Coffee & Conversation with Ed Sullivan

Happy Friday, everyone!

I’m rounding out our series of pre-Staying on Track Conference interviews with Ed Sullivan, a non-fiction presenter who will be teaching a class on “What Makes a Good Non-fiction Book!”

Ed is also the author of The Ultimate Weapon: The Race to Develop the Atomic Bomb, which named a 2008 Jefferson Cup Honor Award for Distinguished History Book for Young People, and the 2007 Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Book!

And while he’s getting settled in with his favorite coffeehouse beverage, cafe au lait,

and his favorite snack, cookies and milk . . .

Let’s me send out another reminder that registration for the Staying on Track Conference are still being accepted for the NonFiction and Illustrator Tracks (ONLY) until Saturday, July 9th.  The registration form and check must be in the mail to Sue Poduska (P.O. Box 546, Gaithersburg, MD 20884-0546) and Sue must be notified by email <> that it’s on the way by Saturday.  No walk-in registrations will be accepted. 

Now on with the interview! First off, Ed, when did you decide to be a writer?

I had aspirations to be a writer since middle school. I started pursuing it seriously 20 years ago.

How long did your path to that first glorious book sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles?

I published my first book, an academic title, in 1999. My biggest hurdles were and continue to be that I am easily distracted.

Seeing how hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would have followed?

Never throw away anything you write no matter how trivial or awful it seems to be at the time.

So I shouldn’t throw away my hideous Bobby the Bass picture book attempts? Okay, where’s your favorite place to work?  And, if the paparazzi were taking pictures of odd things authors do while writing, what would be in yours, hmm?  

I have an office area in the basement. A photographer might catch me with my pants off. Sorry, no pictures! Imagine a middle-aged guy in boxer shorts.

Got it. 😉 Now, how were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?

Reading The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang and the diaries of John Rabe.

What is your favorite line(s) from this book?

Not sure yet.

Are there any other genres that you’d like to tackle some day?

Historical fiction and picture books.

What’s next on your agenda, any juicy projects you’d like to tell us about?

Biography about ASPCA founder Henry Bergh.

Time for the lightning round—no more than four words per answer!

Do you . . .

Outline or wing it?   Wing it

Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped?   Love to talk

Sell by proposal or completed draft?   Completed draft

Prefer writing rough drafts or editing?   Editing

Dread marketing/blogging or love it?   Love it

Read Kindle or traditional books?   Traditional only!!!

And finally, what’s your favorite:

Time to work?   Morning

Music to listen to while writing?   Depends on what I’m writing

Writing tool?   Primarily a laptop

Pair of shoes?   Converse High Tops

Guiltiest pleasure?   Afternoon nap

Line from a movie?   “It’s a mad house! A mad house!”



If iTunes asked you to submit a celebrity must-read-list, what books would make your top ten list?

The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

The complete works of Wendell Berry, Wendell Berry

The Life of Pi, Yann Martel 

The Stranger, Albert Camus 

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

American Heritage Dictionary

Roget’s Thesaurus

What is your favorite writing how-to book?

It’s not really a “how-to” book, but I love Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing.

I also love Stephen King’s On Writing.

Who is your author hero, someone you admire or aspire to be?

Milton Meltzer and Russell Freedman

What was your worse rejection and how did you bounce back?

I received a nasty critique by an assistant editor of a manuscript for an autobiographical novel. I also received a fairly positive critique from another assistant editor in same package, so that softened the blow of the rejection.

Awesome, thanks joining us today, Ed, and best of luck with your upcoming project on Henry Bergh!  We look forward to seeing you at the conference.

Have a great weekend and happy writing! 🙂

About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
This entry was posted in Conference Information, Interviews: Authors. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Coffee & Conversation with Ed Sullivan

  1. ediehemingway says:

    I am loving these interviews and getting to know all our speakers in advance of the conference!

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