Susan KeefeSusan Keefe is a British author and reviewer currently living in France. Her Fantasy Farm Tales series for children tell the story and adventures of her dog, Toby.

Susan is a powerful voice in the field of children's books, always helping new and experienced writers all over the word.  

Here is Susan in her own words: 

When my husband and I bought a ruin instead of a nice already completed house, people thought we were mad.  We confirmed they were right very soon after, by upping sticks and moving over to France snail like, just before Christmas nine years ago. The trailer was overloaded with our last few possessions and looked very precarious. On the cars back seat was a vivarium [complete with Corn snake in its bag], topped by two very unhappy cats in their baskets, whilst two very hairy and boisterous Golden Retrievers sat at the rear.
 
In the following years we have had many adventures, some very happy and sad moments, but have never regretted our move.
Forget what others say, you don’t need the television to be entertained – now there’s a controversial thought! You don’t need a watch to tell the time and believe it or not – you don’t have to have loads of money to be happy.
 
Ok, if we had loads of money the house wouldn’t still be a ruin, but then as it says in one of my favourite films “It’s amazing how you can do without the essentials in life as long as you have a few luxuries!”
 
Being bought up in the country with a love of wildlife I came from a horticultural career and was a qualified herbalist when I arrived here, then, I discovered that although these skills were very useful in my new life, the UK qualifications meant nothing in France. Luckily, a life of make do and mend and a love of cooking everything from scratch came to the rescue, along with the chickens for eggs, goats for milk and sheep to remind us what it’s like to get frustrated once in a while.
 
An unexpected change of career was born when I by chance fell in love with a Border Collie puppy called Toby, he inspired me to write my first book Toby’s Tails which is available from all Amazon sites. Since then I have written a further three books.
 

Susan, you seem to be always busy, either writing or reviewing ebooks or audio books! Can you tell us about all the different caps you wear in a given day?

Hi Joe, thank you for offering to interview me.

Well, I review and promote books of all kinds and most genres, so that is my main hat each day. It also includes supporting the author’s I have promoted in the past, many of whom are friends now. I admit I love writing and as well as writing my reviews I also submit articles to various magazines, blog for Anglo INFO in France, have a monthly reviews column in Living-in-France magazine and a bookshelf in the Midwest Book Review.

Of course, when I can get the time I like nothing more than to write about our wonderful Border Collie Toby, and the animals and birds, tame, and wild, which live around here.

We have read your books in the Fantasy Farm Tales series. What can you tell us about Toby? The real Toby. Is the character in the books inspired in a real dog?

What can I say, the ‘real’ Toby is a wonderful companion to my husband and I. He is with us 24/7 and goes everywhere with us, including frequent trips from our home in France to visit our relatives in the UK. He in on his fourth Pet Passport and he’s only six years old. He has such a happy disposition, a smiley face and a high tail carriage that where ever we go he draws attention from people, young and old, like a magnet. 

As well as being a lovely companion he is totally trustworthy and has free run of our six and a half acres, he has set ‘jobs’ we have to do each day, the morning of which always starts with my cup of tea, chickens out, other animals fed and then his breakfast. If I put his breakfast out first he won’t eat it – Border Collie’s do love to organise you! Living in a farming community and having sheep, goats, chickens and my horse, he is of course bomb proof with livestock and despite his ignoring them he has given in to being the place of choice for our three kittens to sleep on. Do I sound besotted with him? Well yes, unashamedly I am.

Is the life in a French farm as nice as it appears to be in your books? You seem to enjoy very much living in the rural France. Please tell us more about it.

Living here I would describe in one word as fantastic.’ We have loads to do on the house and other buildings however, in the UK both my husband and I ran different businesses (not at all related to writing and publishing) and as such we are both highly self-motivated. Moving here is heaven, we are deep in a wooded valley on the edge of the Foret de Berce. The track past our house leads direct into the wood and our nearest neighbours are fields away. The silence is wonderful (well apart from the cockerel). We love each other’s company and are quite happy surrounded by our animals and the wildlife. We can see deer from our window in the horse’s field, the buzzards during the day and hear the owls and edible frogs at night, who, by the way sound like an Amazon rainforest CD.

Why do you write for children?

I loved animals as a child and was brought up in the Essex countryside. My childhood was spent either out with my dog or riding the horse, I ate slept and breathed the natural world and was out in it from dawn til dusk. Luckily both my parents supported my love of animals and my paternal grandfather, William Spore was lovely. I have so many fond memories of walking, with my hand in his, through the tracks and wooded lanes where he and my lovely grandmother lived. He showed me squirrel’s dreys, how to find ducks eggs, and so many more things, times with him were magical. My granddad really opened my eyes to the natural world and through him, I found a love of it which has lasted a lifetime.

I shared that love with my children, however now I look around and all children seem to do is play on iPad’s and computers whilst their parents work long hours. Don’t get me wrong I know parents have to work hard, I had to bring up my two children as a single parent from 9 and 11, however money seems to rule everything these days. I wanted, through Toby’s Tails and the Fantasy Farm Tales series to give children who love animals a chance to escape, and through Toby’s eyes step into the wonderful natural world around us, learn how to understand animal’s behavior, and find out a little about wildlife.

What is next for Toby and the Fantasy Farm Tales? Are you planning any new books?

Oh, I have so many things planned! However, one thing I can tell you is that there will definitely be a book out this October called ‘The Christmas Kitten’s". At the end of last summer we acquired three kittens from a friend. Well, last Christmas their antics were amazing, well as long as you didn’t mind the tree falling over regularly and the tinsel disappearing across the room. So with all the pictures I took of the little rascals, The Christmas Kittens will be a magical Christmas story for this year, along with plenty of full colour photos.

Resources

 

Susan Keefe's books

 


Susan Keefe 001Toby's Tails (Fantasy Farm Tales #1).-
Set in the French countryside, Toby's Tails relates the first year in the life of the author's Border Collie, starting with his earliest recollections on the farm where he was born. His life changes when Susan Keefe adopts Toby and he bonds with his new human family, their goat, Molly, and Lucky, the old Golden Retriever who becomes Toby's mentor. Toby's lessons about the world around him include the changing of the seasons, his interaction with other animals, and what he learns from them about birth, death and other inevitable life events.

Available from all Amazon sites in Kindle format.

 
Susan Keefe 002The Chicken Patrol (Fantasy Farm Tales Book 2).-
Bubbles the hen has lost her chick. A meeting is called. Is there a fox about?
The Chickens with the help of Toby the Border Collie must solve the mystery and make Fantasy Farm a safe place again.

The Chicken Patrol (Fantasy Farm Tales Book 2) is also available in Spanish (Translated by Joe Cortes) as "La Patrulla de las Gallinas".

Available from all Amazon sites in Kindle format.

 

 Susan Keefe 003Billy and Daisy's Big Adventure (Fantasy Farm Tales #3).- Billy and Daisy are kids, but not the human kind, they're baby goats!

One day their life changes forever when they go to live at Fantasy Farm with Toby the Border Collie and all his farmyard friends.

They are very happy, but, one day, by accident the gate opens and they decide to explore, their 'Big adventure' has begun....

Find out what happens to them, and all about the escapades of all their friends at Fantasy Farm in this exciting book in the Fantasy Farm Series.

Available from all Amazon sites in Kindle format.

 

Susan Keefe 004Toby's Tails - Still Wagging.- Still Wagging continues Toby the Border Collie’s adventures at Fantasy Farm, the smallholding where he grew up.

In this, the enchanting follow up to the popular Toby’s Tails, the reader, young or old can enjoy meeting again all Toby’s original farm and wild animal friends from the first book, and be introduced to many more.

It’s fun to read, yet educational too, so why not take up this invitation to join Toby and his human mum, the author as they discovers many new things about the natural world, and introduce more animals and birds to the growing menagerie at Fantasy Farm.

Available from all Amazon sites in Kindle format.

 

6 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *