Susane Colasanti is the bestselling author of When It Happens, Take Me There, Waiting for You, Something Like Fate, So Much Closer, Keep Holding On, All I Need, and Now and Forever. Susane has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from New York University. Before becoming a full-time author in 2007, Susane was a high school science teacher for ten years. She lives in New York City. For more information, visit Susane on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and her website.
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What’s the biggest inconvenience about where you live?
Nothing! That’s the awesome thing about living in downtown Manhattan. Everything I need is right outside my door. I love to walk everywhere and especially love that I have both a Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods four blocks away, plus I can walk to all of my gym locations easily from my place. I heart New York.
If you could own a store, what sorts of things would you sell?
Organizational paraphernalia that rivals The Container Store. As an organization enthusiast, I love boxes, bins, cubbies, drawers…anything that helps turn a messy home into a peaceful Zen retreat.
What was your favorite meal when you were growing up?
Pasta with pesto sauce. Still is. Even better if it’s with warm garlic bread.
Whose ideas totally conflict with yours?
Anyone who is intolerant of groups of people based on their race, socioeconomic status, or lifestyle. Live and let live.
What do you do every day, without fail?
Creative visualization. I visualize a clear image of my ideal life. Then I take steps every day to turn my dreams into reality. Big dreams can come true if you carry them in your heart and work hard to manifest them.
What is something you wish you did every day, without fail?
I wish I were better about waking up early. I’ve always been a night person. Staying up late is super fun. But I love the idea of waking up early to get more done. There’s always so much I want to do and never enough time to do it all.
If you could dis-invent one thing, what would it be?
Cigarettes. Both of my grandparents died from health issues related to smoking. About half a million people in the United States die every year due to smoking-related illnesses. That is a crying shame.
What makes you laugh until tears roll down your cheeks?
My BF/soul mate’s impression of the honey badger guy. He’s even funnier than the actual guy.
How did you pick your writing genre?
My internal age is 16. I’m pretty sure this will always be true. So I try to write the kinds of books I would have wanted to read as a teen. My purpose in life is to reach out to teens and help them feel less alone. Being a teen was the worst time of my life. I guess that’s why I’m 16 at heart—I’m recapturing that age in a way I never got to experience back then.
What life experiences have inspired your work?
All of them. Every experience I’ve ever had, every interaction, every observation, every heartbreak, every happy moment, every epiphany…all that I am is poured into my books. As far as specific experiences, When It Happens was inspired by my actual boy adventures and home life senior year of high school. And Keep Holding On includes a lot of things that happened to me when I was bullied in junior high and high school. My goal in writing Keep Holding On was to turn the negative experience of being bullied into a positive opportunity to reach out to teens in need.
How do you know when a book is finished?
Interesting question! I guess when I feel I’ve told all I can of the story. There’s this feeling of completion when it gets to the point where my characters are done. They can be pretty bossy when it comes to controlling the story.
Why were you drawn to a career in writing instead of to a job that might offer more stability and security?
Writing is actually my second career. I was a high school science teacher for ten years before becoming a full-time author in 2007. There is a lot to be said for job stability. Steady paychecks in consistent amounts, good health insurance, and a retirement plan are all important. But I became a teacher because that was my passion. I knew I was going to be a science teacher when I was 12. I couldn’t wait to get started. Being with my people all day was awesome, but teaching and writing at the same time was too exhausting. Thankfully I am very fortunate to have had not only one, but two jobs that I love. Being an author is my dream job and I am grateful for this opportunity every single day.
Who do you consider a literary genius?
Laurie Halse Anderson. Her writing is phenomenal. When I started reading an ARC of Wintergirls at the airport, I had to put it down after almost every page in order to fully absorb the brilliance of what I’d just read. She is remarkable, both as a person and an author.
When did you know for certain that you wanted to pursue a career in writing? Have you ever questioned that decision?
I remember being around 10 when I first thought about writing a children’s book. My plan was to both write and illustrate it. The drive to write a book never died. In junior high, I shifted my goal to writing a teen novel. My experiences senior year felt like something I would have liked to read about. So the idea for When It Happens began to take shape. I always told myself that if I ever wrote a teen novel, I would tell it from both the girl’s and boy’s perspectives, which turned out to be so much fun to write. Even though the odds were against me, I had a Knowing that my first book would be published. Everything after that was part of dreaming big, then turning those big dreams into reality.
What traits, if any, do you think that creative people have compared to people who are not creative?
Creative people tend to think outside the box. That is a very good thing. As John Mayer says in “No Such Thing,” They love to tell you stay inside the lines / But something’s better on the other side.
Do you do anything special to get your creative juices flowing?
Going for night walks here in New York always invigorates the creative spirit. There’s something about the city lights and feeling that anything is possible that is beyond exciting. The energy of this city makes me feel alive. Just living here is pure inspiration.
What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in the field of writing?
Read. Read as much as you can. The more you read, the better your writing will become. Take a book with you everywhere you go. Read while you’re in line, on the bus, or waiting for a friend. Write what you are passionate about. If you write about what makes you feel alive, you will find your voice.