Susan VanHecke


"The Babbling Brook." Third grade, eight lines. First prize in a school-district-wide poetry contest.

My little ode to a runoff creek that ran through our Northern California subdivision was published in a paperback compilation of schoolkids' poems, plus posted under glass in the central library, blue ribbon attached, for all to see.

I was hooked.

Writing was fun to do, like stringing beads or doing a puzzle, each word carefully chosen and placed just so. And now it could earn me the admiration of my peers, the approval of teachers and parents, and a niche to call my own. As the eternal new kid—Dad's climb up the corporate ladder kept us moving every couple of years—I was always struggling to fit in. Writing helped me find my place.

In sixth grade, I made my first submission to a publishing house. What did I know? It was the opening chapter of a great lost-on-a-desert-island epic, heavily influenced by Scott O'Dell's Island of the Blue Dolphins and Noel Streatfield's Ballet Shoes. Needless to say, the form rejection letter arrived a few weeks later.

I focused on other things throughout high school and college. I studied film and TV production at New York University. But I eventually returned to writing as a music industry publicist in New York City. Penning press releases and artist bios led to writing newspaper and magazine articles, and, ultimately, I became an author.

I'm fascinated by the stories of people's lives, so I specialize in biography, memoir, and history for adults and young people. I often write with a coauthor, helping people tell their own stories.

My mother's a piano teacher, one brother's a professional guitarist, and my other two brothers are drummers, so it's no surprise that I'm a huge music fan. I've written and cowritten several books about music and musicians, for young readers and adults.

I also have a special interest in the Underground Railroad and the era of American slavery. My ancestors were abolitionists who housed and assisted runaway slaves in Western New York. I discovered this fact while researching my family tree; it has inspired one of my current book projects-in-progress, a historical novel for middle-grade readers.

In addition to writing books, I'm the head honcho at Susan VanHecke Editorial, an editorial services provider. I love helping other writers make their books the very best they can be.

I also write as Susan Wood. Check out my Susan Wood titles at