up your best advice for new writers and illustrators in only four words, what would they be?

Cultivate courage and perseverance.

Incredibly sage advice. Thanks so much for stopping by, Susan. We’re looking forward to your ABC Event!

This isn’t the first time that Susan has settled into the infamous Cyber Comfy Chair. Check out Laura’s interview with her here from a few years back.

Have a great weekend. Happy writing and illustrating!

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
This entry was posted in Author/Illustrator Events, Interviews: Authors, Interviews: Illustrators and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Coffee and Conversation with Susan Detwiler

  1. Stacy Couch says:

    I. Love. Harriet. But my collection of Shakespeare plays in now at my sister’s…not being read there, instead of not being read here. 🙂

  2. Absolutely, Beatrice Potter! Fun interview. Hope your ABC event turns out wonderful.

  3. Pingback: Happy Book Birthday, Susan Detwiler! | As the Eraser Burns

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