Susy Flory is the New York Times bestselling author or co-author of fourteen books, including a recent memoir with NASA astronaut Scott Parazynski, called The Sky Below.
She grew up on the back of a quarter horse in Northern California and took degrees from UCLA in English and psychology, and has a background in journalism, education, and communications. Susy first started writing at the Newhall Signal with the legendary Scotty Newhall, an ex-editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and a one-legged cigar-smoking curmudgeon who ruled the newsroom from behind a dented metal desk where he pounded out stories on an Underwood Typewriter. She taught high school English and journalism, then quit in 2004 to write full time.
Susy’s first book, Fear Not Da Vinci, was co-written with Gini Monroe and published in 2006. Other books include So Long Status Quo: What I Learned from Women Who Changed the World (Beacon Hill, 2009); Miracle on Voodoo Mountain (with Megan Boudreaux, Harper Collins, 2015); and The Good, The Bad, and the Grace of God, with Jep and Jessica Robertson (Harper Collins, 2015).
Susy’s runaway bestseller, Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero (Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson, 2011), co-written with Michael Hingson, hit the New York Times bestseller list in both hardcover nonfiction and e-book nonfiction the first week of release. Thunder Dog captured the #1 NYT ranking for nonfiction e-books the week of September 11, 2011, and spent twelve weeks on the charts. Thunder Dog was listed as a bestseller by USA Today, and featured as a Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Pick by Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and various other e-book outlets. Thunder Dog has been translated into German, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indonesian, Dutch, Portuguese, Finnish, and Polish.
Susy and her husband, Robert, have two adult children and live near in the San Francisco Bay Area (although they escape to the mountains as often as possible). In addition to writing books and articles, Susy leads a writers group, is a member of the Authors Guild, and was recently named director of the West Coast Christian Writers Conference. A breast cancer survivor, Susy celebrates life by riding a crazy ex-racehorse named Stetson, hiking in the High Sierras, and skiing black diamond runs whenever she can.
If the bio was a bit too dry and professional for you, I offer some quirky personal stuff in the form of 25 Random Facts:
- I'm an advanced skiier and can handle double black diamond runs, but...
- I'm super clumsy and can barely walk upright. I often run into door frames and have been known to suddenly lurch sideways and almost fall while simply standing still.
- I love how books feel, smell, and sound.
- My favorite movie of all time is Man From Snowy River.
- My second favorite is Winged Migration.
- I'm not a gourmet diner; I like comfort food like grilled cheese or tuna sandwiches.
- My dad was a Texas cowboy.
- I grew up on the back of a horse. My favorite horse was Harry, a half-Morgan, half-Arabian bred by the woman who provided the Wells Fargo stagecoach horses. He was super smart and could open his stall door.
- I was once interviewed by Forbes magazine.
- Someday I want to have a secret garden, complete with walls and a hidden gate with an iron key. Inside? Roses, foxgloves, D'anjou pear trees, and birds. Lots of birds.
- When I retire, I want to learn the harp and hire myself out to play at rich people's parties.
- I fell in love with my husband at the age of 18 over a bottle of Fix beer at sunset on the Greek island of Santorini.
- I love birdwatching and treasure my marked up copy of Peterson's Field Guide to Western Birds.
- Because I adore and idolize writers, writing, and books, I always thought of writers as a separate, highly evolved race of which I could never be a part. Surprise! (God is good.)
- Books are my first language.
- I'm notoriously absent-minded and can look straight at someone who's waving and smiling and talking to me and not even notice them. Or hear them.
- I would rather attend a U2 concert than do most other things (including church. Sorry, God ! I'm pretty sure Bono is a Christian, though!)
- One of the highlights of my life was exploring a crumbling Irish castle on the stony beach of a foggy Irish lough with Robert, Ethan, and Teddy. It was built by the O'Dochartaigh clan in County Donegal, where my mother's ancestors are from.
- I LOVE doing counted cross-stitch. I'm working on a huge piece right now, just in the beginning stages, and I'm really intimidated by its difficulty.
- I'm quite shy and sometimes stutter in social situations. Yet I can easily do talks for large audiences.
- I'm so bad with numbers I forgot to add #21-25, so I'm adding them now. Want me to balance your checkbook for you? (I didn't think so.)
- I love animals and am always dreaming about what dog I want to get next. Recently we got an adorable chocolate lab named Eli, and I'm pretty much in love. My next dog will be an Australian Shepherd, with a red bandana around her neck.
- Women who dress really well intimidate me.
- One of my favorite places in the world is a newsroom. I feel at home there.
- I still have my Breyer model horses. I think they come alive at night and romp around my office.
Okay, I didn't literally grow up on the back of a quarter horse, but let's just say I spent much of my childhood, when I wasn't at the library or reading a book, at the barn with my dad. He was the real deal, a Texas cowboy raised in a rural town called La Grange not far from Houston, Texas. My grandfather worked at the local auction house and my dad grew up working with animals. My sister told me something about him recently that I did not know; my dad was known for raising orphaned and sick animals. Anyone around who had an orphaned calf, lamb, or piglet gave it to my dad to hand-raise. No wonder I love animals; it's in my genes!
My first horse was a fuzzy red pony named Miss Prince. My sister, Sara, is riding her in the photo to the right. We noticed Miss Prince was chunky and getting larger every day. My dad kept cutting down on her feed, to no avail. One morning we got a phone call from Mr. Wilson, the ranch manager. "You better come down here. There's something you need to see." When we showed up, we got the surprise of our lives. Miss Prince hadn't been overeating; she had been pregnant! In the middle of the night she had given birth to a fuzzy little colt, red just like her. My sister and I were ecstatic. We named him Red Baron.
I could mark the history of my childhood by the horses we had. Our family favorite was Y-bar, a beautiful bulldog quarter horse, from an Idaho ranch, out of Three Bars. We adored him and he became a family pet. He was a bay, a rich red with a glossy black mane and tail. He adjusted his personality to whoever was riding. For my dad, he became a rip-snorting stallion, dancing and fiery. For me, he was quiet and responsive, doing whatever I asked. For my mom, who was scared of horses, he walked slowly and moved carefully (she still fell off him once, though). My favorite horse of all time was Harry, a gorgeous and athletic black Morgan/Arab cross. He was intelligent, feisty, affectionate, and always took care of his rider. Once we had a tiny foal on the property, a highly bred quarter horse filly. An obnoxious Paint horse took a dislike to her and kept trying to attack her like she wanted to kill the baby. Harry, my hero, put himself between the baby and her attacker. He bared his teeth and kept the aggressive horse away for hours until she was whisked away to safety in a different pasture.
Not long ago, my daughter and I volunteered at a place that puts at risk kids and children with disabilities on horses in a therapeutic riding program. Sonrise Equestrian Foundation is the brainchild of Melanie Buerke and Alana Koski. As I watched the kids learn bond with the horses and come out of their shells, I was reminded of the blessings of a childhood spent on horseback and the lessons I learned. Horses are in my blood. You can put me in a dress and heels, but I'll always be a cowgirl, at home in a barn with dusty boots and alfalfa in my hair. Yee-haw!