Sukey grew up in Chicago and always knew she wanted to be a writer. In 1969 she and her husband moved to Japan where he studied linguistics, and she studied hand paper making, which resulted in her book Washi: The World of Japanese Paper. She taught papermaking, wrote articles, became a paper artist and studied Russian/Greek icon painting and other arts.
A TV interview in 2005 of a novelist writing about Africa inspired her to write the story of Saskia and her slave lover Titus. The bittersweet tale reeled out of her psyche in threads, like some distant memory, and now, after many years of research and revisions, Diary of a Lacemaker is complete.