About Me

I’ve wanted to be a children’s author since eighth grade when I was named “most likely to be a children’s book writer” in the middle school yearbook. In high school, I worked in the Children’s Room of my local public library, and in college I sketched picturebook outlines in the margins of my school notes. 

But I didn’t really start writing books of my own until after college, when I was earning my PhD at the University of Cambridge in Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature (sense a pattern?). I began writing funny stories from my childhood while I rode the bus in the mornings, and in bed before I fell asleep at night. These stories gradually came together into my first book, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire.

Cilla is based on my own family and deals with the questions, challenges, and many joys that navigating different racial and cultural identities can bring. A second book in the Cilla series, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book is A Classic will be released this March, with a third Cilla book coming in 2019.

More about me: I was the 2015 Gish Jen Emerging Writers Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston, and when I’m not writing, crocheting, or reading, you can find me teaching at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Follow me on Twitter (@susansmtan), or write me a message on the “Contact” page. I’d love to hear from you!

Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Moss Photography. You can learn about Jackie and her work here.

Fun Facts About me:

Like Cilla I was bald for a very long time as a child, and did tape bows to my head (glitter glue was also involved!).

Cilla is semi-autobiographical, which means it’s based on my life and my family, but as I drew from real stories, I fictionalized them too.  In the pictures here, you can see some of the real people I draw on in Cilla, including my mom, dad, Nai Nai, Ye Ye, Grandma, Grandpa, and The Blob.

Here’s a picture of the first book I ever wrote, The Kitten Who Travelled from Japan to India.  It’s also the book Cilla’s cat story is based on in Kindergarten!

I love to knit and crochet, and try to make a new crocheted stuffed animal for every book launch. Here are the rainbow unicorns I made for my editor Connie Hsu, her assistant Megan Abbate, my agent Dan Lazar, and my illustrator Dana Wulfekotte. 

Stay tuned for the new stuffed animal for Cilla 2 (there will be a giveaway!)