Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interview with Children's Author: Hope Irvin Marston



Please welcome children's author, Hope Marston to the blog today. I am thrilled to have her here after reading several of her books. Welcome Hope and thanks for being here. The readers here are all interested in writing and of course reading. It is so good to have you here to share about your success. 

Note:  There is another Hope Marston on the West Coast.  That’s why I include my middle name.)

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

            I am a Post Depression child and the eighth of nine children who grew up on a dairy farm smack dab in the middle of the state of Pennsylvania.  Books were a scarce commodity in our household so it was a red letter day for me when the county bookmobile came to our school which was located on the corner of our farm.  What a thrill it was to climb into that vehicle, which was probably about the size of the Taurus van my husband drives, and choose one book from all those beckoning me from the shelves.  After I read my book I returned it to the teacher and was allowed to borrow someone else’s story.  It  was through those bookmobile experiences I developed a respect for authors. I decided that someday I would write a book. It took me about thirty years to accomplish that goal, and the fun continues.

Describe your desk/workspace.

            Must I answer this question?  (Just kidding!) It’s Clutterville. I would be more productive if I kept the paper stashes under control and didn’t have to fight for space to pencil a note somewhere.  I need to make that priority.  I am too much like that lumberman who is so busy chopping he doesn’t take time to sharpen his ax!

I have a recessed screen which I no longer need now that I’ve had lens implants. Someday I will replace it so I can see the screen clearly without my reading glasses.

            My tower CPU is to the left of the stand that holds the screen and my LASER printer.

            Buried somewhere below the paper stashes to the left of my chair is a worktable I think.  I haven’t seen the top since the last time we had company coming that I wanted to impress with an orderly desk. I am still looking for things that were there before I chucked everything into a box to get it out of sight.



 Do you have a favorite quote?

            Yes. I keep a file of thoughts that I want to remember to keep my writing focused.  Here is the first one: “Get rid of anything that isn’t useful or beautiful. Everything else is useless and ugly!” I don’t know who said it, but it makes sense to me. And the second one:  “If you want a writing life that you have never had, you must do things you’ve never done—and do them consistently.” Again by Anonymous.


 What are you currently reading?

            Writer’s Guide to 2012, published by Writers Institute Publications, 2012.

If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

            I’d like to sit and visit with Mary’s husband Joseph. I am awed by the faith of many men and women in the Bible, but Joseph has a special place in my heart.  We don’t know much about him, and he just disappears. But what a strategic role he played in loving Mary, in keeping his distance from her as his wife until after Jesus was born, and then caring for her and the Son of God through the young years of His life on earth.  God had a special plan for His Son and He wanted Mary to have a husband who would love her child Jesus.  After He told Joseph what was going on, Joseph accepted his place in the plan and loving cared for his new family.   When I get to heaven, I intend to find Joseph and tell him that his faith in the Lord and his obedience to the heavenly plan were an inspiration to me. 



What are your top three favorite books and why?

            Since my writing career centers on children’s books, I will share my favorites in that genre.  They are Heidi, Caddie Woodlawn and Johnny Tremain.  The first title was given to me by my older sister in 1947 when I was twelve. It’s one of the few shopworn treasures from my childhood days.  The other two books were on a list of assigned reading for us country kids who would be attending high school in Lock Haven, PA.  I have re-read both a number of times as an adult. It was a wonderful experience teaching Johnny Tremain to my seventh grade students at Case Junior in Watertown, NY.  These books appealed to me because the main characters were believable.  They were good kids, but not perfect. They got into trouble, but they didn’t do wicked things. Things didn’t always go well for them, but they did what they could to make things better.  Sort of like Aisling Shepherd in Eye on the Iditarod.   



What was your favorite book as a child and why?

            Heidi by Joanna Spyri.  I loved this spunky little girl left to fend for herself with a grumpy grandfather who was a stranger.  I liked how she and Grandfather learned to love each other and how she and Peter became best friends. I loved the animals and life up there in the Alps.  Now and then I re-read the story and savor it once more.  When I overnighted in the Alps about twenty years ago on my flights to and from a Campus Crusade for Christ mission to Ukraine with the  with International School Project, l looked up at those majestic mountains and thought of these storybook characters with great pleasure.

            In tribute to the nation of Switzerland, my husband and I named our first St. Bernard puppy “Heidi.”  Our current Heidi is a lovable Bernese mountain dog.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

            I don’t know how interesting it is, but this is the only quirk I can identify even after asking one of my best friends for help with the question.  When someone asks me a question that I need to think about before I can answer, I raise my chin, look off in the distance and think about it. Invariably my questioner looks in the direction where I am focused to see what caught my attention.
 

 Do you write full-time or part-time?

            I consider myself a part-time writer.  After thirty-three years in the classroom, I retired as a public school teacher/librarian to write full time.  That was the plan and I have had quite a few books published since 1990, but I soon learned that other things fill up the hours and days of those of us who retire.  Now I battle to have three hours a day to spend with my writing pursuits.. Things needing my attention tend to pile up in the same proportion as the paper stashes on my work table.  During the month of January I was mentally stretched with making revisions on an historical novel about the War of 1812 that was professionally critiqued by respected children’s editor Paula Morrow. At the same time I was answering the Interview Questions for this World of Ink Tour and having two live interviews concerning the publication of Eye on the Iditarod. I didn’t spend much time twiddling my thumbs and I never watch television.
What are your current marketing strategies for Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling’s Quest?

            I’m “shouting it from the rooftops” in every way I can conceive.  My major efforts are aimed at reaching people through the Internet.  I am striving to get my name out there along with the title of the book so the people who love sled dogs and mushing will find it.  I want teachers in all of the United States to see the book is a perfect supplementary text for teaching the Iditarod unit in their classrooms.  I have expanded my Advertising Budget to allow me to give free books to people of influence who will spread the word that is the perfect book for “would be” mushers as well as those who are already involved with the sport.

 Could you share about any current writing projects?

      Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling’s Quest, my thirty-second children’s book, was released by Windward Books on December 1.  It’s a biography of Aisling (pronounced “Ashley”) Lara Shepherd whose goal is to some day run her own dogs in the famous Iditarod sled dog race held each March in Alaska.  Born legally blind, from the time she was three she loved watching sled dog racing on television. My book, written from information Aisling shared with me in hundreds of e-mail letters, follows her through the mushing season the year she is eleven.  That memorable year she conquered obstacles, dealt with heartbreak and loss, and achieved success, while keeping her eye on the Iditarod.  

In 2008 when Aisling was ten years old, she was one of three girls chosen from 8,000 nominees for a Real Girl of the Year Award, by American Girl.  The award was given in recognition of her “demonstrating initiative, effort, impact and personal growth” in reaching her goal of someday running the Iditarod.  She exemplified those qualities by her dedication to rescuing, training and racing sled dogs.  I learned about her from an article in an online newspaper published near where we used to live in Maine.  (It pays to have a husband who daily reads the news from back home.  Aisling lives in the next town over from where I taught in Maine for six years after my husband and I were married.)
 

 What would be the best way for readers to contact you?

            Come visit me at www.HopeIrvinMarston.com  Among other things you’ll find an update on Aisling’s mushing competitions for this season. If you have a question, please email me at hopemar7@twcny.rr.com

 Where can people find your book, Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling’s Quest?

            On my website as well as at Amazon Books.

 Is there anything else you'd like to share?

            Yes, there is. I love writing for children and young people.  It’s a joy to get young readers excited about books.  When I do school visits, it makes my day memorable when a young fellow sidles up to me after my presentation and tells me, “I have my own  copy of your book (he says which one) and it’s the best book I’ve ever read.”

            One of my life goals is to give hope to my young readers literally. To help them understand that despite the rough seas they may be sailing right now, things will calm if they just hold on. That’s the kind of difference I want to make in this world.

   Thank you so much for the wonderful insight into your writing life. It is comforting to me to know that your desk sounds like mine. I seem to have paper clutter everywhere. Blessings for more success with the books. They are wonderful reads for children.         


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