Hi Marsha! Thanks for joining me here to talk about what’s up with you!
All thanks be to you, Dylan. I’m delighted to be here with you. You’re an inspiration and such a wonderful supporter of authors, illustrators, readers, and students.
Tell us a little bit about your recently released book, Waiting for Snow.
Waiting for Snow’s birthday was yesterday, November 1st, just in time to help impatient little ones pass the time until the first snowflakes fall. I’m so very happy about this book because I worked “alongside” two of our industry’s luminaries, my editor Kate O’Sullivan and my illustrator Renata Liwska. A writer couldn’t ask for anything more!
I think of Waiting for Snow as a meditation to patience, with sensible Hedgehog advising throughout, “It will snow in snow’s time.“ But Badger is such an impatient fellow, yelling at the sky, “Wake up, Sky! It’s time to snow.” Thankfully, he has friends who, after trying to fix the problem with tricks and superstitions, finally settle down to just be together and wait…”until…it was time.”
And you’ve done some board books for the first time, which will debut in 2017?
Yes, my first-ever board books, Baby Animals Take a Bath and Baby Animals Take a Nap, will be out in February 2017. The illustrator is Phyllis Limbacher Tildes, who happens to be in my online writing group, so that is a nice bit of serendipity.
I’m really excited about these books, first because it seems every parent would want a copy to read at nap or bath time, and secondly because, although board books are usually for preschoolers, I can still share my research with older students during school visits. They’ll love the video I took of baby sloths at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica. The sea otters’ “holding-hands nap” will lead to exploring how sea otters live in kelp beds. “Steam bath” takes us to the Japanese macaques (snow monkeys) keeping warm in hot pools during the winter in the snowy mountains of Japan. So many things to share!
Tell us a little bit about your process.
Let’s see – meandering, haphazard, now and then, interested in everything, brief flashes of inspiration – that’s about it. My office is fairly well organized, but my mind is not.
Have you always been into writing and illustrating?
Not at all. As a child, I was a reader, but I would never have presumed I could write books like the wonderful ones I was reading.
I was a stay-at-home-mom; it was my pre-school children who inspired me to start writing. I wrote an award-winning weekly column, homegrown treasures, for ten years before my first picture book was published.
Sadly, I’m not an illustrator, but I so wish I were. My father and his five brothers were farmers, but they had a natural talent for painting and drawing. I simply don’t seem to have the patience for it. I really need to read Hedgehog’s advice in Waiting for Snow again.
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Seeing your words in a beautifully illustrated book is pretty exciting in itself, but I’m also delighted when visiting schools and talking with students about writing, reading, and books. I’ve visited schools from Missouri to Puerto Rico to Germany to Kenya. That’s exciting!
Next week, I’m traveling to Alabama for a two-day visit. Walter Jackson School has been celebrating my 1998 book The Pumpkin Runner for five years with a special Pumpkin Run Day. It’s filled with pumpkin-related games and activities and a mile run in honor of my characters Joshua Summerhayes and Yellow Dog. I’ve Skyped with the school each year in honor of the day; I’m super excited to be there in person this year, to run alongside the kids and teachers.
What inspires your creativity?
So many things. Life is amazing, isn’t it? Nature and animals are always fascinating. Sometimes I’m inspired by woodland animals as in Waiting for Snow, sometimes it’s a morning dream (Lost. Found.) or a two-paragraph snippet in a magazine (The Pumpkin Runner).
What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?
My life is pretty much an open book; I don’t keep many secrets. You can read a lot about my life on my website. I even have it divided into chapters! You might start with Chapter 2, my Kansas years. (http://www.marshadianearnold.com/meet-marsha/biography/chapter-2-kansas)
Okay, let’s see, something my readers don’t know about me. I’m 68, but still love to climb trees, hike in forests, scuba dive, and stargaze. So, it might not surprise them that I also talk to animals, plants, and trees. But the thing they don’t know…sometimes the animals, plants, and trees talk back to me.
If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d like to work with animals in some way. Maybe I could be my heroine Jane Goodall’s assistant, or be the wombat keeper at the San Diego zoo, a dolphin communicator, or a National Geographic wildlife photographer. Those things all sound pretty wonderful to me. And I’d have even more material to write books about!
What can readers expect from you in the future?
I had such fun writing about Badger and his friends in Waiting for Snow. I actually have two more Badger stories that I’m hoping will find a publishing home, if I can just be patient.
Soon I’ll be able to share news on two manuscripts that were just bought in August and September. But it’s hush-hush for now. Both of them are layered with fun, inspiration, and information. I’m looking forward to discover who the illustrators will be and am very impatient to have to wait to be able to share these stories at school visits.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?
Readers, young and old, hear my words. 🙂
When I was a child growing up in my Kansas home with no running water or indoor plumbing, I would never have thought that as an adult I’d be writing children’s books that travel the world.
My very first book was about a small kitten, the runt of the litter, who had a big dream – to give himself a name like that of the Beautiful Bengal Tiger on Naming Day. When readers asked me what inspired the story, it gave me pause…until I realized that the kitten was me. I was writing my own story. I was trying to teach myself that it was all right to have a big dream and follow that dream. As Little Four said, “In my heart I am bigger than what you see.”
The manuscript was rejected 13 times before I found the editor who loved it as much as I did. Remember readers, young and old, it only takes one “yes” to be on the way to where you want to be. Heart of a Tiger went on to accumulate many awards, including the Ridgway for Best First Book by a New Author and three state Children’s Choice Awards.
As wise Hedgehog explains in Waiting for Snow, “Crocuses always bloom in spring, the sun rises every morning, stars shine every night. Sometimes they come late and sometimes early, but they always come, in their time.”
So, follow your dream. No one else can do that, but you.
WAITING FOR SNOW BLOG TOUR
October 31st, Monday – Cynthia Alaniz, Librarian in Cute Shoes – https://librarianincuteshoes.blogspot.com
Nov 1st, Tuesday – Alyson Beecher, Kid Lit Frenzy – http://www.kidlitfrenzy.com
Nov 2nd, Wednesday – Dylan Teut, Reading with Mr. Teut – https://readingwithmrteut.wordpress.com
Nov 3rd, Thursday – Mia Wengen, Pragmatic Mom – http://www.pragmaticmom.com/home/
Nov 4th, Friday – Margie Myers-Culver – Librarian’s Quest – http://librariansquest.blogspot.com
Nov 6th, Sunday – Matthew Winner – The Best Book Ever (This Week) – http://www.allthewonders.com/best-book-ever-this-week/
Nov 7th, Monday – Niki Ohs Barnes, Daydream Reader – https://daydreamreader.com
Nov 8th, Tuesday – Bridget and the Books – https://bridgetandthebooks.wordpress.com