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Susan Stern

As a child

When I was a child, home was a farm in Suffolk. As soon as I could walk, I was out there in the cold, shifting stones from the fields and picking weeds and grass from the hedgerows to feed my rabbits (I had forty at one point!). In the hot, stormy summers, I helped with the harvest. I liked to watch my blacksmith grandfather working in the forge making horseshoes and ploughshares; toasted cheese cooked over hot coals is the best taste! When I passed my 11 plus exam, I got a place at the posh girls' school in town – but I hated it. Getting to act in school plays gave me my route down to London. At school, if you were clever you got German. I won. I got to do cooking.

As an adult

I went to drama school in London where I trained as an actress and teacher. After that it was a mix of things – acting, teaching drama, teaching actors, running a theatre company. I wrote plays for the kids I worked with and, then, when I started to have my own kids, I realized that it would be impossible to do the theatre work – it's all late nights and touring. So I concentrated on working with voices and my writing. Now my kids are mostly grown up – even Sam's mostly grown up – I'm back doing loads of theatre. I work with lots of TV actors too. But the centre of life is my home and the centre of my home is my kitchen. All the children cook. We talk, laugh, have rows and cook together.

As an artist

At junior school I was the best writer of all the kids. At senior school they told me I was rubbish. I was upset, as I wanted to write radio plays (I'd listen to plays when I was supposed to be asleep). Never believe teachers when they tell you you're rubbish – fight back. Now I do write plays, and prose, and I'm also working with Sam helping him write his cookbook. I write at a very messy desk, which is loaded with papers from all the different areas of my life. There are play scripts, my scripts, cookbooks, research books, voice books, Shakespeare books, novels I’m reading, Sam's stuff, letters from friends and business letters, photos of the kids and the cat... I write on my laptop – if the house caught fire and everyone was safe, I'd have to save it.

Things you didn't know about Susan Stern

  1. Susan can't walk past any restaurant without reading the menu.
  2. She drinks too much tea.
  3. She wanted to be a policewoman or a forensic scientist when she was young.
  4. She worked in a kibbutz, before taking gap years was fashionable.
  5. She loves clothes and wearing red lipstick.
  6. She loves the sea – but has never lived by it.
  7. She thinks Shakespeare is the best writer of all time and loves working on his plays.
  8. She's scared of heights.
  9. She likes to shop for fresh food every day.
  10. She loves eating fish and chips on Dunwich beach in Suffolk.


Sam Stern

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