When Susan was six years old, she was asked the usual question about what she wanted to be when she grew up. ‘I want,’ she replied, ‘to travel round the world and write about animals.’
By the time she was eighteen, she’d made it as far as London. After gaining a BA in English Literature and winning the Edmé Manning Prize for the highest first-class degree of that year, she went on to study for an MA, also at London University.
Her first significant travel and wildlife experiences came when she was awarded a one-year scholarship to study creative writing at the University of Massachusetts, USA and then a Rotary Foundation Scholarship to pursue postgraduate research in drama at the University of Toronto, Canada. As well as relishing many North American writing and theatre opportunities, she enjoyed numerous glimpses of both brown and black bears while out on wilderness hikes.
Once back in the UK, she worked as playwright, performer and workshop facilitator for Something Permanent Theatre Company and won the Classic FM Woman of Tomorrow Arts Award for her writing and educational work.
Next came a stimulating two years on a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship in Australia. Based in Adelaide as a writer and researcher, Susan was awarded Visiting Academic status for the length of her stay. Encounters with wildlife, from marsupials to tree snakes to fairy penguins, were many.
She has since returned to her native Wales where she works as a full-time writer, performer and educator, and spends as much free time as possible lying full-stretch on the cliffs of the west coast watching grey seals and cetaceans.
More recently, Susan’s travels have taken her to the Arctic. Thanks to a Churchill Memorial Travel Fellowship, she journeyed through Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland in the footsteps of an intrepid eleventh century female Viking and has since made several more writing- and wildlife-related visits to the Arctic and sub-Arctic.
With the publication of her poetry collections, Where the Air is Rarefied and Creatures of the Intertidal Zone, inspired by her Northern journeys, environmental issues and the wildlife of the region, Susan’s childhood vision of travelling round the world to write about animals was finally fulfilled.
Animals take centre stage in her most recent book too: Words the Turtle Taught Me features both marine species-themed poetry and an extended essay on the process of writing about endangered creatures, and it emerged from a dream poetry residency with the Marine Conservation Society.