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Why do you write juvenile fiction? What draws you to it?
I am a retired music teacher, who also took time out of my busy weekends to teach creative writing to young people. I have worked with young people all my life. I love listening to their stories and helping them master the art. These are the readers and writers of the future, so I wanted to do all I could to inspire them. In the process, they inspired me. I have written a lot of family stories, memoirs, historical fiction/fantasy, but “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” and the entire “Piccadilly Street” series is my first adventure in writing for young people. I’m not sure if it was the young people or the inspiration for the story (the haunted house where I grew up) which drew me in. Probably a bit of both. And I’m glad I started this series. It’s really been a lot of fun and I’ve revisited some of my old memories and dreams and fantasies along the way.
What books were your favorite as a youth and why?
I loved Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty – still do. It ignited my fascination for horses. In fact, books 3 and 4 of The Piccadilly Street series has a little bit of riding adventure. Mary Norton’s novel, The Borrowers, came out when I was still in elementary school and I fell in love with the idea of little people living between the walls. Hence the Brownies in my stories, which are Scottish little people, who lived between the walls of houses and, in Scotland, castles, protecting those who live within. We didn’t actually have Brownies living in my haunted house, so that’s pure imagination, something I have a lot of. We did have a ghost, though.
What’s your favorite sweet treat?
Chocolate – pure dark chocolate without any additives. Not easy to find. But if you can, it’s worth the effort. Most chocolate is laden with sugar, dairy, and soy additives, all of which I’m very allergic. Pure chocolate made with cocoa beans and cocoa butter instead of soy and dairy, is so-o-o-o-o delicious. I think I’ll go right now and find myself a chunk of pure chocolate. Just thinking about it makes me crave for it.
What book is on your nightstand currently? Phyllis Bohonis, Margaret McFarland. A wonderful mystery writer and also a personal friend. I just finished her recent novel, The Track and wrote a review on Goodreads. Reviews are important readers. Even if it’s just two sentences. Reviews help writers sell their books.
Sum up your book for Twitter: 140 characters or less.
What does a ghost, a group of Brownies and a ten-year-old girl have in common? And why is there a witch trying to strike them all down? Only Mary knows for sure.
You’re stranded on a desert island—which character from your book do you want with you? Why?
Granny. She’s modelled after my grandmother, whom we called Gran. We were very close and we shared a lot of interests, like reading, storytelling and traveling. I would love to spend another lifetime with her. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t miss our chats on the phone and our visits. Writing about Gran, weaving her into my stories, keeps her very much alive in my heart. So, stranded on a deserted island with Gran? That would be the best. Only problem: I don’t know who would grumble the most about the inconvenience of the situation: her or me.
Favorite class in high school. Why?
English. Except for Grade 10 when we had to write and give speeches. I don’t like standing up in front of people and talking, so Grade 10 didn’t go so well. But I loved my other English classes: reading and writing, what more could I ask for in a favorite class? What other class allows you to read stories for homework?
Read an Excerpt:
“Did you leave any lights on downstairs?” he asked as he seated himself at the table once again.
“No,” Mom answered. “I turned everything off.”
“She did,” Mary added. “I made sure.”
“The lights were all on in the kitchen,” Dad said. “Some of the cupboard doors were wide open. I closed them.” At that, the banging doors started up again.
“I guess it’s official,” David announced. “We have a ghost.” He made his move and passed ‘Go’. Holding out his hand to the banker (who was always Dad to ensure some modicum of fairness in the game), he demanded, “Two hundred dollars, please.”
“Sounds to me like the ghost is checking us out,” Dad said, handing over the Monopoly money. “It’s not hurting anyone, so let it be.”
“Spoooooky!” David howled, laughing.
Mary didn’t laugh. She wasn’t sure why they thought it was funny, but if no one else was afraid, maybe ghosts weren’t scary.
About the Author:
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