Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Carole P. Roman, author of Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump (An Oh Susannah Story)
FQ: This book deals with a topic that many children have to deal with - fear - whether it is fear of the unknown, dark spaces, or unicorns. What made you want to tackle this subject?
ROMAN: I knew I left off unanswered questions in Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag. Susannah was afraid of Lola's house, (it's old and scary) so I had to let Susannah tell me why. When I start a book, I have no idea where the story is going to go - the characters tell me.
FQ: Fear of attending Lola's sleepover takes over Susannah's entire life, but her parents are slow to pick up on her worries. What advice would you give parents to help their child recognize such a problem and then help resolve the issue?
ROMAN: Kids have such active and full lives. They hold so much in. They are busy and there are deadlines, activities, our lives are very full. People have to multi-task, they are busy on their devices all day. It's easy to miss something. I think we have to spend more quiet time with each other- take time at the dinner table and talk. Not speak to each other- really talk and find out what is going on in each other's lives. My kids are 39, 36, 35, and 34. (I include my in-law children, as well. I may not have given birth to them, but I love 'em like they are my own.) My grandkids are 9, 7, 5, and 3. I spend time with them as much as I can. I want to talk about what's important in their lives at the moment - listen to them. Very often, a simple thing like a sigh or a frown will let you know there is something that needs more exploring.
FQ: I loved reading about "The Plaster Party Event." Would you tell our readers a little about this charity event? Also, is it based on a real event you've attended?
ROMAN: My daughters-in-law make many of the kids parties at a local plaster place. It's fun. They've even taken me and we have spent a very nice morning painting gnomes with the grandkids. The charity event was an invention but I have a blind person in my life who was not. My brother has slowly been going blind since birth. He has a degenerative disease that is taking his eyesight. I work with him every day. He is the CFO of all my businesses and we share an office. I have been sensitive to his "sight" challenges for over fifty years. From the time I was a little girl, I always assess a room, based on his limitation - what could trip him up. How I could make things easier? Since he has had sight, he knows how colors look - but it is something I have thought about - how do you describe colors to someone is blind? Susannah learns at that party some valuable things about fears - they are subjective to the person and their perspectives. What is scary to one person, may not affect another.
FQ: At the "Plaster Party" we meet Susannah's good friend Macy. Macy is a very interesting girl - while blind, she doesn't let her handicap slow her down and she's super positive. Is she based on a real person you know? If not, what inspired you to create her?
ROMAN: I think I just answered this above. Yes, my brother is an inspiration. He has never let his limitations with sight slow him down. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments. We are a solution-oriented family and whenever any of us has met an obstacle, we work as a team to get around it.
FQ: I'm worried about Mrs. Horn. Will we see her again?
ROMAN: I don't see why not - It's just a cold. lol. She was a bit dramatic, though.
FQ: In the interview for the first book in the series, Oh Susannah: It's in the Bag, you mentioned that you wrote this book in about an hour and a half. That's quite impressive! Did the idea for the story bubble around in your head for a bit before you sat down to write, or did it just pop out all at once?
ROMAN: I wish I gave birth to my kids the way I write stories. They just pop out!! No struggle. Susannah had a story to tell and she ranted until I got the whole thing on paper. I wrote it at work, while I was sitting with my brother. He can't see when I am working and talks to me while I write. I don't have the heart to tell him I'm busy - I have the unique ability to do two things at once - I answer him and write at the same time. It's weird.
FQ: Like real life, while Susannah and her parents discussed their miscommunications and busy lifestyle in the first book, and while they were all making an effort to do better, they still had "bumps" in slowing down their lives and talking. Did you do this to show readers that not all problems are resolved in a day?
ROMAN: Yes - Life is not a sitcom - it's a work in progress. It takes time and effort. Just when you think you've got it down, someone goes and changes the rules. You have to keep evolving and reinventing yourself, because everyone around you is doing it, as well.
FQ: Without giving too much away, I loved the doll scene at Lola's house. It had the makings of a good horror movie, but at the same time, something so innocent. I suspect you had a slight giggle when you thought about writing this - was it fun to put pen to paper and bring that room of dolls to life?
ROMAN: It was a slice of my childhood - only I was in a hamper...with a flashlight. I am laughing just at the thought of my unsuspecting and bratty baby brother coming in to throw laundry in a basket that held quite a surprise. Buwah hahaha
FQ: Have you started book three in the "Oh Susannah" series yet? If so, would you give our readers a sneak peek about what our favorite third grader conquers in her newest adventure?
ROMAN: I just published an Oh Susannah Color With Me Coloring Book. Mateya Arkova filled it with delightful images and questions involving the different books. I will start a new Oh Susannah story after the New Year. I have been writing on Medium - some adult fiction under the pen name Brit Lunden.
FQ: You've written quite a few books, both fiction and non-fiction. How do you find the time to write so much? Do you set a certain amount of time each day for writing? Or do you wait until the mood to write hits?
ROMAN: I write every day - whether it's a magazine, a new book, or even a review, I find time to write about something. I also read every night. To me, that's more important. I can't go to sleep without reading. Very often, my brother and I discuss the books the next day at work. I also read every night with my grandchildren over Facetime. The younger ones get a quick story, the older ones are reading books like Harry Potter. My five-year-old is plowing through my cultural series. She loves learning about the world.
FQ: Do you have any other book projects in the works? If so, would you tell us about them?
ROMAN: I usually have a bunch of projects going on at once, including my day job - which pays the bills. I write for Medium, an online magazine. I have founded and helped produce a new online magazine called Indie Author's Monthly with authors Julie A. Gerber and RL Jackson. I host two monthly blog radio shows, Let's Say Hello to Our Neighbors and Navigating Indieworld. Right now, I am running the publicity campaign for my son's new traditionally published book. I manage promotion on all of our indie books - between us we have published over 70. I write children's fiction and non-fiction for all different ages. I have co-authored a book called Navigating Indieworld with Julie A. Gerber, a self-help book for indie authors and am completing Marketing Indieworld with Julie, and marketing college professor, Angela Hausman. I write adult fiction under the name Brit Lunden and I beta-read for several authors.
To learn more about Oh Susannah: Things That Go Bump (An Oh Susannah Story) please read the review.