Friday, March 11, 2011

Artists in My Book / *Sue Schmitt* Interview

Writer Sue Schmitt and I both attended the SCBWI National Conference in August 2005. It was my first time at this conference in Los Angeles and I was there on faculty. When I spotted Sue she was in a mermaid costume for the Saturday night Beach Bash party.

I had a picture book project idea brewing about the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. We took this photo for reference.

When I sold the book, Sue became the Mom character and appears in almost every scene.

Sue Schmitt is also a mother, children's musical theater producer, and philanthropist - she's passionate about helping children and families globally. Co-founder of an AIDS orphanage in Haiti, she has also traveled to China helping medically challenged orphans, and set up a birthing clinic in rural India. Sue's writing is inspired by local children with medical issues. Schmitt's first book, "Even Superheroes Get Diabetes" was created when a 3 year old neighbor was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Sue kindly answered a few questions for the blog.

Q: If you had a mermaid name what would it be? 
SS: It would be Waverly Lumens.

Q: What do mermaids mean to you? 
SS: Mermaids, fairies, flying pigs, and happy endings inspire me, as do all things that seem impossible, fantastical, and magical.  I have tackled that which seems personally improbable if not impossible, such as singing in RENT on Broadway (I'm not much of a singer), running the LA Marathon (I'd never run more than a few miles), writing books (a childhood dream that always felt out of reach), and finding my own Prince Charming (despite quite a few frogs).  

Q: Why did you dress up as a mermaid at the SCBWI party? 
SS: The SCBWI party was a beach party theme. Mermaids are such beautiful and mythical creatures, and I thought that a children's book conference filled with authors who create such beings certainly needed one at the party. Plus, how often does one get the chance to be a mermaid?  Not enough in my opinion!

Q: What are you currently working on?
SS: I am finishing work on my second book, "The Princess and the Peanut".  It's a royally allergic fairytale, that grew out of compassion toward a friend's kindergartner with a severe peanut allergy. My newest project is "Even Pirates Get Leukemia". This book evolved after my daughter's playmate battled and won a fight against leukemia.

Thanks, Sue!

Art and Photo: Copyright Melanie Hope Greenberg 2005 and 2008

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