Friday, October 8, 2010

Interview with Susie Sawyer - "An Eyeball in My Garden" Poet

Today, it's Susie Sawyer's turn to stop by. Always cheery, she makes a "sunny" cowgirl.

#1. What is your “favorite” spooky poem from the collection?  
Oh, don't make me pick!!  There is such a wide variety of amazing work in this collection, it really would be difficult to choose one favorite.  Some I love for their creepiness, some for their giggle factor, and some are wonderfully complete stories, woven into perfect rhyme and meter.  That's the beauty of this collection - there's something for everybody.

#2. Where did your inspiration come from for your particular poems?
For my poem "Bedtime Story," I recalled the movie "The Others."  I loved the unexpected twist at the end and tried to recreate that.  For "Hixon House," I really wanted to feature a haunted house.  As I brainstormed ideas, I was intrigued by the idea of a house that was "alive", and took it from there, describing it with human features and longing for company.  Our illustrator, Johan Olander, captured it exactly as I saw it in my mind!  "Swamp Witch" actually started out as a "Swamp Thing," but I thought the collection needed another female character.  I envisioned the environment - slimy, swampy, slippery things - and what kind of creature would live there, and she quickly took shape.  Overall, I just spent some time recalling the things that creeped me out as a child and drew inspiration from that.

#3. How does feedback from the other poets affect your final decision?
I'm fortunate to work with amazingly talented, successful poets, so I take their advice very seriously.  The vast majority of the time, I'm delighted and excited about the editing suggestions the other poets make, and I'm thankful to be able to use their ideas to improve my work.  Every once in a while my critique buddies will suggest changing something that I really love.  That can be a real challenge because our words can be hard to let go, especially when we've slaved for hours over finding just the right word choice.  When that happens, it helps to set the piece aside for a while and then go back and reconsider the suggestions for change.  In the end, we need to be true to ourselves and keep the story/poem our own.  After all, our goal is to be published, and if the final result doesn't feel like our own, maybe we haven't really achieved our goal.

#4. How long have you been a rhymer?
I started writing for publication in 2003.  I was immediately drawn to the rhythm and cadence of rhyming poetry.  I've experimented with free verse, but I don't trust my ear without the "mathematical" aspects of perfect rhythm and rhyme.  I guess I like following the rules.  

#5. Do you write varied forms of poetry for children? 
I enjoy working with different forms and rhyme schemes.  Sometimes the rhythm of a poem can directly relate to and complement the subject matter.  For "Swamp Witch," for example, I found the form fit the mood.  It's interesting to see how my own mood can dictate the form of poetry I choose to write at any given time.  It's very much like music, I suppose - sometimes you feel like listening to a ballad, and sometimes you want rock & roll.

#6.How are you personally promoting your group’s debut book?
I have prominently displayed our book at my website (, and I am working with the other contributors to create a blog to feature and promote the book.  It's going to be jam-packed with all kinds of features, activities and fun content for "An Eyeball in My Garden" fans.    We have created a snazzy bookmark to help promote the book, so I'll be passing those out whenever and wherever possible, AND the book has a Facebook page, so please seek us out!
#7. Do you plan to do any book signings? If so, where can fans find you?
I plan to set up readings and book signings locally.  I live in northern Wisconsin, and will be working on appearances at local libraries, schools and book stores in the area.  It's so exciting to share the book with children in person.  The enthusiasm at school and library  readings is always such fun!  With Halloween just around the corner, this is the perfect time to share some spooky shivers and giggles.

Thank you so much, Gail, for this chance to share my passion for writing for children and to talk about "An Eyeball in My Garden:  And Other Spine-Tingling Poems." 

Next week...........William Shakespeery


  1. Congratulations, Susie Sawyer. I enjoyed reading about the inspiration for your "creepy" poems from "An Eyeball in My Garden"!

  2. Susie, you sunny picture reflects your sunny personality. Great interview!

  3. Great interview Susie and Gayle! I liked hearing how your spooky poems came about - esp the haunted house that was alive. Cool!

  4. Great interview, Susie and Gail. Have fun at your local reading events. I'm sure shivers and giggles will abound! (Beautiful photo, btw)


Fall Frenzy Writing Contest 2020

 I entered this last year and it was a great writing experience. This year’s rules: 1. Choose a fall image from Lydia Lukidis’s blog