Like the author of the new children’s book Included, Colleen Sullivan is a Tinley Park Mom who I’ve chatted with through our mutual local Facebook groups, the Tinley Park Moms Facebook group and the Tinley Park Community Group, which she manages along with 5 others. Her group has been practicing kindness, informativeness, and professionalism for as long as I’ve been a member of it. When I saw her share that she just published her first children’s book, I had to learn more.

One of the cool things I learned about Colleen, in the process of interviewing her about her book, is that she participated in the Village of Tinley Park’s Musical Chairs Program in 2019.

She designed the chair with one of her 3 daughters, Natalie McDowell.

The Village’s Musical Chairs program is set to return in the spring of 2021.

Imaginary Larry by Colleen McDowell

Back to her book—Imaginary Larry is about a young man named Max who doesn’t think it’s possible to join his school’s basketball team, that’s where “Imaginary Larry” comes in. The book is about the phenomenon of imaginary friends (a typical coping mechanism developed by children during a particulary stressful time), but like all children’s books, there is a depth behind the plot. Why is it relevant to these times? Right now children and adults are trying not to trip over with fear and doubt in a world that seems to be getting less and less safe, with less and less certainty of a silverlining. Like the character of Max, we need some inspiration to help tap into our strength and faith to get through this difficult time in history. Let’s learn where Colleen got her inspiration for Imaginary Larry.

My Interview with Children’s Book Author Colleen Sullivan

When did you first start to develop a passion for what you’re doing now?

I really didn’t have much of a passion for writing when I was younger.  I first started tossing around ideas for my first book in my early 30’s.

What’s something interesting that has happened since your book’s release? 

I have three friends that I went to school with from Kindergarten through high school.  All four of us have released books this year and all within a couple months of each other. We have all stayed in touch over the years. It has been very helpful to have friends that have gone through the publishing process and to get ideas from one another about marketing our books. We all have different writing styles. My friend Lynette Killelea-DeVries wrote two novels Synchronicity and Part II, Salvation.  My friend Matt Walker released a book called Cool Cat Blue. Matt created this character a few years ago and does events such as Comic-Con to promote his character. Brian Long has released 3 adult coloring books called Megamania. Brian is also the illustrator of my book, Imaginary Larry.  All these books are available on Amazon

What’s the driving force of what you do?

My daughters are my driving force to everything I do in life. I have always tried to be a positive influence in their life.   I have also taught them that no dream is too big. You can accomplish anything with hard work and determination. 

How did you go about starting your book? What was the inspiration?

When my middle daughter was around 3-years-old, I would hear her having a full conversation with “someone” in her room, even though there was nobody in there.  At first I thought it was a bit creepy, but that is what inspired me to write my book; Imaginary Larry

Walk me through something you do to help you with writer’s block?

Writer’s block happened quite often while writing Imaginary Larry.  The best thing to do is to be patient.  Ideas can come at any time.  Always have a pen and paper handy for when you think of a new idea for your story. 

What gets you really excited, that makes what you do a joy?

I wrote my books around 15 years ago.  I have always wanted to get them published, but life always got in the way.  It took a pandemic and quarantine for me to slow down and take the time to getting my books published. My 3-year old grandson is the biggest joy to everyone in my family.  I am excited to read him my books.  He has such a big personality.  He may even inspire me for book #3. 

What are some future plans you have?

I have my 2nd children’s book coming out this fall.  

In today’s struggling economy, what steps have you taken to continue to grow? 

There are quite a few ways to market your book that don’t cost a thing.  Facebook & Instagram have been the only two platforms I have used so far for promoting my book.  It was very nice of Stephanie aka:  Tinley Park Mom to reach out to me and ask me to tell everyone a little bit about myself and my book. If I remember correctly, Stephanie found out about my book through my Instagram post., so social media really does work. 

Where did you get your training for what you do? No training.

What or who are your influences?

My parents have always been the biggest influence in my life.  They always encouraged me and my three brothers to be creative and follow your dreams. All four of us are artistic in some way.  My oldest brother John was in a band called Loudmouth in the 90’s. One of their songs called Fly was featured on the Varsity Blues soundtrack and earned them a gold record.  He still plays in various bands in and around Nashville.  My younger brother Tom recently started a Facebook tye-dye business called Happy Little Tye Dyes. The items he creates are amazing. My youngest brother Dan is in a band called Coyote Riot. He writes many of their songs and also sings and plays guitar. Pre-pandemic, you could see them play at various places on the Southside of Chicago. 

Where did you grow up? 

Oak Lawn

How many children do you have?

I have 3 daughters; Taylor(25), Natalie(18) and Morgan(17)

What books, podcasts, articles, etc. do you read/listen to that have influenced the way you approach writing?

Dr. Suess has always been a favorite of mine. His style of writing definitely influences my way of writing. 

Is there anything else that I haven’t asked you that you would like people to know about you and/or your book?

Imaginary Larry is available on Amazon for $10.97. ?

Imaginary Larry is on sale now for $10.79 on Amazon.


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