Come hear bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert at the Lake Travis Community Library on September 25, 10:30 a.m., 2300 Lohmans Spur.
As a child Susan devoured Nancy Drew mysteries and wanted to write like Carolyn Keene, the series author. During the 1980’s she got that opportunity. Together she and husband Bill Albert wrote dozens of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.
Her first non-fiction book, Work of Her Own: A Woman’s Guide to Success of the Career Track, (1992) featured women who gave up high-powered careers to seek more fulfilling jobs. This mimicked her own decision to leave a successful career as a university professor and the first female vice president of Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University). Despite myriad academic achievements, Albert found the fast track of her work life lacked personal satisfaction.
In her mid-40’s Albert took a year’s leave of absence from the university “to find out about myself.” She began writing young adult novels “to see if I could” and continued while still at the university. Success in the genre provided the bridge that allowed her to walk away from her job (where she had managed a multi-million budget and staff of more than 1000 people) to become a freelance writer.
She penned the popular China Bayles mystery novels, featuring a heroine who leaves her career as a successful criminal attorney and opens an herb shop in a small Texas town. All 19 books in the series (with more to come) include names of herbs and so much detailed information that Albert is often asked to speak at herbal and garden club meetings.
Albert’s 1997 book Writing from Life: Telling Your Soul’s Story, spawned the Story Circle Network, a nonprofit organization and online forum she founded to help women write their life stories.
Keeping with her interest in “place,” Albert researched and created a series of mysteries set in the late 1890’s. Beginning in 1994, she collaborated with Bill to produce 12 Victorian mysteries, each featuring an actual historical figure and written under the pen name Robin Paige.
The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, a whimsical series with talking animals, includes five books published between 2004 and 2007. A new topical mystery series debuted in spring 2010 with publication of “Lady Banks and the Darling Dahlias.” Set in a small Alabama town during the 1930s recession, it tells how the Dahlias–garden club members–strive to keep their town beautiful.
Together Alone: A Memoir of Marriage and Place, released about a year ago, documents her journey into self-discovery, while a newly developed activist side of Albert is revealed in her non-fiction work An Extraordinary Year of Ordinary Days.
Albert has produced more than 100 books in the past 25 years, a prolific schedule by any measure. Juggling several different types of projects at once leaves no time for boredom. “I consider myself a production writer,” she says, “and I’m proud of what I do.”