How Susan Love Turned Her Passion into a Book
Although every author faces their own journey when publishing their first book, Love’s was especially adventurous and personal. Part of her motivation to write Ms. Love’s Mystical Island Adventure was driven by her experience as a foster child and wanting to teach children the importance of challenging the world around them and exploring every option possible. You will see how her work as a foster care reform activist and author blend in this interview I had the privilege of having with her.
Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Love. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about your background as an activist so I can better understand the roots of your book?
When I was five years old, I was placed in the foster care system, so my eyes are wide open when it comes to all the reforms that need to take place. I educate people as much as I can regarding the broken system and am so focused on making changes that I’m looking to change some legislation.
What is it about the foster care system that you think needs to change?
Well, first of all, the state is in complete denial of what’s going on. I would say that’s the biggest challenge because the state is facing the same lawsuits now that they were 50 years ago. Some of the biggest things that need to change is that they place children in foster care when there are other family members to take in. They don’t do outreach to other family members, and I know, because that’s what happened to me when that could have been prevented. They need to address splitting families when there are other family members that can take care of the children!
Also, the way that foster care is set up makes abuse too easy. Social workers come to check up on children once every 30 days, which gives plenty of time for their caretakers to leave them bruises that will heal on time. It also gives them time to coax the children out of saying anything to the social worker. …children are intended to speak up…children five years and up have to attend that training. Child becomes aware of rules and regulations. Foster is supposed to be the system protecting children, and it’s currently not doing the best job it can at that.
How did your part growing up in the foster care system influence you in writing your book?
I was a lonely child. I wrote stories with happy endings because that’s how I found happy endings…I always had my own little family in my little stories…I just never stopped.
When and where did you write your book?
I started writing it in 2006. I started drafting ideas after I had turned my classroom into a tropical island and my students started writing these little amazing stories about me. And let me tell you, the children had some pretty grand concepts. So I got a vision to write a book and I never let go. It was a 13-year process which was amazing because I got to meet several interesting people in order to make this book the best.
I know a big part of your book is illustrations. When did your illustrator come on board?
He came on board in 2012. I had been through 2 previous illustrators prior to them but weren’t the right fit for the long run. The fact was, I needed a digital artist to meet my vision, not a conventional illustrator. I did some research and finally found what I was looking for! The illustrator is responsible for all the brilliant color, depth, and wonderful detail you see in the book.
What was your message and how did you go about executing it?
I wanted to entertain. The purpose of the book was to entertain. Ultimately, my deeper message was to communicate to readers to “never make a decision if you haven’t made any possible option. You need to explore and climb every mountain.” People shut themselves down so quickly. When they’re faced with a challenge----life or death, they DO. Stakes need to be high for people to understand their potential sometimes, so I created a book with a high-stakes situation that showed kids that they could be capable.
To learn more about Ms. Susan Love and her book, Ms. Love’s Mystical Island Adventure, check out her website! http://mslovesmysticalisland.com/