Anastasia Suen visiting today. She is currently on the CYBILS Round One Poetry Panel and is quite busy so I’m glad she took time from her schedule to be interviewed.
Your Reading Life
MsMac: What books are on your night stand?
AS: The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine and you are here by Thich Nhat Hanh. I also have a stack of books for my Booktalking blog, (including this year’s CYBILS poetry nominations).
MsMac: What is your favorite reading spot?
AS: An old couch in my studio. (From there I can see all of the great books waiting for me!)
Your Writing Life
MsMac: What does a day of work look like for you?
AS: I write in the morning and I teach in the afternoon. (I’ll be teaching the Naturally Creative Workshop again in January as well as the three kidlit writing workshops I offer year round: picture books, young nonfiction and children’s novels.) I always have a dozen or so projects in the works at one time, so no two days are alike.
MsMac: What is your favorite time of day to write?
AS: First thing in the morning is the best time to write. I write in longhand before I work on the computer, so my thoughts are free to go in any direction.
MsMac: Writing the first draft or revising? Which is your favorite?
AS: I like first drafts because that is what the big decisions are made. I need to take all of the research and thinking I’ve done and make it into something new. (Synthesis!) I find that very satisfying.
I also like to revise because I keep coming up with new ideas as I write. I love it when that happens.
MsMac: What does your writing space look like?
AS: I have my old couch, a wall of bookshelves and four tables of varying sizes with stacks and piles of files from different projects. There are two filing cabinets in the room (and stacks of file boxes in the closet). I also have several whiteboards that I use to plan my books.
Here is the character board for The New Girl (2013)
MsMac: What are your current projects?
AS: In addition to writing my own books, I also work as a freelance book editor and write two magazine columns. Focus on STEM is my Booklist column and Grow with STEM is the LibrarySparks column I write with science writer Shirley Duke.
So I am writing (and editing) a dozen different projects right now: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I also have my own poetry blog, Poet! Poet! (I post a new haiku each Friday.)
MsMac: What might readers find you doing when you’re not writing?
AS: Most of my work day involves sitting, so I like to take breaks and stretch, do yoga, or lift weights. I also read, listen to music or watch TV while I train on the elliptical, walk, or jog. (I watch mysteries and singing contests on TV. La, la, la!)
MsMac: How has writing poetry informed you as a person?
AS: I have been writing poetry since I was in elementary school. My mother played the radio all day when I was child, so we always had music in the background. A song expresses emotions and tells stories with concise vivid language. In my view, poetry is spoken music. It is a song with the human voice as its only instrument.
MsMac: Why is poetry important?
AS: Poetry is important because it focuses on one story or one emotion at a time. It doesn’t rattle on and on going here and there and everywhere. Instead, it concentrates on one thing and looks at it deeply.
Poetry slows us down and asks us to think, to see the world in a new way. It gives us the gift of being present in this moment. This is especially true with haiku, and that is why I like it so much. It is a challenge to say something with so few words. You have to make every word, every syllable, count.
Just for Fun
MsMac: Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
MsMac: Coffee or tea?
MsMac: Dance: funky chicken or the tango?
AS: Funky chicken.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
Please return Friday for an original haiku by Anastasia.
I didn’t know most of this. Great interview and fun to read, but it looks like you work very hard, Anastasia!
Look at that photo — you do have a lot of books waiting for you! Sounds like you need to be pretty organized with all of those projects going on at once. Thanks for letting us in on your process!
It’s quite astounding how much Anastasia fits into a day… and a year! (Must be the yoga!) Thanks for the interview. 🙂