Susannah McFarlane is the award-winning author, creator and publisher of over 80 books and some of Australia’s most successful children’s book series including Zac Power, Go Girls, EJ12 Girl Hero, EJ Spy School, Boy vs Beast, D-Bot Squad, Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls, Brave Tales for Bold-Hearted Boys, and Grumble Boats. With over one million books sold in Australia alone, Susannah understands children and writes stories they love and parents trust. Her books are fun and engaging and she writes for children of all ages, from birth to grown-ups, with a special focus on early and beginner readers.
Susannah was given up for adoption at birth but grew up with a much loved and loving Mum and Dad, brother and sister. At one time she also lived with a motley collection of 17 animals, her mum having indulged her aspiration to be a vet. Indeed, Susannah’s love of animals saw her co-found ‘McArps Vet Service’ alongside her best friend Min when they were only 10, donating the proceeds of their practice to the RSPCA. Noble in ambition but lacking obviously in skill, the Victorian Veterinarian Board took issue with their business, and they then deftly pivoted to being McArps Pet Service, preying on the local pet owners instead. Eventually, in their teenage years, the pet service petered out, making way for an obsession with ABBA (which has never petered out!).
An interest in science gave way early to a love of language and Susannah has since spent all her adult life working with words and stories – marketing them, publishing them, writing them – and most of all loving how they connect people.
She has lived and worked in London and Melbourne and along the way become one of Australia’s most respected children’s book publishers and authors. Her books and series – EJ12 Girl Hero, EJ Spy School, Boy vs Beast (Scholastic), D-Bot Squad, Fairy Tales for Feisty Girls, Brave Tales for Bold-Hearted Boys (Allen & Unwin) and, most recently the picture book, Grumble Boats (Affirm Press) – have sold over a million copies in Australia alone and been published in the US, Italy, France, Brazil, Singapore and France. And in 2022 Grumble Boats, a gentle story about the power of grandmothers and what to do with pesky grumbles, was acknowledged as a Notable Book in the Early Childhood Category of the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards.
Her first foray into trade publishing was Love in a Lunchbox: Tales of a Modern Mum (2006). Described variously as a ‘gorgeous little tome’ (Herald-Sun) and ‘perfectly great’ (Woman’s Day), it revealed Susannah’s ability to combine honesty, humour, and a disarming lightness of touch when dealing with emotional issues.
In 2014, quite unexpectedly but powerfully, Susannah reconnected with her birth mother and her birth family. A joyous if tumultuous time, it inspired Susannah to write the memoir Heartlines: The Year I Met My Other Mother (Penguin Random House), which was co-written with her birth mother, Robin Leuba. A story of loss but ultimately forgiveness, Heartlines has helped many an adoptee navigate the heart-tough path of reunion.
That reunion however foreshadowed the biggest reunion of her life, that with God when, in 2016, Susannah accepted Jesus as her saviour. Having been a hostile non-searcher for her birth mother and her Holy Father for nearly 50 years, Susannah finally came home to both. Now, wanting to use her professional experience to glorify God and his word, she works as Head of Publishing for Bible Society Australia for whom she also wrote two little books the Who, What, Why and How of Christmas and Easter (Bible Society).
Susannah has appeared on Sunrise, TODAY, Radio National and ABC Radio and TV, and has written for numerous blogs. She lives in Melbourne with her now significantly larger family.
SUSANNAH IN THE MEDIA
EJ12 Girl Hero author Susannah McFarlane wowed by 12yo Adelaide girl’s viral stop motion video