Storyteller adept Susan Fletcher’s mind has given us The Dragon Chronicles, Alphabet of Dreams, the startling Falcon in the Glass, and most recently Journey of the Pale Bear. As you’ll read below, she has traveled to amazing locations and had enviable experiences as she researched her novels. Susan taught at the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults program but now she lives full-time in Texas. We can’t wait for her next absorbing book!
The best way to stay fit: My mom and dad used to walk up a long, steep, forested hill on their property every night. They stayed remarkably robust into their mid-eighties. Lacking such a hill, I have taken up running several mornings a week. Well, I run for a while, and then walk for a shorter while, and then run for another while again. Repeat until spent. In the evenings, our bottle-rocket of a dog leads me a merry chase on the nether end of a leash. I can’t speak for everyone, because some people do really well in the gym, but I don’t. I love exercising outdoors, preferably in a park or near running water.
My philosophy: Be kind. Never stop learning.
One habit I keep trying to break: Losing my phone! When my fingers release it — on the kitchen counter, by the bedroom table, on my desk — wherever! — that pesky thing vanishes completely from my mind. Poof! By the time I think of it again, it could be anywhere. In my defense, I didn’t grow up having to keep a device the size of a pack of cards beside me at all times. Whose idea was that?
I never thought I would… Stand a foot and a half away from two polar bears; travel along the Silk Road in Iran; ride on a camel, a donkey, and a glider (a plane with no motor); spend the night in a lighthouse alone, halfway hoping to rendezvous with the lighthouse ghost; have a private showing in a planetarium; cut up dead chickens and mice for a gyrfalcon’s dinner; go spelunking in sea caves and lava tubes; and wander among narrow streets and canals in Venice and Murano. Research! Sometimes I’m scared to do what I have to in order to find out stuff for my books, but my research experiences have given me memories I’ll cherish forever.
I don’t believe in… talent. Well, I do believe that talent exists, in unequal measures, but I don’t think it’s the most important thing. This business of people being heroes by virtue of having some special talent they didn’t earn…that doesn’t really resonate with me. What matters more is taking whatever gifts you have, large or small, and day by day putting in the effort to develop them into something unusual and special. To me, it’s character — not luck — that makes a hero.
I’m currently reading… The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee.
My toughest lesson has been… To try for what you want in life, even if it means risking failure. I mean, if it doesn’t work out, that’s one thing, and it’s never a bad idea to have a solid Plan B to fall back on. But if you never even try…that’s really letting yourself down.
My favorite holiday tradition… When I was growing up, my mother made huge Thanksgiving feasts and invited older relatives, single people, and college students who were away from home to dine with us. I loved sharing delicious food and stories, but I didn’t realize quite how much I loved it until, in grad school, while stranded one Thanksgiving, my roommate and I cooked Tuna Helper in an electric skillet on a card table in our dorm room. So sad! After that, I made a point of learning how to cook turkey and a feast of trimmings, and I’m always looking to expand the Thanksgiving circle.
Guiltiest pleasure… I eat one Dove dark-chocolate-and-almond nugget almost every night after dinner. Er, sometimes two.
I yearn to… write a bunch more books; see Florence, Scotland, Morocco, Provence, Istanbul, the south of Spain; learn how to make crusty bread, how to draw, how to take really good photographs with my phone; learn calculus, tap dancing, gardening; take flying lessons; gaze at the stars through a telescope at night (and understand what I’m seeing); brush up on my Spanish; start a “Villages” community; hike in the woods every day; teach English as a second language, teach novel writing; join the Peace Corps; write some songs and essays; have a long chat with Barak Obama, with Michelle Obama, with the Dalai Lama, with Katherine Paterson; with Andy Puddicombe, with Anthony Doerr; raise a puppy… And that’s just for starters. The world is huge and rich and fascinating; life’s not long enough to experience everything. Still, it’s fun to have a list.
The food I can’t resist… Bread! I know, I know, it’s full of carbs and gluten. And honestly, for a while I tried to cut way back, but now I’ve given up the fight. Can you say, “staff of life”? I don’t care what they say: a nice, thick slice of whole-grain bread with butter is food for the soul.
The piece of clothing in my closet I can’t let go… Funny you should mention this. Right now I have in my closet a crinkly white cotton shirt that I owned in 1990, and maybe before. You wash it, and then you twist it up and let it dry that way, to keep the crinkles intact. No ironing, ever. I love that shirt. I used to get compliments every time I wore it, but now the cotton has grown thin and, truth to tell, it has sprouted a few small holes. For a while I tried to persuade myself that nobody would notice the holes, especially with a white camisole underneath, but it’s gone way past the stage of plausible deniability. It’s time to throw that shirt out. It really is. I’m going to do it soon, I swear. Maybe tomorrow.