Good children’s authors are a rare commodity. Susannah Cord is one of those rare children’s authors. Her book “Fenella: A Fable of a Fairy Afraid To Fly” is a really special book. “Fenella” is a beautiful young fairy with a wonderful family and a perfect life – except for one thing. Unlike the other fairies in the fairy kingdom, Fenella is afraid to fly! How will she ever get over this fear and discover her true name? Join Fenella on an exciting journey as she discovers that maybe flying isn’t so scary after all.
Q) Good morning! So let me start by asking you a short, sweet and simple question. How would you describe your writing style in two sentences?
A) From the heart. I have to feel it to write it.
Q) How long does it take for you to write a chapter?
A) That depends upon the length of the chapter! I really have no way to give a clear answer, because I don’t write chapters to fit a number of pages, but to tell their part of the story, then shut up. Each chapter has a life of its own, and I don’t really get to say how long a lifespan it gets! In my book Each Wind That Blows, some chapters are maybe 10-15 pages long, others only a page or two. But I can write a lot in a short time when things are really cooking. One drawback is that I spell a lot better than I type, so I have to go back and fix a lot of typos if I’ve been flying along.
Q) What is the best part of the writing process for you?
A) Both the beginning when the wall crumbles and the words start to flow, and hitting ‘Save’ with a big sigh of relief. That feeling of having said all I wanted to say in a way I feel expresses what’s been tumbling around inside me. The afterglow of a really good writing session! I feel peaceful, content, I am able to put my mind to rest, something I am not generally good at.
Q) If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a lot of people—what would that message be?
A) Don’t take yourself for granted. Time flies. Be who you came to be and to hell with the rest.
Q) Do you ask yourself questions or do you settle for what you know?
A) Oh, I ask questions to the point I want to mute myself. Sometimes I wish I had a mute button for my brain.
Q) When it’s all said and done—will you have said more or done more?
A) I hope that’s a question I won’t be able to truly answer for a very long time! My bucket list is about ten miles long.
Q) Which activities make you lose track of time?
A) Anything creative. Writing, of course. Time in nature – riding safaris completely lose me time-wise; by Day Three I have no idea what day it is or how long I’ve been there. Photography. Drawing and painting, which I don’t do enough anymore at all. Designing anything. My mockbook for my children’s book Fenella is legendary at the publishing house. They asked for something simple, and I gave them this book of text, drawings, doodles, ribbons and so on. I didn’t intend to – it just happened, and time took a back seat to the process.
My horses are great time assassins. I look up and 6 hours just flew by while I played at the barn. People may not think being with horses is particularly creative, but when you train with the horse in mind, you have to be open to your creative instincts because they will tell you what the horse needs, whereas know how and technique only ever tell you what you want (but usually aren’t getting). And to be a good trainer, you have to answer the horses’ needs to get what you want.
Q) What’s your single greatest moment of personal failure? Looking back on it now, did it make you weaker or stronger? What did you learn?
A) Not being true to myself, my sense of right and wrong and me. It always comes back to that. The effect of my single greatest moment of personal failure was complete humiliation to my own mind, if not to others, only because I knew the battle that had raged within before I fell down on my own sword. It made me question who I thought I was, everything I thought I knew about myself, and extremely vulnerable and somewhat pathetic for a time, but now – it’s just like the body. What was broken grows back stronger.
Ultimately, I learned that the price for selling out in order to feel wanted is too high a price to pay. The right people will always want you, even when you say no to their need for you to fit a certain mould.
Q) Joy is found with simple awareness. What does your joy look like today?
A) Hmmm. What does my joy look like…Eric Bana. Just kidding. My husband, of course.
I think my joy looks like a good champagne, all pale gold and bubbly. It arises in me when I am with my animals, immersed in nature in some way, with loved ones, with people of good humour. In Kenya on horseback I feel like I am hooked up to a ‘joy drip,’ it’s near-constant. And I like to joke around and laugh a lot, and anytime that energy starts to flow with other beings (including animals) I am filled with joy.
Q) If your life were a novel, what would be the title and how would your story end?
A) The title would be ‘Desperately Seeking Susannah’ and it would end with me disappearing on horseback into some remote wilderness area, accompanied by my dogs, cats, donkeys and Eric Bana. Because my husband doesn’t do camping.
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