Ten questions with Suzanne van Rooyen

Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland where she finds the heavy metal soothing and the cold, dark forests inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

Have you always wanted to be a writer? Or did life step in and change your plans?

I think I've always been a story-teller. I've been creating and writing stories since I was a kid and absolutely adored books. Writing was always something I enjoyed doing. It was - and is - catharsis for me. Right now, writing is something I do on the side. I love my day job as a music teacher and I'm not sure I'd ever want to give up that contact with kids even if I were in a position to write full-time one day.

What was the first book that you wrote?

A really awful Northern Lights fan fiction when I was about eleven. My first published book was Dragon's Teeth.

Out of all your books that you've written which has been the most well-received?

Oh, goodness. That's tricky to answer. I think Scardust might've been the best received in that it won the Rainbow Award for Best Science Fiction novel in 2016. It also placed third in the 2016 Rainbow Award's cover contest. However, The Other Me has definitely seemed to be the one to touch the most readers. I've received the most fan mail and direct contact from readers because of that book. I was also honored to discover The Other Me has been included as required reading in a literature course at the University of New Hampshire this semester!

Out of all your books, which one did you enjoy writing the most?

Hm - this is even harder to answer. I've enjoyed writing all of them for different reasons, but perhaps I've enjoyed writing and rewriting I Heart Robot the most since this is a book very close to my heart because the two main characters are musicians.

Do you have a specific place to write?

At my desk. I prefer to work at home in my own little space. I find it impossible to work at cafes or even out in nature because I'm too easily distracted.

What's your cure for writer's block?

Listening to my favourite songs and trying to come up with the backstory to the lyrics. This exercise usually helps to get my creative juices flowing again.

Ever write in coffee shops? If so, where would we most likely find you?

I like to write at home in the peace and quiet with no one around.

If you could have dinner with three authors OR book characters, who would it be?

Would have loved to have met Maya Angelou, Anne Frank and Victor Frankl.

Your favourite books?

I hate this question! It's too difficult to answer but here are a few that immediately spring to mind:

Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite

The Raven Boys trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Everything ever written by Neil Gaiman

You can have dinner with four authors or literary characters, who do you choose?

Oh wow! Authors I'd love to have dinner with include Maggie Stiefvater and Neil Gaiman although I probably wouldn't be able to say anything sensible because I'd be fangirling way too hard!

Literary characters I'd love to have dinner with include Ghost from Lost Souls and Morpheus from Gaiman's The Sandman series.

When you're not writing, what are you doing?

I teach music to 3 - 9 year olds at an international school. And when I'm not writing or teaching, I spend my time rock climbing, gaming, playing cello, and reading.

What does a typical day look like for you?

The ideal day starts with coffee and my Greek yoghurt/peanut butter/banana oatmeal in bed while reading. Then I'd hopefully have time to get in some practice on the cello before going to work. After work, I would most likely spend a few hours at the climbing gym before heading home to relax with red wine and a cute platform game. Most days of the week, I don't get too much time to write. I tend to do my writing on the weekends, sandwiched between long walks in nature with my dog.