Allison's Book Bag

Interview with Susan Sweenie

Posted on: February 27, 2013

SusanSweenieSusan Sweenie is a public relations consultant and freelance writer from Massachusetts. A teacher in her history class once told her mother that she was meant to be a writer. At Sweenie’s first college internship, a television station, Sweenie learned about journalism and her writing passion grew. Authors are often advised to write about what they know. Being a mother of two daughters, Sweenie knows children well–and so decided to write a children’s book. Her family serves as her inspiration, especially her daughters who inspire Sweenie with their questions. Sweenie likes to write because it gives her opportunity to express herself non-verbally, something which is important for a shy person. Writing is therapeutic for her. Girls Don’t Take Karate is her first book.

ALLISON: What were your favorite childhood interests?

SUSAN: As a child, I loved art, and especially book illustration. I was very crafty and enjoyed taking the time to sit and work on a special art project. I always wanted to be an art teacher, but ended up in PR instead. Go figure!

ALLISON: Were you discriminated against as a girl? Have your daughters experienced biases due to being girls?

SUSAN: In some ways, yes. I grew up in the 80s and back then, girls didn’t do as much. There was no karate for girls back then. There was also no lacrosse or girls soccer back then either. Times surely have changed.

I personally haven’t witnessed any bias for [my daughters], but they are young.

ALLISON: What obstacles did you face in writing your first book?

SUSAN: The biggest obstacle is nailing down the theme of the book and getting it to flow correctly. This took quite some time and even today, I wonder if it all flows correctly.

ALLISON: What was your best writing moment?

SUSAN: Biggest moment was when my publisher agreed to publish the book. That was one of my best days ever!

ALLISON: You indicate in one interview that you’re shy. What impact did shyness have on you when growing up?

SUSAN: Yes, as a child, I was known as the ‘shy” kid. I never took on the initiative of getting involved in activities or sports or classroom conversations. I dreaded it when someone asked me something. I believe I just lacked confidence and it was very hard because I know that I missed out on a lot of great experiences and friendships. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would have tried harder.

ALLISON: Sometimes those who are shy avoid opportunities, but you found a way around this with words. What advice do you have for other young people who are shy?

SUSAN: My biggest piece of advice is to set goals for yourself. Where would we be if we didn’t have goals? As a child, my first goal was college. I succeeded, got into a great college. Then, my goal was to land a great job and career. I succeeded again and love what I do! Next was to take on a new goal, something out of the box for me…. writing a book and getting it published! It is such a great feeling to pursue something and see it really take off!

ALLISON: How do you daughters feel about your having a book published?

SUSAN: They think it is the coolest thing ever! They never understood my “day job” which is public relations, so now they FINALLY get that i am a writer.

ALLISON: What’s next?

SUSAN: I do have plans for another book, but still in the early stages, so stay tuned!

Author Susan Sweenie wrote Girls Don’t Take Karate for two reasons.

  • First, she wanted to show her two daughters that one can do anything if one set their mind to it. Publishing a book had always been a dream of hers and she wanted to show her girls that with a little hard work, anything is possible.
  • Second, she saw a lack of children’s books focusing on empowering girls and wanted to write a book that sent a message to young girls that they can do anything that boys can do while encouraging them to try something different. 

What do you think of the need for that message for today? Who or what instilled this message in you? What are your favorite books for empowering girls?

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