About me

I have been a vegetarian since 1980, a non-smoker since 1982, and lived in south-west France since 1995. In a previous life I lived in beautiful East Africa.

I’ve had lots of money and lived like a princess; and I’ve had no money at all and lived on Smash for several months. I learned that having, or not having money, has nothing at all to do with being happy.

After a career as a secretary, PA and in-house editor, I started writing non-fiction in 1998. My first three books were published in paperback by Transworld Publishers, a division of Random House.

Since 2011 Blackbird Books have been publishing my titles, both rights- reverted and new. One title – Two Steps Backward – still remains with Transworld and is published in paperback only. 

My books

I’m currently working on a manuscript about our Kenyan safari, and hope to have it ready for publication by Spring 2016. 

I love animals, read most genres except paranormal, vampire and romance, hate housework and cruelty, and would like to be a size 10.

My first love:

My first pony, a Somali-Arab cross called Cinderella

A Somali-Arab pony called Cinderella.

78 thoughts on “About me

  1. Crikey, what an interesting life. Will you be adding to this blog, or will it be left here in cyberspace, suspended? I wasn’t quite sure from what you wrote.

  2. Hi Mya

    That’s only the tip of the iceberg!

    I’m not planning to add any more at the moment, simply don’t have time. However, never say never! Who knows what the future holds!

  3. Great blog, Susie. Just the right length! I think what you list as your worse characteristics: selfishness and laziness, are in fact wonderful personality attributes for a writer.
    I enjoy your books tremendously. Keep them coming!

  4. But you are so colse to your ‘perfect day’. Perhaps it’s time to tell the gardner to smarten up – I know what’s it’s like – just fired mine!

  5. Hi Viv

    Yes, I remember it well. You rode her like a dream.

    Remember the Cliff Richard autograph? I hope you still have it after all the trouble I went to! 🙂

    Since then much water under the bridge, much sand across the desert ….. when are you going to write about your unbelievable life?

  6. Hi Barb

    So nice to hear from you! Yes, life isn’t too disagreeable here at the moment. Hope it’s good for you too, and that the deer aren’t eating all your vegetables!

    Glad you liked the blog. Do keep visiting. Who knows, one day I might write something worth reading! 🙂


  7. *smile* Don’t worry, I have got a Polish blog on my blogroll, I do not understand a word of polish, but the woman lives in Germany and has got a polish-written blog! 🙂 I find that amazing!!

    Unfortunately the google translation never translates everything the right way. It is only a translating machine. It is ok for a short sentence but not for a whole text.

  8. Netty

    You can find them all in your local library – save your money! Also I have a brand new copy of A Perfect Circle which I would like to send you, if you email me your address to susie.kelly(at)laposte.net. Replace (at) with @. 🙂

    I am trying to understand your website, with difficulty, but thanks to Google translate I think I have understood a little. Am I correct in thinking you are awaiting an organ transplant?

  9. hi Susie long time no see. Have just read your book 2 steps backward. What a hoot and made it even better because having met you I could hear you saying it all. Are you still line dancing? Luv alicatt

  10. Susie

    Forgive me, I am a blog virgin.

    However, if my research is correct, I think you and I are soon to be neighbours (that is, if you currently have intermittent neighbours called Steve and Lesley McGill….)

    If all goes well, all sorts of paperwork will be signed in the near future and we will be penniless but as excited as your dogs!

    If you are the correct Susie, we look forward to more chats over the fence about our share Fosse, if not, I’m truly sorry for sounding like a stalker!


  11. Hello Richard

    How are you standing up under the strain of French bureaucracy? 🙂

    I do hope everything turns out well for you, and will look forward to chatting over the fosse!

    Hopefully see you later this year when you move into your cottage. Fingers crosed for you.

    Best wishes, and thanks very much for visiting my blog.


  12. Thanks, Brennig, I hadn’t realised that you too are a horse-lover until I saw your new blog design – very nice. Cinderella was the love of my life, I adored her. We were both quite surprised, coming over the top of the triple, to see a photographer lying on the ground and pointing his camera up at us. 🙂 His name was Charlie Trotter, and I think he was a staff photographer for one of the Kenyan daily papers.

  13. Hi Susie. Just wanted to let you know that we *did* own all your books, but left them on loan to folks in the UK. So do forgive my middle daughter for picking up a copy of Best Foot Forward for just €1 at Emmaus the other day…:)

  14. Hi Richard

    That’s OK. As Emmaus haven’t sent me my royalties, and I don’t like to seem mercenary, especially as they are a charity, perhaps you could oblige and let me have 3 centimes a.s.a.p. 🙂

  15. Hi there – a quick thanks for your sympathies and delicious cheese recommendations. We’ve tried the comte but are looking forward to the other one. Incidentally, we ran into another funeral in the village today – are funerals commonplace in French villages?
    As we’re both writers ourselves, we’ve enjoyed reading your blog.
    Leigh (and Andrew)

  16. Hi Leigh and Andrew

    I hope the writing is going well. You’ll surely be collecting plenty of interesting material.

    In small rural villages, funerals are frequent because normally the majority of the population is elderly – most of the younger people having left to live and work in cities.

    If you notice a large, merry crowd gathering in the square, it’s going to be for either Loto or a funeral. When a resident of a commune dies, nearly everybody from that commune will attend the funeral; not only to bid farewell to the deceased, but also to catch up with people they would not otherwise see and exchange news. It’s a very sociable event.

    And quite importantly, it ensures that when their own time comes there will be a good turnout. When one of my neighbours died a few years ago I was surprised that another neighbour didn’t attend the funeral. When I mentioned this, he replied that when his father had died, nobody from the other family came to the funeral, therefore nobody from his family would attend any funerals of the other. It’s a reciprocal thing. 🙂

  17. Hello Susie

    It’s delightful to have found you. I’ve read three books of yours (not sure if you have published another yet). I enjoyed them so much so that it’s inspired me to follow your path around France as in “a perfect circle’. (but not for a while!) We have a house in SW France and aim to live there next year. I shall enjoy following your updates.

  18. Hello Jenn

    Love your photo.

    So glad that you enjoyed the books. No others published yet, but I’m working on one at the moment, so who knows? 😀

    When you do your perfect circle, I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did; and I also hope you will have a far more comfortable and reliable vehicle. 🙂

    Bon courage, and good luck with your move next year!


  19. Hullo Susie,

    Just wanted to say thank-you for the pleasure of all your books – we’ve a house in the Vendee and your adventures rang quite a few bells! Look forward to the next book.

    All good wishes


  20. Hi Mary-Ann

    Thank you for your very kind comments. I am glad you have enjoyed the books and hope to have another one on the shelves in the future.

    May your Vendee summer be a sunny one. 🙂


  21. Hi Susie,
    I found your blog the other day and thought I’d left a message but obviously did something wrong! I’ve just finished your Best Foot Forward and enjoyed it immensely, googled you and here I am. Loved your determination and never give up attitude. Delighted to hear you’ve written more books, looking forward to reading them too.

    Your blog is great, look forward to visiting it often.

    We cycled in France in 2007 and could really relate to passing through villages with no shops when you are hungry and dramas of finding the campsite at the end of the day and lots and lots of rain! Coming over again in August looking to cycle ‘entre deux mers’ finishing in La Rochelle which is what caught my eye in the title of BFF.


    • Hi Elizabeth

      Thanks for visiting, and I’m glad you enjoyed BFF.

      Do hope your cycling trip in August will be lots of fun. When you say “entre deux mers”, do you mean from La Manche to La Rochelle?

      We have done a cycling tour of the Marne valley and I’m writing a book about that now; I used an electric bicycle to compensate for my substandard back. 😀

      Safe journey, bonne route, and good luck.


  22. Hi Susie,

    Your book sounds good! My entre deux mers is probably wrong but Atlantic to Mediterranean is what I’m planning on in two bits!
    Have to fly into Toulouse so from there to Nimes, originally was only going to Agde but Pont du Gard seemed too close to ignore, then train back to Toulouse then from there to La Rochelle with a few detours around Bordeaux!
    If it’s not rude to ask, what maps or research tool did you use to work out exactly where there were campsites?
    On the web I’m finding what looks like pretty up market ones with water slides and all that jazz, bit different to the municipal sites I remember in Burgundy and the Loire!


    • That’s quite a ride you’re planning! All those great big hills in the way. 😀

      I found all my campsites from the Regional and Departmental Tourist Offices. I’ve always found the municipal campsites to be very pleasant (with a couple of exceptions and that was probably due to the fact I was there before the season had properly started). Once I had a list of all the sites in the vicinity I plotted them on IGN maps and planned my route so that I’d always be able to reach one at the end of each day.

      Let me know if you’d like any other information. And keep in touch and let me know how your trip goes.

      Kind regards


  23. Hi Susie,

    Good to hear from you, sorry for the delay in responding. Really appreciate your advice, good idea to plot them on the map. We are going to follow rivers and canals most of the way so hopefully the hills won’t be too horrific!

    Have sent emails to all relevant tourist offices, yet to get any responses but in another cyclist’s journal picked up this link which has heaps of options, including the municipal sites.
    Less than 6 weeks to go! My request for your ‘two steps backwards’ arrived yesterday at my local library so looking forward to reading that.

    Looks like it’s a good summer this year. I suppose winter here in Brisbane, isn’t bad by European standards, but it’s dark so early, just after 5pm, I’m looking forward to some lovely summer evenings 🙂 (along with some nice red and good cheese!) Kind regards

  24. Hi Susie from a long time back. Could you e mail me with your present e mail address and then I can send you the letter in my outbox which doesn’t like the tiscali address I have. I need to ask for some info relating to french classes – remember?

  25. Hi there,

    I hope you don’t mind me contacting you on behalf of my client, Carte Blanche Greetings Cards.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and thought their new eCard service, http://www.nopostie.com, which sees the much loved Me to You and Violent Veg brands come to life in animation, would be of interest to you.

    You can trial the service for free and blog or not, as we would really like your feedback. If you like the service, we can also offer you a discount off the annual subscription.

    Let me know if you would also be keen to see the full press release.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,


  26. Hi Naomi

    Thanks for your message, and apologies for the late reply, as I have been away for ten days.

    I looked at the Nopostie site, and really like it, so I will certainly be subscribing. Thank you for letting me know about it. I am a great fan of e-cards – love the Violent Vegetables! All our friends will be having one for Christmas.

    Best wishes


  27. Hi, I am a great fan of yours, and living in France now realise how true to life they are.

    I’ve just written a childrens book to be sold in the UK hopefully could you please tell me if UK copywright laws apply or because I live in France are there others?



    • Hi Susan

      Thanks so much for your kind words, and very best of luck with your book. If you’d like it mentioned on this blog, do let me know the details.

      I’m not really up on copyright, but I would imagine that one’s copyright would be international. If it’s your work, you own the copyright regardless of where you live. But you could ask the question at one of the sites such as Ask Jeeves to get a more informed answer.

      Do let me know how the books goes.

      Kind regards


    • Hi Susie, I am looking for a publisher for my book Toby’s Tails now, I feel very fortunate that Anne Loader [Leonie Press] although no longer publishing was very complimentary and has breathed over my manuscript for me. As you know it is very hard to get a foot in the door or even to know if your work is being looked at, however, I feel very strongly that children do not always these days have an older generation who can lead them by the hand like my granddad did so a book like Toby’s Tails full of animal care, wildlife information and family issues told as a story has a place. Wish me luck! Susan

      • Hi Susie, Thanks for the email and the good ideas on alternative options. I will look into them if I cannot get Toby’s Tails published the traditional way. Will keep you posted. Regards Susan

  28. i just read best foot forward, i couldn’t believe the nasty things you said about “liz” who i happen to know very well. It seemed to me that you had made up you’re mind from the very start that you wouldn’t like her.
    Just to set things straight she actually is a perfect mother and wife a fantastic friend and all around lovely person. How awful to say such spiteful things about such a sweet and gentle person just to make yourself seem witty and funny.

  29. I really never knew what the hell a Blog was and felt too ignorant to ask anyone. I have just read yours and didn’t realise, apart from knowing you, what a NICE person you are and certain aspects of your life were s..t. Will hopefully see you and Terry next year when on hols.
    PS do you know anyone in France that is looking to buy a mini digger and trailer because I have one. Preferably I would like to do a straight swop for a Range Rover Vogue.
    You take care and keep blogging.

    Love Vince X

  30. Enjoyed reading your blog Susie, especially seeing the picture of you and Cinderella! Do you remember how we used play 45 rpm records of Cliff Richard, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Mario Lanza and more to the horses? We would sit by the fountain in the middle of the Erskine’s stable yard. The horses would look over their doors, with ears twitching intelligently.
    Looking back on those days – I found a brochure from the days I taught riding, and can you believe one month’s livery for a horse was KShs.120/- per month?! By today’s exchange rate that is $1.50 . That included the stable, feed, bedding, hay and syce (groom). Of course throw into that tack cleaning, grooming, blanketing. Wow, how one picture can start a long story.

  31. Just a quick note to say we discussed your book today at our reading group, which was enjoyed by all.
    As I have just started following your blog, I passed the link on to my fellow members – by the way, we all live in France, so there were elements of your story that we all related to. We are based in the northern Deux Sevres (79), north of you, but not a million miles away.

  32. Thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed the book. Are you all Kindlers? There is a paperback version available now for those who still prefer “real” books. 🙂

  33. I first read Best Foot Forward whilst staying in a small rural hamlet in France-nearest name on the map was Chef-Boutonne. There was a v small town square near where I stayed I think called Mellerans. Anyway, I greatly enjoyed the book-which remained th eproperty of the gite owners a lovely couple names Alison and Francis-and now back in NZ 2 years later I found the book again in local library. I am pleased to know you have written more and will seek hem out. More power to the Red Poncho!

    Cheers. Pete-New Zealand

  34. Shalom Ma’am

    I have just read you book ‘ A Parfect Circle’ awesome read took me to France, which i supose what it was meant to do.
    the differece is i am bedridden at the moment and i got the gook from the library in CD format so it has been read to me , still a good listen, thanks for the jopurney and i hope to get hold of your other book
    Be blessed and keep on trucking

  35. Hello Laurence, and thank you for leaving such a kind comment. I’m very pleased to know that A Perfect Circle entertained you while you are laid up. I’d just like to mention that the audio version of the book wasn’t recorded by me, but by an actress, so I am not responsible for some of the strange pronunciations. 🙂

    All my other three books are available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, so I hope that you will enjoy them, and that you will soon be up and well again.

    Kind regards


  36. Just read your book, Two steps Backward. Loved it . We are living in our garage while we build a home, on our small Olive Grove, here in Hawkes Bay New Zealand. Learning to live in a small community after always living in Cities. Will hunt out other books written by you in our local library. Best wishes Lorraine Simmonds

    • Hi Lorraine

      Thanks so much for your kind comments, and I am glad the book entertained you and I hope your garage is more comfortable than my house was when I first came here! I hadn’t realised that olives grew in New Zealand – well, we learn something new every day. 🙂 Is that going to be a commercial venture?

      By the way, if you have time to leave a few words on Amazon, that’s always appreciated. 🙂

      Wishing you very good luck with your project, and I hope you can find my other books in your library.

      Very best wishes, Susie

  37. Raced through “Best Foot Forward” and enjoyed every page. I admire your courage in heading off alone like that. I’m also in awe of your ability to name the flora and fauna that you encountered en route. Chapeau! However, I’m not sure I could have persevered with your tent and sleeping bag..! Looking forward to reading more of your books.

    • Thanks for your visit, Pip64, and for your kind comments.

      I see you live in a beautiful part of France. We spent a couple of very happy days at Lourdios-Ichere some years ago, watching the transhumance. 🙂

      • I’ve now started “I wish I could say I was sorry” – you certainly can pick them..! Both your grandfather and your Uncle Ratty sound like real pieces of work.. More seriously, your experience of parental break-up should be compulsory reading for all those who claim (because it’s convenient) that “children are resilient”. A friend of mine has just subjected his wife and family to a separation for the usual totally selfish reasons.
        Lourdios-Ichere is new to me – I must put it on my ‘to do’ list. The Pays Basque suits us to a tee..

  38. Ah, Uncle Ratty, how aptly he was named. As they say, you can choose your friends, but your relatives are thrust upon you. 🙂

    Watch out for adders in Lourdios Ichere – they take them there in helicopters. 😉

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