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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

3 Question Interview - SANDRA SUTTER

It’s always a thrill to feature a wonderful friend and critique partner on my blog. Today, author Sandra Sutter is here to share insights about her publishing journey. Her debut picture book, THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL, releases tomorrow! I already have a signed advance copy, and I love the clever story and fantastic illustrations. You will too. Read on for Sandra’s thoughts about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection.

Thank you, Melissa, for having me on your blog today. It is such a pleasure to be here!

STORIES – Discuss what inspires your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.

Most of the time an idea comes from a simple question about something I see or hear. It might be from my kids, the news and world events, observing and playing in nature, or just by thinking about the meaning of a word, phrase, or song. Inspiration is everywhere.

For my debut picture book, THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL (illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne, Clear Fork Publishing, March 2019), my son provided that initial spark. It was a simple question --- did I know the song and that the Farmer had taken a wife? When I answered yes, I did know that, he promptly informed me it was all news to him. And then I thought . . . it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe the Farmer doesn’t take a wife? Maybe the Farmer isn’t a farmer? And who would even know the real story? From there, I got to work on telling things my own way.

With my second picture book, STAN’S FRIGHTFULLY CLUMSY HALLOWEEN, set to arrive later this year (also with Clear Fork Publishing), my son asked me what would happen if a werewolf fell off a telephone poll. Let’s forget the obvious question of why he would ask such a thing and focus instead on my answer. As I explained that the werewolf might get hurt, perhaps break a leg, I realized what a sad turn of events it would be for a werewolf, especially on the eve of Halloween. If you want to know what kind of Halloween Stan ends up having (and you will, I promise), then stay tuned for more information in the not-so-distant future.

In the end, each story is different, and sometimes I don’t see it coming. The story just appears and I am compelled to get it out on paper (or more likely, a computer screen). I keep a lot of notes in my phone or email them to myself when an idea strikes, with full intentions of going back to it later. Sometimes I do, and sometimes . . . meh. Not all ideas are worth pursuing.

One of my recent projects, a middle grade novel, came to me when another author suggested I write what I know. I don’t know a lot about being twelve in 2019, but I do know what it was like about thirty years ago. The result . . . my protagonist goes on a journey back in time. I am not going to disclose much else, but let me say the research has been fun and the character’s discovery of all that has changed – socially, technologically, and to the physical landscape of her town – was exciting for me to write about.

CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?

I think my critique partners and those closest to me would say my creative side is seen most clearly in the wide range of topics I cover and in my desire to write across genres. I don’t know if it is a gift or a curse, but I am most happy when I change gears and try new things. The process of challenging myself gives me the most growth as a writer and brings out the most creativity.

As far as other pursuits, I wish I had double the hours in a day so I could actually “pursue” them. I enjoy drawing, photography, playing piano, and physical activities like mountain biking, yoga, hiking, and skiing. Those are things that bring out and help me focus on my creative side. There is something about using the senses and coordination of movement that result in the best ideas.

CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?

I am fortunate in that my son is 6 and my daughter is 4, so I get to be around those age groups on a daily basis. Kids love to talk about reading books and how they are made. When they find out I am an author, they ask all kinds of questions and share their best ideas and artwork. Now that my debut is here, I will be presenting and reading at area schools, daycare centers, and libraries to continue building that connection with a wider audience.

As far as the KidLit community, there are so many ways to be connected and involved. I am in multiple critique groups, 12x12, and Facebook groups that focus on different aspects of the work. I read and comment on blog posts (when I can!), sign up for newsletters, support others by writing reviews on Amazon and Bookreads, participate in challenges or contests (when time allows!), and host the “Pitch it To Me” Challenge on my critique group’s blog, The Wonder of Words. And, I actively post information, announcements or congratulations for other authors on my author Facebook page and Twitter account.

I cannot forget to mention my wonderful publisher, Callie Metler-Smith, and Editor/Art Director, Dr. Mira Reisberg, who have been more than encouraging and supportive of me, and have welcomed me into the Clear Fork Publishing/Spork group of authors and illustrators. The CFP/Spork team is incredible!

Whew! That seems like a lot, and sometimes it feels like it, too. As with other parts of life, I get the most out of my writing by putting all I can into it.

Thank you again, Melissa, for letting me share these answers to such thoughtful questions. I hope your readers enjoyed them!


Sandra has worn many hats, including counselor, attorney, and now children’s book author. Originally from the beautiful Front Range of Northern Colorado, she now lives in the heart of Kentucky’s horse country with her husband and two adorable, spunky kids. When she's not busy writing stories, you might find her hiking the Red River Gorge with her family or on a local mountain bike trail.

THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL is Sandra's debut picture book. A second, STAN'S FRIGHTFULLY CLUMSY HALLOWEEN, is set to arrive later this year. Both books are with Spork, an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing.


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