Wednesday Author Interview: Meet Marcia Strykowski
Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski
Bookin’ It is happy to have Childrens/Tween author Marcia Strykowski with us today. Hi, Marcia! Nice name! *grin* Could you tell us a bit about how you became a writer? When did you decide that’s what you wanted to be, and what steps did you take to prepare for a writing career?
MS: I was always creating storybooks as a kid, so my interest evolved from there. I took an array of classes in writing and illustrating books in college. Eventually I tried expanding one of my shorter manuscripts until it turned into my first tween novel, Call Me Amy. After much reworking, I submitted it to publishers and it was accepted by Luminis Books. My next two novels were a lot easier to write, now that I was familiar with the process. I also joined SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) and volunteered at their conferences. Most importantly, I’ve been in several long-term critique groups over the years.
BI: I love the genre you are aiming for with Call Me Amy. Those “tween” years seem to fall between the cracks, at times, with many books being geared for much younger audiences, or much older, more experienced ones. Were you inspired by any particular authors, past or present, and what is it about their work that impresses you, or moves you?
MS: I’m inspired by many different authors—there are so many great ones. Novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Anne of Green Gables, where the characters, setting, and storyline stay with you long after the last page, are especially inspirational. A few of the many authors who motivate me include Katherine Paterson, Richard Peck, M. M. Kaye, and Willa Cather.
BI: Great choices. What genres do you read most often for pleasure…those books you gravitate toward the minute you walk into a bookstore?
MS: I would probably first check out the YA section and I especially enjoy historical fiction. For example, I recently listened to The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd on audio—loved it!
BI: Haven’t read The Invention of Wings, yet, but I loved The Secret Life of Bees, and The Mermaid’s Chair. I’m making note, here. On to the more physical aspects of your writing. Do you have a dedicated workspace, and are you consistent with the amount of time you spend writing each day?
MS: I use a shared study. We fondly call it ‘the library’—lots of books along with an overstuffed chair, a desk, and a computer. Although I would like to be, I am not at all consistent in writing. It comes in spurts with great gaps in between.
BI: Can you tell us if you use visual aids, like Inspiration Boards/Photos or maps of your book’s setting? What reference books or other material do you consult most frequently as you write?
MS: I do a lot of online research, but I can’t say I use any materials in particular, mostly just Google. Actually, though, I did use one of those novelty gift calendars. It included all the important events, music, TV shows, etc. for my story’s time period of 1973.
BI: When you have an idea for a new book, do you sit down and start typing, or do you start with an outline, and figure out all the major plot points first? In other words, is your working style structured and organized, or more organic and free flowing?
MS: I don’t outline. I usually have a small story with a beginning and an end. From there I write all the middle chapters (sometimes drafting individual scenes in longhand). I continually polish until it’s a full-size book.
BI: Thanks, Marcia. I love finding out how different writers approach their actual work time. Do you prefer reading eBooks, or print? Why?
MS: I definitely prefer books made from paper that you can feel and smell and put in a bookcase. But I think there’s a place for e-books, too. They’re a good way to cut down on ‘stuff’.
BI: I agree with both of those points, especially the space factor. Now it’s time to share a bit of information on your books. Can you tell us what books you have published, and where we can buy them?
MS: Call Me Amy came out last year and a companion book, Amy’s Choice, will be released Oct. 1st, 2014. They are both available from many online retailers and can also be requested from your favorite local booksellers. Call Me Amy, which was awarded a place on the prestigious Bank Street College of Education list of best books, is about a shy 13-year old who lives in a small fishing village on the coast of Maine in 1973. With two unlikely friends, she helps a wounded seal pup and discovers that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing. In Amy’s Choice, bullies, boy trouble, and a talented painter who lives on the island keep Amy and her new BFF busy, but in order to be true to herself, there are many difficult choices for Amy to make in this heartwarming sequel.
BI: I think both of those sound charming and interesting. I’m adding them to my personal reading list, for sure. Are you currently working on a new book? When do you expect it to be available?
MS: I am finishing up a new YA novel, which features a boy who lives in a big city—so a whole new setting. When it will be available is up to the deities of the publishing world.
BI: Please keep us posted on that one, too. And good luck with those deities! Marcia, what is the best thing about being a writer, in your opinion? The worst?
MS: I love to create something out of nothing and to then hold the finished product in my hands. Keeping up my blog and participating in book events is very enjoyable, too. Writer’s block can sometimes put a damper on my day, but I really can’t think of anything I’d rather do—it’s all good. Thanks so much for having me as a guest today!
BI: Great way to look at it. I try to be positive about writing, too, but sometimes self-marketing makes life difficult. It was lovely having you as our featured guest today, and I hope you’ll join us again, in the future.
Marcia Strykowski, a graduate of Northeastern University, lives in Massachusetts and works at a public library in New Hampshire. She enjoys music, theater, fine arts, family get-togethers, and hanging out on the coast.
Check out Marcia’s books here: