Today on Tuesday Tours we have author Sue Ganz-Schmitt sharing her beautiful studio and ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. I recently read Sue’s new book Planet Kindergarten and was immediately smitten. The use of language in this humorous take on a new kindergartener experiencing school the way an astronaut would when exploring new worlds, was fresh and authentic. I wasn’t surprised to find out that Sue has had experience working with NASA as a Social Media correspondent. She also has two other children’s books, produces children’s musical theater, and hosts community events and classes at her ranch.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
My name is Sue Ganz-Schmitt. I am a mother, philanthropist and children’s book author. I also produce children’s musical theater/kids music videos. I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators , and co-founder of the Topanga Author’s Group. I serve on the Marketing Advisory Baord at San Diego State University, and have been a NASA Social Media correspondent. Two of my children’s books are medically inspired to help kids and families face new diagnosis (Even Superheroes Get Diabetes, and The Princess and the Peanut: A Royally Allergic Fairytale) and my newest book is a space-themed book to ease kids fears about the transition to kindergarten (Planet Kindergarten). I get ideas for my writing from kids in my community, and many of my stories have come from watching my daughters’ and their friends grow from a baby group to teenagers.
I am a roving writer. I am on the go between my schedule and my kids. So my car is sometimes my writing studio, or wherever my girls are taking a class. I write in coffee shops, airplanes, hotel rooms. I write on desktops, my laptop, I=Phone, notepads, napkins. Whatever is closest when an idea strikes!Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I have two desks. One is in the kitchen—the biggest thoroughfare of our home. And the other is in the hallway—another thoroughfare.
Basically our house is like one big open room except for the bedrooms/bathrooms. So there is often a lot going on around me as I write. Dishes clanging, kids watching TV or needing me to help them with something, husband having business meetings, people coming and going, dogs barking at the mail/delivery trucks, the vacuuming blaring, gardeners with leaf blowers. On a typical day it is pretty chaotic around here. I tend to try work through any distractions, but when it gets to be too much, I retreat to our tropical patio or to the peace of my bedroom that has a little quiet room attached.
If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
I would get beautiful wooden organizing bins, artsy colorful files and boxes, and lots of labeling tape. I love being organized. When my my space is disorganized my head feels the same. But I daresay that in the last seven years of creating books, producing children’s theater, and running our family’s busy lives, my files and cabinets look like an explosion hit. I’d love to open my file drawers and cabinets and smile versus cringe, and shove the drawer closed. I just discovered that Target has these great chalkboard wood bins. I can’t get enough of them!
What are the three best things about your writing space?
1. My artwork: My three big prints of my published books, a collage from my one-time appearance on RENT on Broadway, a cast photo of the last musical I produced (Peter Pan) with about 100 kids, and my Author Appreciation Award from my publisher Chronicle Books—these things keep me going. Each of these represent growth opportunities that I took on and that resulted in very happy accomplishments.
2. Lots of space for photos and artwork of my two girls Jensen and India. I am surrounded by my favorite books, and trinkets, and have this amazing big project room next to my desk where I can keep my NASA/astronaut memorabilia out to inspire my space themed writing.
How do you organize your books/bookshelf? Is there a formula you use?
I have my children’s books on one side of the library, and grown-up books on the other. Though really I don’t visit the grown up side very often. The picture books are on the bottom, and then the books get progressively older (demographically speaking) on each higher shelf. On the top I have pop-up books, and a collection of signed by the author books. If there were a fire, I’d grab my wedding dress, photos, and these signed books.
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
Surround yourself with visually inspiring beauty—whatever that means to you. Family photos, pet photos, images from magazines, beautiful quotes, art, books, a pretty mug for tea, etc…
What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
My new book Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days in Orbit releases in Summer 2016. It is a fun romp that celebrates a kindergartener’s 100th day in school with zany fun illustrations by two time Annie Award winner Shane Prigmore (Coraline, The Croods). I am also releasing a space themed musical video this month by an extremely talented group of 11/12 year old girls called The Songwriter Girls. You can see their recent video at Songwriter Girls. You can find information for all my books at: www.sueganzschimitt.com, and if you want to learn about the latest in space you can find me on Twitter: @planetkbooks.
Join us next week when we have author and illustrator (who also happens to be my nine-year-old daughter) Evey Winter sharing her basement studio.
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