Librarian has her first book published

Though surrounded by books all day in her job as librarian at Corrimal High School, it took a dilapidated farmhouse and some lengthy emails to encourage Susan Cutsforth to start writing one of her own.

Corrimal's Susan Cutsforth celebrates the publication of her first book. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Corrimal's Susan Cutsforth celebrates the publication of her first book. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Ms Cutsforth, who also teaches at the school, had aspirations of being a writer when she was young, but decided to pursue teaching instead.

After years as an English teacher in Canberra, broken up by time spent teaching in London and Istanbul, she moved to Sydney to work at Newtown High School of the Performing Arts.

But when a permanent librarian job came up at Corrimal seven years ago, she and her husband made the sea change to the Illawarra.

It was a wise move - she discovered she loved being a librarian and received a Quality Teaching Award for her work at the school.

Then, about four years ago, on a bit of a whim, the Cutsforths made the decision to buy a house in France to use as a holiday home when they visited Europe.

The farmhouse they settled on was out of the way, in a small village called Cuzance in the south-western part of the country, and needed a lot of work.

So during the summer holidays and long service leave the couple had accrued they set to work stripping wallpaper, installing a kitchen, making the house liveable and slowly making friends in the little community.

Somewhere in the midst of renovations, Ms Cutsforth realised their renovation story might make a good novel, and started to write it all down, urged on by the people back home who had enjoyed her emails describing their progress.

Despite a few rejections, and a lot of transcribing from the tattered notebooks she scribbled on during her time in France, at the start of last year she secured a deal for Our House Is Not in Paris to be published as an e-book by Melbourne Books.

Thanks to glowing reviews, the publishers decided to release it in print as well, launching the physical edition over the weekend.

"A bit of my heart was sad it was an e-book, being a librarian and a reader, but I told myself it was still a book, it was still a contract," Ms Cutsforth said.

"It was beyond my wildest dreams that it would go to print."

Two more books in the series will be released as e-books, the second, Our House is Certainly Not in Paris, released at the end of the month and the third at the end of next year.

Ms Cutsforth said that while she had always given the students at Corrimal High School advice on their writing, she could now share tips on getting published to any aspiring novelists.

"I say to them, and some of them could also get published because they are very clever, it's very, very hard and you have to cope with the rejections and have the resilience to keep going."

She said the release of her book had shone a light on the eager, supportive nature of the students she teaches.

"They've been so supportive and excited about my writing, just absolutely adorable and some of them bought it when it came out as an e-book.

"When the news broke I got the contract, it was parents who sent me flowers and that makes me feel special, that they and the children want to celebrate my achievement."


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