True to her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, Maureen Sullivan-Hartung loves to write. Originally from Huntington, West Virginia, in 1981 she was living in Kentucky and visited Naples on vacation from her job.
Due to her mother’s initiative, she interviewed for and secured a position with Holland Salley Interiors, on Fifth Avenue South, for what she thought a six-month position. She stayed for seven more years and has been a Neapolitan for the past 34 years.
Starting her writing career as a newspaper reporter for the former weekly Everglades Echo newspaper, after reporting the local news for a year, she said that she wanted to write about more interesting topics than monthly commission meetings.
Hartung then began freelance writing for several local newspapers, including the Naples Daily News, then for magazines. She also wrote newsletters for many local non-profit organizations. She eventually penned her first book.
Today, Sullivan-Hartung is busy working on three different books, “all still relative to our county’s history.” We chatted to find out more.
Press Club of Southwest Florida: Tell us about your first book.
Maureen Sullivan-Hartung: Following the initial query and acceptance, my first book was published in 2010 by The History Press, in South Carolina. “Hidden History of Everglades City & Points Nearby” is a history of Collier County beginning with its inception in 1923. Today, four years later, I am still delighted to provide speaking engagements about my book. I simply love sharing our county’s early history.
NPC: What do you see for the future regarding the longevity of print media?
MSH: I believe there will always be printed media available. Perhaps not in everything, but enough to satisfy those who may not have whatever the latest technological offerings are; because there will always be the haves and the have-not’s in society.
NPC: What was one of your pet peeves in working with editors?
MSH: Actually, I cannot say that I’ve had any real pet peeves, even with all the countless editors I have worked with for over 20 years. Other than the usual wanting the copy yesterday instead of today, I can truthfully only count one editor who seemed to have an issue with my writing; all the rest have been really great about believing in my ideas and stories and supporting me. I have been blessed, and I am most grateful.
NPC: Who are your favorite fiction and non-fiction authors?
MSH: This is difficult to answer because there are so many wonderful authors. On the fictional side, I enjoy books by Pat Conroy, E. L. Doctorow, Kent Haruf, Mary Alice Monroe and Adriana Trigiani – all of them. Rick Bragg and Zora Neale Hurston are two of my favorite non-fiction writers.
NPC: What do you consider the greatest book ever written?
MSH: Other than the Bible, which truly has some exceptional stories that are still relative today, I think the next greatest book would be “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.
NPC: What is something people don’t know about you?
MSH: How many people know that I read three or four books at a time?
NPC: If you had to do it over again, what would you change about your career?
MSH: I’m not sure that I would change anything. We are all told repeatedly that timing is everything and that everything happens in due time. I like to believe that my writing evolved when it was supposed to happen. I have found that each job I have held in my life has enabled me to gracefully fall into the next one.
NPC: What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the field?
MSH: To never give up. Never be afraid to ask questions, and get involved in several service-oriented organizations such as the Women’s Club, Rotary, etc., along with other non-profit agencies. In addition to helping meet the needs of the agency and our community, you also meet new friends who could very well lead you to future writing assignments. Offer to write a column in a club newsletter or your church bulletin.