Meet the Author - Sue Macy, writer of Wheels of Change
July 28, 2012 | Tara | Comments (0)
We thought you would like to find out a bit more about the author of this fantastic book so we asked Sue a few questions. She's eager to read what you have to say and answer any other questions you may have.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A. I was born in New Jersey, just 10 miles from New York City, and have lived in the state all my life. I have always loved watching and playing sports. My dad used to pitch in the softball games in our neighborhood, with all the kids taking part. I loved to play, so I was devastated when I found out girls were not allowed to play Little League baseball. (This was in the 1960s.) I think I channeled my disappointment at not having many opportunities to play sports into my career writing about sports. It’s fantastic that girls today can play as many sports as boys, either right alongside them or in leagues of their own. But it’s important that boys and girls know that this equal opportunity is a fairly recent development and honor those pioneers who made it possible.
Q. What inspired you to write "Wheels Of Change"?
A. From my previous writings about women and sports, I knew that Susan B. Anthony had once said that bicycling did “more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” I also knew that Frances Willard, another important feminist leader, had written a best-selling book in the 1890s about how she learned to ride a bicycle at age 53. Plus, I had read about two New York women who kept trying to outdo each other in the 1890s by riding 200, 300, 400, and more miles at a time. All that indicated there was a story to tell about women and the bicycle in the 1890s, and I was able to convince my editors at National Geographic to give me the green light.
Q. How did you come up with the title?
A. I’m not actually sure how I came up with the title. I read a lot about women and cycling and must have seen the term somewhere. I liked that it could be taken literally, referring to how women road their bicycles toward liberated lives, or metaphorically, referring to how the bicycle ushered in a whole host of changes for women in society. But after I suggested it, my publisher, National Geographic, gathered a panel of five or six children’s librarians and had them choose their favorite title from among several, including Bicycle Belles and Women on Wheels. By far, Wheels of Change was the favorite choice of the librarians, so we went with that.
A. Wheels of Change was really a joy to research and write, but the hardest part was the timetable. I had less than six months to write and edit the manuscript, collect all of the photographs and other images in the book, and work with the editor and designer to make sure everything fit together. The schedule was very tight—so tight that I cancelled dentist appointments, dinners with friends, family events, and more. I never worked on a project with such single-minded attention, but I think the book is better for it.
Q. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
A. I’m currently working on several projects. One is a picture book, for readers ages 8 to 10, about the early days of Roller Derby. I’m also just starting to research a book about how American women’s roles have changed from World War II to today. Plus, I’ve been working part-time for AT&T, writing scripts that introduce historic films from the Bell System’s archives. Those films can be seen for free on the Archives Web site at http://techchannel.att.com. I just wrote one script, that’s not online yet, about the cooperative effort between Canada and the United States to wire all of Newfoundland for telephone service during World War II. That was a priority project, since Newfoundland was the gateway to North America and a vital area for Allied defense. So I’ve been thinking about Canada a lot lately!
Q. What was your favourite chapter to write?
A. I loved writing Chapter 4, “Fast and Fearless,” because it involves the most sports reporting and it introduces a number of phenomenal athletes who had previously been lost to history. The achievements of people like Louise Armaindo, Frankie Nelson, and Dora Rinehart are pretty amazing, especially when you consider that women at that time were not celebrated for their athleticism.
A. I’ve always found that the more I write, the better my writing gets. So I think it’s important to write as much as you can. Keep a diary, or a journal, or a blog. Write letters to relatives (or e-mails, though there’s a certain romance to old-fashioned letters). Join your school paper or magazine or Web site and write for that. Writing involves a lot of problem solving, where you have to decide the best way to compose each sentence clearly and concisely. The more you write, the more adept you are at using the building blocks of writing, words and punctuation marks, and the more you develop your voice.
Q. Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
A. First, thanks for your interest in my books! And feel free to write to me if you have something to say about any of my books. The best way to reach me is via e-mail, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll try to answer promptly.
Q. Are there any questions you would like to ask our teens?
A. I’d love to know who their sports heroes are and what women from history they’d like to read more about. Also, what do they read, besides books for school? Do they read printed newspapers or magazines? If so, which ones? What sites do they read online? Who are their favorite authors and/or books, and why? Thanks!