Author of the Month

Susan Branch [Nov 2011]
Chosen by MyShelf.com Reviewer Nicole Merritt


 
November brings close all the feelings of home and family with its crisp cool mornings that entice you to wear a sweater on your way to work in the morning, and then warms the afternoons for a sunny stroll in the park after lunch. What better time to read about home, decorating, and cooking?
Author of the month, Susan Branch, gives us that opportunity with her heartfelt books! Cozy up with a hot cup of tea on a lazy Saturday afternoon while the kids are away and your husband’s watching the game and enjoy all the fun things she offers up in her latest book, Autumn From the Heart.

“I love fall and I loved painting all those gorgeous autumn colors. Like SUMMER, it has ideas for seasonal decorating, fall crafts, autumn entertaining, and fun; plus holiday celebrations for Thanksgiving and Halloween. There’s a recipe for Homemade Marshmallows in this book! You should also try the Cinnamon Ice Cream, the Gingerbread Cake, and the Scallops, Mashed Potatoes and Corn Chowder. Lots of stories too: My House; Twas a Dark and Stormy Night, to name just two.”

Susan Branch is the self-taught artist and author of the fourteen (so far) best-selling "Heart of the Home" lifestyle BOOKS all published by Little Brown and Company. From her studio overlooking her picket-fence garden in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Susan writes and paints about the "home arts" of cooking, gardening, sewing, family, best friends, entertaining and the little things that make life sweet. Her books are "homemade" as in, watercolored and completely hand-written. She has a monthly newsletter she’s been sending out since 1995, called WILLARD, named after her grandfather. It goes to 42,000+ (mostly) women, sisters of the heart, all over the world, who’ve signed up to receive it. These are "the girlfriends," as Susan calls them…she walks through the studio and says "What do we have for the girlfriends today?" and we know who she’s talking about. Through LICENSING, her artwork has been used to design many products. Besides her yearly wall calendars, Susan’s art has decorated lots of stationery things, from shelf paper to greeting cards; she’s designed pajamas, teapots, hooked rugs, scrapbooks and stickers, and quilting fabrics. Her web site has been up and running for fourteen years; and it now includes her BLOG. See FAQ for more information on Susan’s products, or SHOPPING to see what what’s new from the studio today.

If you like to dream about what you could do with a room, a sewing project, or that special dish that warms the heart and soul of your homecoming family, browse the pages. Not only does she provide the most interesting ideas but she makes you feel like you can do it easily with just a little time and effort. Every one of her fourteen books brings a smile to your face just looking at the cover. The artwork is fun and fanciful and lifts the spirit while bringing enjoyment to the reader page after page. Her stories warm the heart.

Susan Branch Books
“My Heart of the Home books are dedicated to the things that connect women, past, present, and future; courage, energy, nurturing spirit, creativity, humor, and heart. We don’t have as much time for the art (which is what it really is about) of homemaking these busy days, but we still love our homes, love a cozy nurturing environment- our devotion to home and family is second nature for most of us. My books celebrate The Art of the Home”.


Interview

Nicole: Everyone wants to write a book...what inspired you to do that?

Susan: A girlfriend of course, it was her idea that I combine my love of cooking with my watercolors. But in those days, no one wrote books except famous people, so I didn't think I could do it. Took me a long time, but a sad divorce inspired me in the long run; "bag lady" was on the horizon. So, one day, I measured out a book I liked the size of, drew it on paper, and started painting the first page.

 

Nicole: I know you love all the following, but, which is your greatest passion...art, cooking, reading, or writing?

Susan: Home is my greatest passion, and every part of it is my favorite. Because it's the most creative thing we have; it's all those things you mentioned, plus gardening, sewing, house keeping, not to mention child rearing! Creativity, even the smallest thing like putting one flower in an old bottle and on top of your stove, is like a direct line to a person's childhood hopes and dreams. Such a sense of satisfaction and the feeling that all is right with the world.

 

Nicole: Where did you get your background in art, etc?

Susan: I'm the oldest of eight children, first me, then four brothers, then three sisters. My mom was only 17 when she had me, so she and I grew up, learned to housekeep, cook, and take care of babies (we played with them like they were our dolls, dressed them, bathed them!) together. I am grandma, mom, or self-taught on everything. I just kept trying things. I painted my first picture, by accident really, when I was thirty.

 

Nicole: You seem to be all about the pursuit of happiness and we all strive to find our bliss....what event made you realize that you could make this your full time job and commit?

Susan: I guess when my first book was published, which wasn't until I was 39. Until then I fretted about what I was going to be "when I grew up" while cooking, sewing, decorating my house with my paintings, and keeping house. My first book was written as a huge thank you to my mom, and to all moms for the amazing job they do; and they got it. People wrote to thank me for that, it was easy from then on, I just kept saying thank you. But it wasn't until I did my third book that I bought an art table and realized this wasn't a fluke and writing books was actually my "for real" job.

 

Nicole: Did you begin locally and build a base before committing to full time writing?

Susan: Not really, I was living in a little house, alone on Martha's Vineyard, where I had recently moved from California, not knowing anyone . . . in that kind of "boot camp," I began writing and painting my first book, alone at the dining room table. I didn't plan it out, try a lot of different things, or consciously commit. Like putting one foot in front of the other, I just began to write and paint the pages; without much in the way of expectation. I didn't recognize myself as a writer until long after I'd been publishing books. But, without realizing, I've practiced writing every day for most of my life, not on purpose, but I kept diaries, and book writing ended up being an extension of that. I started a blog four months ago and I think it's the best thing I ever did. Practice makes all the difference, both in painting and in writing.

 

Nicole: Your books are so cozy, warm, and homespun... like you say, from the heart...how do you come up with the ideas?

Susan: I feel very connected to women, I am them and they are me, so to speak. I just write about what I love, and then they seem to love it too.

 

Nicole: We talk a lot about writing, but the truth is, your books are more than just writing. They’re a lifestyle. You’ve been married over twenty years and have a fourteen year website history. Your husband obviously supports your writing. What is the secret? How do you keep it all going?

Susan: After all this time, we're in a groove. We work, then we go out and play. I haven't changed from the little girl who filled up baskets with candy for my parents at Easter and hid them . . . it's what I love, so it's what I will do until I die.

Nicole: Thank you for sharing. Is there anything else you would like to add either on a personal note or let us know about any upcoming new books or events?

Susan: I'm turning in my new book Breakfast with Susan Branch in April for September publication. I'll be appearing in the pages of Romantic Homes Magazine in February, and in Cape Cod Life, November issue. And daily at www.susanbranch.com.


Nicole: Thank you for allowing me this time with you.

 


Reviews:

Read Nicole's review of Autumn From the Heart.


Website:

www.susanbranch.com

 

2011's Honorary List

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