Interview with Karen M. Greenwald, writer of A VOTE FOR SUSANNA: THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR (Albert Whitman)

Discover out extra in regards to the Karen M. Greenwald at her web site, Instagram, or Put up.

Discover out extra about illustrator Sian James at their web site, Twitter, Instagram, and Fb.

Creator: Karen M. Greenwald
Illustrator: Sian James
Writer: Albert Whitman & Firm
Viewers: ages 4-8

Extra information about this e-book.


When spelunking on-line at some point, a quick sentence caught my consideration. How had I by no means heard of Susanna Salter, the 1887 Kansas legislation granting girls municipal voting/candidacy rights, or the affect of her bravery? Historical past wanted to be held accountable for ignoring this Victorian, but profoundly modern piece of America’s previous. 

The title of my e-book, A VOTE FOR SUSANNA, THE FIRST WOMAN MAYOR signifies why my protagonist stays notable…however her standing was solely half the story. Most articles written after Salter’s dying in 1961, together with blogs, lined the fundamentals—with variations primarily restricted to stylistic selections. Seemingly none contemplated something about Susanna or her “company.” Discovering who she actually was and why Susanna embraced such a threat grew to become my function and herculean problem.     

Days after I spent a weekend’s value of time on-line and on the cellphone with librarians, genealogists, and the like from Kansas State College’s library, I discovered that it burned to the bottom. For one and a half years after, I dug for data, navigated obstacles, and surmounted assorted and infrequently uncommon boundaries. In the end, a member of the Salter household and I linked. After a radical vetting, she and her brother shared valuable ephemera with me.  

I stored one in all Susanna’s letters open whereas writing the manuscript’s last phrases. The three-dimensional, “actual” Susanna historical past ignored got here to life with every cursive swirl because the chorus of Hamilton’s last quantity performed in my thoughts. [W]hen you’re gone, who remembers your identify? Who retains your flame? Who tells your story??” The tune, her phrases, my reaching the conclusion—all of it felt emotional. Virtually mystical. 

“Who tells your story??” 

“I’m going to,” I whispered…


I’m an enormous color-coder, outliner, and “briefer”—most likely methods and/or habits rooted in being a lawyer. My background informs how I break down and set up data. Getting ready for legislation faculty exams underscored the significance of realizing how I labored most efficiently (the other of what was instilled throughout 1L orientation!). There isn’t a “one dimension suits all” method for organizing analysis both.

My “go-to” useful resource for retaining monitor of concepts, notations, photographs, and feedback is Microsoft’s OneNote. The app permits for note-taking that isn’t linear in format which is nice for somebody who all the time used each nook of pocket book paper margins (each vertical and horizontal). A observe could be “pinned” to your desktop in order that it stays energetic even once you rearrange totally different home windows (Caveat: this may be restricted to a downloadable older model). Additionally, for these of us who get too concerned in what they’re doing, the “save” operate is computerized—and, when pasting content material from the Web, it information the date, tackle, and time mechanically. The latter is important since bibliographies require that data for something sourced from the Web.

I create a separate OneNote “pocket book” for every manuscript. It turns into a digital command central whereas researching, writing, and modifying. Afterwards, I typically assessment them when planning shows, writing blogs, and doing interview prep. In truth, I checked one tab at this time earlier than writing these solutions. 

For extra about analysis, see my weblog, .  

Researching makes me really feel like I’m a historical past detective. Every new clue I uncover conjures up concepts. How do I do know once I’m prepared to start writing? By the point I kind, most main components are already formulated. The precise placing of phrases on paper is the place issues get refined. So, I’m unsure I’ve a defining line between analysis and writing…it’s extra of an ombre scenario. 

I hope younger readers will be taught a number of issues from Susanna and this story. First, her historical past is world historical past. As the primary lady elected who served, Susanna grew to become a world ceiling-breaking icon. Whereas she did obtain some criticism, she extra importantly captured international consideration and impressed monumental hope for a lot of. Susanna’s empowered perspective exhibits how anybody can develop into a hero. 

I additionally hope that it causes kids and the adults studying with them to contemplate why the bullies adamantly didn’t need girls concerned in politics—and the way her gender had no affect on her capability for fulfillment. I need them to contemplate what different sorts of issues bullies concern and who else skilled/s discrimination. They need to ponder what motivated the opposite townsmen to hunt out Susanna. Many life classes related for at this time are embedded on this historic second. 

My instructor’s information is a radical useful resource for partaking teams or particular person kids in a dialogue. It seems to be at many aspects of the e-book and consists of strategies for artwork initiatives, PE video games, and extra. My hope is that the e-book and these actions will encourage kids to study heroes from their space—particularly these historical past has ignored or forgotten.

The artwork of writing is rarely a waste of time or effort. You don’t want to fret about what it’ll develop into. Simply taking part within the act of writing itself will get your creativity in movement. Generally, jotting down a phrase or phrase can encourage an amazing story. Different occasions, a foolish doodle would possibly develop into the main focus of your subsequent artistic challenge. However when you don’t journal this stuff, and play with phrases, sentences, poetry, or sketches, you might by no means know what nice tales you’re able to…so give your self permission to benefit from the course of with out it needing to satisfy a lofty function!

I’m frequently enthusiastic about utilizing my position as a #kidlit writer to make a distinction. A method is by uncovering nonfiction tales. Tradition, historical past, and a neighborhood’s lifestyle are grounded prior to now—these have to develop into our prologue. Nonfiction books, like A VOTE FOR SUSANNA, can assist by educating, directing, and galvanizing kids and adults who learn with them. 

Virtually talking, I see books as passports, mirrors, home windows, outdated buddies, and new beginnings. I’m enormously captivated with doing what I can to assist under-sourced libraries—particularly in faculties—get new assets.

I’ve taken this on as my private problem and have tried to assist in two methods:

. I co-created the one on-line kidlit nonfiction writing contest. It’s an annual occasion each summer season. We elevate consciousness of/cash for a kidlit charity along side it. Nevertheless, writers can compete with out participating within the charity facet. I might by no means need it to be a barrier in opposition to participation. It feels unimaginable to assist need-based communities get brand-new/free books. I’m extremely pleased with all of the business help the competition will get—from editors and brokers to organizations and authors.


I requested two different kidlit authors to hitch forces with me and host a e-book drive for the charity I’ve promoted for the previous few summers through #SunWriteFun. We requested folks to purchase books from two totally different women-owned impartial bookstores and ship them on to the charity. In return, they’d earn 1 raffle ticket per e-book. We additionally provided incentives, like a method to earn two raffle tickets for the worth of 1 e-book and dedicated to matching (as much as 10 books complete) when ours had been donated. In complete, 135 model new books had been donated! 

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