© Mike Sutcliffe
Jane Sutcliffe was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in the days when library fines were a penny. One of her earliest memories was the weekly trip to the local library with her father. She’s loved books ever since. Her childhood was fairly average. In fact, it was so average that all her friends had pretty much the same childhood. They all went to the same school, and attended the same church on Sundays. Their mothers all called them home to supper at the same time. On weekends they visited grandmothers and aunties who spoke a different language when they didn’t want the children to understand. To live any differently seemed exciting and exotic to her, so she began to read biographies, just to get a peek at how other people lived day to day, in different times and places. When she was 10 or 11, she spent a whole year reading nothing but biographies. So it wasn’t a big surprise when Jane began to write them, too. So far she’s written nearly two-dozen biographies as well as other nonfiction books and articles. She loves everything about writing: the research, the sweating over the perfect word or phrase or sentence, the joy in the finished product. But she especially loves the time she spends visiting readers at schools. She lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, Skip, their dog Willy, assorted cows and goats—and lots and lots of books.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
- Caddie Woodlawn
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“…on the bosom where she had drawn her first breath [Beth] quietly drew her last….” From Little Women. The quiet finality of the words and the way they link birth and death struck me even as a child.
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
- Cheryl Harness, Diane Stanley, and Jean Fritz—all biographers
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
Someone told me once that if you want to be immortal, you should plant a tree, raise a child, and write a book. Seemed like a good idea.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
Join a critique group! I can’t stress this enough. There are NO shortcuts.