Susan E. Kirby
quilt block
Picture of Susan E. Kirby Susan E. Kirby, the author of the series, American Quilts, grew up in Central Illinois on Historic Route 66. Although she has moved to McLean, Illinois, her family continues to tap trees and make "Maple Sirup" a few miles away in Funks Grove.

Mrs. Kirby has written forty books for adults, teens and children. Her first children's book Ike and Porker was published in 1983. She decided to begin writing so she could stay home with her two sons. Throughout the years she has worked as a school cook and in the local post office to help support her writing habit.

Her first writing projects were written on a Royal manual typewriter. When Ike and Porker won an award, she purchased an electric typewriter. Later when another book, Shadow Boy, won an award, Mrs. Kirby bought her first computer. She believes that computers should make all of us better writers because we are able to make revisions more easily. (With a typewriter a revision means retyping an entire piece of paper.) Mrs. Kirby wants every word in her stories to shine so she carefully revises them.

Currently, Mrs. Kirby does the bulk of her writing in the winter months. She schedules speaking engagements from April through November. She enjoys writing historical fiction although she doesn't feel she was strong in history while in school. When she was a child, she didn't realize that she had been learning history constantly from her father as he told her family stories. Now she likes history so much that she says she can "get lost in research." Mrs. Kirby spent about six months writing each of the American Quilt books. About half of the time was spent on research. As she writes a book, Mrs. Kirby tries to be as historically accurate as possible, so she may do more research as needed. She tries to share her enjoyment of history with her readers by intertwining history with engaging fictional characters.

Mrs. Kirby quilting.Mrs. Kirby taught herself to quilts. She made her first quilts for her sons when they were babies. Later she was given a quilt top by a family member. She added a back, quilted it, and was hooked. She has been quilting ever since. Because of her enjoyment of quilting, Mrs. Kirby began to think about the history and background of quilts and wondered what was going through the quilter's mind and where the pieces of fabic originated. She realized that every quilt holds a story and decided to base a series of books around some of those stories. Mrs. Kirby has made quilts for each of the books in the series.

Learn about Mrs. Kirby's school visits.