Author Spotlight: Sue Lowell Gallion



Sept. 9, 2016

Today we welcome debut picture book author Sue Lowell Gallion, whose book PUG MEETS PIG, illustrated by Joyce Wan (Beach Lane Books) comes out on September 27. 



Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.

Because I grew up in a family-owned printing company, I had the best selection of paper for coloring and paper dolls in the neighborhood. I played with Pantone ink color wheels and took my Girl Scout troop to the printing plant so every girl could get her name set in linotype. However, my mom hoped my sister and I would follow in her footsteps and be nurses, so she signed us up as hospital candy striper volunteers. After several years, though, it was clear that we would not progress beyond flower delivery and giggling at the newborn baby picture packets.

In college, whatever interesting class I took became my new passion. I finally settled into journalism and history, and went to work as a writer for energy companies and hospitals.  

© Joyce Wan
But I’d always loved books. My grandmother was a fourth grade teacher, and her mantra was “read, read, read to kids.” My parents took that seriously. Once I had kids, I surrounded them with books, too. And as they grew up, I decided to get serious about writing for kids myself. 

Congrats on PUG MEETS PIG! Tell us about it and what inspired the story.

I love to hear or tell a funny story, and I first heard the story that inspired PUG MEETS PIG from a friend in water aerobics class! Her daughter and her family had a pug named Charlotte. They adopted a rescue potbellied pig and named him – of course -- Wilbur. Sadly, this Charlotte and Wilbur did not last long together. The pug did not like the pig, so the family found the pig a better home.

I liked the way the words “pug” and “pig” sounded together and how those two animals are shaped quite a bit the same! Then I started thinking about the different ways dogs and kids (and pigs?) react to the arrival of someone new, or any big change.


© Joyce Wan


Was your road to publication short and sweet, long and circuitous, or something in between?

It’s been a solid decade since I began seriously working on my craft. A whole lot of wonderful writers have taught, encouraged, and inspired me along the way. Early on, I was incredibly lucky to find a critique group. They were invaluable and very patient! 

I joined SCBWI in 2008 and started volunteering with our Kansas region. I’ve learned a great deal from SCBWI conferences and workshops, a Highlights Foundation workshop, and Jill Esbaum and Linda Skeer’s Whispering Woods picture book workshop. 

The sale of PUG MEETS PIG came from a manuscript critique at the SCBWI LA conference in 2013. Within three months of the conference, Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary became my agent, Allyn Johnston and Andrea Welch of Beach Lane Books bought the manuscript, and Joyce Wan agreed to join the Pug and Pig team and illustrate the book. Andrea Welch is the editor and Lauren Rille is the art director of the book. It’s been a joy to work with all of these incredible professionals. 

What projects are you working on now?

It’s going to be lots of fun sharing PUG MEETS PIG with kids starting this fall! PUG AND PIG TRICK OR TREAT will come out next summer from Beach Lane Books. I’m working on other manuscripts – some I’m revisiting, some new. Don’t we always have our fingers crossed for the next submission in this business?

What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Getting started. Plus, my dog, Tucker, likes to sit beside my desk and have me hold his paw. That does not make for productive writing. It usually means we go on a walk.

The easiest?

There is that weird and wonderful “aha!” moment when you find just the right word or combination of words. Or you make yourself laugh. If the writing is flowing, it’s so much fun! Wish I had a recipe for it!

What advice would you give other aspiring writers?

Read more picture books that were published in the last five years than you can imagine. Read them out loud. Then read and analyze even more. Soon after I started writing, I heard Linda Sue Park say at a conference that you should read a thousand books in your genre before you begin to write. At that time I thought she was joking.

I read Horn Book and Publishers Weekly and follow other industry sources. I jot down titles and request books from my library all the time. I’ve usually got a big stack or two at home (with a few overdue.) I can’t imagine writing picture books without that library request resource.


© Joyce Wan


What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

Well, I don’t have a pug. People assume I do. The dogs in my life have been dachsunds, a very sweet and noisy Sheltie, and now a black lab mix, Tucker, who is quite a character all on his own.

Where can people find you online?

My website is at suegallion.com. You can find me on Twitter @SueLGallion. I collect pug and pig images on Pinterest, among other things. And I’m always adding to my favorites lists of read-clouds and picture books on Goodreads.





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PUG MEETS PIG is author Sue Lowell Gallion’s debut picture book. She is passionate about reading, children, and any combination of the two. She is a volunteer reader in schools, and her favorite books to share with kids are always funny ones. A second Pug and Pig adventure, PUG & PIG TRICK OR TREAT, is coming from Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster in summer 2017.

30 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I've written 3 books for adults and am aspiring to write for kids. A thousand books... and 10 years... it's a long time to wait.

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    1. Thanks, Yvona -- it's worth the wait and I've sure met some wonderful people along the way!

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  2. So happy for you, Sue! This is a wonderful story. I can't wait for the Halloween version!

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  3. I loved learning about Sue's journey and more about Pug and Pig! I'm excited that a second book is coming too. Congratulations!

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  4. I am so excited for you, Sue. This looks like a delightful book that deserves five or 20 more sequels!

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    1. That would be fine with me . . . Thanks so much, Lindsay!

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  5. So happy for you, Sue!

    The other Sue. ;-)

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    1. Sue Ford, you of all people know my challenges with technology. I typed this reply yesterday with two typos. Thank you for being my tech tutor.

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  7. Hadn't heard about this book, but will have to check it out! I'd be interested to learn how Sue was able to get published with a Simon & Schuster company without having any previous publishing credits...that's a major feat!

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    1. Matt, SCBWI has been a huge part of my story. Through the regional and national conferences I've been able to get manuscript critiques with editors and agents of closed publishing houses, and also had the opportunity to submit manuscripts. That's a key "on" ramp for unpublished children's writers. It sure was for me.

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  8. congratulations! this book is so cute! I want to write PBs someday, but I'm still studying them to figure out how--they are so difficult to write with so few words. I'm a huge fan of PB authors! And yes, the library is a must for writers of all genres.

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  9. Congratulations!!! I'm looking forward to reading your book. Your journey to publication is an inspiration to all of us! Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Congratulations! I can't wait to read your book. It looks precious!

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    1. Joyce Wan is such an amazing picture book creator, isn't she? Every time I look at her work I am amazed at what she can do with a line. I hope kids love it.

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  11. Congratulations! I can't wait to read your book. It looks precious!

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  12. Congratulations to you, Sue! I can't wait to read Pug meets Pig.

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  13. I love these illustrations and what a great title! My dog's name happens to be Tucker too. Congrats Sue!

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    1. I hear a lot of "Tuckerrrrr" at the dog park. Little did we know it was the dog name of the decade, Amanda!

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  14. I can't wait to get to know your adorable characters. Congrats! And thank you for sharing your journey.

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  15. Congratulations, Sue. Pug & Pig look adorable, and I love the fresh take on the new "kid" in the family issue.

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  16. Investigate what you are encouraging the puppy. Is it meat? Puppies like meat. Remember that in the past pooches were utilizing their sharp teeth to eat little creatures.best Dog food for german shepherds

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