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Author Showcase


RT: Among your twenty-eight published works are the My Little Book picture book series, a children's devotional book, some photographic essays, a local history, and a junior biography. This is a broad set of genres (fiction and non-fiction), not to mention very different target audiences. Do you have a favorite audience to write for?

Hope: My favorite audience is children, especially those still enthralled by picture books. I have a book under consideration that is a picture book for older readers (Up to 8th grade).

RT: The protagonists (so to speak) in the My Little Book of titles are not the ones we usually see in books for this target audience. How did you select these species for your books?

Hope: I am attracted by the unexpected behavior of wildlife. When I first learned about wood ducks and burrowing owls, I was fascinated by their habitats. I expected ducks to be born in nests on the ground and owls to be born in trees. The reverse is true since wood ducks must often nest in trees and burrowing owls frequently live in prairie dog holes. My publisher suggested painted turtles, timber wolves, and river otters. My husband suggested whitetail deer.

RT: In a March 2003 online chat, you mentioned that you were writing a book about manatees. Have you found a publisher for it? Could you share with us what you think is the most interesting fact you learned about these unique mammals? ( Ref: A Potpourri of Pathways to Publication, March 2003)

Hope: Manatees will be number seven in My Little Book series, published by Windward Publishing. I finished the manuscript three years ago. We are waiting for our illustrator to complete the drawings. Manatees are unique in several ways. One of the most fascinating habits shows up during mating season when one female is followed by a half dozen or so interested males. They move like giant ballet dancers following a choreographed pattern. Awesome, indeed.

RT: In preparing for our interview, we read an online chat with the Institute for Children's Literature where you were the guest (A Potpourri of Pathways to Publication, March 2003). The focus of that day's discussion was how to become a published children's book author. Was there one thing you found to be the most beneficial advice when you were working to get that first book published?

Hope: Since I knew no published writers, I studied how-to-get-published books and followed their advice. I still do that.

RT: As a writer, do you find it easier to write fiction or non-fiction works?

Hope: The majority of my publications have been non-fiction, but I have a contract for my first historical novel, set in 17th century Scotland. Margaret of the Killing Times will be published next summer by P&R Publishing if I can get my rewriting done soon. It’s been a challenge writing a novel of nearly 50,000 words when my picture books contain only 800. I think my brain is wired to get the facts more than it is to create a story. The challenge is to make those facts read like a story to nab my reader’s interest. I work hard in both genres.

RT: Has your writing process changed since you decided became a published writer? If so, can you share specific things you've learned or changed that have helped you become a successful author?

Hope: I spend more time reading how-to-write-it books now because I am retired and have time. I attend writing conferences and I read, read, read the genre I am currently writing. Since I’ve gotten interested in writing historical novels, I’ve set a goal of reading 1,000 of them. I have about 739 to go!

RT: As a former middle school English teacher and librarian, do you have any counsel for parents to help their children become (or continue to be) successful, interested readers? From your experience, how important is it for parents to share reading time with a child after the child can read independently?

Hope: Parents should model the behavior they want their children to follow. My mother was a reader. I am sure that influenced me to want to read. Parents shouldn’t stop reading to their kids at any age. I still read to my husband! I recommend parents and children read books together. Or read them separately and then discuss them.

RT: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Hope: I highly recommend Mem Fox’s book, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever. Harvest Books, 2001. Thank you for interviewing me.

Website: http://www.hopeirvinmarston.com


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