Susan Marlow


Today LitPick is joined by author Susan Marlow for Six Minutes with an Author! Susan is the author of several book series: Circle C Beginnings, Circle C Adventures, and Goldtown Adventures. The first book in The Circle C Milestones series, Thick as Thieves, was just released. The Goldtown Adventures series is aimed at boys and is made up of Badge of Honor, Tunnel of Gold, Canyon of Danger, and River of Peril.

How did you get started writing?

I started writing stories when I was 10 years old; previously I had written a poem that got “published” (hung up in the teacher’s lounge in reality) when I was in the third grade. I liked to imagine stories in my head but it wasn’t until the next year that I actually began to write them down.

Who influenced you?

My fourth-grade teacher introduced me to the solar system and all things “space” during science class, and I was hooked! I started writing outer-space stories, my first one with the unlikely title of “Up to Mars,” basically about two kids who go . . . well . . . up to Mars (my favorite planet). Later, when Star Trek debuted on TV, I wrote Star Trek stories. I suppose nowadays we’d call those kind of stories Fan Fiction. I also liked to read good books and imagine different endings or different plots. I wrote “Castaway Island,” which you can read here, so long as you promise not to laugh! I also loved westerns. When I grew up and started homeschooling my children, I fell in love with U.S. history, especially the Old West. I wrote a series set on a ranch in 1880, with a girl main character (Circle C Adventures series), but so many parents asked me for a series for boys that I gave in and wrote the Goldtown Adventures, with 12-year-old Jem Coulter living in a post-Gold Rush gold camp in 1864 California.

Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

The favorite of my series is the Circle C Beginnings, early chapter books for girls and boys. I love the pictures the illustrator created—one for each chapter—and the main characters (Andi and Riley) are always in and out of fun adventures with their horse and pony. Andi grows up into the main character for the older series, the Circle C Adventures. Even the Goldtown Adventures has one of Andi’s brothers visiting, thus tying all the series together in some way.   

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

Read, read, read and write, write, write. Don’t worry too much at first with the rules of writing (spelling, punctuation). Just get those ideas down somewhere. You can always revise later on the stories you want to keep. Also, it’s okay to write “sequels” to your favorite books or movies. It’s great practice, and it’s nice when you don’t have to create your own “universe.” Build on another author’s (fan fiction) work for now, just to grow your love of writing. There are plenty years ahead to create your own, unique stories. I love it when fans write more “Andi” or “Goldtown” stories. I even run a contest each year to encourage young authors to write. It’s a joy to hear “This is the first story I’ve ever written” from a fan. And I hope they’ll keep on writing and become authors in their own right!

Where is your favorite place to write?

In the front passenger seat of our truck, with my laptop on my lap and no internet or household distractions. My husband and I travel the U.S. in the spring and summer, selling my books at homeschool conventions across the country. My second favorite place to write is in the loft of our A-frame cabin nestled in the pine woods at 3,000 feet in north-central Washington State.

What else would you like to tell us?

Exploring old gold towns and mines to research the Goldtown Adventures was some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Standing where they first struck gold or walking through an actual gold mine in the Sierras and having the guide turn off the lights and light a single candle to show us what it was really like makes the Gold Rush come alive. I have a gold pan, but I’ve never found any gold using it. I can’t even seem to pan it from the troughs at the museums where they’ve “salted” the trough with gold. I would have been one of those prospectors who never, ever “made their pile.”

Susan, this it has been a pleasure to have you join LitPick for six minutes! We are all lucky you became an author rather than a gold miner! Congratulations on the release of Thick as Thieves!