If I could first say, thank you so much, Irene, for your gracious offer to host my interview on your blog, and the chance to share my books, Twig Stories. It’s fun to know you, and learn about your friends and followers, too.
Aw Jo…The pleasure is mine! I love to get to know authors and how they spend their day managing other chores and life. Thank you so much for being here on my blog Jo!
1. Tell us a few things about yourself.
Here are some important things to know. I collect Norman Rockwell puzzles. I love working puzzles, and most of the time there is one underway on my dining room table. I like to listen to Big Band era music and National Public Radio. I’m addicted to the Discovery and Science channels. My back yard is an old growth protected habitat with enormous cedars, so I spend time every day watching the wildlife there. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and am surrounded by stunning views like glacier-covered volcanoes and silhouettes of jagged mountain peaks.
2. What is your favorite book?
Lately, I’d have to say, The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen. He discusses island biogeography, or isolated ecosystems, and how this relates to species extinction (including our own!). It’s an extraordinary, global expedition, and truly fun to read. He’s an amazing writer.
3. Who is your favorite author?
David Quammen. He also wrote, The Flight of the Iguana, a long-time favorite of mine that my daughter has read many times, too, starting in 4th grade. Although it’s written for adults, I highly recommend it for children. It’s fascinating.
My daughter’s horror with climate change impacts on the Pacific Northwest! Seriously, she began studying about local species facing extinction like pikas, woodland caribou, horned larks, and many more. We took a summer vacation to British Columbia, and were shocked by the dying forests caused by bark beetles. Winters are so warm bark beetles are surviving. Consequently, swarms “barkbiters” (their name in Twig Stories) are devastating millions of trees. So anyway, it was all so scary for my daughter. We created little stick creatures called Twigs that battle climate change. The books were a natural progression from our stories.
5. Was this a difficult book to write?
Well, I always set my goal to write four separate books – a collection of Twig Stories – and separated the different ecological themes into dying forests, flood and drought, shrinking glaciers, and climate adaptation. Each had its own challenge. Writing the fantasy part is fairly easy and fun, but being true to the ideals of conservation required a lot of advice from research scientists, professors, wildlife biologists, nonprofit officers, and geology professors. I needed expert guidance to be able to weave science fact into the stories. Everyone I contacted was really helpful and enthusiastic. Many gave generous endorsements, too.
One of the most rewarding aspects of Twig Stories is connecting with David Murray, and enjoying his illustrations and cover art for the series. He’s a career Disney and Universal Pictures artist, and liked the idea of Twigs before the first book was even published. He offered his vision of Leaf, and it was stunning. Everyone loves his art, and I’m always excited to see his next illustration. His cover art is gorgeous. He’s very talented.
6. What are your future writing projects?
I’m afraid it’s more Twig Stories and more Twig Stories, each a set of four. A collection for Leaf’s sister, Fern, that takes place in the giant redwoods and Sierras of California and Nevada. After that Leaf’s little brothers, Buddy and Burba, get their turn exploring the marine life on the Olympic peninsula. Not sure which ecosystems Twigs will explore beyond those, but Twigs do live in trees all over the world, so who knows?
7. How do you divide your writing day? Are you a full time writer?
It’s divided by cups of coffee, and stops when the kids come home from school. I write in the morning and early afternoon during the school week. I also foster kittens for a local shelter, so sometimes a kitty family will take up all my time for weeks. I do try to write within a schedule, and set weekly goals. After three books, I now think of myself as an author, and writing as my profession.
8. Any tips for aspiring writers?
The writing tip I like the most comes from Lillian Hellman. “If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.” Too much scrutiny makes writing a grueling process rather than a creative one. It’s important to remember this is your story, your style, and your own reason to write it. It’s my daughter’s and my goal to contribute more to conservation nonprofits. That desire keeps me motivated, creative, and enthusiastic. It also keeps the stories fun, so children will want to read them!
9. Any last words?
I would say, stay committed to your work. You never know where it may lead.
10. Could you share your website with our readers?
Twig Stories ~ http://www.twigstories.com
(Books are 20% off via the website’s Twig Store)
Pinterest & Twitter ~ @TwigStories
Email ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook Author page ~ http://facebook.com/twigstories
Facebook Book/Fan page ~http://facebook.com/twigstoriesbooks
Also on Amazon.com ~ paperback and Kindle worldwide
Amazon.com Author page: http://amazon.com/author/jo.marshall
Leaf & Echo Peak arrives early 2014!