Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Meet Author/Illustrator Sue Shanahan ~By Suzy Leopold

Today is a special treat as I share an interview about an admired author. She is also an amazing illustrator. The blog post today is All About Sue Shanahan and includes a dozen questions and answersWithout further ado, please welcome Sue and her sweet smile. 
Sue Shanahan
Q 1: Tell us about your book, Love You to the Moon and Back.

A 1: I wrote Love You to the Moon and Back in response to an app company’s request. They liked my art and wanted to use it in a children’s book app. I wrote a poem around pre- existing illustrations that I had painted. My intention for the book is to give the children in your life a tangible sense of your all encompassing love. 
Sue's precious daughter and grandson.
Q 2: Tell us about your lovely illustrations, magical realism. What medium do you use?

A 2: For years I painstakingly drew with colored pencil over watercolor washes. I would put 40 to 60 hours into a piece! Yes, I know it was crazy. It began to sap me of the joy of creating. Last October I invested in an array of Daniel Smith watercolors and decided to paint with abandon. Using them as my primary medium allows for less control and more fun.

"We have to break the spell!" said Annabelle.
Glory in the Morning

"Oh, my goodness!
You're a fairy, aren'y you?"
asked Annabelle.
Glory in the Morning

Q 3: What inspired you to write your first book?

A 3: The first book I wrote is Glory in the Morning. It’s funny, but for a long time I had no idea why this story burned in my heart. After I published it I realized it was about me. Because of the dynamics of my family of origin, I grew up feeling invisible. Like the fairy in my story, being seen and loved for who I was by friends is what kept me alive. I know that sounds dramatic but love does heal and transform. 
Glory in the Morning
By Sue Shanahan

   Q 4: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

   A 4: Anne Lamotte. I really like her writing in general, but her book, 
   Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life was a game 
   changer for me. I felt like she had taken me by the hand and 
   showed me how to be a writer. 

   Q 5: What books are you currently reading?

   A 5: Every morning I read 365 Affirmations for the Writer by Jane 
   Hertenstein. It's a daily shot of encouragement in the arm. Also, I just
   finished reading Nightbird by Alice Hoffman. I am a big fan of her 
   writing. As for a children's book I'm reading, Over the Hills and Far 
   Away: A Treasure of Nursery Rhymes. It's the kind of book you fall 
   into and linger over.

  Q 6: What is your current WIP or what is your next project?

  A 6: I am writing a children's book on guardian angels and working 
 on essays for Maria Shriver's website and the Huffington Post. I also 
 am painting a very special portrait of a little boy who has passed on. I 
 am painting him as an angel. 

  Q 7: If you could invite five authors and illustrators to dinner who 
  would you choose?

  A 7: William Joyce, J. M. Barrie, Susan Branch,
  Mary Engelbreit, and Beatrix Potter.

  Q 8: Share something about yourself that very few
  people may know about.

  A 8: When I was a teenager I wanted to be an 
  album cover designer. I painted a portrait of the     
  lead singer of Led Zeppelin and brought it to a        
  concert of their's in Chicago. I was hoping I could
  somehow give it to him. I met the drummer's
  girlfriend in the bathroom and she arranged a 
  meeting for me with Robert Plant so I could present
  him with the painting. He loved it! It was all crazy
  and surreal but left me thinking that maybe I did 
  have talent.
Led Zeppelin and Sue!
Q 9: When did you first know you would like to be a writer? 

A 9: In 2012 I decided to heed marketing advice and create a blog to help build a following for my art. When I introduced my blog, Commonplace Grace, I had no idea I could write or how much I would love the process. To my delight my work was noticed by Arianna Huffington and my blog has been a regular feature in the Huffington Post ever since. I've written and illustrated two children's picture books, Glory in the Morning, and Love you to the Moon and Back. They both are now available on Amazon and iBooks. 

Q 10: How do you come up with ideas to write about? 

A 10: My stories and essays are already in me waiting to come out. Everything I write is about me directly or indirectly. My book Glory in the Morning is an allegory of my childhood. It took me getting some distance from the book before I realized that. 

Q 11: What inspires you to write? What inspires you to create, paint and draw?

A 11: That is the age old question, isn’t it? To me inspiration is a mysterious driving force that is part of the fiber of our being. You end up putting down on paper who and what you are. 

     Q 12: Where can readers find out more about you?

    A 12: Amazon Book Links: 

Web Site for Sue Shanahan
Sue Shanahan's Blog: Common Place Grace
Facebook for Sue Shanahan
Twitter: @SueShanahanArt

Thank you for sharing your love of literacy with us and your special stories. What a delight to learn more about you, your books and your gorgeous illustrations. This Sue [Leopold] thanks you, Sue [Shanahan]. Hopefully, someday I can meet you in person and give you a big hug. After all, we both live in the Land of Lincoln.

And, now for a generous offer. Enter to win a book give away by Sue Shanahan. There will be two lucky winners.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Great interview. It looks like she is holding Robert Plan tup in that photo.

    1. Not many folks can share a story of painting a portrait for a rocker, Kathy. Sue has also created portraits, drawings and other beautiful creations for Oprah Winfrey, Laura Bush, Cokie Roberts, Maria Shriver, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rodney Crowell? Sue shares talented creations with a magical touch.
      ~Sue AKA Suzy

  2. Wonderful interview, Sue plus Sue! Illinois is the home to so many talented people. ;-)

    1. And you, too, Patty, are an individual of talent who resides in Illinois.

  3. Love this interview! I would love to add "illustrator" to my accomplishments!

    1. Do you enjoy drawing, doodling and/or painting, Kristi? May your accomplishments include all that your heart desires. As I always say, *Read, write and create every day*.
      ~Sue AKA Suzy

  4. 'You end up putting down on paper who and what you are.' Love this, Sue. Finding yourself can be elusive until that moment you can give definition to those feelings and emotions. Your work, both writing and illustration, speaks volumes-thank you.

    1. That is so true, Charlotte. These words that Sue shared share a great message. We write and create who we are.
      ~Sue AKA Suzy

  5. Enjoyed the interview. Beautiful illustrations!

    1. Am pleased that you enjoyed the interview, Janet. Sue's creations are spectacular and share many beautiful messages. Thank you for your support of our GROG Blog.

  6. I appreciate all of your kind words. They make my day! Sue

    1. And you, too, are appreciated, Sue. The world is a better place because of your creativity.

  7. Enchanted to meet such an intuitive painter & writer.
    Thanks for the titles new to me, both Sue S. & the daily advice book.
    I like how she knows the stories are inside, waiting to emerge. Lovely image.

    Appreciations to both Sues.

    1. I agree with you, Jan. Everyone has a story waiting inside to tell. May the book 365 Affirmations for the Writer by Jane Hertenstein, provide you with affirmations and advice.
      ~Sue L. AKA Garden Girl