Kirby, Susan E. 1949–
Kirby, Susan E. 1949–
(Suzanne Stephens, Suzanne Wade)
PERSONAL: Born August 10, 1949, in Bloomington, IL; daughter of Stephen F. (a farmer) and Glaida (a homemaker; maiden name, Wade) Funk; married John R. Kirby (a mechanic), June 27, 1969; children: John R. II, A. Levi. Education: Attended Illinois State University, 1967–68. Religion: "Protestant-Christian."
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Aladdin Publicity Department, Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
CAREER: Writer. Has also worked as a school cook and postal worker.
Ike and Porker, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1983.
Culligan Man Can, illustrated by Jim Spence, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1988.
Shadow Boy, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Tear Jerkers: Once in a Blue Moon, Pan Macmillan (New York, NY), 1996.
"AMERICAN QUILT" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
Ellen's Story, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2000.
Hattie's Story, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2000.
Daniel's Story, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2000.
Ida Lou's Story, Aladdin (New York, NY), 2001.
"MAIN STREET" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
Home for Christmas, Harper Trophy (New York, NY), 1994.
Lemonade Days, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Home Front Hero, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Goodbye, Desert Rose, Camelot (New York, NY), 1995.
The Maple Princess, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1982.
Lessons for the Heart, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1982.
Blizzard of the Heart, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1982.
Chasing a Dream, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1982.
Love's Welcome Home, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1983.
Reach for Heaven, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1983.
One Whispering Voice, Silhouette (Buffalo, NY), 1984.
Love's Secret Game, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1985.
(Under pseudonym Suzanne Stephens) The Proud Heart, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1986.
Heart Aflame, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1986.
Butterscotch Moon, Thomas Nelson (Nashville, TN), 1986.
Cries the Wilderness Wind, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1987.
Love, Special Delivery, Butterfield (Lindsborg, KS), 1987.
In Perfect Harmony, Butterfield (Lindsborg, KS), 1988.
Leah's Love Song, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1990.
Too Good to Be True, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.
(As Suzanne Wade) Candy Kisses, Bouregy (New York, NY), 1991.
My Secret Heart, Bantam (New York, NY), 1993.
Partners in Love, Bantam (New York, NY), 1993.
Picture Perfect, Heartsong Presents (Uhrichsville, OH), 1993.
The Field, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.
Prairie Rose, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Blue Moon, Berkeley Publishing Group (New York, NY), 1997.
When the Lilacs Bloom, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1997.
As the Lily Grows, Avon Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Your Dream and Mine, Steeple Hill Books (Buffalo, NY), 1999.
Love Sign, Steeple Hill Books (Buffalo, NY), 2001.
Love Knot, Steeple Hill Books (Buffalo, NY), 2004.
Contributor of over two hundred short stories to periodicals, including Scholastic Scope; contributor of short stories to anthologies.
SIDELIGHTS: Susan E. Kirby is an award-winning author who primarily writes Christian romance, historical fiction, and children's books. Kirby's young adult "Main Street" series spans four decades and three generations of an American family with a connection to America's main street, Route 66. The remnants of the highway which skirts Kirby's childhood home in Illinois inspired her to embellish Route 66 experiences drawn from family and friends into chapter books, each reflecting a different mood of the highway.
Kirby is also the author of the "American Quilt" series for children. The second book in this series is titled Hattie's Story, a tale about a girl coping with her parents' involvement in the Illinois Underground Railroad and her friend's family's actions to stop it. Angela J. Reynolds, writing in the School Library Journal, noted that the "suspense carries much of the plot" in this story. Another regional book by Kirby is When the Lilacs Bloom, which is set in the early twentieth century. Kristin Ramsdell, reviewing the work in Library Journal, complimented the author's use of descriptive details and noted that the "characters are nicely rendered" as well.
Kirby told CA: "My interest in writing was a natural outgrowth of my love of reading. I did not plan or prepare for a career in writing. When the urge to express myself in short stories became too strong to ignore, I was the mother of two young, active boys with little spare time. I failed at balancing motherhood and all its constant yet satisfying demands, so though I'd managed to sell a few short stories, I postponed my writing ambitions until my youngest started school. The time was right! God blessed my efforts. I began to sell short stories regularly. My first children's novel knocked around a bit before it found a home with Houghton Mifflin. It was a delight to do this story of a sensitive pioneer boy who, like my own boys, was a bit timid of the dark, yet full of bright bold ideas and ambitions.
"My children's book Culligan Man Can is a story of perseverance, and leaves readers cheering for the creative young hero who struggles with a learning disability. Also of importance to me is [Shadow Boy.] Of a more serious tone, this novel is the story of a teenage girl's gradual acceptance of the changes in her life brought about by an accident which left her younger brother brain-injured. It is a story of strained loyalties, old and new friendships, and love tested to the limits.
"Writing is and will always be a joy to me. Yet it is also a driving force that continually looks ahead to the next challenge."
Kirby further commented: "As a child, my father's stories of my pioneering ancestors brought history to life for me. I try to do the same for my readers in the 'American Quilt' series. The books blend some my favorite things—people, history, stories and quilts. My favorite book in the series is Hattie's Story, an Underground Railroad story that has proved popular with readers and teachers alike.
"Often, I'm invited to speak for schools, libraries, civic and church groups, and quilt venues, which I enjoy. I also like to play the organ for worship services at my home church. I'm very grateful for the gift of imagination which lends itself so well to the things I enjoy most—not the least of which is my grandchildren.
"My interest in writing is a gift from God. I was blessed with a fertile imagination and am a daydreamer. Writing fiction is daydreaming on paper.
"A love for people heavily influences my work. As does an appreciation for nature. I've come to think of the world as a really big garden, beautifully landscaped by our Creator with startling surprises around every bend.
"My writing process, like music, is all about tension and resolution.
"The two most surprising things I've learned as a writer are, one—that a neat, orderly book emerges from the chaos of the writing process is a constant surprise and delight to me! Two—that my happiness is not bound up in my writing. I can walk away from it. Learning that has liberated me from the guilt of 'not writing' when 'abundant living' leaves little time for daydreaming on paper."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book Report, September-October, 1991, Donna Dalton, review of Shadow Boy, p. 50.
Booklist, June 1, 1991, review of Shadow Boy, p. 1868.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1984, review of Ike and Porker, p. 109; February, 1991, review of Shadow Boy, p. 144.
Children's Book Review Service, April, 1991, review of Shadow Boy, p. 106.
Horn Book Magazine, December, 1983, Nancy C. Hammond, review of Ike and Porker, p. 710; fall, 1991, review of Shadow Boy, p. 276.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 1991, review of Shadow Boy, p. 473.
Kliatt, March, 1997, review of Prairie Rose, p. 10.
Library Journal, November 15, 1997, Kristin Rams-dell, review of When the Lilacs Bloom, p. 48.
Library Media Connection, September, 1991, review of Shadow Boy, p. 50.
School Library Journal, February, 1984, review of Ike and Porker, p. 74; October, 1988, Susannah Price, review of Culligan Man Can, p. 146; March, 1991, Libby K. White, review of Shadow Boy, p. 212; January, 1998, Alison Follos, review of Blue Moon, p. 114; March, 2001, Angela J. Reynolds, review of Hattie's Story, p. 252; December, 2001, Kristen Oravec, review of Ida Lou's Story, p. 138.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1991, review of Shadow Boy, p. 32.
All Readers, http://www.allreaders.com/ (March 6, 2006), review of Shadow Boy.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Web site, http://www.uiuc.edu/ (March 6, 2006), profile of Susan E. Kirby.