Susan Casey is the author of Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors and Women Invent! Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World. She is also a journalist and her articles and photographs have appeared in Fast Company, Family Circle, Americana, USAir, Women’s Sports, Soap Opera Digest, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Inventors Digest,Electrical Contractor and many other publications.
When she was a girl, she loved reading and writing. Through the efforts of a teacher, her first magazine article was published when she was in the seventh grade. After graduating with a degree in history from Santa Clara University, she spent a summer doing volunteer work in a small village in rural Mexico. She has since returned to Mexico many times, especially to the city of Oaxaca where she has interviewed folk artists and photographed their work. It was a trip to Africa that prompted her writing career. While in her 20s, she worked as an au pair for an English family in Ghana. She was so fascinated by what she saw that she started writing and photographing as a way to share her experiences with friends and family. She has since written and taken photographs for articles about other places and about a wide range of topics such as inventors, art, oddball events, moviemaking and construction. She also embarked on a career as a teacher. She still splits her time between writing and teaching.
Since the publication of Women Invent! and Kids Inventing!, she has done many presentations about her books at venues including the Houston Forum, the Montana Educator’s Conference, the UCLA Women’s Leadership Conference, Edufest, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Charlotte S. Huck Children’s Literature Festival, the City of Los Angeles’ Feria del Libro, the Orange County Children’s Book Festival, Cal Day at UC Berkeley, Confratute, the Conference of the Montana Association of Gifted and Talented Education, and at conventions of the California School Librarians, the California Reading Association and the California Teachers of English, and at many community organization meetings.
She now lives in Southern California. In her free time, she loves to read, listen to audio books, visit art museums, go to the theatre and to concerts, row, play paddle tennis, and take photos.
Why did you write Women Invent!?
My interest in writing Women Invent! grew out of a chance conversation I had with a chemist, Conrad Gaiser, who was the father of my friend Laurel. He told me he had gotten the idea to invent Bounce®, the anti-static tissue for the dryer, after watching his wife do the laundry. He explained that he watched as she repeatedly returned to the washing machine—running up and down stairs each time. She was doing that to check the progress of the wash cycle. Why? She didn’t know exactly when to pour the liquid softener in with the wash. Bingo! He realized then that a softener that could be used in the dryer would be easier for his wife and for others. He worked on creating a model of his idea, patented it, and later sold his invention to Proctor & Gamble. I thought his story was interesting and talked to a magazine about writing an article about the stories of the invention of ordinary household items. The editor thought it was a good idea but asked if any of the inventions were created by women. In doing my research, I became fascinated by the stories of women inventors and continued to read about them long after I finished the article. When I had more stories than I knew what to do with, I started writing Women Invent!
Why did you write Kids Inventing!?
When giving presentations at schools about Women Invent!, I noticed that students like the stories of women inventors but were also very excited when they heard the stories of the girl inventors I included in Women Invent!. That gave me the idea to write a book on kid inventors—girls and boys--for aspiring kid inventors. That's why Kids Inventing! includes not only stories about kid inventors but also tips on becoming an inventor.
Do you enjoy writing?
Writing is fun but it’s also a challenge. Writing is rewriting. That's the hard part. I usually write then set my work aside and go back to it later. When I reread it later, I always get new ideas. Writing books has been one of the most interesting things I have ever done. I look forward to writing a bunch more.