Copyright © Susanna Kearsley All Rights Reserved.   

I had the good fortune to be born into a family of readers. My mother was reading Mary Stewart’s This Rough Magic when I was born, so it was perhaps no surprise that Mrs Stewart became my own favourite author.


I can’t remember when I began to put words on paper myself, but at seven - after reading Little Women and deciding that I wanted to be just like Jo - I started writing first chapters, and wrote continually through my teenage years. After studying politics and international development at university, I sidestepped into museum work and at the age of twenty-two became a curator.


In that same year, my sister dared me to stop writing first chapters and produce a book. I’d never been able to resist a dare! By the end of that summer I’d finished my first novel, and I was hooked. My ‘hobby’ had become a vocation.


I left the museum to waitress and write. Working mostly late at night, I wrote my second novel, Mariana, and submitted it to Transworld Publishers’ Catherine Cookson Fiction Prize competition. Four days before Christmas, I learned that I’d won. The very best of Christmas presents, and one that truly changed my life - not only the £10,000 prize, but major international publication of a book that continues to find its own life.

And twenty years later, I’m still feeling fortunate, doing the thing I love best...telling stories.

Photo: Kerri Ungureit

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