Tuesday, June 12, 2012

About Susie Kelly


I was born in Wimbledon, south-west London. We were a middle-class family, my father an accountant working for a well-known manufacturer of film and camera, and my mother was a stay-at-home and look-after-me mummy. My earliest recollections are of my mother washing me in the kitchen sink, eating raw cake mixture, fish paste sandwiches, pink blancmange shaped like a rabbit, and flicking the tassels on my dressing gown cord into the fire when nobody was looking.

When I was six my father was offered a job with his company, in Kenya, and off we sailed on an ocean liner. For a child who only knew the grey grimness of post-war London, this was a new world entirely, a world of vibrant colour, almost perpetual sunshine, intoxicating smells and exotic animals and foods. Woolly vests, liberty bodices and tweed leggings were no longer de rigeur. Now I wore cotton frocks and sandals.

This idyll lasted for a little over a year, and culminated in an event so traumatic that I don't think I have ever fully recovered from it.

For decades I worked variously, and for various reasons, as a secretary/PA, with short spells as a teacher of shorthand and typing (a very short spell lasting just one day), a trainer on Wang word processors, a machinist producing small parts for exclusive ladies' coats, and a cleaning lady.

I started and abandoned more novels than I could count, meticulously plotting, drawing snowflakes and cutting out photographs from magazines of what I thought my characters looked like. By then the initial enthusiasm for the novel would have faded, and I'd start a new one.

By the time I moved to France in the late 90s I'd given up the thought of writing a novel, but I still had a powerful urge to write something. I had several articles published in magazines, but I didn't enjoy knowing how short their life would be before they ended up in the doctor's waiting room and went from there to the bin. I wanted something that would last.

I began writing non-fiction, starting with the account of my 500-mile solo hike across France, entitled Best Foot Forward. Rejected by 43 publishers and agents, I self-published it in 2001. A year later it was picked up by Transworld Publishers, a division of Random House, and published in 2003 under their Bantam Books imprint.

Two more books followed under the same imprint - Two Steps Backward and A Perfect Circle, and have sold steadily.

With the arrival of digital books and as an enthusiastic Kindler, I was keen to see the titles in digital form. Having failed to reached a satisfactory agreement with regards to royalties from Transworld, for whom I have nothing but gratitude for the support they have given to me as one of their authors, I negotiated the rights back for Best Foot Forward and A Perfect Circle, and they are now published by boutique publisher Blackbird Digital Books

Best Foot Forward, and A Perfect Circle now retitled "Travels with Tinkerbelle - 6,000 miles around France in a Mechanical Wreck" are both available in all digital formats and as print-to-order paperbacks, as is my fourth non-fiction book"The Valley of Heaven and Hell - cycling in the Footprints of Marie-Antoinette". 

Details of all my books, including extracts, are in the right-hand sidebar. 

I've completed drafts for two more non-fiction books, and am currently editing, re-editing and re-re-editing them seemingly ad infinitum. At least one of them should be available later in 2012.

If I was given three wishes, they would probably be courage, compassion and a sense of humour.

And finally there is a completed novel - in my head. 

If you'd like to socialise, you can find me on Twitter @SusieEnFrance, or here on Facebook.