Five Minutes with Sue Saliba #LoveAusAuthors

Author Sue Saliba lives on Phillip Island, on a winding dirt road called Teddy Bear Lane. She has spent many summers protecting endangered birds and often often rescues strays in the neighbourhood. Sue’s young adult novel, Something in the World Called Love, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and her young adult novel, Alaska, was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award. For the Forest of a Bird was a CBCA Notable Australian Children’s Book.

An experienced English and Creative Writing teacher, Sue taught at Melbourne University and RMIT. These days she’s lucky enough to write full-time with the company of her much-loved fur friends, Teddy, Mer and Charbon. She says she enjoys writing about nature and animals, states of mind and emotions, and relationships, particularly between females.

‘Adolescent females often feature in my books, because I’m interested in that transitional phase of life, which I feel is full of possibilities and a certain kind of terror and joy. I’m always exploring and trying to articulate my thoughts and ideas and emotions, about what I care about and what intrigues me.’

Five Things About Sue’s History

  1. I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s with a mentally ill parent and this has informed my writing to a degree.
  2. I was a secondary school English teacher and later taught Creative Writing at University.
  3. I was drawn to Buddhism in my late twenties and this led to me living in Thailand for two years.
  4. Since I moved to Phillip Island fifteen years ago, I’ve been a volunteer for endangered beach-nesting birds and, hooded plovers, and I’ve helped rescue shearwaters from the roads as they begin their annual migration. I’ve done a lot of revegetation work and been involved in environmental campaigns. I also help out with a local animal rescue group and I’ve rehomed many unwanted and neglected dogs and cats (including making them part of my own family).
  5. I’m vegan out of compassion for the animals and the planet.

A number of Sue’s novels have been written entirely in lower case, to reflect the interior nature of the story and the protagonist’s sense of being in formation or becoming. Although they are placed as young adult novels, she says they are very much autobiographical (as she’s writing them) at an emotional or psychological level. The current young adult novel she is writing is a reworking of a novella written when she was caring for her mother in the final part of her life. All of her writing reflects, at some level, the influence of Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron.

Sue in the bush area she’s spent twelve years rehabilitating

Five Things That Help Sue Keep Writing

  1. I’m always trying to discover and explore the world and myself through my writing.
  2. I’m always trying to get closer to writing that amazing book, the one that will make a real difference for nature and animals.
  3. I’m feeling as I get older, that I have less and less time available and so writing time is precious.
  4. I’m curious to see what will emerge as I write.
  5. Those periods (perhaps moments) of joy, that writing can bring.

In the future, Sue hopes that writing will be given more respect and that writers will be awarded more support in our Australian culture. She hopes people will connect and care more for nature. She wants our circle of compassion to widen to include all sentient beings, so that animals are no longer allowed to be abused and exploited and their territory stolen.

‘I hope that the destructive model of endless growth that dominates the world will be abandoned and that I’m right in my belief that, when we die we meet up again with those we’ve loved.’

Sue’s latest young adult book, once, at the edge of the sea, was released in May 2021 and can be found at Readings Kids, Carlton
Several previous books are also available at Readings and you can read more at her website.


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