It’s a joy to share my interview with Karen Greenwald today. Her debut picture book, A VOTE FOR SUSANNA, THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR, illustrated by Sian James released on Friday with a virtual celebration hosted by the National Women’s History Museum which also featured two other amazing books about brave women who made a difference. Attendees of the launch included grandchildren and great grandchildren of Susanna Salter which made for a special morning for everyone! Karen and I have become online friends and on the phone friends which has led to so many bonding moments where we’ve shared both laughter and tears. I cannot wait until travel is back to normal and we can meet in real life. I’m pretty sure she has a guest room waiting for me and I have mine ready any time she’s willing to brave the altitude. Karen is the cofounder of a writing contest #SunFunWrite and you can find out more about that below.
Karen is generously offering one lucky winner a picture book critique. Comment on the blogpost to enter the giveaway.
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
I had a lot of love for art, reading, World Magazine, family, and friends (not much has changed!). I was both a very social butterfly and a “bookworm.”
What inspires you?
That is such a hard question to answer! Honestly, so many things inspire me from a quirky post on Twitter to an advertisement, an act of kindness, a dog doing something adorable (as you know), a moment that history ignored, a human-interest story on the news, a cause I’d like to support (like #SunWriteFun did for “Reader to Reader” and WNDB), friendship, historical political moments, museums, art history…how many blog posts can I fill here? Lol!
Basically, I think inspiration abounds (this remind me of the movie August Rush where the little boy says he feels music everywhere!) The difference for me between feeling it and committing to writing it happens when I realize I’ve planned out most of the story in my mind. If I can visualize the complete project, I must write it.
What’s something you hope readers take away from your book?
There are so many lessons in this true-life story. I’ll try to consolidate! First, a person’s gender should never be used to determine their capacity for success. Susanna was more than qualified for the role as mayor. She had college education (in fact, entered as a sophomore at 17!), “parliamentary training,” and often helped her husband/town clerk with his duties. She deserved to serve! Yet domestic and international newspapers spent a great deal of ink on her size, appearance, housekeeping talents, and weight. Second, pranking someone to cause them humiliation is a form of bullying. Third, equity was/is possible. Susanna won by a landslide. Oskaloosa, Kansas voted in an entire female government one cycle later (their “all female” government took the town out of financial distress) because of her victory!
What’s next for you?
Uncovering more stories that history pushed aside!
To find out more about Karen, her books and more events featuring A VOTE FOR SUSANNA, THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR:
Website: www.karengreenwald.com Twitter and Instagram: @karenmgreenwald