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Last event for now…

This is me with the librarians and some of the students from Collingwood College, Surrey, a couple of weeks ago. At this point COVID19 was emerging as a threat but we hadn’t yet been given any official guidance from the government, so I went to the event as planned and enjoyed the talks.

I called my husband on the way back home. He was finishing work early as he wasn’t feeling well. Then I spent the next 14 days self-isolating while he recovered from flu symptoms. That was the start of the whole world downward spiralling.

The last few weeks have seen catastrophic changes. We don’t know when or if things will get back to normal but in the meantime we need to do the best we can to carry on reading, learning and adapting to our new way of life. Maybe when we get to the other side, we’ll have had enough time to reflect and become better human beings. More compassion and kindness towards each other and nature. Less ego, speed and mindless consumerism, that’s my hope.

Accumulate – Charity for the homeless

The lowest point in my life was when I was pregnant and living in a squat at 18. That’s why I didn’t hesitate when Accumulate asked if I’d like to help out at one of their workshops. The charity provides learning to young, homeless people who have gone through hardships and are now living in hostels or temporary accommodation in London. They also fundraise for scholarships so that participants can continue their creative education and study at college.

Students are currently working on a unique, crowdfunded book which will showcase their drawings, texts, visuals and poems, and give them ownership and control over who tells the stories of their lives and in what context. I spent the day listening to their stories and guiding them with their artwork: photography, illustration, painting and writing, which fascinating to see.

It’s easy to forget marginalised groups  and that’s why charities like Accumulate are so important, because they give these young people life-changing opportunities that open up a new world of positivity.

The Book Of Homelessness launches 4 June 2020.

I DID IT!

Just here to spread a message of positivity to all those aspiring writers and artists out there. You see I’m 49 today and can finally announce that I am now a FULL-TIME WRITER & ARTIST!
When I was a kid I devoured every Beano and Dandy under the sun then later, Dahl and Townsend. I wished I could make people laugh like that too, but thought writing was for other people, not me.
My dreams were further dampened when a senior school teacher told me my English was terrible (things were different back in the 80s!).
I squirrelled away my ideas anyway, until the pile grew too big to ignore. I was in my 30s when I sent my first submission and it took 3 years of rejections before I got a 2 book picture book deal. Wow, I was a published author!
I produced another 2 picture books then last year published my first novel. It took almost 4 years to complete and became a surprise hit.
Right now I’m working on an illustrated children’s series, doing talks and engaged in other artistic projects – I don’t necessarily need to supplement my income anymore as a marketing creative.
How did I get here? Well, I never lost sight of my goal to do what I love, which is to entertain, enlighten and spread joy through my words and pictures. It was hard work at times, but finding your true purpose is a winding road. Keep faith, focus and determination, be true and kind, surround yourself with positive people and watch as your world unfolds perfectly…YOU CAN DO IT TOO!💞

2019 – so many thanks to give!

This year was so epic! Multiple goals were kicked including:

HEALTH – I’ve been alcohol-free for 14 months straight now.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE – Me and hubby took a dream 3 month sabbatical in Bali and Corfu this summer. We returned fully rebooted and raring to go!

SPIRITUAL – I’m still  meditating after 7 years and it continues to work. Anything negative just melts away after 20 mins of quietening the mind.

PHYSICAL – At 48 I’ve never been fitter. One of my biggest achievements this year was learning to do the headstand, as taught by a wonderful local yoga teacher in Nusa Lembongan Island, Bali.

FINANCIAL – It took a lot of hard graft over the years but we’ve now paid off our mortgage!

CAREER – My debut novel Chinglish took off in a BIG way. It couldn’t have happened without the support of the amazing team around me: my agent, publishers, PR, event organisers, family and friends. I sincerely thank you all.

So 2020 is looking super juicy with loads of events booked, discussions around various adaptations and talk of a sequel. I’m now fully rested up after a frantic book launch and tour and ready to face the New Year with excited anticipation. I hope you are too, whatever your own special personal goals may be.

Good luck and much love, Sue x

The Guardian Best Book 2019!

Holy crap! If ever I’ve felt like a gatecrasher it is well and truly now. Yesterday I got the news that I had been included in The Guardian’s Best Books of the year list (YA) alongside Philip Pullman(!) and Malorie Blackman(!) as well as others in the star studded list. I still can’t believe it a whole day later – somebody slap me please.

When I was writing Chinglish there was no way I imagined the response it’s getting now. I was a lowly, working class minority lacking what I felt anyway, the background or skills to ever achieve anything this grand. It was just me dumping my angst about being dragged up in a Chinese takeaway. What I enjoyed the most about it though was the serious opportunity to write comedy, I’ve always wanted to succeed at making people laugh and somehow I BLOODY DID IT!

I want to thank everyone who had faith in Chinglish when I didn’t, and cheerleaded me all the way to the bitter end: my agent, editor, publisher, husband, family, friends, my cats who doubled as stress balls against their will, the media who have been amazing and the hundreds of supporters on social media. What a fabulously surreal way to end the year!

Exploding goat headline in The Guardian!

If you told me a year ago that I’d have a self-penned piece published in The Guardian, I would have choked on my tea and asked what you were on…but here it is!

It’s basically a two page synopsis about my novel/memoir Chinglish, fully adorned with embarrassing childhood photos and dotted with some madcap illustrations from the book.

I had so many messages from readers after this was published, telling me how funny it was and how it made their day. I’m chuffed about that because I’ve always wanted to write comedy successfully and I think I’ve achieved that. But I also had some sad responses telling me about the trauma they also suffered as an 80s Chinese takeaway kid.

I’m humbled that Chinglish has touched so many people in different ways, something I never expected, on this scale at least. And I hope it carries on helping people talk about their stories.

READ THE GUARDIAN ARTICLE IN FULL HERE

Just Imagine Podcast

Chinglish under the ‘Required Reading’ section in Waterstones Trafalgar Square, London

‘Chinglish’ isn’t just a humorous take on teen angst, it’s about identity, belonging and seeing beyond race and colour. It’s also about hopes, dreams and survival of spirit no matter how battered you get!

If you’d like to hear more in depth about the book and the cathartic process of writing, then click here for a 30 min podcast where I’m being interviewed by Nikki Gamble of Just Imagine, a consultancy that works extensively with schools in the UK and internationally to develop outstanding reading and writing.

Chinglish goes global

I’ve been sent so many pics of Chinglish from all over the world that I thought they deserved to be compiled and displayed. What I can’t get over is that I never asked for these. People have just been thoughtful enough to put aside a few minutes of their day, compose a picture and then send it to me via social media. These people are the kind who always find time to share and put smiles on faces, not just in this instance but in every situation in life. I am SO thankful for them – the world needs MORE of these good souls!

Chinglish live

I still can’t believe how I managed to get to talk live on air to the entire nation about my humble debut novel Chinglish! I’m SO proud and TRULY grateful to all the fantastic people along the way who helped to make it happen.

Anyway, just so I can prove to myself in years to come that I hadn’t dreamt it, and for posterity, I’ve collected all the audios and video together here in one place. Click below to view/listen and learn more about how Chinglish came to be:

BBC Breakfast TV with Roger Johnson and Sally Nugent 

Radio 4 Woman’s Hour with Jane Garvey

Radio 4 Woman’s Hour podcast with Jane Garvey (listen from 45.20 mins)

Radio Coventry part 1 (the city where Chinglish is set) with Vic Minett

Radio Coventry part 2 with Vic Minett

Radio London with Jo Good

Tina (real name Kath)

A lot of people have asked if ‘Tina’, my best friend from the 1980s that I wrote about in Chinglish, is real. Answer: YES! And here she is 30+ years on! She’s stlll a bezzie and still wears ‘The Cure’ tops and she runs a fine art printing workshop in Hampshire now – see why I thought she was so cool? Goth Gaz her boyfriend wasn’t real though. He was based on another lad I knew from school who I wish I’d known because he was so mysterious.