Suzy Becker has always wanted to be an author—mostly because she wanted to see her name on the covers of books. Luckily, she loves writing. And drawing. And, even more luckily, that's what she gets to do for "work."
SIX MINUTES WITH SUZY BECKER:
Today Suzy Becker joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author! Suzy published her first book, All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat, when she was 28. She has written and illustrated several other books: My Dog's the World's Best Dog, Manny's Cows, Books Are for Reading, Kids Make It Better: A Write-in, Draw-in Journal, and two books for grown-ups called I Had Brain Surgery, What's Your Excuse? and One Good Egg. Her most recent book is Kate the Great #1: Except When She's Not.
In addition to her career as an author, Suzy started a greeting card company when she was 25. She helped to start a charter school and she started her own HIV/AIDS bike-a-thon, which has raised over $1,000,000 for children and adults living with HIV/AIDS.
How did you get started writing?
I loved books more than anything as a kid, so I wanted to be an author-- not because I wanted to write-- I really wanted my name on the cover of books people love. Harriet the Spy got me started writing. I've kept a journal-notebook since I was in third grade. And, as far as a career, my first "real" job was advertising copywriting, then I had my own greeting card company. All I Need to Know I Learned from My Cat was my first published book. (My first unpublished book, a second grade project, was Why I'm Me and Others Are Them.)
Who influenced you?
That's a bigger question than who are your favorite authors. My parents (who didn't get to be what they always wanted when they grew up) encouraged me to follow my dreams. Louise Fitzhugh and Harriet the Spy. Many of my kindergarten through ninth grade teachers. My seventh grade friend Kathy McCullough (www.kathymcculloughbooks.com) who also wanted to be an author. The editors of the Brown Alumni Monthly Magazine who invited me to meet with them when I was a senior (majoring in International Relations and Economics) and encouraged me to write and draw for a living. Then there were a few discouraging people who I wanted to prove wrong: my elementary school art teacher, for one. As for other author-illustrators, I was and am a huge fan of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake, Antoine St. Exupery, A.A. Milne, Shel Silverstein, James Marshall, William Steig. As a mom and author, I've come to love so many more-- Kate DiCamillo, Bob Graham, Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig, John Green, Sara Pennypacker-- but I think that's more admiration than influence at this point in my life.
Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?
It's too hard to pick one favorite book. I love relationships as a subject- family, friendship, pets. When I think of a favorite character today, it's William Steig's Pearl, the pig in the Amazing Bone. It'd be somebody different if you asked me before dinner, or tomorrow.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?
Write. And keep writing. Don't let anybody or anything discourage you, which isn't the same as don't listen to criticism. You need good critics to help you get better. Read, not just your favorites-- read all kinds of books. I think it helps to have at least one friend who also loves to read and write. It's cool that you have LitPick.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I like to write at my desk until I hate to write at my desk. Then I like to write at my friend Brooke's house. Or the Reading Room at the library in town. Sometimes I write in bed. Or under my desk with a couple of pillows.
What else would you like to tell us?
The rest of my life is the opposite of sitting quietly at my desk-- it's a big, messy life with mischievous dogs, a great kid, skittish cat, bicycling, basketball, traveling, school visits, making ice cream, working in a soup kitchen-- just so you have a fuller picture. I can only take sitting quietly for so long AND the rest gives me lots to write and draw about. Thanks for asking.
Suzy, thank you so much for joining us for six minutes today! It’s been pleasure getting to know you. Congratulations on starting a bike-a-thon that has raised over $1,000,000 for adults and children living with HIV/AIDS!