About ­ Susan Steggall

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Writing Art History into Fiction

Writing ‘Art’ into Fiction


In these strange times, with so many face-to-face gatherings such as conferences, writers’ festivals, book launches and plain old chinwags about writing, postponed or cancelled, Shooting Star Press (SSP) has set up an exciting series of online learning and professional development programs. My special interest is in writing ‘art’ into fiction, as in my novel, ‘Tis the Doing not the Deed’ published by SSP in 2019, so I am leading a hands-on course 'Writing Art History into Fiction’. 

Art history is generally written by professional historians but writing art history into fiction is a challenge for any writer with the imagination and daring to take it on. Over six hands-on sessions, starting on 8 May 2020 at 11 am, we will look at various forms of writing about art: from opinion pieces and catalogue entries; to short stories (and beyond), and writing ‘art’ for children. For further information: https://www.shootingstar.pub/shooting-star-development-academy/

Susan Steggall


Susan Steggall

Susan Steggall is a writer and an art historian with a PhD in Creative Writing allied to a Master and a Bachelor Degree in Art History and Theory. Publications include: Alpine Beach: A Family Adventure (1999; translated by the author into French as Sydney-en-chablais: aventure savoyarde d’une famille australienne); two novels, Forget Me Not (2006) and It Happened Tomorrow (2013), plus art-related articles, exhibition and book reviews, book chapters and essays. She has edited numerous anthologies for the Society of Women Writers NSW Inc and was editor of the ISAA Review (the journal of the Independent Scholars Association of Australia Inc) from 2010-2015. She has taught courses in Approaches to Australian Art, Writing Art and Design, Audiences for Art at COFA.

Her biography, A Most Generous Scholar: Joan Kerr, Art and Architectural Historian(LHR Press, 2013) was a winner in the Non-Fiction section of the 2013 Society of Women Writers NSW Inc's Biennial Book Awards.



E-BOOKS: I am delighted to announce the e-book versions of ‘Alpine Beach: a family adventure’ and its French version ‘Sydney-en-Chablais: aventure savoyarde d’une famille australienne’ (available in versions suitable for all e-readers). These publications recount the ten years, from September 1978, that we (John, Susan, son Zeke and daughter Zali) left Australia to live in the Alps of south-eastern France, so beginning an extraordinarily successful relationship with wintersport competition and a lifelong love affair with Haute-Savoie, its people and special places.

While I did have reservations about the wisdom (or folly?) of translating into someone else’s language (as Diego Marani writes in ‘The Interpreter’, his latest book: ‘Languages are like toothbrushes: the only one you should put into your mouth is your own’), I did it in the spirit of communication to share the record of my children’s formative years with the French parents of their peers. Several friends said: ‘Oh but, Susan, when we read your book, ‘Sydney-en-Chablais’ we hear you speaking’. At its most fundamental language is how we communicate with others so I guess I’m happy with that.

www.steggalls.com for details about both books.



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Curriculum Vitae

I am an art historian who also writes fiction and biography. All my work is informed not only by art, both historical and contemporary, but also by my interest in, and family connections to, France, its people, culture and language. Although I have lived all my adult life ‘within a walk of the sea’, my love of alpine landscapes has taken me on many memorable adventures.

  • In 1999 I published, Alpine Beach: a Family Adventure (Robyn Ianssen Productions), an autobiographical account of the ten years I spent in France with my husband and two children. I translated Alpine Beach into French in 2002 as Sydney-en-Chablais: aventure savoyarde d’une famille australienne (Éditions Kusatsu P/L)
  • From 2002 to 2005 I lectured in undergraduate and postgraduate courses at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW: Writing Art & Design; Writing For Different Audiences; and Approaches to Australian Art, in the School of Art History & Theory.
  • In 2006 I published Forget Me Not (Seaview Press), a novel linking Australia and France, from World War I to the 1980s.
  • From 1993 to 2010 I have had published numerous articles, exhibition & book reviews (art & culture) in specialist and general magazines.
  • 2012 A Most Generous Scholar: Joan Kerr, Art and Architectural Historian, my biography of Joan Kerr, was published by LhR Press.
  • 2013 It Happened Tomorrow, Editions Kusatsu and ebook


2010-13  Editor, ISAA Review

2001-13  Editor, ISAA National Newsletter

2006 Editor (with Introduction), A Way of Happening, Society of Women Writers NSW  Inc. (an anthology of prize-winning short stories and poetry)