Otto Grows Down Author Interview

PUB DATE: February 2009

I have to send out a huge THANK YOU to Michael Sussman for contacting me and asking if I would be interested in reviewing his first children’s book. I knew Michael (my son) would love the book and he did love it. We read it all the time.

Michael was also very gracious to do this interview with Michael. This is Michael’s first interview with an author and I was really impressed with the questions he came up with. Not bad for a 6 year old in my opinion. What do you think?

Thank You again Michael for taking the time out to do this interview with Michael and thank you to my Michael for coming up with these great questions. You did a fantastic job. I hope you enjoy this interview.

MICHAEL:How long have you been a writer?

MICHAEL(author):I started writing short stories in middle school and poetry and song lyrics in high school. I kept a journal for many years and wrote a doctoral thesis for graduate school. I published two books for mental health professionals before starting to write for children.

MICHAEL:Why did you decide to write a children’s book?

MICHAEL(author):I was reading loads of picture books to my son, Ollie, and wasn’t impressed with most of them. I thought I could do better!
(This is Michael (author) with his son Ollie.)
[You did a fantastic job Michael. The book is great. I am sure we all were in Ollie’s place at one time or another. I know I could relate to Ollie as I wished that too with my younger brother.]

MICHAEL: Do you have any say in the illustrations that are used in the book?

MICHAEL(author): None at all. Most people think the author gets to chose the illustrator, but that is the job of the editor. I lucked out, though: my editor chose the wonderfully talented Scott Magoon! I was able to see early sketches of the illustrations, and Scott was very open and responsive to my suggestions.

MICHAEL: Do you plan on writing more children books?

MICHAEL(author): There are many more on the way! The next one is titled, Bella Bellows.

[We are excited about this one the title alone sounds really good. Can’t wait for it to come out.]

MICHAEL: Is “Otto Grows Down” based an anything? [Michael wasn’t sure if that question made sense when I was writing them down. He actually explained it very well. His words were after asking the question “What I mean is if Michael based Ollie’s wish on his own siblings and wishing they were around?”

MICHAEL(author): As a child, I used to amuse myself by imagining what a day would be like if time ran in reverse. I was also very jealous when my baby brother was born.

MICHAEL: What was your favorite part about the book? [Michael’s favorite part of the book was seeing things being done backwards especially the bath one.]

MICHAEL(author): I like the funny aspects of living in reverse, like taking in the garbage on trash day and taking baths when you are clean and they make you dirty. My favorite illustration is of Otto lying awake at night, feeling bad about Anna.

MICHAEL: How long did it take you to write Otto Grows Down? [I think he wanted to know this because in the last month he has been making his own little booklets. A possible future author in the making?]

MICHAEL(author): The first draft only took a few days, but it took over a year to get the story just right.

[Michael was a little surprised when he heard this as he thinks things happen quickly with books and getting them out to the public.]

MICHAEL: Was it a long process from the time you wrote the book to getting it in customer’s hands?

MICHAEL(author); Was it ever! It took nearly three years from the time I sold the manuscript to Sterling. Picture books take an extra long time, especially if you have a well known illustrator (who typically have several other projects to finish before they get to yours.)

MICHAEL: Do you have any advice to kids who want to write a book? [He asks this because he is making little booklets with short stories in them.]

MICHAEL(author): Study your favorite stories and learn from them. Get as much feedback as you can from lots of people on your story, and keep rewriting it until every word is perfect. Learn about submitting your manuscript from books such as Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books.

MICHAEL: Is there anything you want people to know about you or your book?

MICHAEL(author): All the names in the story—Otto, Anna, Bob, Mom, and Dad—are palindromes. That is, they read the same forwards and backwards!

As it says on the jacket flap: unlike Otto, I’m still stuck in backwards time! If you have any ideas on how to help me, please e-mail me at

You can learn more about Michael Sussman at

Finally the last picture is of Michael reading Otto Grows Down. He really is just looking at the pictures in the book. We won’t let him know that we know he is just looking at the pictures.

Michael’s review of Otto Grows Down will be posted tomorrow. Come back and check his review.

copyright 2010, Cindy (Cindy’s Love Of Books)
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