Monday, August 28, 2017

Outgoing Co-RA's Secrets Revealed: Dana Sullivan edition

It's part 2 of our Outgoing Co-RA's Secrets Revealed series. It's like Shark Week, but with less teeth and more warm fuzzy feelings. Get to know Dana Sullivan!

We're about to kick off the 2017-2018 programming season with a new pair of co-regional advisors! They're busy getting ready, and we realized that our outgoing leadership team, Dana Arnim and Dana Sullivan, now have a lot more free time on their hands. Like, a bunch. Our former regional advisors never really go too far [*editor waves*], but we'll let them have a breather to catch up on reading and their own creative projects.

SCBWIWWA: How did you get involved as a volunteer with SCBWI?

Dana Sullivan: My first SCBWI conference was in NYC, at Tina Hoggatt’s urging. Completely overwhelming. But our Western Washington conference was much more to my liking so I asked if I could help out. Suzanne Perry from Secret Garden was more than happy to work me like a dog, loading up books from the conference bookstore. After my back healed, I asked around until I found something easier: serving snacks at our monthly meetings.

What have you learned about our region that you didn’t know before volunteering?

That it is SO FULL of amazingly talented writers and illustrators!!! It’s probably good I had no idea there was so much ability and genius, or I might never had jumped in myself. And I don’t just mean the published folks. The people I’ve met in our chapter are so generous with their time, knowledge and energy, and they are always willing to share it with each other. You know the expression, “The kid lit industry is a real bunny-eat-bunny world”? Well, those bunnies in our chapter are the BEST.

What has being co-regional advisor taught you about the children’s and YA book industry?

That we can all get rich publishing kid lit! Hahahahahaha! Okay. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that what will ultimately keep you going in this world is the community you find with SCBWI. Critique groups, workshops, classes, monthly meetings, events, online groups like the Chinook and Facebook page - these are what encourage and sustain you when your damned draft is not cooperating and you feel like taking that crossing guard job and never writing another word or drawing another picture. So, participate in the chapter, that’s my advice! Wait, is that crossing guard job still available?

What are you looking forward to now, with all of this delicious time on your hands?

Attending a chapter retreat or conference as a participant!  

Tell us about a highlight of your tenure.

There were many, but one special memory is sitting with Mem Fox in Lin Oliver’s back yard for a couple of hours after the LA SCBWI 2015 conference. We chatted and drank and had a great time. I took a shot at getting her to highlight our own 2017 conference! We corresponded for a few months about it, but that woman is booked two or three years out, so it just wasn’t meant to be. But we got David Small and Sarah Stewart!

How has your work day changed since handing over the reins?

I have about 1/10th of the emails sitting in my in-box when I wake up in the morning. And I don’t bolt upright in the middle of the night, screaming, “Do we have the green M&Ms for David Small?”

What’s next for you?

I’m in the beginning of final art for my picture book, “My Red Velvet Cape,” which is due out from Sleeping Bear Press in spring of 2018. I’ve got a couple other projects and ideas I’m wrestling with. And my Agent Anna O (who I met at our chapter’s 2010 season kickoff meeting!) keeps demanding stuff. I teach picture book illustration classes at Kirkland Arts Center (next one starts in September! Hint hint.) and I’m hoping to do more school visits this year. I got a new pair of bunny slippers and I want to show off my red cape!

Anything else you’d like to share?

It’s been a true honor being Co-Regional Advisor with Dana Arnim for our Western Washington chapter. I have to say that Arnim used to scare the crap out of me, but once we started working together, it felt like we were brother and sister. And just like my real sisters, she’s a lot smarter.

I will tell anyone that we have the most kick-ass region in the SCBWI universe and it’s because of the wonderful people who come to our meetings and the amazing volunteers (that would be everyone, really) who work so hard to make it rock. Plus, we have been blessed with past RAs who set up systems that even I couldn’t screw up. Earlier I gave the advice to participate in the chapter and I repeat it now. Writers and illustrators can be very introverted, but it’s more fun to be introverted together. So please, come to a meeting and stick out your hand and meet somebody. if Kevan Atteberry is there, get a hug. Then volunteer. You can start by helping Suzanne lug some boxes of books out to her van.

See you at the next meeting!
Xxoo Dana Sullivan

See more of Dana's work at


Dana Sullivan said...

this guy sounds like a genius! How'd get away!

Laura Moe said...

And he's also quite wealthy from what I hear...