New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susan Grant’s careers as a commercial pilot and Air Force pilot totaling more than 18,000 hours of flight time and more than 30 years flying around the world have provided endless inspiration for her stories. Her groundbreaking books are considered “hybrids” that combine science fiction, aviation and military action, and, of course, romance. Her works of fiction have garnered numerous critical and publishing industry honors. Susan is a three-time RITA award finalist and a RITA winner for Contact. The RITA award is the highest award in romance fiction, and is the equivalent of the Oscar, the Nebula, and the Edgar awards. Susan has won many other industry and literary awards and honors, including five PRISMs, four PEARLs, and several Booklist and Library Journal best of the year nods. She has been interviewed by Publishers Weekly, profiled in the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bee, and was featured on the television show Extra! alongside author Nora Roberts. Susan and her family live in the scenic foothills of northern California.
About Me, By Me
Long before I wrote my first book, I adored telling tales. As a child, the only thing I liked more than daydreaming was an audience. But instead of writing down stories, I drew pictures. I was a bit of an art prodigy, and even had a drawing displayed in a museum when I was three. But the moment I glimpsed the Apollo space launches on TV, I tossed aside my budding art career to pursue flying. Not only did this break my art teachers’ hearts, it sparked a life-long war for dominance between my left-brain (the side said to control logic) and my right-brain (the artistic, thinky-feely lobe). It’s the only way I can explain how I somehow ended up as a 747 pilot who writes romantic fiction.
At eighteen, I set out to live the stories I’d only imagined, and entered the United States Air Force Academy as a member of the third class in history to include women. It was much nicer being in the third wave of women pioneers at the service academies rather than the first of the female graduates; without having to suffer the media attention, I still got to see all the excitement, such as the last all-male class graduating in 1979 and then the first women graduating in 1980. By the time, I graduated from the “Blue Zoo” in 1982, women were such a staple of the place that they’d even finally gotten rid of the urinals in the women’s bathrooms, and only just before graduation! (On the downside, we had to find new flowerpots for our philodendrons)
After coming to terms with the grim discovery that I lacked the gene necessary to comprehend advanced calculus, I graduated USAFA as a second lieutenant and went on to USAF jet pilot training at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas, where the only math required could be done with my gloved fingers. (By the way, the necessity for pilots to be good in math is total urban legend that sadly deters many people, especially young women, from pursuing careers in aviation.) I did well enough in pilot training to earn a Fighter-Attack-Reconnaissance rating (FAR) but due to body parts beyond my control, I was not allowed to fly fighter craft. Thus, I ended up as one of the few women handed a flying instructor assignment after pilot training. I taught students from many different countries, including Jordan and Ecuador, who went on to fly the fighter jets I wasn’t allowed to fly, but it was a great experience and lots of responsibility for a young lieutenant.
Three-and-a-half years later, I wangled my way into an awesome assignment at Mather AFB, Sacramento, Ca, flying T-43s, aka Boeing 737-200s. It turned out that the USAF had contracted with United Airlines to give us our annual emergency procedures training in their simulators at their training center in Denver, Colorado. One night, the instructor on loan from United handed me an application and asked me to fill it out, as I was due to get out of the Air Force that year.
The timing was perfect! United was hiring like mad, and this time I did get to pioneer, as one of the very first female B747 flight engineers flying overseas.
Oh my, was that ever interesting! You’d think women were new to aviation the way some people acted, particularly those in foreign countries. I remember doing a walk-around inspection of the aircraft one day in Manila and having a fascinated, machine-gun-toting guard follow me all around the plane, while I prayed he didn’t pull the trigger in his utter shock at seeing a woman pilot on the tarmac. After a couple of years of flying as an engineer, I went on to pilot B-737-200s then 300s and eventually flying as a first officer at the controls of B-747-400 jumbos, the aircraft I still actively fly, and hope to continue to fly until either I retire or United retires the plane. All of this of course meant even more pioneering…in an unexpected way: flying pregnant! Both of my children have at least seventy hours flying experience…in-utero. Funny, they kicked the hardest when I was landing — the prenatal version of, “Are we there yet?”
In my decades with United, I’ve landed in typhoons at 4 am body-clock time in Taipei, and had the best seat in the house to watch a total lunar eclipse unfold over the South Pacific. I’ve flown over Iceland and Greenland, the Aleutian Islands, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and active volcanos in Russia. I’ve soared over the Great Wall of China, the elusive and mysterious Lord Howe Island, and the French Frigate Shoals…just to name a few. I’ve landed in Fiji when we didn’t have enough gas to make it to Sydney, and dumped a hundred thousand pounds of fuel off the coast of Japan to prepare for an emergency landing at Tokyo International. I’ve transported troops to the Persian Gulf as part of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) during Desert Storm, worked during the tense times in the wake of 9-11, and was descending into Incheon Airport in Seoul quite memorably on the day North Korea fired on a nearby island. I’ve done a lot, seen a lot, and now I put those experiences into the books I write, thanks to my right brain trying to kick my left brain into submission after all these years in a fairly technical profession.
I began writing in 1997, and sold my first two books in 1999. What do I write, exactly? The easiest way for me to describe it is if “Dad” were a science fiction story and “Mom” were a romance novel (or, visa versa) and they had a kid, that’s what my books are, hybrids of two major fiction genres. Think: Battlestar Galactica or the romantic aspects of Star Wars. Fully realized sci fi or fantasy plots interwoven with a love story, with my extensive background in aviation and the military as well as global travel fleshing out the tales with realism.
My debut novel, the historical time-travel Once a Pirate sold in a bidding war and went back to press within days of its official release. My second book, The Star King, a RITA finalist (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction), blew apart age and species barriers when it paired a 43-year-old heroine with a very sexy alien. I’ve been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, survived a controversy with Wal-Mart, and was even featured on the TV show Extra! along with mega-author Nora Roberts. Of all the things I’ve done in my life, one of the most surreal moments was seeing Leeza Gibbons holding my book in her hands! Since then, I’ve seen my work appear on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and win many awards, including the prestigious RITA award for my aviation/space thriller CONTACT.
For more than ten years I wrote my unique science fiction/romance “hybrids” (SFR) in the land of traditional N.Y. publishing. I had a clever agent and worked with some incredible editors. Then, disenchanted by the many rules placed on what I could and could not write, I walked away from it all, only to reemerge six years later into a massively changed literary world where being an independent author was a real thing. I’m thrilled to say my first books written as an ‘indie’ will be released in 2016. The positive response from readers all around the world has been amazing, quite heartening, and an honor.
When not traveling, I’m happy being a homebody here at Flygirl Acres, overlooking one of the prettiest valleys I’ve ever seen, a region of vineyards, mandarin orchards, and old gold mines in the foothills east of Sacramento, California. Joining me in a life as suburban expats/reclusive country folk are my significant other, George, my father Davis, a pair of Millennial offspring who come and go, a Border Collie who drives us nuts chasing the mail lady and squirrels, and a crazy but super cute half-Maine Coon/half Burmese kitty. You may also meet Manfred our 6 foot 8, 345 pound vineyard foreman/ex-Albanian prison guard fired for using excessive force, and his wife Frieda, our housekeeper, a retired circus performer/knife thrower prone to acute bouts of PMS. :)
Thanks for visiting my website and reading to the end of this page. Yes, there are many aspects of my life that have been stranger than fiction, but I’m grateful for the adventures I’ve had, and continue to have, because I love weaving those experiences into my stories. Whether it’s an adventure to the farthest reaches of the galaxy or an aviation thriller, I promise that my books will steal you away from the stresses or just the ho-hum of everyday life.
Love to arm-chair travel? Or want to know what it’s like to fly around the globe in a jumbo jet? Or maybe you simply want to be inspired. Sit down and strap in and Come Fly With Me.