Friday, February 15, 2008

Blog Tour: Susan K. Mitchell

Susan K. Mitchell is taking a blog tour. She stops here today. Her new book is Kersplatypus, illustrated by Sherry Rogers and published by Sylvan Dell.

Book synopsis: A platypus finds he is away from his home and he wonders where he belongs. Many helpful animals want to try to guide him to the right place. He meets a Blue-Tongued Skink, a Wallaby, a Kookaburra, a Brush-Tail Possum, a Bandicott and more. They each take him to their home to see if the platypus would fit in. Finally he finds the water, where he feels more at home.

The language in this book is playful and fun as Platypus meets new animal friends. The title itself is ingenious and intriguing. The back of the book has several pages to tie the story to curriculum connections for teachers or parents. There is information about animal adaptations, fun facts about platypus, and animal classifications.

I had the opportunity to ask Susan K. Mitchell a few questions.

W of W: How did you get started as a writer? What were some of the ups and downs on your road to becoming a published writer?

SKM: I always wrote. However, being a “writer” never entered my mind. My parents told me so many times, “You should write for kids” – but I paid no attention. Until, that is, I had kids of my own! Then I got to re-read those wonderful, funny, fantastic children’s books I loved so much as a child with a fresh eye. I decided to give it a try. The road to publication is very, very bumpy. This profession is not for the faint of heart. There is rejection at every turn. Taking it seriously as a business from the very beginning gave me a bit of an edge – well, that and some dumb luck never hurt!

WofW: Your upcoming book, Kersplatypus, is about animals that are indigenous to Australia. The back of your book includes so much wonderful information for teachers to extend your story into the curriculum. Did you set out to write a story that would tie into the curriculum initially?

SKM: No, I set out to write a story that I wanted to read. My publisher, Sylvan Dell, is the mastermind behind the educational material. As a teacher, I can tell you it is a perfect addition to the books.

WofW: Can you tell us your inspiration for writing this book? What kind of research did you have to do (even though it is fiction)?

SKM: My youngest daughter was really the inspiration for Kersplatypus. When she was 2, she fell down one day. Being a good Mommy, I picked her up, dried her tears and said, “Oh baby! Did you go kersplatypus?” I thought it was a cool word. It is really as simple as that! I like to tell students that story when they have trouble finding an idea to write about. This book was born from a single word!

As far as the research goes, YES! Quite a bit of research goes into my books. Everything has to be honest and real. I had to research what animals would be found in the same habitat as a platypus. I had to know the land, its flora, fauna, and weather. It is Tasmania, by the way. A librarian can spot an inconsistency a mile away! Just because something is a fictional story doesn’t mean it can be inaccurate.

WofW: I know you are a teacher and a mom. How do you fit writing into that busy schedule? What’s a typical day for you?

SKM: Utter chaos and bedlam! I do teach 3 days each week, am the Brownie troop leader, the Daisy troop leader, I speak at schools, write at least 6-10 books each year, and have to find time to do all the other things every mom has to do each day. That is the great thing about MOMS … they are absolute superheroes! I am still trying to perfect altering the time space continuum however *lol*. When I get that done, things will be easier!

WofW: I read on your website that you are one of three Susan Mitchells that are writers. Do you all ever get each other’s e-mail or do people mistake you for one another?

SKM: *BOL* Oh, can you believe that one?! I actually think there are more than three – there is an illustrator, a novelist, a poet, a dietician, and me. I would never have made it in publishing if I hadn’t married my husband. I did get mistaken for the picturebook illustrator Susan Mitchell once. Only to be told, “Oh – you’re not her” in disgust. That one put me in my place! I have actually spoken to the illustrator Susan Mitchell a few times in email. She is a sweet and lovely woman. Quite an artist too!

WofW: You have written both fiction and nonfiction for the school market. What project(s) are you working on now?

SKM: I do not have any picturebooks coming in the near future (shame on me). But I have several non-fiction books in the pipe. Seven will be out in 2009 and at least 6 more in 2010. I write on average 8 of them each year. I need to get cracking on the picturebooks however. Those are my passion and where all the fun is!


1 comment:

Cloudscome said...

Great interview! I posted one today too and linked you.