Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

My Book News & Advocate for the Writing Community ©

Author Interview – Joan Marie Galat

July 9, 2019


Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?

I find it very satisfying to challenge myself to write in different genres and especially enjoy incorporating storytelling into nonfiction. I’m published in nonfiction, literary nonfiction, fiction, self-help (Give Yourself a Pep Talk, Pelican Publishing), and travel (Day Trips From Edmonton, Whitecap Books). Two of my Scholastic titles are “info-fiction fantasy,” a classification I always found amusing!

Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?

With nonfiction, I start with an outline that sometimes resembles a very detailed table of contents. As I research and discover new irresistible facts, I find ways to work them in. Hooray for sidebars! They allow me to expand on main text or add unexpected tidbits. With fiction, I start with a rough outline of events and see where they take me. This approach can be exhilarating or frightening, depending on how long it takes to find a way to get my characters out of the trouble I’ve conjured.

Dark Matters - final cover (hi-res)

The stories in Dark Matters, Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution (Red Deer Press) began with a list. I compiled an inventory of events in my life relating to astronomy, wildlife, and the environment, then matched them to the points I wanted to make about how light at night impacts different species. Enormous fun, this approach triggered me to remember stories from my childhood, teen, and early adult years that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. I feel any writer can benefit from the activity of matching personal stories to a theme, and this is an exercise I incorporate into creative writing workshops. (As a follow-up to the question above, it’s interesting to note that Dark Matters, being part memoir and part science, doesn’t fit into a traditional genre. Even more fun!)

What is your best marketing tip?

When approaching traditional media sources, make your potential interviewer’s job easy. Find a way to tie your content to current events or trending topics. For example, if proposing an interview about Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories in the Clouds—Weather Science and Mythology from Around the World, I could point out connections to thunderstorms, frost warnings, or climate change.

Solve This book cover

Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely. When not working on my own books, I offer freelance writing and editing services though my business MoonDot Media []. I edited a magazine for several years and take on freelance projects that have included speechwriting, writing/editing website content, museum panel text, grant applications, magazine articles, advertising, annual reports, educational materials, and a myriad of other projects, as well as manuscript and publishing consultations. I have produced radio programming and other projects for broadcast, and offer writing and creativity workshops. Writing as a career can take many forms and every type of writing helps you to build your skills by teaching you to write for different audiences.

Dot to Dot - Stories in the Clouds - cover - low res

Do you have plans or ideas for your next book?

While an abundance of ideas are tempting me, I expect to especially continue exploring themes relating to space, astronomy, and ecology. An upcoming title is Absolute Expert: Space (National Geographic Kids).

Day Trips From Edmonton

 Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?

Chocolate is essential to good writing, especially chili pepper dark chocolate.

Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?

I’m an occasional contributor on the the Sci/Why blog, where Canadian children’s writers discuss science, words, and the eternal question – why?

You can also find me on these sites:

Websites: and
LinkedIn –
Instagram – @jmgalat


Joan Marie Galat is an international award-winning author whose career began at the age of 12 when she was hired as a newspaper columnist. Now she is the author of more than 20 books, including a Canadian best seller. Joan shares her love of the night sky in her Dot to Dot in the Sky series (Whitecap Books), which partners sky science with the stories early cultures first told to explain their observations. Dark Matters—Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution (Red Deer Press) offers personal stories, revealing how light at night impacts wildlife, while Solve This! Wild and Wacky Challenges for the Genius Engineer in You (National Geographic Kids) encourages young readers to explore hands-on problem solving.

A professional speechwriter, former radio show host, and frequent presenter, Joan has traveled across Canada and around the globe to deliver presentations promoting science and literacy. She has been featured at a United Nations event in Seoul, Australian observatories, the International Dark-Sky Association conference, and numerous other events. When not writing or talking about writing, Joan can be found enjoying the outdoors.



Author Interview Glynis Guevara

May 18, 2018



  1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing energizes me.

  1. What is your writing Kryptonite?

I cannot think of any. I love writing. It helps my mental health and I can’t associate writing with anything negative.

  1. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

No, I have always wanted to write under my real name.

  1. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I don’t have any close friends who are authors, but it would be nice to develop friendships with some authors.


  1. Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I have written several stand-alone books, but I am currently working on a sequel to debut YA novel, “Under the Zaboca Tree.” The working title of the sequel is “Poui Season”

  1. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I’ve spent as a writer was hiring a good editor.

  1. What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

I used to have a lot of pen-pals when I was a kid. I was able to develop good friendships through writing. I even met a couple of my pen-pals during my travels through Europe. Writing allowed me to learn more about other cultures.

  1. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips

  1. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A Dog or an Elephant. They are my favourite animals.

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have at least three unfinished books and four books that are completed but unpublished. I am currently seeking a literary agent for two of the finished book. Two of them have already found homes. My second YA novel, “Black Beach” will be published by Inanna Publications in the fall of 2018. A third novel, “Barrel Girl,” is also forthcoming from Inanna Publications.


  1. What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success means being able to support myself mostly by writing

  1. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do a lot of research online, but I also speak to experts. The amount of research depends on the information I am seeking.

  1. How many hours a day/week do you write?

Lately, due to an ear injury I am writing only once or twice a week. But when I’m healthy I write at least ten hours a week. I sometimes write more depending on deadlines.

  1. How do you select the names of your characters?

It depends. I sometimes just use names that come to me. Other times, I search baby books on line for suitable names.

  1. What was your hardest scene to write?

There have been many hard scenes to write. But one that was particularly difficult involved writing about leatherback turtles in my soon to be published YA novel, “Black Beach.”. I had to do a lot of research and I hope I got it right.

  1. Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I write mostly YA novels. I didn’t set out to write YA books. It simply happened. I have one adult novel that I’m seeking a publisher for; I am currently making a few changes as requested by a literary agent who expressed an interest in reading the entire manuscript.

  1. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing all of my life. I tried to write my first novel when I was about fourteen. It was a learning experience even though I don’t think it was very good.

  1. What inspires you?  

Reading good books inspires me.

  1. How do you find or make time to write?

I am very disciplined regarding my writing. I usually challenge myself to write a specified amount of words per week and stick to it.

  1. What projects are you working on at the present?

I am editing an adult novel and also writing a sequel to my debut novel, “Under the Zaboca Tree.”

  1. What do your plans for future projects include?

My plans for future project including writing two more YA novels that I am currently researching as well as another adult novel that I have already completed about seventy pages of.

  1. Share a link to your author website.


I was born in Barataria, Trinidad and I hold a Bachelor of Laws (Hons.) degree from the University of London, England. I am also  a graduate of Humber School for Writers creative writing program. In 2012, I was shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary short fiction prize and in 2014 my manuscript “Barrel Girl” was a finalist for the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean literature. “Under the Zaboca Tree” is my debut YA novel. I currently live in Toronto where I work as an adult literacy instructor.

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