Today we have Marit Menzin who is an illustrator and author of young adult books. Marit stopped by to answer a few of my questions and discuss her latest book, Song for Papa Crow.
When did you first decide you wanted to write?
Once I learned how to read, I couldn’t stop reading. So, the seed of wanting to become a writer was planted when I began reading books written by classic authors, such as Lucy Maud Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and Emily Brontë.
What is your favorite genre to write and why?
My favorite genre to write is picture books for children. In college, I majored in biology and chemistry. Later on, I studied computers and worked as a programmer. I view a picture book like a chemical equation, or like a program; a chemical equation has to be balanced. In a picture book, the text and the illustrations must complement each other well. A computer program has in its beginning a definition of constants and variables. A picture book has in its beginning a definition of the main characters, a setting, and a problem/conflict that the main character struggles with. The functions in the middle of the program are supposed to achieve its goal; whereas in a picture book, the protagonist tries to overcome his obstacles. The tension builds up to a climax and, finally, the protagonist solves his problem, and the story concludes with a satisfying reader-friendly ending.
Please tell us about your upcoming book.
Song for Papa Crow is a fiction picture book that I both wrote and illustrated for pre-K to 2nd grade aged readers. This is a story about a young crow who loves to sing, but the singing birds tease him for his raspy voice. With the help of Mockingbird, the bird’s idol who comes to visit the town, Little Crow becomes the best singer in the choir. But with his new singing voice, when danger strikes, Little Crow loses the most important thing – his father’s support.
My story concludes with fun facts about North American birds, and their sounds. I gathered many interesting as well as bizarre facts about birds to stimulate the young minds’ intellectual curiosity.
I have a little confession to make: Song for papa Crow is a book about diversity. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to write a multi-level story. When I found out that the crow often mates for life, and it takes care of its offspring longer than any other animals do, I had to write this book, thinking that just like Little Crow, every child is special and unique, and every child should be comfortable being himself without being afraid!
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely imagination?
My book is based purely on my imagination.
How did you come up with the cover?
I’m a collage artist. I designed the cover myself and illustrated the main characters of my book.
When and where will your new book be available?
My book was recently released for world-wide distribution. It is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and many other stores.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written about so far?
My favorite character is Papa Crow because he’s loyal and caring.
Does the character reflect on anyone you know?
Papa Crow should be a role model to all parents. It is amazing to me that crows take care of their offspring longer than any other animal, and even longer than some humans. Papa Crow reflects on the great fathers everywhere who take amazing care of their children.
If you could meet one character from a novel, who would it be and why?
I recently read the book “Timeless” by Alexandra Mounir. I would like to meet the main character, Michele Windsor, and travel with her to New York City in 1910.
Who is your favorite author?
How can I answer this question? There are so many authors that I admire! Since I have to choose, I will mention two authors who are also Illustrators — Maurice Sendak and Chris Van Allsburg. The reason that I chose them is that their books are like magic in action!
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Read as many books as you can. Join a writer’s critique group. Create a space at home that is only yours. Make the time to write and to revise. For me, every morning, as I wake up, I read my book and I revise it. Then, at night, I read my story again and I revise it even more.
Spaghetti or Lasagna and why?
Another difficult question! Well, in my family, spaghetti is the common denominator that we all agree upon.
Anything you’d like to share with your readers and fans?
My second favorite genre to write is paranormal for young adults.