I am a longtime fan of Carole P. Roman’s books for children, and I am so happy she was willing to chat with me about her newest book, Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag! Thanks Carole for your time and thoughtful answers.
As someone who has struggled with anxiety, I can relate to the idea of Susannah stuffing her worries away to deal with later. Where did the inspiration for this character come from?
The inspiration came from watching so many mothers struggle with trying to do everything. I don’t like to say I was a working mom. For me, it’s an oxymoron- all mothers are working moms. We have to take care of everything and it’s constant.
This feeling that we have to handle everything ourselves- where does it come from? Why does it take us so long to recognize we need help and why are we ashamed to ask for it?
Many of my friends kept stuffing and stuffing their problems in an imaginary bag and I have seen some massive explosions when they implode. I learned early on to put things in perspective, literally take it one issue at a time, and never be afraid to hold out a hand for help. Admitting our own limitations is therapeutic not only for us, but leaves a lasting impression for our children to learn that they don’t have to be everything to everybody.
Relating to fictional characters can help kids (and adults!) feel less alone. Are there any fictional characters that were helpful or important to you as a child?
Pa Cartwright from Bonanza set a high bar of what to morally expect as a family, Captain Kirk set the bar for humanity. Those two figures taught me how to handle my family and the world. All I had to think, was what would James T. Kirk do?
How is writing a fictional novel different than writing nonfiction like your popular “If You Were Me…” series? Do you prefer one to the other?
I love them both. The pirate series is dear to my heart because the stories come from my life. They are based on things that happen in our family. The cultural and historical series interest me and are motivated by my own curiosity about what I am writing. You may think I write for a public. I will share a secret, mostly I write for myself. I am having so much fun.
What do you hope young readers take away from Susannah’s story?
I hope both young and old take away the idea that sharing your burdens and accepting your limitations will lead to a less stressful life. We place pressures for artificial goals. As a culture, things that won’t matter ten years later are burying us. What is really important in life- for Susannah it was to feel secure in her parents attention. For her parents, it was to have and provide the best life for their child. When you make yourself so busy that you can’t stop and listen to each other, what is the purpose? What is more important that your child? While realistically, I accept we have to work to provide the necessities, I wonder if what we want outstrips what we really need.
Will we be hearing more from Susannah? Any future Susannah books in the works?
I think Susannah has to address the ghosts in Lola’s house, but I haven’t thought about how she will proceed. I need to see how the public accepts this book and that gives me a direct to take my plot and characters.
Want to read Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag? Here’s a chance to win it!
Written by Carole P. Roman
From award-winning author Carole P. Roman comes a new chapter book featuring Susannah Logan, a young student having a very bad day. It all begins with homework trouble and an invitation to a sleepover that she doesn’t want to go to. Would you want to go to a sleepover in a creepy house? Rather than dealing with her problems, Susannah stuffs them into her backpack. But how much can a backpack take? Will she be able to confront her worries before the backpack bursts? Or will she just continue to hide them away? Join Susannah and her friends in this story sure to charm busy young readers everywhere.