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Welcome to my Web site!

Death by Eggplant

Christmas Gifts
Christmas Gifts

My Life & Death by Alexandra Canarsie

One Hungry Monster

Love Me, Love You

Catholic Books
Catholic Books

Etc., Etc.


Heyboers in Hats (and other folk)
Parrot Photos (what you're really here for)

but first --

My Childhood

I was born in a very small town in New Jersey.

CHORUS: How small was it?

It was so small that, while I was growing up, people as close as the next town over had never heard of it! I know it seems hard to believe but it's true.

There is usually very little to do in a small town, which may be why I was reading and writing before I started kindergarten. But I wasn't allowed to get a library card till I was in first grade. Not fair! When the day finally came, I was told I could take out only one book at a time. I finished it in the car on the way home but my parents refused to turn around and go back for another. I don't remember the title or author, but I do remember that my first library book was about a witch who lived on the moon.

Something else that wasn't fair was summer school. I loved school -- after all, it was all about reading and writing -- so when I first heard that some kids were going to summer school, I thought, "Yes! School during the summer!" Then I discovered that summer school was for kids who hadn't done well during the year. The kids who obviously liked school couldn't go and the kids who obviously didn't like it had to get more of it.  Back then there were few enrichment programs and summer school was only for kids who were repeating classes.

One other thing: When I was young, I used to read so much that my mother would trick me into going outside, then she would lock the door behind me so I'd be forced into getting a little fresh air.

School & Work

I went to a Catholic grammar school, an all-girls Catholic high school, a state college for my bachelor's degree (literature and psych double major), and City College of New York for my master's (creative writing). After that I worked in an office on another type of creative writing -- direct mail ad copy, also known as junk mail.

I sold my first children's book, One Hungry Monster, in 1987 and it appeared in 1989. In 1988, with a great deal of hope and so much ignorance it was scary, I left my job to become a fulltime freelance writer. Though it was one of the biggest risks in my life, my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner.

Fourteen years later, I decided to crawl out of my cave, stop freelancing, and return to a 9 to 5 job (having to pay college tuition will do that to a person!).  I was lucky enough to be hired by a publishing company, so I'm still surrounded by books.  It's a medium-sized house, and I wear several hats there.

My Books

After publishing One Hungry Monster, I went for many years without another trade book publication.  But in that time I began my long, ongoing association with Paulist Press, the oldest Catholic book publisher in the country.  I've published many books with Paulist Press, most recently What Does a Priest Do?/What Does a Nun Do?  This is a cute two-in-one book illustrated by H.M. Alan, which even landed on the Catholic best-seller list.

I finally broke back into trade book publishing with several titles--Angel Prayers (illustrated by Sofia Suzan) and Love Me, Love You (illustrated by Robin Spowart) both with Boyds Mills Press; and Good Night, God Bless (illustrated by Hideko Takahashi) with Henry Holt Books.  Love Me, Love You was picked as a Bank Street Best Book of the Year and Good Night, God Bless was a Main Selection of the Children's Book of the Month Club.  I have two new books coming from Boyds Mills Press. One is Baby Day (though there may yet be a title change), which teams me up once more with Robin Spowart. The pub date for this is Spring 2006. And Christmas Gifts, illustrated by Jennifer Emery, just came out. It's a gorgeous, light-filled book. 

I never actually set out to be a picture book writer and always thought of myself as a novelist.  It just took the rest of the world a while to agree with me.  My first novel is a mystery for teens titled My Life and Death by Alexandra Canarsie.  As I keep telling my mother, that's the full title, I'm not using a pen name.  This book is from Peachtree Publishers.  The book is in its second hardcover printing and is on the TAYSHAS List, the recommended high school reading list put out by the Texas Library Association.

My first middle grade novel came out in Fall of 2004 from Roaring Brook Press.  This is Death by Eggplant, a comedy about our secret dreams and being brave enough to make them come true.  I'm very pleased that this book is an IRA/CBC Children's Choice, a Disney Adventures Kid's Choice Humor Nominee, and a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age, all for 2005.

But I haven't given up picture books!  This spring I published Be the Star That You Are!  A Book for Kids Who Feel Different.  This is an Elf-Help for Kids book from Abbey Press.  The sequel to One Hungry Monster is coming out from Little Brown, with the same wonderful illustrator, Lynn Munsiner.  The new book is titled A Hungry Monster ABC. And More Hungry Monsters is also on its way. And there are more picture books and novels in the works.


I live in the same house I grew up in, only now I'm in the apartment beneath my parents instead of with them. You can go home again -- but it feels weird. Any day now I expect my parents to try to ground me. But even if they do take away the keys to the car, they've been strong supporters of my writing. I have an older sister who lives in Connecticut and a younger sister who lives in California. I wish they both lived closer, something I never would have admitted as a kid. I also have, through my husband, three brothers-in-law, two sisters-in-law, and two sister-in-law husbands (I won't even try to punctuate that).

Between my sisters and sisters-in-law, I have six nieces -- Amanda, Emily, Erin, Megan, Michaela, and Ingrid. They are without exception great. I'm married to a wonderful man who's a mental health counselor specializing in the treatment of substance abuse. We have a college-age son and, of course, we have Wallace and Gromit, our parrots. So there it is -- one writer's shocking truth -- a boring, white-underwear kind of life.


Text Copyright © 2003-2005 by Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. Art Copyright © by the respective illustrators. All rights reserved.
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