My name is Susanne Gervay and I love being an author. I also love kids, librarians, teachers, readers of any age where we share story, thoughts, humour and what matters.
I grew up in beautiful Sydney with my older brother Thomas and younger sister. My parents were refugees who escaped from war, communism and terrorism in Hungary. They hoped to be accepted by a democratic county. Australia offered them a new home.
My father was a farmer and my mother the daughter of a Professor of Engineering in Hungary.
“My father always said, ‘Australia is the best country. We are free to work here. If we work hard we make a good life…’
Quote from ‘Next Stop The Moon’ by Susanne Gervay
My parents didn’t speak English when they arrived and worked in factories rebuilding their lives.
I married an engineer and became a teacher and educational consultant. I have two wonderful kids – Tory who’s 8 in the photo, is dressed in a Hungarian outfit made by her Grandma. Her older brother is Jamie (also known as JACK) who inspired my I AM JACK books.
Life gets complicated. My father died of cancer, my marriage broke down and I got cancer. But life is about meeting challenges, friendships, being all you can be. So I started writing for my children so they’d laugh and feel safe. Then I started writing for all kids, parents and everyone.
My books are driven by the rights of children and families, partnering them in good times and bad and a hope for peace.
Being an author takes you around the world from Oprah, Fox News in Las Vegas, Outback Australia, to the loving kids of the Deaf & Blind School.
A snapshots & photos of my life as an author
- Being part of a fact finding mission on climate change and literacy with Patrick Dobson father of Indigenous reconciliation in the newest nation in the Pacific Ocean Kiribati
- Award winning illustrator Frane Lessac in Paris after we spoke at the London IBBY Conference
- Best selling author Deborah Abela and I at a writers’ meeting at The Hughenden Hotel in Sydney
- Catching up with Derek Landy author of Skulduggery Pleasant Dark Days at The Hughenden
- Speaking to kids at the Beijing literary Festival
- Sharing my books with the children of Kiribati, island atoll
- The funtastic ‘Authors on the Road’ tour of Northern Queensland
- A day off touring at beautiful Great Keppel island, Barrier Reef Queensland
The BEST part is sharing story with people of all ages – especially kids and even Oprah (ha) – from giving an address as an Australia Day Ambassador in the bush, speaking on School of the Air in the Outback, being interviewed by FOX TV in Las Vegas, talking at the Deaf and Blind School, touring with Monkey Baa Theatre Company across the US … everywhere!
My best friends are writers and illustrators who are amazing people.
We talk about our books, celebrate publication, commiserate on rejections, go to each other’s launches, have funny, emotional, important times together at festivals, trips, conferences. We travel together on writing tours which sometimes are truly crazy.
Stranded in Melbourne, I ended up sleeping with Hazel Edwards’ huge big pink hippopotamus from her internationally loved ‘There’s A Hippopotamus Eating Cake on the Roof’ – hilarious.
Adventuring with Frane Lessac award winning picture book illustrator who is nearly eaten by a crocodile in Paris, chased by an out of control toilet in an airport (don’t ask me about that crazy adventure), capturing the bus driver on Rottnest Island to find small furry quokkas (like tiny kangaroos) and stunning bays – thankyou bus driver hero. (We were the only passengers).
Frane and I had the best time ever on Nami Island South Korea where we were flown to speak about ‘PEACE STORY’ created by IBBY supporting UNICEF where 22 authors and 22 illustrators from 22 countries created stories of peace. I wrote – ‘Remembering East Timor with Love’. Frane illustrated it. You can see the story and art in the permanent illustrator exhibition at ‘The Hughenden Boutique Hotel’ Sydney.
Frane and I wrote on a stone in beautiful Nami Island – ‘War is not brave, but men can be brave in war and in life.’ (my young adult novel – ‘The Cave’ chapter 14).
The North Queensland tour was madly crazy with authors and illustrators from all over Australia in a bus heading North on the road from Rockhampton to Emerald. There was Michael Gerald Bauer, Judith Rossell, Krista Bell, Paul Collins, Kevin Burgemeestre, Julie Fison, Meredith Costain, Elaine Ousten, Royce Bond and our fabulous MC Ron Day. It was all great until the bus headed off without ME!!!!!! Stranded in Rockhampton, they finally came back for me thanks to brilliant author and illustrator Judith (Jude) Rossell who saw an empty seat. ‘Hey, where’s Susanne?’ Thankyou Jude.
The Archibald Prize
Caroline’s artist statement for the portrait reads (abbreviated):-
Susanne Gervay and I met in Newtown on one of my art work trips to Sydney …We are both children of refugees … The ingrained quality of Susanne’s bittersweet journey resonated with me. For my part, the sense of deep and abiding grief and at times hopelessness implicit in my own migrant story was too close for comfort as we spoke. Like Susanne, it is why I create too.
… I wanted to capture Susanne the storyteller, with her safe and spreading maternalism, yet with an intensity in her look and purpose. I felt compelled to paint Susanne for the Archibald and share a story that reaches into not only being Australian but human.
Caroline donated the portrait to The Hughenden which is honoured to hang it above the fireplace in the Reading Room.