Brief biography: Sue Burke began writing professionally as a teenager for her local newspaper. By then she was also an avid science fiction fan. She has worked for newspapers and magazines as a reporter and editor, and began publishing fiction in 1995. She has also published essays, poetry, and translations, and taught English to Spanish teenagers in Madrid, Spain.
Where she’s lived: Milwaukee, WI, born there in 1955; Austin, TX; Madrid, Spain; and Chicago, IL. She is married and has no children or pets, just house plants who have trained her well.
Publications: More than 30 short stories, along with a million words of journalism and other non-fiction; and translations from Spanish into English including short stories, novels, poetry, and historical works from the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
Education: University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, 1976; Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop, 1996; Master’s-level Diploma in Translation, Spanish into English, from the Chartered Institute of Linguists Educational Trust, 2013. Winner of the 2016 Alicia Gordon Award for Word Artistry in Translation from the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation.
Photo: Photos are available at the bottom of this page.
Is Semiosis her first novel? Yes. I actually finished this book in 2004, and then a lot of stuff happened – or failed to happen – and the moral of the story is never give up.
Will there be sequels? Yes. Interference was published in 2019 and Usurpation is planned for 2024.
You lived in Spain? Why? Even before we were married, my husband and I wanted to live overseas and learn another language and culture. When we got the chance to move to Madrid, Spain, we took it. We lived there from December 1999 to July 2016, when we returned to the Midwest to be closer to family and because Spain’s economy had not yet recovered from the 2008 crisis.
What inspired the book? After one of my houseplants killed another one, I did some research. I learned that plants here on Earth lead aggressive, active lives. Plants can feel what happens to them. Plants can count. Plants can communicate with each other. Plants sometimes try to control animal behavior, even human beings, but they do it subtly and often for mutual benefit, so we rarely notice. Imagine if they could think – and then imagine how plants on a distant planet would react to a new human colony. Much of what plants do in this novel are things they actually do on Earth, but without apparent forethought.
American Translators Association
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)
Asociación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror (AEFCFT)
Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA)
Photos by Daniel Lewis. https://ownyourbeauty.studio/