Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #12:
Susan Thomsen at Chicken Spaghetti

h1 March 12th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

Seven Things We Love About Susan Thomsen and Chicken Spaghetti:

1. Susan can write. We mean, really write. Unlike some of us, she has actually made a living writing and editing for some pretty noteworthy publications.

2. She’s a great team leader. Eisha had the supreme pleasure of serving on the Cybils Nominating Panel for Poetry, of which Susan was Chair. She was a dream to work for — always available, always agreeable, always there for questions or guidance, but totally let us do our thing however we wanted to.

3. She’s got great taste. Her reviews are insightful and pithy, and it’s always interesting to get her perspective on how books go over with her son and the first graders she reads to.

4. She’s a generous and kind feedback-giver. She even emailed us once out of the blue, just to say something sweet about our blog. Aw.

5. She does things like this — “a meta-list of the Best Children’s Books of 2006” — and even updated it very recently. As Eisha commented at that link, “mercy, woman, when do you sleep?”

6. She’s always, always there to contribute to Poetry Fridays (sometimes rounding-up, too), including this contribution, made last May. It’s “Tempest,” an original prose poem from years ago.

7. She’s been blogging since 2005, really knows her way around the kidlitosphere (and beyond), and has garnered much well-deserved respect for her work at Chicken Spaghetti. In other words, don’t be messin’ with Susan, y’all. As if anyone would want to, but let’s just say hypothetically that someone would . . . well, a whole gaggle of bloggers and librarians and authors and you-name-it would go after that person, ’cause Susan is well-loved.

8. Wait . . . did we say only seven things? There’s too much to love here. Just a few more things: Susan also archives her posts into categories (handy for that busy librarian or parent), and she’s got one fairly impressive and generous blogroll. And she’s terrifically nice (just look at that picture*, that sweet smile). And, like most of the bloggers we admire, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind — yet she always keeps things tasteful and avoids Overbearing Snarky altogether. And . . . well, we’ll make ourselves stop now. Just read her interview and then go visit her blog, and you’ll see what we mean. If you have been living under a rock and don’t already know how life is better with daily Chicken Spaghetti posts, then at least Susan’s response below to the Pivot Pearly-Gates question will make you love her. Alrighty then . . . here’s Susan!

{Incidentally and in case you’re wondering, her blog’s title comes from a favorite casserole from her Southern childhood. “Whenever I get an IP address from the military, Texas state gov. or a Southern medical center,” she told us, “I know that they are looking for a chicken spaghetti recipe . . . I had so many people come looking for a recipe that I felt like I should give them one.” Read here at School Library Journal for a bit more info on her blog’s appetizing appellation} . . .

7-Imp: What do you do for a living?

Susan: I dance, do different things. (I heard that once on “The People’s Court” and hung onto it.)

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

Susan: Since May 2005.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Susan: I started blogging because I needed to do something creative again. Prior to my son’s arrival, I was a theater reviewer (for Microsoft’s New York Sidewalk, which Bill G. pulled the plug on) and before that worked at magazines. I also wanted to add a parent’s voice to the conversation about kids’ books. I keep blogging because it pays the bills, as we all know (not). I’ve learned a lot, it’s fun, and I enjoy the kidlit community and the cross-blog conversations.

Speaking of community, I’m also interested in the power of the Web to do good. One of the coolest things I’ve seen was when Terry Teachout turned About Last Night, which is an excellent blog about arts and culture, into a place for updates about Hurricane Katrina. He was linking news, a lot of it from New Orleans-based blogs, in real time. A lot of help for victims of the hurricane was organized via the Internet; Colleen Mondor and Mo Willems were two of many people doing that.

7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Susan: It’s a toss-up between two first crushes: Romenesko (media news) and Chowhound (food, food, food).

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

Susan: Do people do things besides read and blog and ask their children to please watch t.v. until Mommy finishes just one thing on the computer?

Actually, in addition to hanging out with my family and friends, I enjoy being a library groupie, reading with my first-grade friends, ice skating, walking in the woods, playing in the snow, visiting the Parthenon (not the one in Athens, but this one), eating cheeseburgers at Rotier’s. I added those Nashville references just for y’all — I love visiting the South, where I grew up and went to school.

7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Susan: I want to go to surfing school.

7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/iPod lately?

Susan: Mostly I listen to whatever is on the car radio, but here is an imaginary play list for the iPod, which I have yet to program: “Hey Ya!” (OutKast), “Take Five” (Dave Brubeck), “Come as You Are” (Nirvana), “Kate” (Ben Folds Five), “Work” (Thelonious Monk), “Candy Store Rock” (Led Zeppelin), “Optimistic” (Sounds of Blackness), “Poolside” (Webb Wilder), “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” (REM), “Alex Chilton” (The Replacements), “Swingin’” (John Anderson), “Pump It” (Black Eyed Peas), “It’s Time” (The Winans), “Only Love” (Wynonna), and “Seasons of Love” (from “Rent”)

7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Susan: James Marshall, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams. I would just sit and listen. Alas, all of them are no longer with us, so I’d ask Kevin Henkes, Dav Pilkey, and Beth Henley. Dav and I would have to discuss the missing e, though.

The Pivot Questionnaire:

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Susan: When my son was very little, he used to ask old ladies in the grocery store, “What your name is?” and they would tell him. I loved that.

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Susan: “Muscular,” as used in a phrase like “muscular prose.”

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Susan: Tide pools, Flannery O’Connor’s Habit of Being, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Susan: Horn honkers.

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word?

Susan: “Dang.”

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Susan: The bass guitar in a funk band.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Susan: The sound of nails being clipped on a commuter train.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Susan: Marine biologist.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Susan: Doctor.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Susan: “Aretha wants to know if you can sing backup today.”

* * * * * * *

*Photo credit: Junior, age 7

14 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #12:
Susan Thomsen at Chicken Spaghetti

  1. It’s 2am. Can you tell I’m editing the Forest?

    Just wanted to stop by and say “Yay for Susan!” She’s one of my dearest blogging friends from the beginning and it’s great to see a picture of her.

    Susan, Surfing school is one my biggest dreams too. Seriously. I’m waiting until next year when my daughter hits age 12. We’re going to sign up for the Diva school in San Diego together and learn to surf!! I’ve always been a boogie-boarder, but I want to do the real thing. I also love to skate–ice, roller, and hockey.

    Jules and Eisha: These interviews are the BEST.

  2. Jules and Eisha, y’all are so sweet. Thank you for the interview; you’ve said such nice things. It was a lot of fun.

    Kelly, I may have to tag along when y’all go surfing, okay? Around here there’s a crew who surfs at Rockaway Beach, which is actually part of NYC; maybe I can get some tips before I hit CA.

  3. And happy birthday again to Susan! Her birthday was this past weekend, as mentioned here.

  4. Great interview! It’s really cool to get to know the bloggers that I read every day. The picture is great, too!

    Oh, and Happy Birthday, Susan!

  5. I served on the Cybils poetry-nominating panel along with Eisha. We were, indeed, fortunate to have someone as supportive and helpful as Susan as our chair. I hope to meet Susan in person some day.

    Thanks for another fine interview, ladies!

  6. Chicken Spaghetti drew me into the blogosphere with an early review of my book, so I owe my presence out here in cyber-space partly to Susan’s hospitality. Love the interviews, and especially seeing the faces and smiles of those we feel like we’re coming to know, at least epistolarily (is that a word?)

  7. I’m so glad to learn more about Susan. And I have to say…”the sound of nails being ciipped on a commuter train”…thank goodness I swallowed my coffee before I read that line.

  8. Cheers for the cheery answers and belated birthday wishes, Susan!

  9. Love these interviews, E & J!

    Hap Birth, Susan, and I love your answer to the heaven question.

  10. Belated birthday greetings to Susan…

    Nice interview Jules and Eisha !

    Mitali: “epistolarily” isn’t in my dictionary, but it’s a valid formation, so what the heck ?!

  11. Thank you for the b’day wishes and the very nice things you’ve said, everyone! What an awesome start to my week!

  12. Love the Aretha line. I’ll sing backup with you. Great stuff, guys.

  13. Now, MR, I just have to learn how to sing, right?

  14. […] the people in the blogosphere, and this week, it’s Chicken Spaghetti’s turn in the 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast interview chair. There are so many people who a.) blog more than I do, b.) really KNOW more than I […]

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