The leisurely version:
I was born to a family of amateur naturalists and poetry lovers and grew up in Carl Sandburg’s birthplace, a small town in western Illinois called Galesburg. I‘ve been writing poems and stories and letters since I was about seven. My favorite days then and now have always been rainy days, because they fill me with energy and ideas for inventing stories and poems and songs.
Though I studied and eventually taught history, I have always loved myths and fairy tales too. I believe they tell their own kind of truth. An illustrated book of Chinese tales I read in elementary school stirred what would become a lifelong curiosity about Chinese culture and art. As soon as I could manage it, I moved to Hawai‘i to study Chinese history, which I’d had a taste of in college. I soon made Honolulu my home because I loved, still love, the multicultural world of Hawaii. I have continued to enjoy exploring Chinese and Japanese culture through t’ai chi, tea ceremony, and taiko drumming.
My greatest pleasure in writing poetry is finding just the right language to convey an observation or experience that might otherwise be lost. In fiction I try to write stories of serious hope, with a dash of humor. In almost every story of mine there is a hint of Asian culture and a special object, and often a major character is some kind of artist.
Focusing on writing means that there is not enough time for many things that I would like to do, but I can always write about them. I hope to be lucky enough to do this for the rest of my life.
The official version:
Sue Cowing was born in Illinois and now lives and writes in Hawaii. She earned degrees in history from Knox College and Emory University, then studied Chinese and Japanese history at the University of Hawaii. After teaching history and Asian studies at La Pietra School in Honolulu for sixteen years, she earned an M.F.A. in Writing (poetry) from Vermont College of Fine Arts and began writing full-time. Her poems for general audience have appeared in:Virginia Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Wormwood Review, Bamboo Ridge, Chaminade Literary Review, Hawaii Review, Negative Capability, and in several anthologies. including Sister Stew and The Denney Poems.
Around 1990, Sue began writing for children and now writes most often for them. Some of her stories, poems, and nonfiction articles have appeared in CRICKET and SPIDER magazines. The University of Hawaii Press published her Fire in the Sea: An Anthology of Poetry and Art in 1996. She has written two books for children: My Dog Has Flies: Poetry for Hawaii’s Kids (BeachHouse, 2005) and a debut novel, You Will Call Me Drog (CarolRhoda Books, 2011; Usborne UK, 2012).
Sue has received Ka Palapala Po‘okela Awards for Excellence from the Hawaii Publishers’ Association for Fire in the Sea and My Dog has Flies as well as the 2006 Cades Award for Literature, the Grand prize for fiction from Negative Capability, and the Children’s Christmas Fiction prize from the Honolulu Advertiser. You Will Call Me Drog was a nominated for the Nene Children's Choice award three years in a row and was short-listed for the 2013 United Kingdom Literacy Association Book Award .She served as Co-Regional Advisor of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators--Hawaii for nine years and has been involved with the Biennial Conference on Literature and Hawaii’s Children for sixteen years.