Let Me Introduce Myself!
After finishing high school, I studied English literature at the University of Toronto. I didn't know what kind of job I wanted -- but I did know that I loved to read and write.
I'm Susan Hughes, an award-winning writer of more than 25 children's books, including picture books, chapter books, young adult novels, non-fiction for all ages, and even a non-fiction graphic novel. My books have received multiple nominations for the Forest of Reading awards, the TD Children's Literature Awards, and the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Literature.
I've been writing children's books and working as a freelance editor for 30 years. (Yup, I'm getting old!)
I've always loved writing. When I was in grade five and six, several friends and I had a writing club. We wrote stories and poems. We met every few weeks and read aloud our poems and stories one another. We agreed on some rules. We had to be sure to always find something we liked about each piece of writing. We had to be careful not to hurt one another's feelings.
We learned a lot from what each other. Now I realize that this is important part of the writing process. When I write, I depend on my editor to give me strong advice about what is working in my stories and what isn't. When I work as an editor, I enjoy helping others to make their writing stronger and reach their writing goals.
One summer, before my last year, I went to the job posting board and saw an ad: A children's publishing house was looking for summer help from students. I answered the ad and was hired. I learned a lot that summer about writing, researching, editing, proof-reading, and working as a team.
When I graduated, I worked for a year with the children's publishing house. Then I decided I wanted to work independently, instead of as an employee of a company. I began freelancing, working on my own to find editing and writing work.
Soon I was getting calls to do jobs such as writing and editing articles and stories for educational books for students and teachers. While I was doing this paid work, I also worked on my own ideas for books. I began to submit them to publishers.
My editing work today
Today I continue to work with educational publishers to develop student books on topics ranging from geography and history to science and Aboriginal studies for various grade levels.
My writing work today
I write both fiction and non-fiction books. I'm often asked to write a book on a topic I don't know much about. I do lots of research and briefly become an expert on that subject.
Sometimes I write alongside an expert co-author, for example when I wrote about the Megalodon, the prehistoric shark, or Titanic.
Often I do my research for my fictional works as well, for example, the Wild Paws series. I had to learn a lot about how to care for injured or motherless wild baby animals so that I could make the books realistic and factual, as well as entertaining. As I am writing the Puppy Collection books, I research about dog breeds, puppy shows, and
Critiquing and editing manuscripts and story coaching
I enjoy helping other writers generate ideas for stories or revise and improve their manuscripts -- including everything from picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, YA, nonfiction manuscripts, graphic novels, poetry, and adult manuscripts. I work with them to make their stories shine! You can read more about this here.
Other literacy-related activities
I write a blog about children's literature for Open Book Toronto. It is called Kid Lit Can, and you can find it by going to this link and scrolling down:www.openbooktoronto.com/susan_hughes/main
For several years, I was the host of the Global Bookmark Exchange, helping teachers and students around the world to connect for the purpose of exchanging bookmarks, share a love of literacy, and forge new connections. Please send me an email if you'd like to find out more.
I am a volunteer with CODE (Canadian Organization for Development through Education) www.codecan.org. I have helped writers in Liberia and Sierra Leone to revise their children's manuscripts and prepare them for publication.
I was a Writer-in-Residence for the Toronto District School Board from 2012 to 2013. I've also participated in the extremely fun Kid Lit Quiz www.kidslitquiz.com.
I live in Toronto in a tall house with a red door. I work at home, sitting on the couch in my living room. In the summer, I open the windows wide -- and sometimes the front door too! -- and I sit where I can see the trees and the sunlight.
My children are quite grown-up now but they still appear once in a while when they want to chat, share a meal, go for a walk, or borrow the car. I love them all to bits!