My Bio:

Suzanne Supplee is the author of When Irish Guys Are Smiling, a Students Across the Seven Seas series book, and Artichoke’s Heart. Currently, Suzanne is working on her third book, untitled as of yet, but due out in the spring of 2010.

Suzanne is a graduate of Southern Illinois University, and she earned a masters degree in creative writing from Towson University in Maryland. For a number of years, she has worked as both a teacher and a writer.

Suzanne is married and has three daughters. Her favorite hobbies include exercise, reading, and, of course, writing.

 

   
  About Me:

I grew up in the South in a little town called Columbia, Tennessee. My grandparents and aunts and uncles lived close by, and I had cousins, too. The first five years of my life were uneventful, at least as far as I remember. I loved to swim and play outdoors and make believe—I was obsessed with Barbie and her fabulous clothes, some of which my mom made for me.

 
 
This is me in third grade before the Cut, Blow, and Go!
  But, everything changed for all of us two weeks before my sixth birthday. On Christmas Eve, my father was killed. My mother was devastated. At the time I was just angry that Daddy wasn’t around to see the new pink bike with a big white basket that Santa brought. I don’t think it occurred to me that my whole world had changed. Forever. I remember going to the funeral and seeing my father lying there. I remember Granny, my dad’s mother, pressing her hand to his forehead, as if checking for a fever. I remember being left at a family friend’s house while everyone else went to the burial service. Ironically, the memories of Daddy’s death overshadowed those of his life, and I have no recollection of what our time together was really like.

Good always comes out of bad; at least this is what I believe. It was tough growing up without a father, and I think I was especially hard on my mom, an unfortunate trait I would carry with me well into adulthood. I’ve always wondered if all kids are like this when they lose a parent? Or, was it just me? She was a good mother, though. She dressed us well and took us to church and loved my brother and me enough for two parents. Money was tight, but I never felt deprived. When my father died, our house was paid for, and it was warm and inviting, a safe haven from the rest of the world. I loved to play alone, to make up stories and games. I had a toy typewriter and a tape recorder, two essential tools for any future writer.
 
 
This hairstyle was called the Cut, Blow, and Go, and it took months of begging before my mother finally agreed to let me cut off my long hair. I still remember going to Time Beauty Shop in Columbia, Tennessee. I was in the fourth grade, and I thought I was very grown up looking with my new do. I still love going to the beauty shop!
 
College was a time of upheaval for me. At first, I didn’t perform well, and it took me years to find the self-discipline I was so desperately in need of harnessing. Ultimately, I finished college and graduate school, and it might interest a few of my high school teachers (the ones who were always emphasizing my “potential”) that I earned a 4.0 from Towson University’s creative writing program.

My first job after college was with the Country Music Association in Nashville, Tennessee, and I was hired to work in the association’s public relations department. Truly, this was a job that changed my life! I was writing AND being paid for it! I interviewed songwriters, artists, disc jockeys, and our department did all the publicity for the big award show every year. It really was a cool experience, and I actually learned how to write while working there. Plus, the people were exceptionally nice to me. It was then that I began to try (I emphasize the word try) to write fiction.

I would continue trying to write fiction for many years. My goal was to publish my first book by age thirty. Suffice it to say that did not happen! While I have many flaws, I am blessed with a fierce (some might say obnoxious) personal drive. I can be incredibly determined when it comes to attaining a goal, and I never gave up on writing. Never. There were countless rejection letters, but if one novel didn’t sell, I stuffed it in a drawer and wrote another one. Along the way, there were glimmers of hope: “good” rejection letters—the nice notes that a few editors took the time to write to me. Their words were encouraging, even kind, just enough to keep me going.
 
 


Right after I finished the first draft of Artichoke’s Heart, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a really rare and especially nasty form of it. We got the news in October, and she died six months later. Once again, I was devastated. I had lost the only parent I had ever known, and I had no clue that being an orphan would prove so difficult. After all, I was an adult, with a husband and children and a career, but the truth was, I still really needed my mom.

It was after this devastating experience that I began to sense that Artichoke was The One, the book that would finally make it to publication. Mama would see to it, right? Working on that novel helped me in so many ways. After all, I knew Rosemary, my main character, very, very well. I knew firsthand what it was like to have no father. I knew firsthand what it was like to have a sick mother. And, I had been practicing with all those other novels and stories and articles for years. The timing felt right, and working took my mind off my troubles.

 



Graduation day at Southern Illinois University. Go Salukis! Do you know what a Saluki is? This is my mom, Donna Sue Gibson. I dedicated Artichoke’s Heart to her (and to my husband, of course).


 
 


Today, I am incredibly happy most of the time and grateful always. I have a wonderful husband, Scott, who loves and supports me, and I am the mother of three beautiful, incredible daughters, not to mention two whacky Jack Russell terriers. At the moment, I am working on my next book, due out some time in 2010. It’s the story of Retta Jones, a Tennessee River girl who dreams of becoming a country music singer in Nashville.

I guess if I had to sum up my life lessons so far, I would say that out of sadness comes joy, out of strife and hardship come bliss. It’s important to remember that fears and insecurities and overly sensitive feelings really do serve you well, especially if you’re a writer! And, finally, if you persevere long enough, you will probably succeed.

 
 

Our wedding day. Scott and I were married on January 1st, and it was extremely cold. It was also very beautiful—clear sapphire skies, a few scattered snowflakes, and many wonderful friends.
 

My beautiful girls! This photo was taken for our annual Christmas card, and two seconds before, Elsbeth, the youngest, was in tears. She did not want to pose. Somehow my husband made her laugh and snapped this picture at the perfect moment.
 
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