Selfors, Suzanne 1963–
Selfors, Suzanne 1963–
Born 1963, in Munich, Germany; daughter of Conrad (a teacher) and Marilyn (a real-estate broker); married; children: Walker, Isabelle. Education: Attended Bennington College; Occidental College, B.A. (cum laude); University of Washington, 1990, M.A.
Writer. Has worked variously as a prep cook, children's photographer, salesperson, receptionist, gardener, video producer, television-station sales assistant, organic flower grower, and marketing director.
To Catch a Mermaid, illustrated by Catia Chien, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
Saving Juliet, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2008.
Fortune's Magic Farm, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2009.
Coffeehouse Angel, Walker & Company (New York, NY), 2009.
Saving Juliet was adapted as a play by the Bainbridge Performing Arts, 2008.
In 2002, at the age of thirty-nine, Suzanne Selfors saw her youngest child safely off to school, then realized that she would have a few hours each day to finally pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Five years later her first picture book, To Catch a Mermaid, saw publication, and she followed that success with the young-adult novel Saving Juliet. Writing, the author stated on her home page, is "hard, hard work. Most non-writers don't realize that. It's lonely work, sometimes tedious work, sometimes exhilarating work. You should want it in a compulsive way. Talent helps but determination is mandatory."
Born on an army base in Munich, Germany, Selfors was raised in Bainbridge Island, Washington, where she now lives. "I was a happy kid," she remarked to Cynsations online interviewer Cynthia Leitich Smith. "I was fairly happy in my teen years too, though I limited myself to a smaller group of friends." Selfors discovered a love for the theater during those years after being cast as Mercutio in her school's production of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. "High school was all about performing for me, in plays and in dance productions," she told Smith. "My parents started having marriage problems, and so being in plays was a way to get out of the house."
Selfors later studied dance and art at Bennington College before earning a degree in theater from Occidental College. She eventually completed a master's degree in communications from the University of Washington and worked at a number of jobs, including children's photographer, video producer, and organic flower grower, before becoming a full-time mom. Selfors told Smith that reading to her two children helped inspire her to try her hand at writing. "I loved what I was reading and realized that there was this huge Renaissance going on in children's literature," the author told Smith. "Every time I went to a bookstore, I'd start in the adult section, find nothing I wanted to read, and then ended up in the kids' section with an armful of books. I wanted to be a part of it."
The idea for To Catch a Mermaid came to Selfors while she jogged through a park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. "The tide was out, exposing beautiful tide pools," she stated on the Class of 2k7 Web site. "Lots of kids were playing in the pools, delighting at the things they discovered. I realized that one of the universal joys of childhood is discovering things. What would be a neater thing to discover in a tide pool than a baby mercreature? And so, the story was born." To Catch a Mermaid concerns sixth-grader Boomerang "Boom" Broom and his dysfunctional family. When Boom unwittingly brings home an ill-tempered baby mermaid in a bucket of seafood, the creature places a curse upon his household, and Boom's sister, Mertyle, comes down with a bad case of Ick Disease. "Selfors has conjured up great characters and settings, and her narrative voice never falters," Elizabeth Bird remarked in School Library Journal. Despite its humorous narrative, "Selfors's adventure also subtly explores serious themes like grief, adversity and misfortune," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor.
In Saving Juliet, the family of seventeen-year-old Mimi Wallingford owns a financially unsound Shakespearean theater in New York City, and Mimi is pressured to carry on the family tradition to rescue the theater. When Mimi is cast as Juliet, she finds herself transported to sixteenth-century Verona where she meets the star-crossed daughter of the Capulets. Mimi decides to reinvent Shakespeare's tale, giving Juliet a satisfying resolution to her predicament. Selfors's "dialogue is lively," Jennifer Hubert commented in Booklist, and Mimi "is an honest, savvy narrator," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Selfors plans to write additional fantasy tales. "I adore the process of writing for middle grade readers," she remarked on the Class of 2k7 Web site. "Why? Because they are still willing to believe that all sorts of crazy things are possible. They don't have all those hormones getting in the way. They don't yet need romance. They just want great adventure."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2008, Jennifer Hubert, review of Saving Juliet, p. 61.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2007, review of To Catch a Mermaid; January 15, 2008, review of Saving Juliet.
Publishers Weekly, September 3, 2007, review of To Catch a Mermaid, p. 59; February 4, 2008, review of Saving Juliet, p. 58.
School Library Journal, September, 2007, Elizabeth Bird, review of To Catch a Mermaid, p. 208; March, 2008, Kathleen E. Gruver, review of Saving Juliet, p. 210.
Class of 2k7 Web site,http://www.classof2k7.com/ (September 2, 2008), "Debut Author Interviews: Suzanne Selfors."
Cynsations Web log,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (September 2, 2008), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Selfors.
Suzanne Selfors Home Page,http://www.suzanneselfors.com (September 10, 2008).