You may remember back in February when I reviewed TOM THUMB: THE REMARKABLE TRUE STORY OF A MAN IN MINIATURE by George Sullivan.
Sullivan has written more than 100 nonfiction books for children and young adults, and he was kind enough to email me directly after the review! Isn’t that sweet? I was so tickled, I decided to take advantage of the situation to ask him a few questions and get to know him a little better. And he agreed to let me share his answers with you, so you can get to know him better, too!
LT: At this point in your career, what does a typical workday look like ?
GS: I’ve always done my writing early in the morning, beginning at least by 5:30 am, and continuing until my wife and I have breakfast around 8:30 or so. After breakfast, I put what I’ve written on my computer. The next morning, I begin by carefully editing the previous day’s work.
LT: What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not writing?
GS: I like to play tennis in New York’s Central Park and to ride my bicycle into the different city neighborhoods—Soho, Tribeca, Nolita, etc. I like to shop for food in local markets. I like to cook. I also like to dine at nice restaurants. I like to visit the Metropolitan Museum and art galleries that feature photographs. There’s always something to do.
LT: How did you first become interested in writing about Tom Thumb?
GS: I’ve been very much interested in 19th century photographs for many years, the work of Mathew Brady, the preeminent Civil War photographer in particular. (My book, MATHEW BRADY, HIS LIFE AND PHOTOGRAPHS, was published by Dutton/Cobblehill in 1994.) I collect these photographs; I buy and sell them. Several years ago, I began to notice that small Brady card photographs taken in connection with the wedding of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren were always available for purchase on eBay, and for modest amounts of money. After doing some research, I learned that Tom’s wedding, which took place in New York City in October 1863, was an absolutely spectacular event, and vied with the Civil War for attention in newspapers of the day. The little card photographs of Tom, Lavinia, and other members of the wedding party were sold by the tens of thousands. No wonder they’re still easy to obtain. I began to think that Tom, as America’s first celebrity, would make a good subject for a biography—and he was.
LT: Did you do all the photo research for the book too? Can you tell us about that process?
GS: I did do the photo research for the book. I was aided enormously by the photograph curators at the Bridgeport Public Library and the Barnum Museum, also in Bridgeport (where Tom was born and brought up). Besides photographs, these institutions had large collections of illustrations–engravings from Harper’s Weekly and other publications of the time—that I was able to draw upon.
LT: Thank you so much, George. It was wonderful to hear some of the story behind this great book and “meet” the author!
If you haven’t checked out George’s TOM THUMB book yet, do! You can read more about it here.