M. Sweeney is the editor of Go High: The Unstoppable Presence and Poise of Michelle Obama, and also the editor of Hugs from Obama: A Photographic Look Back at the Warmth and Wisdom of President Barack Obama.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for this book, and how did you choose the photos to include?
A: We had just recently published a book called Hugs from Obama, which is a collection of photography of President Barack Obama paired with some of his most inspirational quotes.
First Lady Michelle Obama means a lot to people across the world and has an equally powerful and inspirational presence, so Go High was a natural balance. Mrs. Obama has a special warmth and spark, so I tried to reflect that in the choices of photography that show her engaging with people from different walks of life.
Q: The photos are accompanied by quotes from Michelle Obama. How did you select which quotes to use?
A: The quotes and the photos work off of one another. In most cases, I worked with the quotes first by reading and watching her speeches and public appearances, and then made selections based off of what resonated most strongly or felt the most appropriate to pair with the photography.
Q: Why did you choose "Go High"--from a quote from Michelle Obama--as the book's title?
A: This title was a natural choice, not only because “When they go low, we go high” is one of her most famous statements, but because it feels especially appropriate given the current political climate.
Michelle Obama means a lot to people, not just Americans, and her strength and integrity act as a steadying reminder of the core values and upward momentum that we can all embody.
Q: What do you hope people take away from this book?
A: I hope it’s a reminder of what warmth, compassion, and perseverance really mean. Michelle Obama has an open-arms approach to people and she reminds us that the future can always be bright if we work hard and work together.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m currently working on a book called Laughing with Obama, which showcases some of the lighter, funnier moments of President Obama’s time in office in the same format as Go High. It’s an extension of the joy and humanity that made the Obama presidency so meaningful to Americans.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb