About Granny Sue

Susanna Holstein
Sandyville, WV 25275

Susanna "Granny Sue" Holstein

Susanna “Granny Sue” Holstein develops her stories from folklore, history, and personal narratives. She began telling stories professionally in 1995 and has performed and presented workshops from Boston, Massachusetts to Bellingham, Washington. In 2000 she was a Featured Regional Teller at the National Storytelling Conference.

Although her focus is on Appalachian culture and her British heritage, Holstein’s repertoire includes original versions of world folktales, family stories and participation stories. Her adult and family programs often include Appalachian and British ballads sung in the traditional unaccompanied style, and songs with opportunities for audience sing-along.  Performances for children are lively, interactive and frequently include the use of puppets, props, movement activities and songs.

Holstein is a graduate of West Virginia State College and holds a Master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in Library and Information Science. Her 20-year library career included work as a children’s librarian, branch librarian, Branch Services Manager, and Facilities and Security Manager/ADA Coordinator for Kanawha County Public Library in Charleston, WV.

Former WV State Liaison to the National Storytelling Network and founding member of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild, Holstein is also a published writer. She has conducted writing workshops for the WV Writers Conference, Moundsville Public Library, Mercer County High School Writing Camp and others, and is frequently invited to speak to book groups and other organizations about her writing and storytelling interests. She initiated two young writers’ groups, and an annual writing contest in her home county. She maintains an active daily blog, Granny Sue’s News and Reviews, a poetry blog Mountain Poet, and writes for the regional publication, Two-Lane Livin’.  She was selected as a West Virginia History Hero in 2015, and received the WV Storytelling Guild’s McWhorter Award for Service to Storytelling for 2014.

A Sample of Programs Offered:
Appalachian Ghost Stories and Ballads: Famous and not-so-famous haunts come alive in story and song.
Appalachian Sampler: The one I most often present to tours and Road Scholars programs which includes a variety of the kind of stories told in the mountains--tall tales, ghost stories, historical tales, traditional folktales--and ballads. 
Love, Murder and Mayhem: Appalachian Ballads: a mixture of ballads and the background on each one. Includes murder, romantic, ghost, and comic ballads.  
Seeking the Spirits: West Virginia Ghost Stories and Ballads: a combination of stories and songs with a spooky twist. Includes our most famous ghost story, the Greenbrier Ghost, as well as lesser known tales from around the state. 
Appalachian Jack Tales: fun Appalachian folktales starring the wily Jack. Good fun for family audiences, with some background information about the stories and their provenance.
West Virginia Weird and Wacky: stories of unusual people, places and events. Includes stories like Ikie's Tomb, the story behind the Mountaineer statue on the Capitol lawn, the first Christmas tree in West Virginia, Tunnel 21, and others.
Here We Come A-Caroling: with musician Jeff Seager, a program of the stories behind carols both well-known and unfamiliar, offering sing-along opportunities and audience participation.
Workshops: Beginning Storytelling, Telling Ghost Stories, Participation Tales, Personal Stories, Telling Stories with Puppets, Appalachian Storytelling, Creative Writing, Blogging & More

Selected List of Recent Performances:
WV Storytelling Festival, Jackson’s Mill, Weston, WV
WV Library Association Conference, Shepherdstown, WV
Three Rivers Storytelling Festival, Pittsburgh, PA
Timpanogos Storytelling Conference, Ogden, Utah
Inland Waterways Festival, Marietta, OH
Augusta Old-Time Week Storytelling class and Augusta Festival, Elkins, WV
Mountain State Arts and Crafts Fair, Ripley, WV
WV Sesquicentennial Celebration, WV State Capitol, Charleston, WV
WV State Folk Festival, Glenville, WV
WVU Brown Bag Lunch Multicultural Series, Morgantown, WV
Harpers Ferry Old-Time Christmas, Harpers Ferry, WV
Rose Valley Storytelling, Media, PA
Stories in the Village, Chevy Chase, MD
Southern Ohio Storytelling Festival, Chillicothe, OH
Annual Ghost Walk, Ripley, WV
BadyHouse Concert, Brooklyn, NY
Storytellers Café, Buffalo, NY
Lost River Artisan Center, Lost River, WV
Christmas carols programs at many venues
WV State Parks programs
Many others.
College presentations: Shepherd University, Fairmont State University, University of Charleston, WV State Technical College, Marshall University ESL class, WVU, Shepherd University, BridgeValley Technical College, many others.
School presentations for schools across West Virginia, from Primary through High School
Summer Reading Program performances at WV libraries annually

Appalachian Storytelling. Augusta Heritage Series weeklong class, Davis & Elkins College.
Telling Ghost Stories. Sponsored by the WV Storytelling Guild and WV Commission on the Arts.
Storytelling for Beginners and Telling Ghost Stories. Kentucky Storytelling Association Conference
Blogging for Storytellers and Telling Ghost Stories. Timpanagos Storytelling Festival, Orem, Utah
Blogging for Storytellers, WV Storytelling guild Retreat, Fairmont, WV;
Telling Ghost Stories, OOPS Storytelling Conference, Columbus, OH
Ballad to Story, New England LANES Storytelling Conference, Boston MA, and VASA Storytelling Conference, Harrisonburg, VA

·         Storytelling in the State Parks. Storytelling Magazine, NSN Press, March 2006.
·          Filling the House. WestEd high school  sophomore test booklet for Massachusetts, 2008-2015.
·          Storytelling with PuppetsTelling Stories to Children. NSN Press, 2005.
·         Young Writers GroupMore Teen Programs that Work. Honnold, Rosemary. Neal-Schuman, 2005.
·         Gracie’s Cabin;  Burning the Trash. Zinnia Tales: An Anthology of Strong Women StoriesMountain Girl Press2006.
·         Yellow Roses. Self-Rising Flowers, Mountain Girl Press, 2008.
·         The Way It Was. Appalachian Journal, 2005.
·         Telling Stories in the Parks. Storytelling Magazine, 2005.
·         The Old Road. Poetry in Motion, Morgantown, WV. Poetry on city buses project, 2009.
·         Granny’s Front Porch. Monthly column for Two Lane Livin’ regional magazine, 2008-present.
·         Sago. Fed from the Blade Anthology. Woodland Press, 2012 and in Turtleshell literary journal, WVSU, 2012.
·         The Unmarked Grave, Ripley View, 2014
·         Love’s Old Sweet Song, Diner Stories: Off the Menu Anthology, Mountain State Press, 2015.
·         The Chinese Quilt, Jimson Weed Literary Journal, UVA-Wise, Spring  2016.
·         The Old Cupboard, Easter LiliesJan-Carol Publishing, 2017
·         The Omen, These Haunted Hills, Jan-Carol Publishing, 2017
·         Fruitcakes, Unity Anthology, Mountain State Press, 2017
·         Gracie’s Cabin, Traditions Journal of West Virginia Folklore, 2017
·         National Storytelling Conference, 2000: Featured Regional Teller
·         WV Storytelling Conference, 2001McWhorter Award for service to storytelling in West Virginia
·         WV Writers Conference Writing Contest 2006: 2nd Place, 3rd Place (2), Honorable Mention (2)
·         Author Enablers National Creative Writing Contest, 2nd place, 2005
·         WV Writers Conference Writing Contest 2004:2nd Place and Honorable Mention (2)
·         WV Writers Conference Annual Contest 2006: 2nd Place, 3rd Place (2), Honorable Mention (2)
·         WV Writers Conference Annual Contest 2007: 2- 3rd Place and 2 Honorable Mentions
·         WV Writers Conference Annual Contest 2008: 2nd place, 2 Honorable Mention, 1st place People’s Choice Poetry
·         WV Writers Conference Annual Contest 2009: 2nd place, Appalachian, 2 honorable mention, 1st place People’s Choice
·         WV Writers Conference Annual Contest: Honorable Mention, 2011, 2015
·         WV Writers Conference Annual Contest: 2nd Place, People’s Choice Poetry, 2012, 2013, 2014
·         WV Storytelling Guild McWhorter Award for Service to Storytelling, 2014

·         WV History Hero, 2015.


  1. Mary Lou McKillipSat Jan 18, 09:21:00 AM

    Granny Sue, I was so impressed with all your writing and getting published. I am a natural story teller so I've been told and love to write pro and cons. I deem myself a Bumble Bee writer. A bumble bee doesn't know by scientific facts he can't fly, but does anyway.
    I look at things that happen are one of God's enduring blessing. I sure enjoy His blessing. I see the stories I write unfold to me like watching it on video and do dream a lot of my stories.I am ornery but do Love my God. I have somewhat a mischief laughter with in , I do love to laugh and make other do the same. Toot toot No God helps me write.

  2. Mary Lou McKillipSat Jan 18, 09:23:00 AM

    I love your web site, you and Tipper Blind Pig and the Acorn turns my thoughts in a wonderland of memories.

  3. Hello Granny Sue,

    I am learning storytelling in Adam Booth's mesmerizing class At Shepherd U and I am hoping to do my semester project about you and your gifted and light-hearted storytelling craft. I grew up with spoonerisms in a storytellin' family. I believe Adam will reach out in a bit to see if we can connect. Susan T.

    1. Good morning, Susan, please feel free to contact me via email. Looking forward to talking with you.


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