Suzy Kaminski is the author of the childrens book, "Our Forever Home – Tails of the Cozy Red Barn." She uses the pen name of Penny Hart. Kaminski, 66, also owned Abby's Doggone Good Gourmet Cookies in Mountain Top and recently retired from the business. Suzy graduated from Chadsey High School in Detroit, Mich., and received her associate's degree in business administration with electives taken in fine art at Luzerne County Community College. She lives in Mountain Top with her husband, Karl and their dog, Carmella. They have two children: Karla and Karl.
You obviously have a passion for animals that is evident with your past dog cookie business and the themes present in your book. What is the book about and how did it come about? "As I was coming to the end of my business career I decided that I really wanted to write a book. I wanted to craft a book for children in a day and age when many kids and people do not have a home of their own due to many circumstances. This book is a tale about children told through animals and their words. The story shows how the characters come to find goodness and shelter in a cozy red barn and all of the animals come together in diversity regardless of who they are or where they came from. Its basic theme is that if you try to get along with others you will be happy in life. It is for all faiths and relates to all beliefs. I want everyone to relate to the story so I do not alienate anyone due to religion, race or any beliefs.
It has many themes that are dealt with in tender and caring ways. The book deals with bullying, diversity, love, death and life to name a few themes. It is a wonderful story that is a result of my own personal hardships told through gentle animals representing children in unfortunate circumstances.
My husband Karl constantly prompted me to write the story. The defining moment and inspiration for the story and title came one evening in our own cozy red barn. My husband was feeding our one-eyed Arabian stallion, Prince, who had lost his eye through abuse, and he called me to see something. There was a one-eyed mouse gathering bits of food that had fallen from Prince's mouth. It was a one-eyed mouse sharing corn with a one-eyed horse. That was it. The first chapters of my story were born."
You mentioned that your dog cookie business was a passion for years. What are some of the other things you like to do? "Most everything I enjoy revolves around animals. My husband and I like to ride horses. I also love to cook gourmet foods and decorate cakes. The cookie business was a real passion as we ran it for 16 years and enjoyed it very much. Our previous dog, Abby, was my best friend and the inspiration for the name."
What are some of the ways that you have shared the joy of your book with the public? "I have often read passages from the book to kids at various libraries such as in Nuangola and the Mill Memorial Library in Nanticoke. I often read a specific passage that relates to our current dog, Carmella. We took in Carmella after our beloved Abby passed away. Abby's veterinarian matched us up to Carmella after trying every day for over a week to have us come in and see Carmella. I wasn't sure if I wanted to take in another dog at the time, but after seeing her for only a few moments I knew she was meant to be with us. Carmella had suffered loss of a leg and tail after being hit by a car. She was a stray that was about to be put to sleep until she licked the vet when he was about to administer the shot.
The vet knew she had life left in her after that and thought of my family as the perfect haven for her. We have loved her dearly ever since."
Who has been an inspiration in your life aside from your husband Karl? "Gertrude Hawk and her work ethic in the business world was a great inspiration. Her work ethic and managing skills were amazing as she constantly produced a quality product. I always tried to imitate her. She is phenomenal."
What do you think needs improvement or inspiration in Northeastern Pennsylvania? "I would love to see the beat down homes get refurbished one by one. I often imagine how these homes looked about 50 years ago as opposed to the blight of today. They are simple homes that need simple repairs as well as difficult ones."
What is a favorite food you enjoy? "I love vegetable egg foo young with brown gravy."
Do you have a favorite film? "The Enchanted Cottage is a favorite of mine. It is another story of the beauty that exists within a place of safety and comfort for two people that are not always viewed pleasantly by the outside world. It tells of a homely maid who tends to an injured ex-GI and they come to see the beauty in each other that escapes the perceptions of other people. It is a lovely story."
Do you have a favorite musician or type of music? "I really like classical music and the songs of Bruno Mars."
What would you say are some of your proudest moments in your life? "I would have to say the recreation of self in having my children. In the business world I would have to say that being nominated as one of Pennsylvania's Top 50 Women in Business was a highlight in my career.
I was so proud of my friends that nominated me for that honor. Everything that happened personally and professionally also manifested itself in my children's book as well. I am extremely proud of the story I have woven from my experiences."
John Gordon writes about area people for the Meet feature. Reach him at 970-7229.