Monday, October 24, 2022

Q&A with Connie Schofield-Morrison




Connie Schofield-Morrison is the author of the children's picture book biography Stitch by Stitch: Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly Sews Her Way to Freedom. Keckly (1818-1907), born into slavery, bought her own freedom and that of her son, and became Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker. Schofield-Morrison's other books include I Got the Rhythm. She lives in Atlanta.


Q: What inspired you to write this picture book biography of Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly?


A: A Vision Dream that I had several years ago. Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly was an attendee at a grand fashion event that my oldest son Nyree was having. Prior to this dream I had NEVER had any knowledge of Elizabeth.  


Q: How did you research her life, and did you learn anything especially surprising?


A: Actually after meeting “Lizzy” via my dream and mentally recording everything that she shared with me during the dream, it sparked my curiosity to find out if she was real and if what she shared was true. 


Upon researching her name, purchasing her autobiography, and reading it in one day, I felt inspired to granting her request to me via my dream. Which was to write her story the way I would have wanted to read it as a child. 


I began gathering everything that I could find via internet, library, etc. I spoke to several history teachers and historians.


What was especially surprising to me was that she was an enslaved child who went through a very tragic life. She was able to master talent and career through sewing, reading, and writing in her lifetime. 


Her self-perseverance, compassion, strength, wisdom, and tragedy inspired her to become the best version of herself, stitch by stitch. This ultimately paid off when she was able to purchase freedom for herself and her son.


Q: What do you think Elizabeth Zunon’s illustrations add to the book?


A: Elizabeth Zunon's illustrations visually not only tell the story. They weaves together historical details, vibrant collages showing the life and phenomenal work of Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly, the seamstress who [worked to get] herself and her son out of slavery.


Q: The Booklist review of the book says, in part, “In this picture book, the use of italics indicates quotes from Keckly’s memoir and differentiates them from Schofield-Morrison’s words. The interplay works well, offering Keckly’s viewpoint within an account that speaks to children today.” What do you think of that description, and what do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: The Booklist review of the book was absolutely amazing. After hearing or reading the book, I want kids to walk away feeling empowered, inspired, and motivated to pursue their dreams.  


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I am working on a book of spooky surprises, as well as a joyful book full of happy little boys.  


Q: Anything else we should know? 


A: In January I am planning on starting a book tour throughout the US. I am also getting ready for the relaunch of my cosmetic brand I C O N By Connie Morrison. 


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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