Available from Split Tree Publishing[/caption]
Today I am interviewing Marianne Jones, an author of many talents. Here she is at Port Arthur’s Landing in Thunder Bay on a stone bench that features one of her poems.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m from Thunder Bay, married, with two daughters and two granddaughters. I’m also a retired elementary teacher and children’s choir director, an actor and director.
What is your children’s picture book about?
Great-Grandma’s Gifts is the story of a little girl named Arlene who loved to sew. When she grew up she sewed clothes for her children, and later, from the leftover fabric, toys for her grandchildren. When her grandchildren grew up, she turned to sewing quilts for her grandchildren. The story celebrates the bond between the generations, and how a grandmother expressed her love for her family through the work of her hands.
In what formats is your book available?
In hard cover, soft cover and ebook from Amazon and Split Tree Publishing.
Is this your first picture book? You often write poetry. How is that similar to writing picture books? How is it different?
This is my first picture book, but not my last! The picture book is written with rhythms, repetition, and metaphors, similar to poetry. Unlike most of my poetry, it is a narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end. And, of course, it is written using child-friendly vocabulary!
This story seems to be based on a family experience? Do you have any other family experiences you are planning on using for a children’s books?
I wrote this story so that my grandchildren would know about their great-grandmother, my Mom, who passed away recently. I wanted them to know what a creative, talented person she was, and what a legacy of beautiful quilts and crafts she left behind. My sequel, Where is Peachy Keen? is about the grandchildrens’ favourite toy she made, which they christened Peachy Keen.
Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
I want them to know that elderly relatives were once children, too. I want them to know about a generation that was thrifty, that recycled everything, and that showed love through their creative talents and time, rather than buying expensive, disposable things.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I was always trying to describe things, searching for the exact right words, even as a young child. I got so much delight from reading books, and from writing, that it came to me one day with startling clarity that I wanted to do this for a living. What could be better than creating those things that had given me so much pleasure?
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? How do you manage it?
My biggest challenge is plotting a story, and fighting my inner critic. The support of other writers helps, and “just showing up.” It’s surprising what you can come up with when you just start!
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Mornings are usually best, when I’m fresh. Every day is different, though, with family and other responsibilities, so structure is hard to attain.
What was your favourite childhood picture book?
I loved The Cat in the Hat in grade one. I don’t remember any early reader books at home. My favourite childhood book, which I still have, is an elaborately illustrated book of fairy tales my mother gave me. It had some wonderful and exotic stories in it that I still love, and some scary ones, too. One day my grandchildren will be old enough for it.
What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
My intentions were twofold: I wrote Great-Grandma’s Gifts for my granddaughters, because I knew they wouldn’t know their great-grandmother as they grew up. I also wrote it for my mother, to honour her exquisite needlework, and her legacy. I am happy that I achieved both purposes. My granddaughters are too young right now, but in years to come, they will “know” their great-grandmother somewhat through the book. And my mother was able to see the book before she passed away. She was very proud of it, and displayed it in her room in the nursing home. So I will always feel good about that. Sometimes we take it for granted that people know how we feel about them, but it’s always good to express it while they’re alive.
Who illustrated your book?
My sister, Karen Reinikka, did the illustrations, so that the book was truly a joint effort and a family gift. We consulted with each other on the text and the illustrations.
What do you like to read in your free time?
Literary novels mostly, but some nonfiction, mysteries and poetry.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
I’m trying to sort that out. Like most writers, I’m not totally comfortable with that aspect, but I’m trying to get better at it. Still, I don’t want it to take over, and take away from the creative process.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
I think my publisher could answer that better than I could. I still find chatting with people at booktables and launches to be effective. The personal touch still works. But I’m still learning.
What have you enjoyed the most about the creation of this picture book?
What thrills me is seeing how people react—tearing up, because it reminds them of a mother or grandmother who made things for them. What was initially a personal tribute has turned out to resonate with many.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope that they enjoy this book, and sense the love with which it was written. There is a richness in life’s simple experiences. That was something my mother understood well.
Thank you for sharing with us today. How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page:http://www.amazon.com/author/jonesmarianne