Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Marie Powell

April 1, 2021
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1.       What inspired you to write books for children to aid with reading and writing?

For about 15 years, I worked as a library programmer, so every week I had two or three programs for preschoolers. My favourite group was the 5-6-year-olds, who were just learning to read. They have such active imaginations and often like to see themselves as players in the story. I loved working with them, finding great children’s books, and then reading the stories aloud to them. After a few years, it felt very natural to start writing for this age group. Also, a writer-friend Alison Lohans had an opportunity to give a workshop in writing for children. I took that, and it put me on the path. Eventually, I got my MFA in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia with a major in writing for children and young adults.

2.       Do you think reading is the gateway to learning and life skills?

Yes, absolutely. It’s also a lot of fun!

3.       How does the construction of the content aid understanding in children? 

I’ve been lucky to work with several top-notch traditional publishers on the books I’ve written for children and middle-grade readers. I don’t self-publish so I am not usually involved in the construction of the book, but a writer can always help by inspiring the editors with punchy writing and ideas. As a journalist, I had always suggested backgrounders and sidebars, or short related articles, so I was on the watch for that. And I’ve noticed that surrounding a non-fiction narrative with fact-boxes and short in-set articles can really grab the attention of readers. When I was writing Dragonflies are Amazing, for instance, the editor asked me for some “fun facts” to create a fact-box. I put together about 20 facts, and worked on them so they had an engaging style to activate a kids’ imagination. The editor ended up putting the facts in a graphic format that looks like dragonflies flying around the page. You actually have to turn the book around to read them. Very cool! She also put the images in puzzle pieces. The overall effect of that book is as amazing as the dragonflies, and it really works to attract reluctant readers.

4.       Where can schools access your books?

Schools order the children’s books directly from the publishers, but I also distribute some of them locally to schools and libraries in my home town and area during readings and workshops. My young adult series Last of the Gifted is available everywhere, from Amazon to local independent bookstores, through publisher Wood Dragon Books.

5.       Did your Welsh heritage influence your stories?

My Welsh heritage influences my young adult series, Last of the Gifted. My grandfather was had been born in Wales and I knew he was a Welsh speaker. All of my grandparents had died before I was born. When I was a kid, my friends had grandparents but not me, so I guess I became a little obsessed by them. But my dad died young, and it was hard finding out much about my dad’s parents. Since I was a journalist, I wanted to get into travel writing, so I planned a trip to Wales to do double duty and find out more about my own heritage at the same time. I had rented a cottage on a sheep farm in north Wales, so one day I went to see Dolwyddelan, a castle built by the last true Welsh princes. Inside, there were placards showing the history, and how losing a war in 1282 caused them to lose their language and their way of life. I started thinking about what it would be like to actually live through something like that, and that led to writing about it. It’s been my “heart” project ever since.

6.       How did your magical characters evolve from idea to story?

I actually started out by free writing the scenes in Spirit Sight. I had covered an article on a falconer and I was very intrigued by his falcon demonstrations. One day, while I was doing research on North Wales, I started wondering what it would be like to see through the eyes of a bird. I started free writing and the opening scene came together. I’ve revised and refined it since, but that’s still the opening of the book. From there, I started reading about Welsh legends and myths, and my magical world evolved from that.

7.       Is imagination important for children?

It’s important for everyone. There are a lot of ways to use and grow our imaginations, but reading is definitely one of the best ways. And writing helps, too!

8.       Are there other subjects/topics you want to write about?

Yes, lots. I have a couple of contemporary fantasy novels on the go as well, as well as short stories. My writing is speculative fiction with some connection to ghosts or the past influencing the present. I still write articles for magazines as well, and that inspires me in different ways.

9.       Where is your favorite place to write and why?

I write at my kitchen table, actually. I have a perfectly good office and I fully intend to use it, but the kitchen has better light and a lovely window looking out at the park across the street. I always wrote in the kitchen when my kids were young, and that tends to be where I end up.

10.   Do you have upcoming projects? Can you talk about them?

I have a lot of projects on the go. I’m working on one more book now in the Last of the Gifted series, and I have started another related series. Last NaNoWriMo, I wrote a novel from the same time but unrelated to the series, more medieval romance, just for fun. I’d like to do something more with that, too. And there are the contemporary novels as well.

11.   How can readers find you?

My website is the best place, and I’m on social media too. Here are some links:

Website: www.mariepowell.ca  https://www.mariepowell.ca/

 Last of the Giftedhttps://mariepowell.ca/young-adult/last-of-the-gifted/

Follow @mepowell   https://twitter.com/mepowell

Facebook: Marie Powell  https://www.facebook.com/mariepowellauthor

Instagram: MariePowellAuthor https://www.instagram.com/mariepowellauthor/

YouTube: Last of the Gifted https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiJ3JY8YIleqD6W-cJHgSwWKlz3JV_sL3

Spirit Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/3n8A95 

Water Sighthttps://books2read.com/u/4A701d

Bio:

Marie Powell Bio:Marie Powell’s castle-hopping adventures across North Wales to explore her family roots resulted in her award-winning historical fantasy series Last of the Gifted. The series includes two books to date, Spirit Sight and Water Sight (participation made possible through Creative Saskatchewan’s Book Publishing Production Grant Program). Marie is the author of more than 40 children’s books with such publishers as Scholastic Education and Amicus, along with award-winning short stories and poetry appearing in such literary magazines as RoomsubTerrain, and Sunlight Press. Among other degrees, she holds a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing from UBC. Marie lives on Treaty 4 land in Regina, Saskatchewan. Find her at mariepowell.ca

Book Trailer for The Commodore’s Gift

September 22, 2020
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I can’t tell you how excited I am to share this fantastic book trailer for The Commodore’s Gift, created by Kelsey Hoople.

It is the first book trailer I have had created and it conveys the excitement and adventure of the story. It also highlights Owena, my fierce heroine and the stalwartly Galen.

As a steampunk novel, the background is set in a Victorian/industrial era of the imagination. Steam powered machines, elegance of the era and the fight for supremacy.

Under the Buldrick Empire’s rule, Owena finds herself fighting alongside a rebel force. Her aptitude for strategy and swordsmanship come to the fore. When she meets Galen, not only does she fall in love but becomes even more determined to join the fight to restore the rightful King to the throne.

The official launch is at Words in the Park – Virtual where I will be interviewed and talking about the idea and concept for the book and my writing life. Feel free to join me Facebook Live 2.35 pm https://www.facebook.com/events/2603735563209646/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/178555652163835/

The book or ebook will be available on 26th September on all purchase sites.

Let me know what you think of the story – leave a review.

Many thanks

Mandy

Author Interview – Katherine Dell

September 7, 2018
mandyevebarnett


Author-Interview-Button

Katherine (33) web

  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you? That depends on the day I suppose. Some days I need to get the words out at a feverish speed and others I feel I can’t squeeze a drop. I tend to daydream a lot about my stories before I put them to paper. So, when I do sit down to write its more an exercise of getting the information dump out of my head.

 

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite? One word: Netflix. Between my other jobs, my kids, and life in general, I have to be very organized to be able to fit in time to write. Sometimes, after a long day I get sucked into the black hole of late-night binge watching. BUT, it can also be my motivation… No more shows until I get that next chapter done!

 

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? In the beginning, yes. I believe people feel freer to express themselves under a pen name. Becoming an author can be a very humbling experience. People are free to read your creations and express their opinions about them in a very public way. This has definitely toughened my skin. Writing under a fake name might have lessened this and put a greater divide between personal me and professional life. But, in the end, I’m glad I write under my real name. I own every moment of it.

 

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? I have a long list of writer buddies, but the ones I converse the most with are: Adam Dreece, Kelly Charron, and Chris Rothe. These three have really helped me become a better writer by sharing their industry knowledge and being honest about my work. Two things I’ve learned from these guys: No writer ever improves without criticism, and there is no ‘one-way’ to publish a book.

 

  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? My current book, Harmless, is part of a proposed three book series. I enjoy reading series, so that’s what I write. Sometimes one book just isn’t enough to really tell the character’s stories.

 

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? My book trailer. It literally sells books for me. I hope someday it inspires someone to make a movie from my book. You can check it out here. http://bit.ly/2oIDWwL

 

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power? This question could fuel an entire thesis paper. Of course language has power. Entire civilizations are built on it. I don’t think I could pick just one experience to tell you about the power of it, but I think we all live it every day.

 

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel? I have many books that have held my favour. A lot of which are fairly well know: Saga (graphic novel), I Am The Messenger, The Fifth Wave, I’ll Meet You there.

 

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal? Perhaps my spirit animal would be a deer. I wrote so much about it in my book I feel I’ve adopted it as my own. A deer represents intuition, gentleness and is viewed as a guardian or messenger.

 

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Currently, two. I have forty-thousand written on the sequel to Harmless, titled Mavens. And a start to a dystopian novel. I’m a slow, methodical writer. I’m hoping to have the first drafts done soon, but we’ll see what the universe brings.
  2. What does literary success look like to you? That’s a very different thing for everyone who writes. I consider myself very successful at what I’ve published so far for a number of reasons. Number one: Friends, family, and total strangers have gone out of their way to tell me how my story has moved them. Having strangers do that was the coolest part of all! Second: Sales have been pretty good. Well, sales have been good for a first time, unknown author. Third: Not to toot my own horn, but my first book I’ve ever written, won an international award! Harmless received fourth in the category of Young Adult Thrillers in the International Readers’ Favorite Awards. You can check it out here: http://bit.ly/2CfTAsO

 

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? After I wrote the first draft of Harmless I got on a plane and flew to the town of Hazelton, BC, which is where the story is set. I had researched it thoroughly before I started writing, but felt I really needed to experience the place before I completed my final edits. When I was there I even hired a local guide to give me an authentic tour of all the places I wanted to see. I wanted to make my fiction book seem as non-fiction as possible. I think I succeeded at that.

 

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write? Between life, kids, and work I’m not left with much. On a really good week I might get in eight hours. This doesn’t discourage me though. It might take me longer than some to produce a book, but I’m very proud of the writing I do get out.

 

  1. How do you select the names of your characters? A few of my characters are named after my friend’s kids. Other than that, they are their own people, purely made-up from the daydreams in my head.

Harmless single cover mockup with green seal

  1. What was your hardest scene to write? Hands down, the field of totem poles after the dance scene in Harmless. My editor suggested that the character, Mason, needed more reason to act the way he did. And that the reader needed to side with him, even though what he did was deplorable. By far that was the most emotional and real scene I’ve ever written.

 

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them? Right now, I only write Young Adult Thrillers. This first book, and the planned books are all thrillers. I have a YA dystopian idea in the works, but we’ll see where it goes. I like the big feeling and big problems of young adult stories.

 

  1. How long have you been writing? I started after I moved back to Calgary, so I guess that would be around eight years.

 

  1. What inspires you?Everything! I often say if anyone were to read the notes on my phone they’d think I was crazy. I have so many random ideas in there, mostly short notes that no one but me would understand, but bring me back to the moments I captured them in.

 

  1. How do you find or make time to write? Having a to-do-list helps. Put it on there and make it a priority.

 

  1. What projects are you working on at the present? Currently, I’m working to get my new website up and running. I’m a very creative person who needs many outlets. My new site incorporates my graphic design work, writing, and a line of natural stone jewelry that I sell. It should be live in the next few days. You can check it out here: katherinedell.com.

Harmless book, ebook , and phone with green seal

Bio:

Katherine Dell is a young adult fiction author fascinated by the supernatural and the stories that surround them. She began her writing endeavours in 2011 when she wanted to reinvent herself from her previous career as an event planner. When she’s not writing, she can be found in cold hockey arenas sipping coffee, working on her tan at little league games, or trying to keep her dog out of her many gardens. She lives with her husband, two boys, and fur babies, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

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