Author Interview with George Sullivan

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.

6 thoughts on “Author Interview with George Sullivan”

      • I know my let­ter is off-sub­ject. I wrote the FAN LETTER because I did­n’t know where/how to get my mes­sage to George Sul­li­van. If some­one could tell me how, I would fol­low that per­son­’s instructions.

        • Hi Kande,
          Thanks for post­ing the fan let­ter! I’m sure George would love to read it. I no longer have valid con­tact infor­ma­tion for him, unfor­tu­nate­ly. I rec­om­mend send­ing a copy to him c/o the book’s pub­lish­er. They should be able to see that it gets passed on to him.

    I was doubt­ful when I saw that the book The Day the Women Got the Vote was writ­ten by a man. In fact I final­ly read it today, although I’ve been retired for more than a decade. When I bought it (through Scholas­tic) I was teach­ing fourth grade (although I’ve taught K through col­lege), as well as home­steading, rais­ing 3 kids, and gen­er­al­ly break­ing my ass. I men­tion this, because I’m embar­rassed that I felt I had­n’t time to read it sooner.
    When I was approach­ing the end of the book, I felt very sat­is­fied that author Sul­li­van had done a great job, but pos­si­bly even greater as a prog­nos­ti­ca­tor: “But the woman with the great­est impact on the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion is the pres­i­den­t’s wife, Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton, to whom he often turns for advice and coun­sel. Twice named one of the 100 top lawyers in the Unit­ed States, Hillary Clin­ton is looked upon as an expert on fam­i­ly, health, and edu­ca­tion­al issues.”
    I am sat­is­fied that the descrip­tion that author Sul­li­van gave is a suf­fi­cient resumé for the pres­i­den­cy, and I’m some­what sur­prised that I haven’t heard this men­tioned in her campaign.
    Thank you, George Sul­li­van, for a won­der­ful and refresh­ing book!


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