By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Southborough – Southborough resident Susan Lubner appeared Oct. 6 at Tatnuck Bookseller in Westborough to promote her fourth book, “The Upside of Ordinary,” a middle-grade novel published by Holiday House. A few days later, she led a book discussion with young readers at the Southborough Public Library.
Lubner wrote her first storybook while in second grade. That one didn's get published, but it did earn a “great job” sticker from her teacher.
“I used to write and illustrate my own books back in elementary school because I enjoyed being creative, and I loved words and reading,” she said. “So it just seemed a natural thing to do, to write my own books.”
Originally from Bangor, Maine, Lubner moved to Boston to attend Simmons College. After graduating, she worked a job in radio in Framingham. After marrying, they settled in Southborough 17 years ago.
“I love Southborough,” she said. “Bangor and Southborough are a little different from each other, but they'se both good places to live.”
In 2003, she sold her first children's story, “Not-So-Ordinary Cows,” to Spider Magazine. She got the idea when visiting a local landmark.
“There's a place in Southborough called Breakneck Hill with Oreo cookie cows, and they were a big inspiration to me,” she explained. “Growing up in Maine, my grandfather took me to a place with Oreo cookie cows. And now I's living in a town with them. I take my dog up there quite a bit for exercise. I love having such a beautiful place that has fond memories for me. I's often inspired by simple things like that.”
A few months after selling her first story, Lubner learned that Abrams Books would publish her first picture book, “Noises at Night,” which she co-wrote with Beth Raisner Glass. Lubner felt it was both helpful and enjoyable to share the process of writing and publishing a first book.
“We had each other to go through this first experience together, which was really nice,” she said. “We were in the same writing group and she was my critique partner. It was good to be able to collaborate and put two writing minds together. We each brought strengths to the table and it was fun.”
“Noises at Night” was featured on the “Today” show as a best book for children and received a Mom's Choice Award.
Since then, Lubner wrote and published two more children's picture books: “Ruthie Bon Bair: Do Not Go to Bed with Wringing Wet Hair” and “A Horse's Tale: A Colonial Williamsburg Adventure,” both with Abrams Books.
She decided her most recent work should be a novel for readers ages 8 to 12, rather than a picture book for younger children.
“I had the idea for “The Upside of Ordinary,” and the plotline wasn's something that was going to work for a picture book,” she said.
Set in Bangor, Maine, the story is told by 11-year-old Jermaine, who dreams of fame and decides to feature her family in a television reality show.
“I's fascinated that some people are so willing to put themselves out there and do things that are outrageous to make good TV,” she said. “The heart of this story is discovering what's really special about your own everyday life. There are special things about ordinary family dinners and relationships. The little things you do with your family can be special and very rewarding.”
Kirkus Reviews wrote: “This debut novel offers an amusing lesson on the downside of reality television.”
Lubner has stories forthcoming in Highlights for Children magazine, one of which is titled “The Cows at Breakneck Hill.”
For more information, visit www.susanlubner.com.