Close this search box.

Jenna Hlewka and Sue Farrell Holler

Interpreting the World from a Childs Perspective: An Interview with Sue Farrell Holler

I’ve always admired children’s authors as my fondest childhood memories came from reading. I was thrilled to be able to explore the mind behind a children’s book! Sue is a children’s author, columnist, and presenter; graduating with an Honours Degree in Journalism from the University of Kings College (UKC) in Halifax. She is a member of the WGA, past president of the Grande Prairie chapter of the Children’s Literature Roundtable, member of the Canadian Authors’ Association, and a member and former director of the Young Alberta Book Society.


JH: What motivated you to pursue writing, specifically children’s literature as a career?

SFH: I’m not sure exactly what happened as the pressure to choose a career mounted. English was easy, and I was already a fast writer. Although I was an avid reader, I had never met a writer and didn’t know if there was a viable way to make a living with words, but then came a recruiter from UKC seeking students for its journalism program. It seemed a perfect fit — the opportunity to get paid to write. I turned to children’s literature when my first son was born. By the time my first child was a toddler, I was reading vast amounts of children’s books. Many of them were awful. I thought that surely, I could do better. Of all the writing I’ve done, I like writing for kids the best. [It] lets me explore my vivid memories and tap into childhood emotions.


JH: In your book “Lacey and the African Grandmothers” you portray a young girl’s desire to help others. Compared to the other books you have written, this one was based on a true story. What about Lacey Little Bird inspired you to share her story?

SFH: Actually, all of my children’s books, including my forthcoming young adult (YA) novel Cold White Sun, are based on true stories. Cold White Sun is about an Ethiopian refugee. I fell in love with this boy’s story, just as I fell for “Lacey’s.”  I had known “Lacey’s” story from a short article I’d written when she first started making purses. The day I heard about the African grandmothers travelling to Gleichen to meet her, I nearly fell off my chair. Here was a girl doing what she could, but in the grand scheme, a small thing. But it was no small thing to the women she helped; it was love in action.


JH: You also offer a wide range of workshops for children and adults. Out of all the workshops you offer, which one do you enjoy the most and why?

SFH: So many people say they are not writers, my favourite workshop turns those doubts upside down. I use visual and/or “first line” prompts in a hands-on workshop that sees participants writing quickly and lucidly for two-hour stretches. The work they create in the workshop is unbelievable and often turns into jumping off points for longer works. There are lots of reasons I like leading this workshop: There’s a vibrant energy. Participants are engaged. They take risks. They surprise themselves. Most importantly, it’s where those sometimes shy and awkward kids have a voice.


Sue’s forthcoming YA novel “Cold White Sun” is to be released in March 2019. Sue also passed on advice to anyone looking at pursuing a writing career. Her advice is to “Read! Reading is crucial if you want to write”. From interviewing Sue, I learned that a passion for children’s literature cannot be synthesized, as her passion and personality shone through her responses.


Click here to see all the member interviews.

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!